Table Mountain is without a doubt one of Cape Town’s icons – and a must-do inclusion in any family holiday to the ” Mother City ”
On a sunny day, there is nothing better than enjoying the short Cable Car ride to the Summit of Table Mountain. The top of Table Mountain is flat, and the thick, white mist that often drapes it, is called the “tablecloth”. Once on the top of Table Mountain, you will have incredible views over the City of Cape Town, and you will also be able to see the famous ” Robben Island ”
Table Mountain is also proud to be an official New7Wonder of Nature. Competing against major international attractions, Table Mountain made it to the top seven after a campaign that attracted more than 100-million global votes.
Not only is Table Mountain a Wonder of Nature, but is also a World Heritage Site, is the natural home to fynbos, a unique, yet endangered, collection of shrubs and plants.
What To See On Table Mountain:
The five-minute ascent to the top of Table Mountain offers a 360° view of Cape Town, the ocean and the neighbouring peaks.
Once at the top visitors enjoy spectacular views and the peaceful feeling of being over one thousand metres above the city below. The area at the top of the mountain is surprisingly large so leave enough time to stroll along the paths, enjoy the viewing platforms and soak up the vistas.
The Cableway operates in the Table Mountain National Park, an important part of the Cape Floristic Region and the single richest floristic area in the world. This area is also a World Heritage Site. There is a lot of Fynbos vegetation on the mountain, with over 1 460 different species of plants.
Populations of Rock Hyrax (Procavia capensis), commonly known as dassies, are plentiful on the mountain. You may also see porcupines, mongooses, girdled lizards, agamas, snakes and butterflies.
Several indigenous bird species can be seen, including Redwinged Starlings, Cape Verreaux’s Eagles, Rock Kestrels and Sunbirds.
Indigenous plant and animals can be seen while enjoying the free guided walks departing daily at 10h00 and noon.
Many of these species can be seen while enjoying short walks and guided tours. The Cableway offers two walks free of charge at 10h00 and noon every day. These depart from the meeting point just outside the Upper Cable Station.
The paths cover a distance of more than 2km at the top of the mountain, making for comfortable walking to lookout points from which visitors can view spectacular vistas over the city, Clifton, Sea Point, the V&A Waterfront, Table Bay, Robben Island, the Cape Flats and the Cape Peninsula. You will also see Lion’s Head, Signal Hill and Devil’s Peak mountains.
You have good views of the newly completed Cape Town Stadium, built to host the 2010 FIFA World Cup™.
There are three signposted walks. The fifteen-minute Dassie Walk has spectacular views to the north, west and south. The popular thirty-minute Agama Walk to gives visitors spectacular 360° views of Cape Town and the Cape Peninsula. The longer Klipspringer Walk takes you along the edge of the plateau and ends above Platteklip Gorge. There is also a wheelchair route.
Interesting Facts on Table Mountain To Share with Your Children
- Lions and leopards once roamed wild on Table Mountain. The last lion was sighted on Table Mountain in 1802.
- Although it resembles a small rabbit, the dassie (rock hyrax) is actually most closely related to the elephant. Their evolutionary relationship is based on similarities in their feet and teeth.
- The height of the Upper Cableway Station is 1067m above sea level.
- The Cape has the highest known concentration of plant species – 1 300 per 10 000km squared.
- Table Mountain is approximately 260-million years old. By comparison, the Andes are about 250-million years old, the Rockies are about 60-million, the Himalayas are 40-million and the Alps are 32-million years old.
- Summer temperatures may hit the 35ºC mark, while winter temperatures have been known to drop as low as -1ºC. It even occasionally snows on Table Mountain.
- South Africa boasts the third-highest level of biodiversity in the world, and is the only country to contain an entire floral kingdom. The Cape Floral Kingdom is one of the country’s eight World Heritage sites.
- Two of the world’s oceans meet off the tip of the Cape Peninsula: the warmer Indian Ocean on the east and the colder Atlantic Ocean on the west.
- Table Mountain’s cloudy “tablecloth” is the stuff of legends: one tells of the San Mantis god smothering a blaze on the slope with a huge white karos (animal pelt). Another says the cloud comes from a smoking contest between the Devil and a local pirate called Van Hunks.
- The south-easterly winds that are forced over the neck between Devil’s Peak and Table Mountain can reach speeds of up to 130km/h (81mi/h). They clear Cape Town of its smog and heat – hence the name, The Cape Doctor.
- Prehistoric people first left evidence of their lives on Table Mountain more than 600 000 years ago.
- Table Mountain features several rare sandstone cave systems (most caves occur in limestone), the largest of which are the Wynberg Caves.
- Celebrities to have visited Table Mountain include Oprah Winfrey, Forrest Whitaker, Sting, Queen Elizabeth, Tina Turner and Skunk Anansie.
- The constellation, Mensa, was named after Table Mountain by French astrologer Nicolas Louis de Lacaille in 1754. Lacaille studied the southern sky from the top of Table Mountain. The brightest star in the Mensa constellation is Alpha Mensae. Table Mountain is the only mountain in the world to have a constellation named after it.
- The indigenous inhabitants of the Cape, the Khoekhoe (pronounced and popularly referred to as Khoikhoi), called Table Mountain Hoerikwaggo, meaning “sea mountain”.
- In 1503, Admiral Antonio de Saldanha anchored his fleet in the bay, climbed the mountain via Platteklip Gorge, and named it Taboa do Cabo, “Table of the Cape”.
- On World Environment Day in 1998, then President Nelson Mandela declared Table Mountain “a gift to the Earth”.
- Dassies were revered by the San as the incarnation of their Mantis god’s wife.
- The Cableway’s revolving cars carry 65 passengers. Famous visitors over time have included Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw, King George VI, the Queen Mother and Sir Edmund Hillary.
- Many large animals, including the extinct Cape lion and quagga, as well as leopard, wild dog, hippo, rhino and even elephant, ranged across the Cape Peninsula just a few hundred years ago.
- Three blockhouses were built on Table Mountain in 1796, during the first British Occupation of the Cape. Two are now in ruins, but the third, the King’s Blockhouse, on the slopes of Devil’s Peak and above the Rhodes Memorial, is still in relatively good condition.
- The Cableway has transported over 20-million people to the summit of Table Mountain.