Cape Town is blessed with more than its fair share of sunny weather. But, there are days when it can get rather grey and windy, especially now that winter is approaching. When the wind is pumping in the city centre, and the cable-car is closed, you can still get up and down Table Mountain with relative ease and comfort. You just need to pick the right route. The back table is quite a lot lower than the front of the mountain, so it’s easier to climb. It’s also protected from all but the worst south-easterly winds.
There are several hiking trails on the back mountain, but Constantia Corner is probably the quickest way up. So it’s ideal if you only have two or three hours to spare. Starting from the parking lot at Constantia Nek, walk up the short stretch of road to the right, then keep left to take the pathway that leads up Constantia Corner.
It’s a fairly steep climb, but you’ll soon be sheltered from the wind and enjoying breathtaking views over the beautiful vineyards in the valley below. At the top, you’ll find yourself in a blissful wilderness of vividly-colored wildflowers and strangely sculpted sandstone boulders – one of which looks surprisingly like a camel. (Not surprisingly, it’s called Camel Rock.) It’s quite magical to be surrounded by the mist, while the sights and sounds of the city below disappear completely.
All too soon, you’ll pop out beside the De Villiers reservoir and onto the concrete road that’s part of the official Hoerikwaggo Trail. If you’ve got the time and the inclination, you can follow this past the other four reservoirs and continue exploring the mountaintop. Otherwise, it’s a leisurely stroll along the service road back down to the car park, where you can refresh yourself with fruit from the vendors. Or you can pop over the road to La Parada for a post-hike beer and some yummy tapas.
Although this is a relatively easy hike, if you’re unfamiliar with Table Mountain, it’s probably best to go with a guide. Always take water, warm clothing, sunscreen and a cellphone. A good map, like Slingsby’s map of Table Mountain, is also recommended.