The Cape Peninsula, with Cape Point at one end and Table Mountain at the other, offers a network of criss-crossing hiking trails that will lead you through indigenous fynbos and forest. The Table Mountain National Park stretches approximately 60 kilometres from Signal Hill to Cape Point and includes a large portion of the mountain chain of the peninsula, as well as 1 000 square kilometres of coastline and sea.
With a staggering 1 300 species per 10 000 square kilometres, Cape Town’s outdoors has the highest concentration of plant species on the planet. To put it in perspective: Table Mountain alone hosts as many plant species as the UK, all 1 500 species of them.
Cape Town’s scenic beauty lies in its diversity and contrasts, from our buzzing CBD and our glittering oceans to the ancient mountains that form the spine of the peninsula. Our mountains are not only beautiful, but offer plenty of opportunities to get outdoors and enjoy nature, whether you’re exploring the iconic Table Mountain or any of the lesser-known peaks.
Table Mountain is just one feature of a 50-kilometre Cape Fold mountain range that stretches from Signal Hill all the way to Cape Point. This range also includes the Back Table (behind Table Mountain) and what are known as the Twelve Apostles, along the Atlantic coast.
Across False Bay lies the Kogelberg range, of which the City’s Steenbras Nature Reserve forms part. By arranging a permit, you can hike up the Steenbras River Gorge to Crystal Pool.
There are many other mountains near Cape Town, like the Hottentots Holland Mountains. This mountain range can be crossed at Sir Lowry’s Pass on the N2, a short but scenic drive that takes you into the Overberg region. Further afield you will find many other ranges, including the Drakenstein mountains, as you head to the wineland areas of Stellenbosch and Franschhoek, and the Langeberg Range.
For some great tips and information on hikes, picnics and other ways to safely explore our mountains, please see Explore our mountains, fynbos and forests.
The City of Cape Town manages a number of nature reserves and natural areas. Some of these – like Helderberg Nature Reserve in the Hottentots Hollands – offer beautiful mountain settings and lots of mountain activities.
For a beautiful, scenic drive along the back of Table Mountain, try Chapman’s Peak drive. Chapman’s Peak is regarded as one of the most scenic drives in the world. Chapman’s Peak winds its way along the vertical cliffs rising out of the ocean between Hout Bay and Noordhoek. Opened in 1922 and built by convict labour, it was named after John Chapman, the chief mate of the ship consent. Upon being becalmed in the area of Hout Bay, Chapman was sent ashore to find provisions. The name of the bay was recorded as Chapman’s Chaunce (‘chance’). It is reputedly the oldest surviving English place name in South Africa.
For provincial and national reserves in the Western Cape that offer a mountain experience, we recommend browsing the following websites:
Cape Town enjoys a Mediterranean climate and usually experiences warm summers, rainy winters and milder in-between seasons. Summer, December to February, is usually hot and sunny with an average temperature of around 26°C. This is the most popular time to visit Cape Town and tourists and residents usually enjoy about 11 hours of sunshine every day. In Autumn, March to May, temperatures range between 13°C and 20°C. Days start to become cooler, with occasional drizzle and little wind.
Spring, September to November, offers milder weather, with temperatures ranging between 9°C and 24°C.During this season you can enjoy lush, green vegetation, cooler nights and pleasant weather. Winter, June to August, is Cape Town’s rainy season, with an about 12 rainy days per month and an average rainfall of between 82 and 93mm. Temperatures during winter usually range between 7°C and 18°C.