I grew up seeing Table Mountain every day of my life. The truth is that even though I loved the mountain, it’s wonder never really struck me. It was only when I started to travel to other countries that Table Mountain became my symbol of home.
The outline changes from different angles but it is best to view from Table Bay on the West Coast or from the Robben Island position. From Table Bay the Table is flat and one can see the little cable car upper station on the right edge. Table Mountain is now one of the New 7 wonders of nature since December 2012.
Bucket-list Must-do… Stand on Table Mountain take the Cable Car
To get to the top of Table Mountain is a Must-Do when in Cape Town. One can hike up the many different paths or take the revolving cable car to the top and back down of course. One can choose hikes from mild to strenuous depending on fitness and enthusiasm.
Many years ago when I was young and foolish (now I am just one of those), we decided to get to the top of Table Mountain for lunch and then hurry back down for a swim at 4th beach. Our group of 20 was severely challenged when a cloud rapidly enveloped us, restricting visibility. Cold, confused and panicky, we decided to huddle and wait for the blanket to lift.
Changing weather, we learned that day, has to be keyed into the planning for a day on the mountain. That day, we did not get to swim down at the beach, but we were at least safe and lived to tell a great story.
One cannot assume that the cable car will operate until that very morning of the excursion.
Table Mountain a historical wonder
An interesting comment about the tablecloth over Table Mountain was made in 1656 by Volquardtlversen (try to pronounce). He said, “When it seems that the clouds approach over Table Mountain, one can be sure that a great storm is coming; and it is, therefore, a common saying ‘The Table Cloth is spread’…”
A French captain said that the mountain was wearing a powdered wig. Pretending to know the French language, Johnny English said, ‘les francais, sont tres….n’est pas?…’ Just kidding with the people of the romantic language. We love the French to visit our lovely city, powdered wigs and all!
Lesson: Plan for a trip up the mountain but have plan B ready.
In my recent training to become a qualified tourist guide, we ventured to the lower station of the cable car. The two days prior to our visit the Southeaster-wind (also known as the Cape Doctor) was so strong that the cable car service was shut down.
Table Mountain Cable Car is very popular
When we arrived the queue curled around the bend of the mountain and cars parked as far as a mile away. A determination was set on each face as they shuffled forward not deterred by sun, heat or tired feet. There are 2 queues. There is the ticket queue and the entrance queue.
There is value in planning your trip to the Table Mountain with a qualified guide. Why? He or she would have bought tickets online to avoid the ticket queue which shortens the wait significantly.
Table Mountain Cable Car Rates and Hours of operation
08h00 – 13h00 One way US$11 and a round trip US$22. Is that is a deal or what?
Now if you hold a South African ID card you get to go up and down for FREE on your birthday. Students also get a little discount with proof of course. Tickets are valid for 7 days giving ample room to pray for that ideal day. On that ideal day, arrive at the lower station before 07h00 to be close to the front of the line with your printed ticket in hand.
Whether you ride or hike the top of the mountain is worth every bit of energy, planning, and expense. The views are breath-taking! On a clear day most of the Cape can be seen with the naked eye. On the sea-side one can see the magnificent coastline, mountain ridges and ships sailing to and from the Cape Town Harbour.
In Huckeberry Finn, Mark Twain wrote, “I saw Table Rock, anyway, a majestic pile. It is 3000 feet high. These figures may be relied upon. I got them in Cape Town form the best-informed citizens, men who made the study of Table Rock the study of their lives”
The Khoisan people called Table Mountain, Hoekrikwaggo (the mountain of the sea. While Table Mountain is synonymous with Cape Town it is a landmark, a beacon, a shelter and the pride of the Cape. Come visit soon!