Photo by Brendon Wainwright – Wikimedia

Top 10 Surprising Facts about the Table Mountain, South Africa


Table Mountain is one of the most iconic landmarks in South Africa. This flat-topped mountain is found in Cape Town, a coastal city.

As one of the most photographed landmarks in South Africa, the Table Mountain stands at 3,563 feet above sea level.

Recently, Table Mountain was entered into the list of the New Seven Wonders of Nature. 

It has been one of the most visited parks in South Africa, with people opting to take cable cars or hike to the top of the mountain.

The vegetation and animal species found on this mountain are unique to this place. This natural beauty offers the best panoramic views of the vast rolling land below as well as of the city.

There are more fascinating and remarkable facts about this mountain. Check out the top 10 facts below.  

1. The fastest way to get to the top of the Table Mountain is riding an aerial Cableway

Photo by Jeanne Rose Gomez on Unsplash

To get to the top of Table Mountain, you will either need to hike or take an Aerial Cableway.

You will take this cableway from the lower cable station on Tafelberg Road. The boarding station is 991 feet above sea level while the summit is 3,501 feet above sea level.

As you go up, you will have sweeping panoramic views of Cape Town, Table Bay, Lions Head and Robben Island to the west. One will see the Atlantic Seaboard on the southern side.

Each gondola carries 65 passengers. This number was increased from 20 in 1929 when the Cableway was first established.

These new cable cars are faster and rotate at 360 degrees giving you the best views as you go up and come down.    

2. Hiking is another popular method of getting to the Table Mountain

Another popular method to get up the Table Mountain is through hiking. This method is loved by both athletic locals and tourists.

The trails up the Table Mountain vary in difficulty levels. Since the cliffs around the summit are very stiff, hikers are discouraged from taking direct ascents from the city side.

In case you like the adrenaline rush and challenge that comes with it, then the Platteklip Gorge should be your start. This is one popular route that takes you directly to the summit.

By choosing this route, you will take 2 to 3 hours, depending on your fitness level. Fast and experienced hikers may take about an hour.

One other challenge about this shorter route is it is very hot during summer and there is very little shade along the way.   

The longer routes are accessed through the Back Table which is the lower side of the Table Mountain.

3. The Table Mountain has a table cloth

Photo by Brendon Wainwright – Wikimedia

As unbelievable as it sounds, this is true; but it is not made from real cloth but clouds.

Early mornings or during winter, a popular scene on the mountain is the cloud cover spilling over the top of the Table Mountain.

The orographic fog that appears like a massive table cloth on top of the mountain form when cold air condenses.

When the warm south-easterly wind blows up the mountain’s slopes, it gets cold thus the moisture condenses subsequently forming the table cloth that we see.

While that is the scientific explanation, the locals have a myth as to how the table cloth appears. They believe that there was a contest between the devil and a local pirate called Van Hunks.

The devil is said to have lost and made a cloud of smoke in which he disappeared.   

4. The Table Mountain is home to 22 species of snakes

If you love nature and all that lives in whether crawling or creeping, this next fact will surprise you.

There are about 22 different species of snakes that live on Table Mountain. About half of these snakes are venomous.

This should not worry you if you are afraid of snakes. The chances of them crossing your path are very slim. They are shy and so your hike will be pleasurable with this thought out of your head.

The most poisonous species found here are the puff adder, Cape cobra, boomslang, rinkhals and berg adder.

5. Table Mountain is one of the oldest in the world

Photo by Planet Labs – Wikimedia

Table Mountain is one of the oldest mountains on earth. It is six times older than the Himalayas and five times older than the Rocky Mountains. 

Geologists believe that it was formed more than 800 million years ago after sand was deposited underwater.

Then 300 million years later, during the ice age period, the top of the mountain was formed. Since it was at sea level, ice sheets crushed away layers of sandstone thus creating the flat surface of the ‘Table Top’.

6. There is diverse vegetation, some unique to this mountain, that are fire-dependent

Photo by Abu Shawka – Wikimedia

The Table Mountain is home to more than 8,200 plant species, most of which is made of a fine bush, unique to South Africa.

These plant species depend on fire to stimulate new growth. This cycle happens every 15 years, therefore, ensuring the plants and animals remain healthy.

Since the fine bushes are close to residential homes at the foot of the mountain, the fire is always extinguished for safety reasons.

Without burning old plants, some of the plant species may be extinct in 20 to 30 years.

About 300 species of flora found here are critically endangered while 29 plant species have already become extinct.

7. Table Mountain is the most visited park in South Africa

Table Mountain is one of the most visited National Parks because of its proximity to the city.

Since it was established as a national park, the number of tourists visiting have been increasing every year.

The number rose from 19 to more than 20 million annually.  

Some of the top attractions at the Table Mountain National park are Boulders where you get to share the beach with a colony of African penguins.

8. The Cable Cars can stop working at any time

Photo by Jeanne Rose Gomez on Unsplash

This should not bring fear, it will not stop working halfway up, the management stops operation due to poor visibility and drizzly weather.

The reminder is always up on their website. Therefore, going up or down will either be through hiking. Sunset views while hiking down the mountain are beautiful.

It is always recommended to carry a light jacket since the weather up top gets windy as well as comfortable hiking shoes should the cable cars stop working.  

9. The Cape Point on Table Mountain is the most popular tourist attraction

The Table Mountain’s Cape Point section is a hub of cultural and natural history. This is one of South Africa’s most popular tourist attractions.

It is found at the southeast corner of the Cape Peninsula, a mountainous and scenic area.

This attraction is defined by towering stone cliffs, rampant fynbos, breath-taking bays, beaches and rolling lush hills and valleys.

Cape point is believed to be the southernmost tip of Africa; it is a stretch of about 30 kilometres. It is also the point where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet.

10. The Rhodes Memorial is found on Table Mountain

Photo by SkyPixels – Wikimedia

Another historic attraction on the Table Mountain is the Rhodes Memorial that was built in 1912.

It stands on the slopes of Devil’s Peak and is within Table Mountian National Park.

Sir Herbert Baker designed this monument as a tribute to Cecil John Rhodes. Rhodes was one of the young and powerful mining magnets in Cape Town in that era.

Baker specifically chose Rhode’s favourite spot on the lower slopes of Devil’s Peak. Cecil Rhodes loved the view of the Cape to Cairo road.