Cape Town, South Africa
Forget the traditional snow capped mountains of the Swiss Alps or the phenomenal size of world famous Mount Everest. Table Mountain in Cape Town is, without a doubt, one of the best mountains in the world. Currently bidding for one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, Table Mountain is not only notable for its sheer size and long, flat peak, but also due to the fantastic scenery that it gives the residents of the vibrant city of Cape Town, South Africa.
The mountain is one of South Africa’s most visited tourist attractions, and is accessible by a thrilling cable car ride in which the angle of climb seems impossibly steep. The rotating cable car, which offers visitors 360 degree views during the ascent, is a modernised version of the cable car that has existed at that location since the late 1920s. From the summit, visitors can see as far as Robben Island and enjoy unrivalled views over Table Bay.
Others prefer to take the long way up, hiking up the slopes to the top and enjoying the stunning views over the City Bowl and out to the Atlantic Ocean. A trip to the summit is the perfect way to orientate yourself in Cape Town, as it shows the layout of the city and beyond. Hikers can take the easy route via Platteklip Gorge in about two hours, or perhaps start from the Nursery Ravine or any other number of ascents.
The mountain is frequently covered in clouds, which seem to tumble off the edges. Known as the ‘Table Cloth’, the clouds are a stunning feature of the mountain and are visible from all angles, between the cliffs of Devils Peak and Lions Head.
Table Mountain is a part of the excellent Table Mountain National Park, a vast area that includes plenty of native plants and animals, including the famous Dassie. The Dassie looks like a rodent, and can be viewed right in the main tourist gathering area at the summit, but his nearest living relative is in fact the elephant! There are also plenty of other animals to be seen at the top of the mountain, including the odd porcupine, as well as snakes.
Whether you plan to get to the summit of Table Mountain or not during your trip to Cape Town, you cannot avoid the importance that the mountain plays in local life in Cape Town. Table Mountain features prominently on the local flag and on other insignia, and is a main source of revenue for the city.
Sitting at the stylish Victoria and Albert Waterfront, in one of the fabulous seafood restaurants, as the sun sets, with Table Mountain in the background, is perhaps one of the best experiences on earth. As night falls, huge lights come on to illuminate the mountain, ensuring its sheer size is visible even in the dark nights. It is for these reasons, and many more, that Table Mountain is one of the world’s Top Ten Mountains.
(Top image by coda on Flickr)