Table Mountain in Cape Town South Africa, was named in 2011 as one of the new ‘Seven Wonders of Nature’. From the top of this mountain, there are magnificent views of the Cape Town city centre, surrounding suburbs and the Atlantic Ocean.
One can also see Robben Island, some 6.9 kms off the coast in Table Bay. The island was declared a World Heritage Site, because it represents a critical chapter in South Africa’s path towards democracy. It was on this island that Nelson Mandela spent 18 of the 27 years he served as a prisoner of the Apartheid Government.
Table Mountain may look really flat from a distance, but it’s actually really rugged terrain. The easiest way to reach the top is by aerial cable-way, although some of the more intrepid, do the 3 km hike up, which can take from three to four hours.
Once on top of the mountain, you are 1,085 metres above sea level, and although as mountains go, it’s not that tall, it’s a truly iconic mountain, being a staggering 260-million years old. The original Khoi people named it ‘Hoerikwaggo’, the mountain in the sea. The Nguni people, called it ‘Umlindiwengizimu’, the watcher of the south. They believed that it was placed there by Qamata their most prominent god, as the custodian to protect all of Africa.
The scrubby looking natural shrubland, known as ‘fynbos’ which covers Table Mountain and the Cape Peninsula, is one of the richest and most diverse eco-systems in the world, and over 1,460 of the 8,200 plant species found in The Cape, grow on this mountain.
Being on top of Table Mountain is an experience you will never forget. I was lucky to go up there on a calm and clear day, but the mountain weather is legendary, and extremely changeable. There can be south-easterly winds of up to 130 km/hour, known as ‘The Cape Doctor’, which, as you can imagine, are very dangerous for anyone caught up there at the time. In summertime, the top of Table Mountain is often not visible, as it’s covered by soft white cloud, known as ‘the table cloth’. Unfortunately, I don’t have a photo of this phenomenon, as we were there in early Spring.
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