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Table Mountain National Park
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As the Table Mountain National Park (TMNP) includes mountains, beaches, forests and oceans, there are a variety of popular recreational activities for outdoor enthusiasts.
However, because the Park receives in excess of 4.2 million visits per year, regulations, permits and Environmental Management Plans (EMP’s), apply to certain of these activities in order to minimize the impacts on the environment. Users of the Park are asked to respect the environment at all times to assist us in protecting our unique natural heritage for the benefit of current and future generations.
What is an EMP?
When the Park was established there was a need to formally recognize appropriate recreational activities within the managed area of TMNP as these activities have impacts on both the environment and other users of the park.
The TMNP therefore, through public processes, developed Environmental Management Programs (EMP) for dog walking; hang and paragliding; sport/rock climbing; horse riding; mountain biking; and line fishing.
. These EMPs include:
- an overview of the current status of an activity and a brief summary of impacts and issues
- an environmental policy
- a strategic approach to respond to impacts and issues
- guidelines for implementation of the EMP
- maps of the approved routes and entry/exit points
- a Code of Conduct
EMP's require users to respect the rules and regulations of the park, undertake their activity with care and consideration for other users and to protect and conserve the natural and heritage resources of the park.
Rather than abuse the privilege of undertaking activities in the Park, users are encouraged to conduct themselves responsibly in the park by following the requirements of the relevant EMP. In this way promoting a safe and appropriate low impact means of enjoying and appreciating the Park.
- Dog Walking Environmental Management Plan
- Hang/Paragliding Environmental Management Plan
- Rock/Sport Climbing Environmental Management Plan
- Horse Riding Environmental Management Plan
- Mountain Biking Environmental Management Plan
For more info on Activity Permits, click here, or call the Tokai Tourism Office on 021 712 7471.
Please select an activity below for more information.
Table Mountain National Park is a walking Park with exciting trails for all levels of walkers from the super-fit to the casual stroller. There are many routes to choose from along the Table Mountain Chain offering spectacular views of the City of Cape Town, rugged mountains and deep blue seas. Most of the popular hikes up Table Mountain such as Platteklip Gorge (north face), Nursery Ravine and Skeleton Gorge (the latter two being accessible from Kirstenbosch Gardens) are fairly strenuous, while Silvermine, the Cape of Good Hope and the Constantiaberg offer easier options. For a guide to the most popular hiking routes get yourself a copy of Mountains in the Sea - an Interpretive Guide to Table Mountain National Park by John Yeld. See details above. Have a look at our safe hiking in Table Mountain National Park guide.
The Table Mountain National Park Marine Protected Area (MPA) is a popular fishing area for shore and boat-based fisher people as well as extractive divers. However due to heavy recreational and commercial pressure on the rich biodiversity of the MPA, fishing and extractive diving are subject to strict regulations and permits. Certain activities such as recreational perlemoen diving are prohibited.
There are six restricted areas with five or "no take" zones within the MPA where no fishing or extractive activities are allowed, and in the sixth restricted area the Karbonkelberg , only snoek are allowed to be caught deeper than the 35m contour.
To purchase recreational fishing permits, please contact your local South African Post Office. An annual My Activity Permit Level 3 or 4 is also required. Please note that a Wild Card membership does not grant you entry to fish within TMNP.
The West Coast Rock Lobster season for 2012/13 is upon us - here are the dates you need to know for when catching rock lobster (crayfish) is allowed:
- 15 November - 18 November: Every day of the week
- 19 November - 14 December: Weekends only
- 15 December - 31 December: Every day of the week
- 1 January - 1 April: Weekends and public holidays only
TMNP is one of the few National Parks in South Africa where you are permitted to walk a dog. However dog walking is restricted to limited areas in order to minimize the impacts of dogs on the biodiversity of the mountain – these include running off the paths and chasing indigenous animals.
Dogs must be under the control of their owners at all times and it is illegal for dogs to be on the mountain unaccompanied. Popular areas for dog walking are Silvermine, the lower slopes of Table Mountain accessible from Constantia Nek, Noordhoek Beach and lower section of the Tokai Plantation.
Dog training at TMNP is prohibited.
Please download the Dog Walking Environmental Management Plan for details on the designated areas.
An annual Dog Walking Wild Card Permit is required - more info.
There are enthusiastic volunteers who are now offering free guided walks at Cape Point.
- Meeting point for all hikes is just inside the main gate on the 2nd Sunday of each month, adjustments made in March and November due to race days.
- Walkers must wear strong boots and have hat, sun block, raingear, water and a snack.
- Get a wild card, obtainable from the Tokai Tourism Sales Office (+27 021 712 7471) (closed daily from 12:30 - 13:00) or pay admission fee at the gate R105.
