When should you hike a trail? Some hikes lead to fascinating forests, some have tremendous views and others are rich in variety. Share your favorite trails with other hikers and nature lovers.
Table Mountain is truly magnificent and it’s a must to get to the top when in Cape Town, South Africa. The iconic landmark offers stunning views of Cape Town and its surroundings. For a spectacular view of Table Mountain hike to the top of Lion’s Head. Table Mountain can be visited year-round. However, we are happy to provide you with the best daytime, tips, and details about the best months. [This guide was updated in March 2020 after our fifth visit]
When to Go
The best time to visit Table Mountain is from October to March. Those are the driest months, as most rain falls between May and September. The perfect time of day to go up is in the morning before it gets busy and too hot. Either take the first cable car (8:00 am / 8:30) or start hiking early. I also love the evening for a stunning sunset from the top.
Read more details below about the cable car operating times, time of day tips, getting to the top, weather, and why we would visit in the winter months as well.
Opening Times - Cable Car Operating Hours
Table Mountain is 'open' and accessible 24 hours each day throughout the year. However, don't hike in darkness - safety first! But you can spend a night on top of the plateau of table mountain. More about it in the description below. The aerial cableway starts to operate after sunrise but always until sunset. Either take the cable car up and down or what we prefer; hike up, watch the sunset and take the last ride down. Below are the operating hours but keep in mind that during poor weather, especially strong wind the cable car won't operate. If you aren't sure about the weather conditions on a certain day, call their cable car weather hotline: +(0)21 424 8181
Cable Car Operating Hours 2019/2020
|First Cable Car up||Last Cable Car up||Last Cable Car down|
|16 Dec - 15 Jan||8:00||20:30||21:30|
|16 Jan - 31 Jan||8:00||19:30||20:30|
|1 Feb - 31 Mar||8:00||19:00||20:00|
|1 Apr - 30 Apr||8:00||18:30||19:30|
|1 May - 31 Aug||8:30||17:00||18:00|
Detailed Time of Day Tips
- If you plan to hike to the summit via Platteklip Gorge, start early in the morning. That way you'll avoid busy areas and dodge the heat as well in the summer months.
- If you use the cable car to get to the top, also be there early. Arrive as soon as they start operating in the morning. That way, you'll avoid long waiting lines of 1.5 hours during midday. For operating times click the official link (then scroll down): Cableway - Rates - Hours
Getting to the Top | Hiking Trails and Cable Car
- Cable Car (Cable Way): You can get up and down via cableway. Please keep in mind, that it doesn't operate when the weather is bad, the visibility poor, or the wind is too strong. Find rates and operating times here: Cable Car Table Mountain - Official Site. Getting to the cable car itself is not difficult: Cableway - Getting There | Official Site. The easiest way is to book the combo tour (see the tours section below).
- Hiking: An even better experience is hiking. There are many different routes to get to the plateau of Table Mountain. However, most visitors choose to hike up and then take the cable car down or vise versa. If you plan to hike up and take the gondola down check the wind forecast first. You can find a detailed description of our three favourite hiking trails to the top of Table Mountain below. There are two alternative routes for hiking if the cable car is closed; Platteklip Gorge and India Venster. Both hiking trails are spectacular taking 1.5 up to 2 hours. The first one is more challenging and well maintained, the second one more strenuous and not marked. The best choice hike one way up and the other down. Never hike alone due to safety reasons!! During quieter times security is lacking.
Weather and Seasons
The best weather conditions at Table Mountain with the least rain are from October until March. Most rainfall (almost 80%) throughout the year happens from May until September. Summer temps range between 15°C and 27°C degrees. In the winter months between 7°C and 20°C. You won't experience any extremes, which results in both pleasant winter and summer periods. That means winter isn't a bad time to visit! But keep in mind that it's colder at the top of the mountain and windier. During summer, the southeaster, often called "Cape Doctor" by the locals, can blow for days on end. Always bring a suitable jacket or layer of clothes. The 'tablecloth': The famous and stunning looking cloud formation at Table Mountain is called tablecloth. It looks terrific even from the bottom.
Table Mountain is also famous for endemic flowers and plants like the pride of table mountain. The "disa uniflora" is an orchid that blooms from January to March at waterfalls and streams of the Table Mountain Plateau and the Twelve Apostles. We hiked through Skeleton Gorge from the awesome Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden. When we reached the top we came to a stream where two botanists examined the orchid.
Mount Cook - Aoraki in Maori, one of the most famous places in New Zealand is exceptional in all types of weather. It is the highest mountain of NZ at a height of 3.724 m/12217 ft. The summiz of Mount Cook is covered in snow the entire year. Forty percent of the National Park is covered by the largest glaciers. Nineteen of the peaks are more than 3.000 m high. This park has lots of superlatives.
Weather and Crowds Mount Cook
Rain and snow can occur throughout the year; however; the summer is the sunniest time. The weather is changing quickly in the South Alps of NZ. So even if the forecast is excellent be prepared for strong winds, rain, and snow. The mentioned temps for each season are for Mount Cook Village on 760 m elevations.
Spring (September - November)
In spring the Mount Cook Village can still experience minus degrees in the night and day temps are pleasant on average between 15-18°C degrees. Nowadays, with climate change temps in the high 20 can occur. Rain is increasing; showers are likely to happen, but it doesn’t mean it’s raining the entire day.
Summer (December - February)
December and January are the wettest and warmest months of the year. Rain is already decreasing in February. During summer day temps are on average around 20°C degrees. On a clear and sunny day, temps can climb up to 35°C. Night temps are on average around 10°C. Summer is the busiest time of the year. The limited accommodation options are usually fully booked far in advance.
