Is it safe to hike up Table Mountain?
One of the questions I am constantly being asked is ” Is it safe to hike on Table Mountain?” The simple answer is absolutely yes. It is totally safe to hike on Table Mountain although you do need to obey some cardinal rules.
1. Never hike alone
2. Choose a suitable route that suits the ability of the group
3. Ensure you have someone with you who knows the route.
4. Until you are familiar with the area stick to the main routes and do not attempt shortcuts
5. Tell someone where you are going and what time you are expected back
6. Always be prepared for sudden changes in the weather. Always have warm and waterproof clothing with you as well as a good hat and sunblock.
7. Ensure everyone has enough water.
Table Mountain, although in the middle of a city is a large wilderness area and it is very possible to get lost. The weather can change suddenly and unexpectedly, shrouding the mountain in cloud even when the rest of the city is bathed in sunshine. Thus you cannot rely on forecasts for Cape Town to necessarily be correct for the mountain.
Probably the biggest cause of problems on Table Mountain is the sun. A hat and enough water are vital during the summer months.
Whilst the above can really apply to any mountain in any part of the world, specific to South Africa are questions relating to the wildlife and muggings.
The only wildlife that may offer some danger are snakes. There are more than 20 species found on Table Mountain of which only 4 are dangerous. In an average year of hiking daily on Table Mountain I see perhaps 3 snakes. All of which are desperately trying to get out of my way. Although snakes do lie in the paths enjoying the sun, when they hear approaching footsteps they get off the path and into the undergrowth. Whenever I have seen a snake it has been his tail as he makes his gettaway. However, with this in mind it is well worth being wary when venturing off the path or going on a very overgrown path where you can’t see where you are putting your feet.
Muggings on Table Mountain have occurred and get huge press coverage when they do. The National Parks Board has a team of rangers dedicated to patrolling the mountain and they keep the popular trails safe. In 20 years of daily walking I have never once felt threatened in any way. There are certain areas on the mountain that I avoid as they are more accessible to the roads and general public. But that is as much to avoid the crowds and problem people.
So in short: Take a hike on Table Mountain. It will be the highlight of your holiday.