Table Mountain

The most complex of the Peninsula sites, Table Mountain is made difficult by tricky cliff launches and swirling, unpredictable wind. While this site has a Sport-rating, it introduces a number of additional risks to challenge even the most experienced pilot.

This is a difficult, treacherous and ecologically-sensitive site which requires expert local knowledge and skills. Guidance by an experienced local pilot is mandatory. Not recommended for casual flights.

Requirements

  • Sport Licence (IPPI 5) with a minimum of 200 flights + comprehensive briefing by local instructor
  • SANParks Activity Permit
  • All foreign pilots wishing to fly Table Mountain must be in possession of a Foreign Pilot Permit, and MUST contact the Glen Paragliding Club for expert guidance.
  • Excellent ground-handling skills and good judgement are critical.

Table Mountain National Park

Table Mountain is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is home to many critically-endangered species of plants and trees and is thus considered to be the most sensitive paragliding site in South Africa. Please do not trample on, or destroy plants. The area is well-patrolled by humourless park rangers, and you will be asked to present your pilot licence and SANParks Activity Permit. Please comply with their request without being argumentative. If you become confrontational, you may find yourself arrested, with gear confiscated.

The Glen Paragliding Club has a formal working relationship with SANParks to monitor site usage, ecological deterioration, safety and compliance. Any pilot concerns should be directed to the Site Liaison Officer at the Glen Paragliding Club.

Location

Directions: Up Kloof Nek Road, at the signs that read ‘cablecar’, turn right and go fly at Lion’s Head rather.

Weather

Table Mountain offers several opportunities to launch, depending on the wind direction. There is often a high wind-gradient and while the weather may seem mild at sea level, Table Mountain will have strong venturi and wild, unpredictable rotor.

Lion’s Head offers safer launch options than Table Mountain in a South-West wind. You will then be able to cross over to Table Mountain and onto the Apostles, without the risks of a turbulent, strong-wind launch on Table Mountain.

Signal Hill offers safer launch options in a West, or North-West wind, and you will occasionally be able to cross to Lion’s Head and Table Mountain. Signal Hill also provides a lee-side wind shadow when the wind is mild South-East (up to 15km/h).

Weather Resources

The Runway Launch

The Runway is on the North face, looking out over the City of Cape Town, 200m South-East of Platteklip Gorge. The layout area is near the edge of the cliff, on flat rock and low vegetation. As you launch over the cliff, be prepared for the violent lip-rotor and turbulence that causes sudden sink or collapses. It is essential that you are committed, leaning forward in the harness and ready to run, as you cannot afford to go off the edge with a partially-collapsed glider.

The Gully Launch

The Gully faces South-South-West, and is behind the cable-car station. You have to walk South, away from the station along the top of the mountain, across the Platteklip Gorge and for another 10 minutes to reach the launch site. Lay your wing out over the low bushes and rocks, taking care to not damage any vegetation. Take-off is difficult, as you need to skip across uneven rocks. Be prepared for violent lip-rotor and turbulence in the last few metres before you step off the cliff. Fly out of the gully and onto the main rock face which forms the Twelve Apostles.

Maclears Beacon Launch

Maclear’s Beacon faces East-South-East, located 100m East of Maclear’s Beacon, just below a rocky ridge. It is a 30 minutes hike from the Upper Cablecar Station in an Easterly direction. There is no clearly demarcated launch area, you will need to gently lay your wing out over the bushes. Please take care to not damage any vegetation. This is a tricky site to launch from, as the airspace in this vicinity is prone to violent rotor.

Landing Sites

  • The Glen Country Club in Camps Bay
  • The rugby field in Upper Orange Road
  • Camps Bay Beach
  • Sea Point Promenade
  • University of Cape Town sport fields

Cautionary advice

  • Be prepared for extreme weather changes. Cape Town is known for having four seasons in one day, and this is especially true on Table Mountain, where a hot summer day can suddenly be interrupted by a freezing wind.
  • It is seldom suitable to launch on Table Mountain, it is much easier to launch at Lion’s Head and cross over to Table Mountain to soar the Apostles.
  • Table Mountain launch sites are technical and are extremely unforgiving. Pilots must have excellent forward- and reverse-launching skills.
  • Local micro-met knowledge is invaluable, please contact The Glen Paragliding Club for assistance by local pilots who have experience in interpreting and predicting micro-meteorological conditions.
  • Instructional tandem flights are forbidden.
  • The consequence of a bad decision at this launch can be catastrophic and will require multi-disciplinary rescue teams to be deployed, often under very difficult conditions. A typical rescue take 12-18 hours to complete, and will be followed up with an investigation by SACAA Accident and Incident Investigation Department (AIID)
  • Very few HG pilots have flown here due to the radical cliff launch.
  • Table Mountain is also popular with speedflyers and BASE jumpers, however please take note of SACAA General Notice GAD#001-2021.
  • Do not hike, or fly alone. Several people disappear on Table Mountain every year.

Caretaker

SANParks Activity Permit

All pilots flying in the Table Mountain National Park are required to apply annually for a TMNP My Activity Permit (Level 2 – Hang-gliding and paragliding) which currently costs R480pa. These are issued at the SANParks offices in Tokai.

Take note: The SAHPA Site Guide is not a substitute for a detailed site briefing from an instructor or experienced local pilot. While every effort is made to ensure the accuracy and relevance of information contained herein, pilots are reminded that the SAHPA Site Guide is based on a volunteer effort to record and make pertinent information freely available to the community. Pilots are still required to use their discretion and common sense.

Hermanus

Lion’s Head