Iconic Table Mountain, Cape Town

The guide book says it, and it’s true: you cannot say you’ve seen Cape Town until you have stood on top of Table Mountain. It dominates the skyline from every angle, and it is accessible for everyone, really a “must-do.”

I took a “Hop On, Hop Off” bus to the base of Table Mountain. The ride through the city was interesting, not in a historical sense, but to see the modern parts of the city such as the financial district. Cape Town thinks of itself as the “Metropolis of Southern Africa.” Since Cape Town is where I am starting, I have to take their word for it!

Then the bus started climbing toward the mountain. There were clouds around it, and it began to look as if we wouldn’t be able to see anything!

But, I have lived where there were mountains, and I was not in a hurry. In the meantime, I learned that there are over 2,000 types of plants, representing the entire Cape area, living on Table Mountain, in part due to the altitude change. Table Mountain is 1,086 meters tall (about 3,563 feet.) The flat top, originally covered in shale and friable soils, is the result of millions of years of erosion, and is now comprised of sandstone from deposits made about 440 million years ago.

The mountain’s famous “table cloth” (the French called it a “wig”) is caused by the Southeastern wind, which deposits a good deal of moisture on the mountain, even in the dry summer months.

Signal Hill and Lion’s Head, two distinguishable parts of the Table Mountain, were used as military signal posts in the early 1700s. The first recorded ascent of the mountain was in 1503 by a Portuguese admiral, Antonio de Saldanha, and some of his men. Table Mountain was declared a national monument in 1957.

This is one of the cable cars that will take you to the top of the mountain in case you don’t want to climb one of the trails. It is cleverly designed so that the floor rotates (you can’t lean on the walls!) so that everyone gets to see in all directions while on the way up or down the mountain. It also carries fresh water to the reservoirs on top of the mountain, which not only provides water, but helps keep the cars steady on windy days.

I walked all around the top of the mountain – the photo above is facing away from the Cape Town harbor, to the north.

I left my own little pile of rocks – a “cairn.” It’s one of these….

The cafe and gift shop area reminded me of so many U.S. national parks. It was a lovely place to sit, relax, and enjoy the view, which by now was gorgeous.

A view of Cape Town. Robbens Island is out there, but still hidden by the fading clouds.

And down. I didn’t get the photo fast enough, but there were rock climbers near the entrance to the tunnel, to the right side in this photo.

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