Did you know?
The base of the cable car is in fact a water tank, used as ballast during the windy season.
The Table Mountain cableway is one of South Africa’s most popular tourist attractions, transporting 65 passengers per car from Tafelberg Road to the top of Table Mountain. The floor of each car rotates, giving everyone a 360-degree view on the way up.
Before the creation of the cableway, visitors wanting to explore the top had to hike the front face of Table Mountain, up Platteklip Gorge. The Platteklip Gorge route, which winds up spectacular crags, was the first documented ascent of the mountain by Antonio de Saldanha in the 16th Century. It remains a favourite route, especially for those who hike one way and take the cableway another.
The Table Mountain cableway opened in 1929 and, to date, has transported more than 18 million passengers to the summit. 800 000 visitors from all over the world use the cableway annually. Cars depart every 10 minutes so it is unusual for queues to last longer than half an hour, even in high season. Famous visitors have ranged from Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II to the queen of talk, Oprah Winfrey.
While the original cable cars were made of wood and tin, the modern visitor is transported by the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway in hi-tech, Swiss-made Rotair cars at a speed of 10 metres per second, meaning that the average ascent now takes under 10 minutes.
Once through the turnstile of the upper cable station, you enter a unique world of violet lizards and plush-looking rock hyrax, snakes and mongoose, denizens of a dazzling floral display. On Table Mountain alone, there are an estimated 1 470 plants.
As a World Heritage Site, Table Mountain National Park’s spectacular beauty and rich bio-diversity are well worth exploring, and you’ll be dazzled by the scenic spectrum that reveals itself from the summit.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Table Mountain Aerial Cableway
Weatherline: +27 (0)21 424 8181
General enquiries: +27 (0)21 424 0015
How to get here
Table Mountain is pretty hard to miss. Get to Cape Town and you are there!
How to get around
The cableway is the easiest option but there are many hiking trails leading to and from the summit. A good option is to take the cableway up and walk down.
What will it cost
Return ticket prices valid until October 2010: Adult - R160.00; Children (under 18 years) - R80.00; Children (under 4 years) - free.
Length of stay
Plan to spend at least half a day exploring, more if you're planning on a hike.
What to pack
Sunscreen and a hat are advisable. Warm clothes too, as the weather can change abruptly.
Where to stay
Aside from exclusive overnight hiking trails that need to be booked through South African National Parks, you are not permitted to overnight on the mountain.
What to eat
While you can take your own picnic basket, facilities at the summit include a decent restaurant.