My experiences living in Cape Town and travelling in Africa

Hiking the India Venster trail up Table Mountain

In another first for 2014 I climbed Table Mountain using the India Venster trail. I have lost count of how many times I have hiked up Table Mountain but I had never been up India Venster until last weekend. The week before I had climbed Lion’s Head with a couple of friends and we all said we should climb Table Mountain again but we all agreed the usual route, up Platteklip Gorge, was boring so I suggested we try something new. India Venster is said to be more technical and not for the novice hiker but we were up for the challenge and so the date was set.

India Venster hiking trail

I always advocate an early start when hiking, so you get to climb in the cool of the day and before the suns rays get to harsh. The plan was to meet at half past six at the lower cable station. Well, that was the plan but there was a slight mix up in communication which saw me only waking up at 6:10 not ready to hike. After a slew of messages and slightly desperate phone call from the rest of the group who were already there (because I was the one who supposedly knew the route), I told them to start hiking and I’d catch them up. Well I’ve never gotten dressed and packed a backpack that fast. As I parked at the lower cable station and checked my watch it was 6:50am, I was 20 mins behind. I just had time to check my messages to see that they were on the path and would wait for me at the T junction as I launched onto the rocky stairs that make up the first part of the trail. As I approached the T junction, I recognised a few of the figures in the group and arrived not long after they had gotten their, considerably more out of breath though. They didn’t have much sympathy for me though and as I arrived  they all got up and were ready to carry on. The sun had just risen over Devil’s Peak and it was a perfect morning for hiking.

India Venster hiking trail

A little further up the trail we were at eye level with the Cable Car as we looked over towards Devil’s Peak with a thin blanket of cloud pouring over the mountain.

India Venster hiking trail

One of the great aspects of the India Venster trail is that for most of it you are hiking below the cableway and so every ten or fifteen minutes you can take a break, look up and watch it glide past momentarily forgetting about your aching leg muscles.

India Venster hiking trail

For me however, the best part of the India Venster trail though is the rock climbing sections. They break the monotony of hiking along a path. There are a few places where metal rings and chains have been attached to the rocks to help you but it is no more technical or difficult than the chains section of Lion’s Head and the few novices in our group coped with ease.

India Venster hiking trail

A little higher up we found ourselves at eye level again with the cable car, this time from the other side having crossed over a gully and with Lion’s Head in the background.

India Venster hiking trail

You really get it all on the India Venster trail, with great views of the city the whole way up.

India Venster hiking trail

As you approach the top of the mountain the rock faces become increasingly steep and sheer at which point the trail takes you around the side revealing this amazing 180 degree view of the Atlantic Seaboard and this is before you even reach the top of the mountain.

India Venster hiking trail

Following the rock face around the side the path does get rather narrow with some vertigo inducing drop-offs to the side (even my camera was struggling to focus).

India Venster hiking trail

And just in case you were planning to climb down there was this friendly reminder just as we were approaching the top.

India Venster hiking trail

The obligatory group photo at the top, courtesy of a friendly passer-by, followed by a champagne breakfast and all before 9:00am. It may have been my first time hiking up Table Mountain on the India Venster Trail but it certainly won’t be my last. This is definitely my new favourite route and I highly recommend you give it a go.

6 responses

  1. Joseph

    Do you advise going down the same route or is it possible to go down a different way (and end fairly close to the starting point)?

    January 29, 2015 at 10:38 am

    • Hi Joseph,
      To be honest I haven’t hiked down India Venster. They say it’s not an easy way down but based on hiking up I would imagine that it’s very doable the other way around.
      Alternatively you can come down Platteklip gorge which comes out further along the road from the Cable Station. Or on the way down Platteklip you could get onto the contour path along the front of the mountain to above the cable station and back down the first part of the India Venster trail to where you started at the Cable Station. A bit of a longer way of doing it but would get you back to where you started.
      Hope that helps.

      January 29, 2015 at 10:46 am

  2. Hey Rory!
    Loved reading about your hike, I just hiked table mountain this weekend using the Platteklip Gorge route. I want to take my sister for a hike in December when she comes to visit. Do you recommend the India trail if neither of us have hiked it before? Guides are quiet expensive, but I would love to do the India route. What are your suggestions?

    November 23, 2015 at 11:49 am

    • Hi there,
      Glad you enjoyed the post. To answer your question I wouldn’t recommend the route if you haven’t done it before as the path is a little unclear in places and there are a few technical sections. As an alternative to guides you could try searching for a hiking group that is doing the route but then you are restricted to their schedule/diary. I would be more than happy to show you the route as I will be back in Cape Town for most of December. Just drop me an email or comment and we can see if I will be around and make a plan to hike it together if you like.

      November 23, 2015 at 12:56 pm

      • We will be in Cape Town on December 7th and 8th (but we have to pick up our rental car on the 8th at 10am). Let me know if you would be free on the 7th for the hike!

        November 23, 2015 at 2:27 pm

      • That’s great, I will be in Cape Town on the 7th and 8th Dec. Best time for the hike is early morning and we could possibly hike up and come down in the cable car before 10am on the 8th but otherwise the 7th is fine. I did send you an email with my cellphone number so you can call or message me on that on the 6th and we can arrange where to meet.

        November 23, 2015 at 3:50 pm

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