Visiting Table Mountain
I often wondered what it felt like to be Zeus looking down upon my dominion.
To peer through the haze of clouds at my cities and villages. To send waves crashing to the shore with the single flick of my finger. To force dangerous winds upon my subjects with a hurried exhale to extol upon them that I am their God.
Only I wasn’t in Greece but South Africa. Cape Town to be exact. Still, it’s easy to get carried away with these deity like feelings from the vantage point on Table Mountain. That is until a gust of wind hits you from behind as a reminder that you are in fact human and can be crushed by nature at a moment’s notice. (Thanks nature for ruining this moment).
My first day in Cape Town, I couldn’t help but to stop and stare at Table Mountain’s majesty whenever I was paused at a stop walk.
She seems to follow you wherever you go peering over the tops of buildings and calling you hither. Her beauty was so breathtaking from the ground that I could only imagine the grandeur from the top. Luckily for me, a trip to the top was planned for the first full-day of our African Adventure with Le Calabash.
There’s a reason why US News and World Report ranked Table Mountain as the number one thing to do in Cape Town and why the New Seven Wonders named it one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature. The flat topped mountain has survived six million years of erosion and hosts the richest, yet smallest floral kingdom on Earth with over 1,470 plant species. That’s more species per square km than a tropical forest. Plus, the view from the top includes the Atlantic ocean, Robben Island, the sweeping countryside, and neighboring mountains Devil’s Peak and Lion’s Head.
There are several ways to the top of Table Mountain. The easiest method is on the cable car which rotates 360 degrees giving everyone a view of both the mountain and the shoreline. A roundtrip ticket costs R225. The more adventurous can chose from one of many hiking paths with the most dangerous climbing through an ancient forest.
Our group chose the cable car. We were on a culinary tour, after all. The most adventurous thing we did was eat mopane worms (More on that in a future post).
Travel Tips for Visiting Table Mountain
Even if you opt for the “easier” cable car, you still need to make proper preparations for a trip to the top of Table Mountain due to Cape Town’s sporadic and windy weather. Here’s a list of necessities for you ascension:
- Water – Although there is a snack bar and restaurant on top of the mountain, the prices are quite steep.
- Comfortable Shoes – The cable car can close on a moment’s notice which means there’s a chance you may end of walking down the mountain. You do not want to complete the hike in sandals! The terrain on top of the mountain is also quite rocky. Proper shoes will help you keep a good footing especially if you plan to walk to the tallest peak of the mountain a 45 minute hike from the cable car station.
- Sunscreen – No matter how cool or windy it is, the sun in strong. You are above the clouds after all. It’s easy to get a sunburn. Yes, I, Zeus, am guilty of receiving a nasty sunburn. Another person in our tour group came down with sun poisoning.
- Jacket (preferably a rain coat) – Remember those strong winds? They can make you feel cold while your skin is crisping. They can also carry in a flash rain cloud. I like to carry a packable rain coat with me that’s easy to store.
- A Picnic Lunch – The highlight of our trip to Table Mountain was enjoying a picnic lunch away from the crowds on a bluff overlooking a seaside village and watching the waves crash to the shoreline.
Here’s some addition tips to make the most of your trip to Table Mountain:
- Arrive early as the queues can be quite long.
- Purchase your tickets in advance to avoid waiting in both the ticket queue and the cable car queue.
- Plan to visit Table Mountain early in your itinerary as the cable car often closes due to high winds. This way you can switch your visit with another activity like a tour of the District 6 Museum. In general, we suggest keeping your itinerary in Cape Town rather loose because of the sporadic weather. For example, the fairy to Robben Island can experience closures as well.
Table Mountain and Cape Town will always keep calling.
The next time I’m in Cape Town (and there will be a next time), I know that I won’t be able to ignore the call of the Gods commanding me back to my perch. Only, I might try a hike to the top to work off some of those ten pounds I gained from my trip. Until then, I have the gallery of photos below. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.