Overlooking South Africa’s Mother City of Cape Town, this glorious geological wonder stands at just over one kilometer above sea level. Known internationally for its flattened table-top [peak], Table Mountain is one of seven South African wonders and one of the nation’s eight World Heritage Sites. Home to endemic fynbos, found nowhere else in the world, among other spectacular wildlife, birdlife and natural beauty, Table Mountain attracts thousands of tourists throughout every year.
First ascended by Antonie de Saldanha in 1503, the treacherous climb inflicted damage to many scientific and public parties until the cableway system was installed in 1929. Since then, three major upgrades have been executed to maintain the highest safety standards alongside providing for technological advancement, as times must. To date, the cableway system has transported more than 24m people up and down the mountainside – how impressive!
Although winds can drive rain over 100kph at Table Mountain’s summit, there is an abundance of plant and animal life. Over 1500 species of plant life exist here, many of which are only found on this mountain, and animal life includes porcupines, mongoose, snakes and of course, the famous dassie! No trip to Cape Town is complete without some time on top of the mountain, and there are plenty of hiking trails which lead off the main mountain summit, into valleys and gorges, and adjacent peaks.
Not for the faint hearted, there is still the option of hiking up or down, and it’s also possible to descend into the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, another magnificent attraction in its own right. It’s recommended that at least four to six hours be set aside to fully experience the majesty of the mountain, but be sure to take a jacket and water if you’re hiking: Table Mountain is notoriously challenging if you’re unprepared for the sudden changes in weather that occur every so often.