Autumn (March - May)
There is less precipitation during autumn. March is still pleasant with day temps around 20°C on average. It gets colder in April and May with day temps around 15°C but one-digit temps can occur as well. Nights are cold, and minus degrees can happen. It’ a little quieter already and again packed with tourists during Easter. We spent three nights here on Easter and experienced all-weather; blue sunny skies, rain, snow, and hail on the day we left.
Winter (June - August)
It’s chilly here during winter on average 10°C and colder, however, 20° C can happen but that’s rare to experience. Nights are pretty cold, especially if you plan to camp. Expect minus degrees during the night. Some huts and trails on higher elevation may be closed but the most popular ones are less busy.
Exact weather forecast for Mount Cook
Accommodations and Camping in the Aoraki – Mount Cook National Park
Mount Cook village is easy to reach but there is just one long road leading along Lake Pukaki to the village and out. If you don’t stay in the village it is quite a journey. You need at least three hours from Queenstown and four from Christchurch. There are very few accommodations the reason that advanced booking is utterly necessary throughout the year. Lodges, Chalet, and Motel for Aoraki (Bookmark the Link for price guarantee at booking.com). Stay at least 3 better 4 days in case of poor weather. The weather can change very quickly here in the NZ Alps. We experienced sunny blue skies, rain, hail, and, snow on our last day-
The doc campground is huge - 60 non-powered sites. You can pitch your tent wherever you want. It's first come first serve. There is one public shelter for cooking which is quite small in the peak season during rain or hail. Hot showers are only at the village available. However, nights are cold; temps can drop below zero. I know what I am talking about. The price is $15 per adult and children half.
Ben Nevis is climed year around but the winter time is only for experienced mountaineers, people still die on the mountain. In the summertime it is one of the most popular hikes in Scotland, since it is the highest peak of the UK.
Mount Olympus, the mountain of the gods, is an impressive geographical hike, the maximum altitude is 2.917 meters, but it's only some kilometers from the Aegean Sea. Best season is from June until the end of September. In the spring the mountaintop is known for thunderstorms, hence the number of trees felled by lightning.
September and October. Rain season is finished and there is not too much snow.
Trolltunga! Mesmerizing! Follow our tips to make the most out of your visit. When is the best time? Mid-June until early September are the most pleasant months for hiking and seeing the spectacular scenic cliffs. However, it gets very crowded up there. Read on for our detailed description of weather conditions, how to avoid the crowds and a full season guide. Updated 2019!
We also have new (scroll down or click the links) must-know tips, hiking details, camping tips, and more! Looking for a place to stay? Our Hotel Tips for Trolltunga can help you. Please check out the recommended tours section as well.
Spring | Late March - April - May | Guided Hiking | It’s still snow season (hiking tours with snowshoes). A guided tour is recommended. Sometimes groups who hiked in April on their own, had to turn around: Freezing, too much snow and trail markings (red ‘T’s) were snow covered. In May experienced hikers report that the hike is doable alone but still challenging due to the snow. We suggest guided hiking tours throughout spring. You can find the official Trolltunga Active A.S. (they are the best!) hikes here: Trolltunga Active Tours & Hikes Booking in advance is highly recommended!
Summer| June - July - August - Mid-September | Self-Guided Hiking | Peak season! The best weather and terrain conditions are from mid-June until early September. The trail is well marked and can be done without guides. However, if you're very unexperienced a guided hike is recommended. Meaning, if you can't or don't want to go alone, book a tour via GetYourGuide. They only offer tours from the two top operators Trolltunga Active and Trolltunga Adventures (the best guides you can get): Reliable Trolltunga Tours. Crowds? The downside is indeed the crowds at Trolltunga and on the trail as well. At the cliffs, it’s not unlikely to wait in the queue for 1-2 hours until you can take your photos. Read our tips below on how to dodge the crowds!
Autumn | Mid-September - Mid-October | Guided Hiking | Already a high chance of new snow and rough weather. Guided tours are highly recommended. Recently in late September, a group had to be rescued by the Red Cross before they would have frozen to death. They went in bad weather. If you want to go alone: Check weather conditions constantly, listen to the locals and prepare with the right gear and clothing.
Winter | Mid-October - Mid-March | Guided Hiking Only | Off-season! DANGER, extremely rough conditions. Life-threatening even for experienced hikers. UPDATE 2019: Somehow the tourist information center 'Visit Odda' changed their mind about hiking in the winter. Now, they say you can hike even in the winter, but only with very experienced guides from Trolltunga Active. See their new infographic here: Trolltunga Hiking Seasons And the official tour by Trolltunga Active: Winter Snowshoe Hike
Avoiding the Crowds
The main trail to the top and Trolltunga itself became really crowded recently. However, we got you covered with the best tips. You have three viable options to dodge crowds on the trail as well as avoiding long waiting times to take a photo at Trolltunga:
Start very early around 6 AM or even better at 5 AM. (If you want to drive the new road (see below), be in Skjeggedal at 6 a.m. when the road 'opens') Hikers who start at 5 AM and arrive around 9 AM usually only see a few others on the trail and up there, even in July/August. You’ll only wait less than 15 minutes to take your photos, compared to an hour or longer!
Bring a tent for camping and stay overnight. That way you can experience a quiet sunset and sunrise without the crowds of day hikers. Never camped before or don't want to camp alone? In that case we highly suggest booking the Overnight Hike to Trolltunga (with Camping). It's offered by Trolltunga Adventures and you'll completely dodge the crowds at sunset or sunrise.
Visit Outside Summer:
Go in shoulder season, either April/May or Sept/Oct or even in the winter with a guided tour now. Rougher conditions but fewer people, sometimes almost solitude.
Sweet Spot Months
Try the sweet spot time between EARLY JUNE until MID-JUNE: Still, some snow on the ground but no guide needed. Mostly pleasant conditions and much less crowded than in late June, July, and August.