And you can't help but look at it. Stuck in traffic? Stare at Table Mountain. Sitting on an outdoor patio? Odds are good that it faces Table Mountain. Very often, you will be able to watch the clouds falling over the edge of the mountain. They call that "the tablecloth".
But really, what you want to do is to be on top of the mountain. Fortunately, there are two ways to accomplish this!
The most popular way is to take the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway. We'll tell you more about that later in today's post. But our regular readers know that we love hiking, and Table Mountain is a hiker's paradise!
So yesterday morning, we met our friends Syed and Shahida and took a route up the mountain called "Skeleton Gorge". This would take us up the east side of the mountain range, then across to Maclear's Beacon, the highest point in the range at 1,088 meters (3,570 ft). Then from there to the Cableway station for a fun ride back to the bottom!
We planned on meeting at the Kirstenbosch parking lot at 8:00am, but traffic held us both up. By the time we actually got together at the base of the trail it was closer to 9:00am! No worries, it was a beautiful day, and most of the gorge itself is well shaded by the trees.
But Skeleton Gorge is uphill. Every step of the way...
And eventually, the steps turn to ladders! Here's Ruth and Shahida, making their way up!
Because of the trees, you don't actually get a view until you're about two hours into it.
But then you still have a ways to go!
Rest break, enjoying the view.
Us, but no...we're not at the top yet!
Syed and Shahida. They're always laughing and joking around!
Some interesting rock formations along the way.
But every time you make it to another ridge, there is something higher up! It seemed like the uphill climb never stopped. The gorge itself was pretty tough, but then you mistakenly believe that you must be near the top. Nope. you're only about half way!
The "top" of the mountain is called Maclear's Beacon. We made it there at 12:45pm, which is actually pretty good time.
But the top of the mountain isn't exactly where the best views are. You actually have to continue another 3 kms along the top ridge of Table Mountain towards the Cableway station. This is a fairly flat section because you're actually going across the "table" part of the mountain.
But the views are spectacular. (You can click on the photo to make it full screen!)
Bird's eye view of Cape Town.
You can see Robben Island in the distance. This is where Nelson Mandela had been housed for 18 of the 27 years he was imprisoned.
Oh. There's our ride down!
Us, high above Cape Town!
This part of the path is not difficult, but it's very close to the edge!
The opposite side of the path shows typical mountaintop vegetation.
Lots of these fellows enjoying the sunshine.
And even a few flowers out, however this would be much better in the September time frame during Cape Town's spring.
As we got closer to the Cableway, we also found all of the tourists! Of course the easiest way to get to the top of the mountain is the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway. And on a day like today, (a rare cloud free day!) there were a lot of people enjoying the view...
It was so busy that we got into the lineup for the ride down. We probably waited about a half hour, but not bad. At least they have portions of the waiting area that have a view so you're not bored while you're waiting!
Almost our turn!
As we boarded, it was explained to everyone that the floor of the car actually spins...one full rotation as you're going up or down! This was very cool and ensures that everyone onboard gets a circular view of the surroundings.
Ready to head down!
And as we slowly spun around, we passed the other cablecar going up!
Online tickets for the Cableway are currently R205 ($21.95) for the return trip or R105 ($11.25) for a one way trip. http://www.tablemountain.net/visitor_info/rates/
We were so lucky to have a clear blue sky yesterday. Very often, even on a sunny day, the top of Table Mountain has a thick layer of cloud rolling over the edge of it. This is known locally as "the tablecloth". Here's a good example of the tablecloth only one day prior to our hike...
Clouds rolling over the edge of Table Mountain.