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Best ways to see Table Mountain

Table Mountain has to be one of the world's most easily recognisable mountains, and a must-see if you're ever in Cape Town. 

Its surrounding national park is home to more plant species than there are in the entire United Kingdom. Leopard and South African wildcat can be seen pursuing the rock hyrax and mongoose which live here, all fascinating sights. Many visit the country purely to catch a glimpse of some of its rare raptors and other birds of prey, and they won't be disappointed. 

It's the most photographed attraction in South Africa, and there's still so much to discover. Choose whether to explore by yourself or with a guide, on foot or by bike, or even take the cable car up or soar above in a hot air balloon.

A guided or self-guided walk

Taking a guide out with you to explore allows you to learn more than your senses can tell you. There's nothing more entertaining than being wowed by all the wonders around you, though there are benefits to going unaccompanied. As you journey through the many trails of this magical and solitary environment, there's something about not knowing the source of every noise or the reason behind the wild shapes of the plant-life that only adds to the wonder. 

You can find everything from tortoise to penguin here, and there are some rare endemic species like the Table Mountain ghost frog. And with the mountain, marsh and forest habitats there's also an incredible variety of birdlife to lookout for, including some of the world's most fearsome aerial predators like the Verreaux's eagle and jackal buzzard.  

Climbing and abseiling

While quiet strolls through the shade of the reserve's forestry sounds like bliss for some holidaymakers, many are more struck by the harder faces of the mountain. For thrill seekers who like to push themselves to their limits, the chance to climb the challenging sections is the greatest attraction. As the trusty ropes take your weight, would you dare to look down at the sprawling city of Cape Town and the great seascape beyond that? Abseiling down the sheer rock of Table Mountain is an experience like no other.  

Quad or mountain biking 

You can race through the national park's incredible terrain on a quad bike, the engine screaming and the wheels kicking up the earth. On the downhill sections, you'll really pick up some speed. The mountain biking here is also incredible, and the trails are perfect for getting to know the mountain. And with your near-silent movements over long stretches of mountain and forest, this is also a great way to sneak up on some of the most elusive creatures here – the leopard, for example, are incredibly difficult to see.   

Cable cars and hot air balloons 

The cable car system here runs smoothly, and it allows you to get straight to the vistas of the flat peak. This can be particularly great if your itinerary is packed out with exciting activities and you only have so much time here in Cape Town. You can come up to see the sunrise from the mountainside, watching the great azure expanses of the ocean and the sky, before an afternoon boat trip on which you can look back at the mountain. 

Another spectacular way to take in the marvellous topography is to take a hot air balloon ride. Watch the great shadow of the mountain roll over the land, and find the shadow of your balloon below. There are few experiences so spectacular. 

Get more Cape Town holiday ideas and find out more about South Africa holidays and the best time to visit South Africa.