The Table Mountains of South Africa! A visit to South Africa would not be complete without a visit to one of the wonders of South Africa. Known as the gateway to Africa, the Table Mountain was voted as one of the new seven natural wonders of the world by the New7Wonders on November 2011. The Table Mountain with its unique flat-topped peaks which reach 1,086 meters above sea level is without doubt the most recognized site in Cape Town and very much an integral part of the Cape Town experience. The Table Mountain is a prominent landmark overlooking the city of Cape Town in South Africa and is in fact featured in the Flag of Cape Town and also in other local government insignia.
Muslim travelers must take in the glorious views of this magnificent Table Mountain while exploring the endemic floral and animal species that abound in the wilderness of the Table Mountain region.
The glorious views of the magnificent Table Mountain are famed worldwide. Tourists specially climb the summit or enjoy the scenic cable car ride to the top to take in the breathtaking overview of Cape Town from the mountain top. In addition you will also be overwhelmed by the 360-degree views of Table Bay, the rest of the Table Mountain National Park, the nearby peaks of the surrounding mountains, and the fabulous view of the sunset. The Table Mountain is inundated with so many remarkable views and sights that it is an ideal place for nature lovers and nature photographers to visit.
The most popular activity at Table Mountain is hiking. There are more than 350 available trails and many of them start at the Camps Bay side of the mountain, or the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, and even from the city center itself. However, there are also walking tours, caving, rock climbing, mountain biking, and picnicking that can be enjoyed on this amazing wonder of South Africa. Let’s also not forego a walk through the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens founded in 1913 on the eastern foot of the mountain, which spans an area of 1,300 acres and includes a unique conservatory with plants from different parts of the world.
Table Mountain Hike – Hiking in the Table Mountain is very popular and mostly free. There are over 350 trails that lead to the top for all types of hikers - from casual strollers to the more experienced and adventurous hikers. The Constantiaberg, the Silvermine or the Cape of Good Hope trails are the easier ones, while the Platteklip Gorge, Nursery Ravine or Skeleton Gorge are the more difficult trails. A conservation fee will be charged to enter areas such as Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden, Cape Point or Boulders Beach.
Although the hiking trails are well marked, it is best to hike in company or groups. Remember, that the Table Mountain is ultimately a natural reserve with wildlife abounding within this wild and untamed mountain.
Table Mountain Walk – There are also free guided walking tours available at the Table Mountain. The thirty-minute free guided tours that take place on the hour from 9.00 a.m. to 3.00 p.m. daily, depart from the Twelve Apostles Terrace (below the Café). These are family-friendly walks conducted by staff, who will also share the story of Table Mountain and the Cableway, and provide any assistance you may require. For those who prefer an Audio tour, these are also available.
Alternately, some local volunteers also offer free guided walks on the second Sunday of every month. The meeting point is inside the main gate. To participate in these walking guided tours, visitors must wear the proper gear and strong boots, and also carry their hats/caps, sunscreen, water, rain coat and snacks. A wild card must also be obtained from the Tokai Tourism Sales Office which is closed daily from 12.30 p.m. to 1.00 p.m. Contact telephone is +27 021 712 7471.
Caving - Table Mountain is unusual in having several large cave systems that have developed in sandstone. The biggest systems are the Wynberg Caves, located on the Back Table, not far from the Jeep Track, in ridges overlooking Orange Kloof and Hout Bay.
Rock climbing - Rock climbing on Table Mountain is also very popular. There are many well-known climbing routes of different degrees of difficulty up the many faces of the mountain. The main climbs are located on cliffs below the upper cable station. Only traditional climbing is allowed. Commercial groups also offer abseiling from the upper cable station.
Mountain Biking - The slopes of Table Mountain have many jeep tracks that allow mountain biking. The route to the Block House is a popular route for bike riding. There are well marked direction signs that Bike riders should follow.
