Next spring, I will be going to Cape Town with a few good friends and we'd really like to hike Table Mountain. We're an athletic group looking for challenging hikes, so what would you recommend?
Depending on which side you start - the "front" of the mountain has shorter, harder walks up. The main one is Platteklip Gorge (bit boring, but good one to start on) Close by is India Venster which is great and starts at the cable station. If you go from Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, you can go up Skeleton Gorge and from Camps Bay you have Nursery Ravine.
My favourite is India Venster (2 - 3 hours), but going up Skeleton Gorge and into the botanical gardens is also great (about 5 - 6 hours)
Take lots of water and dont under-estimate the mountain. Mountain rescue number is 021 948 9900 (handy to have, I give out the number all the time)
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Excellent answers above! But I cannot resist adding my support for Lion's Head! It is a beautiful hike, especially in the morning and there are a few fun bits of ladders up near the top, not to hard but more exciting. Plus you get the benefit of a view with Table Mountain one side and the bay in the other.
Enjoy Cape Town!
Platteklip is steps all the way up - kind of boring but the most direct and so most popular as far as I know. Definitely challenging though as it is so relentless. I would recommend Skeleton Gorge as well - longer but not as intense although it has some wooden ladders to navigate at one point! You might also want to try Lion's Head in the same day if you can - it's a smaller peak next to Table Mountain which is meant to be pretty (I haven't done it) but if you are up for a challenge you could do the double :)