- There is no payment for the walk. ***note different start times***
- Enquiries: John 021 782 2379; Ian 021 782 8552
Scuba divers are spoilt for choice in the Table Mountain National Park Marine Protected Area. Particularly rewarding are the numerous wrecks that scatter the coastline as well as the six restricted areas ("no take" zones) that have been established as breeding and nursery areas for marine species.
Popular dive sites include the Maori wreck off the Sentinel in Hout Bay, Oudekraal on the Atlantic Seaboard and Miller's Point and Smitswinkel in False Bay.
Please note that the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) has implemented a permit system for scuba diving within all MPA’s. Scuba divers must be in possession of a permit, even if not fishing and can be purchased nationwide from the South African Post Office.
Diving has been restricted within the TMNP MPA since February 2008 - the areas affected are indicated on our map together with the regulations.
The steep slopes that characterise much of the TMNP make it ideal for mountain biking enthusiasts. However, because this activity is very high impact and negatively affects the biodiversity of the Park and often clashes with the more sedate activities such as hiking and dog walking, there are designated areas where mountain biking is allowed. Popular areas are certain parts of the Tokai Plantation and Silvermine (accessible from Gate One).
- Mountain Biking Environmental Management Plan - for details on the designated areas.
- Mountain Biking Code of Conduct
- Moutain Biking trail route map.
- Table Mountain MTB poster.
An annual My Activity Permit Level 3 for mountain biking is required. Alternatively, day passes are available for Tokai at the Braai Site Kiosk.
A plethora of reefs, rocky points, beaches and open ocean Atlantic swell provide numerous breaks that work in different conditions which means that there is usually a wave to be found somewhere on the peninsula. The World famous Red Bull Big Wave Africa is held at Dungeons just of Hout Bay and attracts top big wave surfers from all over the world.
Tow in surfing is only permitted in three areas – Dungeons, Outer Boneyard and Sunset's (off Kommetjie) and only if wave swell is five meters or more. Please note that the relevant permits are required for tow-in surfing. Jet Ski's are banned in the rest of the MPA.
Due to the high and frequent winds that characterise the Cape Peninsula there are many opportunities for windsurfing and kite boarding especially in the summer months.
The rocky ledges and huge boulders of the mountain attract climbers from all over the world. However climbing is a high impact sport and designated climbing areas are outlined in the Environmental Management Plan. Be sure to read our safe hiking in Table Mountain National Park guide. Please also be aware that Table Mountain offers challenges to climbers and it is highly recommended that you join a climbing club to benefit from local knowledge. Please download the Rock/Sport Climbing Environmental Management Plan for details on the designated areas. A My Activity Permit Level 2 is required.
Table Mountain National Park offers numerous picnic/braai areas although braaing should be undertaken with care and is often banned due to high winds.
Dogs and music are prohibited in all picnic/braai areas.
- Buffels Bay and Bordjiesdrif: Situated right on the beach in the Cape of Good Hope this is a very picturesque venue for a picnic or braai with bathing for kids in the tidal pool at both locations. However, troops of Chacma Baboons are regular visitors and are attracted by food and can be aggressive. Please try to avoid the baboons and do not feed them. Please call: +27(0) 21 780 9204, Monday to Sunday for further information. Note access times change seasonally and are linked to the Cape of Good Hope gate entry and exit times.
- Glen & Deer Park Picnic sites: These beautiful picnic sites are in the heart of the city. You will experience the picturesque views of Cape Town. You can access Deer Park from Deer Park Drive and the Glen from Kloof Road. Please call: +27(0) 21 422 1601, Monday to Friday - 8:00 to 15:30 for more information including the opening and closing times.
- Oudekraal Picnic/Braai Site: Situated between Camps' Bay and Llandudno, This lovely secluded beach is perfect for a family lunch. The sea is calm and ideal for swimming. Alcohol is prohibited. Please call: +27(0) 21 438 9555, Monday to Sunday for further information. Open season 1 October- 31 May Closed season 1 June - 30 September. This site is open weekends and public holidays irrespective of the season. Oudekraal also offers corporate function facilities. Please call our film & events department on +27 (0)21 712 2337 / 0527 for bookings.
- Newland's Picnic/Braai Site: Conveniently situated off the M3 near Rondebosch, this picnic area is situated under the shade of pine trees and is popular on weekends. Several hikes are also accessible from the picnic area. Alcohol is prohibited. Please call: +27(0) 21 689 4441/ 021 4221 601 during office hours for further information. Newlands Picnic Site is closed during the winter period (1 June – 30 September).
- Perdekloof Picnic/Braai Site: Just 45 minutes outside of Cape Town on the way to the Cape of Good Hope, Perdekloof also offers good shade combined with a sense of "getting away from it all". Operational hours 09h00 to 17h00. The picnic site is closed between the 1st of May to 31st of October. Corporate/ large groups wishing to use the picnic site during the closed period can book by phoning 021 780 9100. during office hours.
