If there is an iconic symbol of South Africa and Cape Town then it is Table Mountain. In almost every picture, postcard or depiction of the Mother City, the flat-topped mountain is usually seen hovering in the background. This ancient mountain is not the only one of its type in the world, yet it inspired explorers, artists and poets for centuries. Today, thousands of visitors come here annually to experience some of its magic.
|The well-known silhouette is instantly recognizable
across the bay
Table Mountain is actually the northern end of a long sandstone range that is the Cape Peninsula. The level plateau is about three kilometres long and it is flanked by Devil's Peak on the eastern side and Lion's Head on the western side. The cliffs of the plateau are split by Platteklip Gorge. This was the original path that early explorers followed to reach the summit of Table Mountain. The mountain serves to create a natural amphitheatre with the city of Cape Town lying inside its arms.
The shape of Table Mountain is the reason the mountain often shows the characteristic tablecloth cloud formation. As south easterly winds are directed up the slopes into the cold air, the moisture condenses to form orographic clouds. When these clouds are thick and spill over the flat surface, it gives the appearance of the mountain being covered with large white tablecloth.
Table Mountain is home to a number of the famous Cape fynbos and there are numerous species of protea that grow on the slopes of the mountain. While Table Mountain's slopes are arid, the shadowy regions do host a small population of indigenous trees. Most of Table Mountain's fauna are small creatures like dassies, porcupines, mongoose and snakes, along with a myriad of bird species.
For visitors to Cape Town, there are two options to reach the summit. A number of easily accessible hiking trails offer one way to reach the summit. There are different difficulties of hikes available for all kinds of visitors. If hiking the way up Table Mountain is not your preferred method, the cable cars offer an easy way up. Built in 1926, with a massive upgrade in 1997, the cable cars offer an easy route up along with incredible views of Table Mountain and the city of Cape Town down below.
The summit of Table Mountain offers some of the most incredible views of Cape Town. While visitors are on the summit, they can enjoy some local fare at the restaurant or enjoy sun downers at the fully licensed cocktail bar. For the more adventurous, less daunting trails lead towards Maclear's Beacon. This is the highest point on Table Mountain at 1086 metres above sea level.
Just remember to bring some warm clothes for the summit. Table Mountain's summit can get rather chilly, even in the summer.
The iconic symbol of Cape Town has watched over the city for hundreds of years. Today there are few people who do not think of the Cape when you mention Table Mountain. This majestic natural wonder should not be missed.
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