Table Mountain is a national monument and forms part of the Table Mountain National Park. Cape Town is famous for this flat-topped sandstone mountain. Renowned for its hiking routes and adventure sports, its indigenous animals and plants, as well as incredible panoramic views of the peninsula, Table Mountain is a nature and activity hotspot.
Table Mountain’s vegetation is part of the Cape Floral Kingdom, which is protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The mountain is also home to the endemic – and critically endangered – Table Mountain Ghost Frog.
If you are facing Table Mountain from the CBD, you will see Devil’s Peak to the left and the smaller Lion’s Head to the right; both also offer incredible opportunities for climbing, hiking, sports and exploration. These two peaks face Table Bay and together, all three form the classic bay and mountain image we see in many postcards of the city.
Au Pear enjoys an idyllic situation, right in the heart of the lush, green suburb of Newlands. Its own leafy setting is perfectly set off by the many natural retreats around the guesthouse. Walks and hikes are the ideal way to get the most out of the natural loveliness of Cape Town without having to journey very far.
Here are some of the most scenic areas in which to walk and hike in and around Newlands:
The beautiful forest is perfect for those wanting a restful escape from the city vibe. The towering trees provide cooling shade to ensure that, even in the balmy summer months, visitors can do this trail quite comfortably. The trail through the forest offers breath-taking views, not only of the jade foliage, but also of the suburbs of Newlands and Bishop’s Court in places. Along the way, there are a number of places in which to stop and enjoy a picnic. The entire walk takes about 1.25 hours, if you do not opt to stop for refreshments. It is easy to manage, and ideal for families. It is also linked to the suburb of Newlands by a subway, which means that Au Pear’s visitors can quite easily walk to the forest and mountain from the guest house.
Newlands Forest to Kirstenbosch
The Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens are a popular tourist attraction in the Mother City, and are best enjoyed strolling around them at a restful pace. Combine a visit to the gardens with a hike for a very special experience of the natural beauty around Newlands.
This particular trail starts and finishes on the mountain side of Union Avenue, where it meets with Rhodes Avenue. This is a four-hour walk, not counting time for stops and photos, which are musts. The views are nothing short of spectacular, and the forested areas are cool and manageable. In places, the route is a little steep, which earns this trail an “intermediate” rating.
Upon reaching Kirstenbosch Gardens, you will no doubt want to savour the manicured greenery while enjoying a snack and a cool drink at one of the restaurants or the tea house.
Table Mountain Trails
Table Mountain is truly spectacular, and lies on the doorstep of Au Pear. There are dozens of trails that traverse the inclines of the mountain, some more established than others. The best known of these include:
• Skeleton Gorge to Maclears Beacon – a steep route to the top of the mountain with unrivalled views along the way. Ladders have been erected for some of the steeper parts. This takes about four hours to complete.
• Kirstenbosch to Constantia Nek – this is an easy two hour route that showcases some of the Cape’s most gorgeous fynbos. It covers some six kilometres and boasts stunning views.
• Kings Blockhouse to Kirstenbosch – follow a contour path around Table Mountain for some magnificent views. This route starts at Rhodes Memorial, heads straight up to the historic Kings Block House and then trails around towards Kirstenbosch. It takes about three hours to complete (if you have a car waiting for you at Kirstenbosch) and is easy to manage.
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens
Within the gardens themselves are a number of trails for the young and young-at-heart to enjoy. Some of these take only 15 minutes, while others can take up to six hours. They include the Braille Trail (a short path that is especially designed for those without the facility of sight), Boekenhout Trail (30 minutes), Stinkwood Trail (about an hour), Yellowwood Trail (two hours), Silvertree Trail (three to four hours), Smuts Track up Skeleton Gorge (up to six hours) and Nursery Ravine (at least four hours). For those that are not able to manage one of these walks, there are guided tours conducted on golf carts. These are informative and can be enjoyed in comfort by every member of the family.
Note: If you want to walk your dog in Table Mountain Park, you will need a My Activity Permit. Your dog will also need to be kept on a lead. There is a brochure with maps and instructions for how to walk your dog on the mountain. Take it with you!