Table Mountain Cable Car. Photo: Andrew Thompson
Table Mountain Cable Car. (Andrew Thompson)
  • The Table Mountain Aerial Cableway has launched a private cable car offering that allows visitors to book an entire car for 25 people.
  • It's not a cheap option. A private ride with the maximum number of passengers will cost about double that of a normal return ticket.
  • But if you're still particularly crowd-averse, can rustle up 25 friends, and are yearning for views of Cape Town, it might be worth the spend.
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It's now possible to ride to the top of Table Mountain and back without having to share a cable car with any strangers - provided you're willing to fork up R10,000, plus R300 a person, for the privilege.

The new option comes as the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway Company (TMACC), which runs the cableway concession to the top of the mountain, saw a dramatic decline in passengers and revenue due to Covid-19.

In an average year, the cableway carries more than one million passengers, many of whom are foreign tourists. In its 2019 financial year, the concession contributed some R39.7 million to Table Mountain National Park's annual income of R371 million, according to the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries.

But in the 2020/21 financial year, the entire park, which includes money spinners Cape Point and Boulders, generated less than R23.5 million - and the cableway's contribution dropped to just R5.2 million.

In light of this drastic drop in revenue, and Covid-19 social distancing measures that limit passenger numbers, the private car rental option makes good business sense for TMACC.

The charge for a private car is well under the R24,700 the company can make from a cable car full of return-fare paying adults riding at peak times – which was common before the coronavirus.

Now, with a maximum of 26 passengers at a time, the company can generate a maximum of just R9,880 per car with normal-fare paying visitors – if it can attract the tourists to make for a full car.

The TMACC says it's aiming the new private cable car offering at visitors concerned about social distancing, who want extra privacy, or who want to host a function such as a wedding or corporate event on the mountain top. 

Assuming you want to maximise your trip to the top, from a financial perspective, you'll pay a total of R17,500, or R700 per person, for the full 25 people allowed on a private trip - which is roughly double what you would pay for a regular return ticket.

Aside from the four minutes each way of cable car exclusivity, a "private guide" en-route to the top, and queue jumping rights, the R10,000 surplus doesn't get visitors all that much extra.

The car won’t, for example, stop en-route for sundowners, light snacks, or, as was briefly an option in 2000, an 87 metre bungee jump. And if you intend to host a private function once atop the mountain, you'll need to book one of the venues on the summit separately.

"Our commitment has and will always be to ensure memorable moments at the Cableway, which is why we’re proud to include this as part of our offering," said Giselle Esau, Cableway executive manager of brand and marketing.

Tickets for the private car experience are available for purchase via Webtickets, and can only be redeemed from Monday to Friday during the cableway's operating hours.

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