When you think of Cape Town, you think of that famous flat mountain, Table Mountain. The two have become synonymous with each and we can’t seem to separate them, but why would we want to? This mountain has become a prominent landmark that tourists and locals flock to all through the year for one main reason – its pure breathtaking beauty and views. If you don’t know much about this iconic piece of scenery, we have you covered.
A little history of Table Mountain
Table Mountain is about 20 million years old and the plateau is about 3km (2 miles) long from side to side. It is flanked by Devil’s Peak on one side and Lion’s Head on the other, which creates an amphitheatre of the City Bowl and Table Bay harbour.
Table Mountain and Lion’s Head were once connected but erosion caused them to separate. This once connected the Peninsula to the Hottentots Holland Mountains. The remaining remnants stood thousands of meters high 220-280 million years ago. The KhoiKhoi named it “Hoerikwaggo” which means “mountain of the sea”.
Facts about Table Mountain
- In 2012 Table Mountain was voted as one of the 7 Wonders of Nature
- In 1998 former South African president Nelson Mandela said Table Mountain was “a gift to the Earth”
- In 1754 a French astronomer, Louis de Lecaille, named the southern constellation Mensa after this iconic landmark. He originally named it Mons Mensae, which is Latin for “the table mountain”
- There are several rare sandstone cave systems and the largest are the Wynberg Caves
- At least two couples get married on top of Table Mountain each month, which makes it a pretty romantic place to be
- Table Mountain is known as Bob Marley’s spirit geographical formation. How you may ask, well the legend is that the devil and a pirate named Captain Jan van Hunks had a smoking competition. This is where the ‘tablecloth’ comes from and the name of a pub in Cape Town, Van Hunks.
- The unofficial mascot of Table Mountain is the dassie and it can be seen sunning itself on the rocks of the mountain
- The highest point of Table Mountain is Maclear’s Beacon at 1085m about sea level
- A great deal of famous people has been to visit the top of Table Mountain – Oprah Winfrey, Forest Whitaker, Halle Berry, The Queen Mother, Jackie Chan and King George VI just to name a few
- Table Mountain is home to some beautiful flora and fauna that are completely unique to the area
Facts about the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway
- Table Mountain is the number one attraction in Cape Town
- In the 1870s a railway was put into development, but it had to be stopped because of the outbreak of the Anglo Boer War. It was started up again in 1912 but had to be put on hold because of WWI
- However, a Norwegian engineer, Trygve Stromsoe, proposed that a cableway be built instead. Table Mountain’s first cableway was completed in October 1929
- The cabling that is used is Swiss made – high-tech and full-lock coil
- The cable cars take visitors 704m, from the Lower Cable Station at 363m above sea level to the Upper Cable Station at 1067m above sea level
- The cable cars travel at a maximum of 10m per second
- There are only 3 Rotair cable cars in the world – one in Switzerland, one in the United States and one in sunny South Africa
- The bottom of the cable cars is filled with water as it serves as ballast in windy conditions
Information for Table Mountain visitors
The best time to visit this gem is mid-afternoon when the traffic up and down the cableway is a bit lighter. Morning and sunset trips are busier for obvious reasons, it’s simply breathtaking. Make a day trip out of your visit to Table Mountain by making use of the City Sightseeing Red Bus and taking in all that the Mother City has to offer.
Once on top of Table Mountain, your fun doesn’t need to stop. You can purchase souvenirs and memorabilia to keep this treasured memory close to your heart forever. There are four shops at the top of Table Mountain stocking everything you could think of.
Maybe you would like to send a postcard to your family and friends back home. This is very pop with visitors and you can buy stamps from the shops and send your postcard through the postbox at the summit where it is marked with a unique Table Mountain stamp.
If you have worked up an appetite you are in luck because you can enjoy an ice cream in the sun or have a snack while taking in the views of Cape Town.
Table Mountain is one of the most photographed landmarks in the world so it doesn’t make sense that you miss out on your opportunity to see one of the world’s 7 Wonders Of Nature.
With City Pass, you can use the Table Mountain Cable Car to go to the top of Table Mountain.