- Silvermine Picnic/Braai Site: Definitely among the most spectacular lunch venues in the Park the Silvermine picnic site is situated on the banks of the reservoir with spectacular views of the Fynbos clad mountains. A boardwalk provides a picturesque trail around the reservoir that takes about 25 minutes to complete. Please call: +27(0) 21 780 9002, Monday to Sunday for further information.
Silvermine also offers group function facilities. Please call our film & events department on +27 (0)21 712 2337 / 0527 for further information.
Please note that no braaing is allowed around the dam during the high fire risk season (summer and early autumn). Braaing will be allowed once the fire danger index reduces which is dependent on a consistent drop in temperature and wind conditions. Open year round for picnics.
- Tokai Picnic/Braai Area: Situated on the edge of the Tokai Plantation, this is a centrally located, spacious site shaded by pines. There is ample space for large families and is convenient for accessing many enjoyable trails through the plantation. For further enquiries call: +27(0) 21 712 2337 / 0527, Monday to Friday. Please note Chacma baboons enter the picnic site on occasion and are attracted by food. Baboons may become aggressive when confronted. Please avoid contact with the baboons and do not feed them. Tokai Eagle Owl Group Braai site: Please call our film and events department on +27 (0)21 712 2337 / 0527 for bookings.
View the Daily Conservation Fees.
Even though these activities take place primarily in the air they still cause significant environmental impacts at launch sites as well as disturb raptors that may be nesting or breeding on cliff faces.
There are numerous designated launch areas including Lion's Head and Silvermine.
Please download the Hang/Paragliding Environmental Management Plan for more details.
- An annual Hang/Paragliding My Activity Permit level 2 is required.
Horse riding is permitted in certain areas of the park. This activity has a very high impact and negatively affects the biodiversity of the Park and often clashes with the more sedate activities such as hiking and dog walking, there are designated areas where mountain biking is allowed. Popular areas include Tokai, Noordhoek Beach and Black Hill.
Please download the Horse Riding Environmental Management Plan for more details
- An annual Horse Riding My Activity Permit level 3 is required.
A walk in an Afromontane forest is always uplifting. These deep green ecosystems are millions of years old and are home to a variety of smaller animals, birds and invertebrates.
The most popular of these walks are:
- Newlands Forest – accessible from the M3 near Rhodes Memorial.
- Orange Kloof in Hout Bay – this is one of the most special places in the Park with forest trails leading to the top of Table Mountain. Please note that entry to this area is by permit only. Please call +27(0) 21 689 4441 for information.
- Echo Valley and Spes Bona on the Muizenberg mountains also sport pockets of Afromontane. Boardwalks have been constructed here to protect the root systems, humus layers and to promote sapling growth.
- The entry and exit times for:
A community levy of 1% will be added to the cost of all accommodation and activity reservations arriving on or after the 1st of June 2012.
There are various activities that are not allowed in the TMNP for various environmental reasons:
- No quad-biking anywhere
- No two-wheel motorcycles allowed.
- No personal water craft (jet skis) within the TMNP MPA – with the exception of an exemption issued to members of Tow Surf South Africa. The exemption allows for the use of jet skis to tow-surf on the exceptionally large waves found within the MPA during the winter months. The strict conditions are stipulated in their exemption.
- No dune boarding anywhere
- No jet skis – with the exception of tow-in/safety reasons at Dungeon's and Sunset's under conditions stipulated in the permit.
- No kite-surfing on inland park waters.
- Permits are required for events and commercial activities.
- Due to technical (data line inadequacies) and logistical/design (availability of parking and office/admin space) constraints coupled with the large numbers of visitors at the COGH entrance to the Table Mountain National Park we have never been able to sell WILD Cards at this entrance point.
The old practice of paying the normal conservation fee at the COGH entrance and then obtaining a credit/refund on purchasing a WILD Card at the Buffelsfontein Visitor Centre within the Park has been stopped as our auditors have indicated that this practice is not in compliance with the Public Finances management Act.
Books of Interest
It is recommended that you purchase Mountains in the Sea – an Interpretive Guide to Table Mountain National Park by award winning environmental journalist John Yeld. The book comprehensively covers all aspects of the Park from biodiversity issues to popular hikes and history. It is available from TMNP outlets at:
- Tokai Tourism Office, Tel.: +27(0) 21 712 7471,
- Boulders Penguin Colony, Tel: +27(0) 21 786 2392 and
- Buffelsfontein Visitor Centre, Tel: +27(0) 21 780 9204
Two Oceans: A Guide to the Marine Life of Southern Africa by Professor George Branch
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