Visit Cape Town : Big 6 # 2 Table Mountain

Cape Town is home to the Big 6.

You may say what is that? Well, it is six significant places to see when you visit Cape Town at the tip of the African Continent. Cape Town has endless things to offer for any visitor – excellent food, delicious and affordable wine, heart-racing experiences – but be sure to include the Big 6 in your itinerary.

I have already written about the beautiful Cape Point at the southernmost tip of the peninsula. I am now sharing information about the magnificent and iconic landmark Table Mountain.

The celebrated views over the Mother City start the minute you step into the state of the art cableway. The floor of the 65-passenger cable car rotates 360 degrees on the ascent/descent which takes 5-10 minutes to reach the summit/base travelling at a speed of up to 10m per second.

3,500ft above the city in this unique location, you will find rock hyrax (dassies), lizards, butterflies and the odd porcupine, and also birdlife from eagles to sunbirds and great patches of fynbos displaying the Cape’s indigenous flora.

The iconic red bus is an experience everyone should enjoy at least once, which offers the Red City Tour around the city and surrounds. Get your Table Mountain Cableway tickets directly from your bus driver to avoid the queues.

While the cableway is convenient and fun, you’ll get a much richer experience by hiking up or down yourself. The four young men in the black and white photo did just that in 1948 (2nd on the right is my late father, Mick Badnall, and uncle on the far right, Bernard Cooke) missed a lecture at UCT to climb the mountain in search of snow! Platteklip Gorge, a prominent gorge up the centre of the main table, is one of the most popular routes up the mountain. While quite steep, the ascent is pretty straightforward and should take between one and three hours depending on your fitness level. A trickier route starting on that side of the mountain is India Venster, which requires you to do a fair bit of scrambling. This route can take between two and four hours and should only be tackled by those who are fit and are familiar with the route. On the Atlantic side of the mountain, Kasteelspoort, which offers incredible views of Camps Bay, is the easiest route.

During the summer months, Table Mountain is best admired in all its magnificence against the blue backdrop of clear Cape skies. Ironically, it’s on such cloudless days that the mountain’s legendary white tablecloth is suddenly cast over the “table”, as if by God himself.

Table Mountain’s “tablecloth” is nothing more than an orographic cloud formation (clouds that develop in response to the forced lifting of air by the earth’s topography). As a south-easterly wind blowing up the mountain slopes meets colder air at higher altitude, condensation takes place and a thick mist soon coats the top-most regions of the mountain.

As the cloud cover pours over the side of the mountain, the process is reversed. Clouds encounter warmer air layers lower down, where the moisture evaporates, making the clouds disappear.

Table Mountain made it onto the list of the New7Wonders of Nature.

If you have a proof of date of birth, you will get a free return ticket up and down the cableway on your birthday!