There is a lot to take into account when you are hiking Table Mountain in December. With strong winds, extreme daily temperatures and holiday season in Cape town be sure to know exactly when to hike as well as what to lookout for on your hike.
December is officially the start of summer hiking on Table Mountain. The days are bright and packed with sunlight. December days have the longest daylight of the year with day lengths averaging a little over 14 hours. The average sunrise time is 05:29 and the average sunset time is 19:53. This gives you the opportunity to start hiking on Table Mountain nice and early in December.
With long day lengths in December it gives you a lot more time to hike, but remember it can be extremely uncomfortable hiking up Table Mountain when it’s hot, so make sure you plan your hike accordingly. Start your hike up table Mountain early in the morning in December before it gets too hot, especially if you are hiking the northern and western slopes of Table Mountain which are exposed to direct sunlight.
December is a very hot time of year and rivers and streams dry up. Do not rely on these water sources when hiking up Table Mountain, always carry plenty of your own water. December hosts the sunniest days of the year in Cape Town, the average high temperature is 25 degrees C.
There is very little precipitation in December so it will be a surprise to see much rain during your hike this time of year. There are a few overcast days and hiking when it is overcast is actually quite nice, but it can still be hot so make sure you don’t set off too late. It is also important to access the weather forecast and identify whether the cloud cover will be high or low. Low cloud will restrict views and disturb visibility on any Table Mountain hiking route.
The most irritating thing about hiking up Table Mountain in December is the wind, it is extremely windy. This does change at times, but I would say that December is the windiest month on the mountain and when I say windy, I mean windy. You really want to get this part right, if the wind picks up and you are stuck on the mountain you will not enjoy it and it gets dangerous too. Be careful if you run into strong winds on your hike and remember it usually gets windier the higher up you go. The cable car does not run in wind speeds greater than 35km/hr. If you are planning on catching a ride down after your hike up Table Mountain, be sure to take this into account.
December time in Cape Town is busy. Everyone from inland South Africa flocks down and everyone wants to go up Table Mountain and experience this beautiful sight. Saying this, December is not only packed with South African tourists, but there is a large number of international visitors as well. Remember it is school holidays and everyone is on their end of year break.
If you are hiking up, you are going to want to try and stay off the busier routes, therefore I would avoid hiking up Table Mountain via Platteklip Gorge. This route is quite popular and can get very crowded in December. This route is the fastest, steepest and also probably the least scenic so I wouldn’t worry too much about avoiding this one. I would rather opt for India Venster, Kasteelspoort or Skeleton Gorge – these routes are far more scenic and all in all a much better Table Mountain hiking experience.
Up at the top you will find a lot of people this time of year, basically you have everybody who has hiked up Table Mountain as well as everybody who has taken the cable car. There can be a very long wait at the cable car station on your way back down and it’s not uncommon to wait up to 1.5 – 2 hours in the queue. You may want to think about hiking back down Table Mountain instead. Alternatively plan your hike really early and beat the crowds at the top
With all this said if you get it right, December can still be a great time to hike Table Mountain. An early start will beat the crowds and the summer heat. I would suggest starting your hike at sunrise, I know it’s early but this will be the best time to start a hike up Table Mountain in December.