“If the top if clear in the morning, go immediately up to Table Mountain”, we heard from several prior travelers to Cape Town. The morning after our arrival, the sun illuminated the top of the mountain, but we already had reservations to tour Robbin Island. We would wait. Today, the sun again beckoned us to board the tramway to the summit. We would not delay.
Table Mountain was a landmark for travelers by sea, as they headed south before turning east toward the Spice Islands. While much of this region of Africa has mountains bordering the coasts, Table Mountains height and shape made it a prominent landmark for many miles in every direction. Initially, it also provided a natural shelter to the colonists who landed and established gardens. Now it provides a stunning backdrop to Cape Town, and a natural destination for thousands of residents and visitors.
We enjoy views of the mountain from our apartment’s balcony. We can watch the morning sunrise to the evening sunset. When the clouds begin to cover the top, we can watch their flowing wisp pour over the cliffs.
Table Mountain is a massive limestone uplift which as eroded away leaving a steep decent from about 3000 feet to the bay on one side and Atlantic Ocean on the other. Its other ridges progress south to the tip of the Cape of Good Hope. The top is relatively flat (just ask Emily about how “relatively”) with bog conditions for plants to grow. While Spring wild flowers had mostly passed, we did see a variety of yellow, white and pink flowers along our walk.
We walked for about 4 hours, completing the “stroll” on the Western Table and then the “hike” on the Central Table. This took us up to the highest point of Table Mountain, Maclear’s Beacon, at 1084 meters. It is pretty much downhill in any direction from there. The scrambles were certainly worth the effort.
While the area near the tramway was teaming with people (in all manner of ridiculous footwear and clothing for walking on a mountain), our early arrival and route kept us in relative solitude for much of our walk. There happened to be a “Three Peaks” marathon today, so we did meet a number of participants who had hiked up Devil’s Peak already, and were crossing over Table Mountain before ascending Lion’s Head. Have a good time. Given Table Mountain’s rugged climbs and close proximity to a major city and lack of safety railing once off the main tourist walk, it claims a greater number of hiker’s lives each year than Mount Everest. As the sign at the top of tramway states, “When the hooters blow, return to the tramway immediately before high winds prevent it’s operation.”
This evening, we made a different trek to the Cathedral Church of St. George, which is just around the corner from our apartment. They had an Evensong service as sunset. The fog was just beginning to flow over the cliffs of Table Mountain. We ascended a different type of mountain for the service of choral music, organ, and spoken word. While the sun had certainly shown on our day, by the time we left the service, the wind was howling up the streets of Cape Town. “If the top if clear in the morning, go immediately up to Table Mountain”