Table Mountain Biodiversity - Table Mountain has resisted six million years of erosion and is home to several rare and endangered flora and fauna. There are over 1,470 floral species, many of which are endemic to the Table Mountain. In fact the Table Mountain is part of the ‘Table Mountain National Park, South Africa’, where you will also find animals such as caracals, rock hyraxes or chacma baboons, as well as lizards, insects and birdlife which are unique to the region. It is also home to the Table Mountain Ghost Frog, an animal that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Simply put, Table Mountain flourishes with a rich biodiversity that you will not be able to find anywhere else on earth!
Visitors can reach the top of the Table Mountain by the cable car or by taking a hike or walking. The cable car starts at the foot of the mountain and reaching there is quite easy. For hikers, there are several options discussed above.
To reach the foot of the mountain, there you can use the MyCiTi bus or the free shuttle service, the City Sightseeing’s hop-on hop-off bus, or meter taxis and Uber. Driving or using a private car is another option, except, that finding parking spots is difficult.
Table Mountain Cable Car Tickets – Since 1929, there has been a cable car in operation to reach the summit of the Table Mountain. It is the fastest and easiest way of reaching the top. Visitors can purchase the Table Mountain cable car tickets either at the station at the foot of the mountain or from the city sightseeing bus drivers. Tickets are priced from 70 Rand to 255 Rand (terms and conditions apply). There are different prices for adults, children (aged 4 to 17), senior citizens and students. There are also one-way and return ticket options.
The cable car is operational from 8.30 a.m. every day (first car up), except from 16th December and 15th January when it opens at 8.00 a.m. The cable car’s last car down varies between 4.30 pm (1st May to 31st August) to 9.30 pm (from 16th December and 15th January) depending on season. The Cableway is closed for annual maintenance from around 25th July to 7th August, weather permitting.
Entry Fees are required for areas including the Boulders Beach, Silvermine Dam, Cape Hope, Oudekraal, Perdekloof, Orangekloof, Tokai Forest and Newslands Braai Sites. There are different fees for adults and children (2 to 11 years) that vary for the different areas from 6 Rand to 125 Rand per day. If travelling into the Park areas by vehicle, then vehicle entry fees and parking fees are also applicable.
Halal food and Prayer facilities at the Summit of Table Mountain – There is a Café at the summit of Table Mountain with a wide variety of food types. However, Muslim travelers will have to check if the food served is halal. If possible take along some snacks on your visit. If you are on the top of Table Mountain enjoying the sunset, then you can possibly observe your evening prayers in an area that is not crowded. Don’t forget to take your prayer mat with you.
Here are a few interesting and intriguing facts on the Table Mountain of South Africa.
The Table Mountain is the only natural site on the planet which has a constellation of stars named after it – ‘Mensa’, meaning “the table” in Latin.
The Khoi people used to call the mountain Hoerikwaggo, meaning the ‘Mountain of the Sea’.
The first European to climb it, Antonio de Saldanha, called it Taboa de Caba, meaning ‘Table of the Cape’.
It is globally recognized for its biodiversity and contains unique flora and fauna. More than 70% of all the plants found on the mountain are endemic and survive only in the unique ecosystem of the slopes of the Table Mountain.
The rocks on the mountain are over 600 million years old, making Table Mountain one of the oldest mountains in the world, older than the Andes, the Alps, the Rocky Mountains and the Himalayas.
It is said that the Table Mountain is still growing. When the earth started splitting over 250 million years ago the Table Mountain resisted folding because of its tough granite base, which resulted in the mountain slowly beginning to rise, a process that still hasn’t stopped.
Table Mountain is often covered in cloud. The cloud that forms around the mountain is called “table cloth”.
It is South Africa’s most photographed landmark.
There are many caves on Table Mountain, the biggest one is Wynberg.
Over 800,000 people visit Table Mountain each year.
In 1998, former President Nelson Mandela proclaimed Table Mountain, “a gift to the Earth”.
At least two people get married on Table Mountain every month.
With October approaching, there is still time to take a tour of South Africa before the end of the ‘best weather’ season of the country. With its famed Kruger Park and its iconic Table Mountain overlooking the city of Cape Town, visitors to this country must include a visit to the magnificent Table Mountain with its unique flora and fauna as part of their must-do and must-see lists of things in the Cape Town experience in South Africa.
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