Information on Table Mountain
Rising above Cape Town, South Africa
, Table Mountain is an easily recognizable and much-photographed landmark on the Cape peninsula, diverse in its wildlife and plant species, and treasured by citizens and tourists alike for its beauty and many recreational opportunities. The flat-topped mountain is part of Table Mountain National Park, which encompasses the entire Table Mountain Chain.
Table Mountain stands 1,086 meters (just over 3,500 feet) at its highest point, and is approximately 3 km long. The landscape varies from a flat, sandy summit to valleys and brooks in the highlands to sheer cliffs. Spectacular views to the north overlook the city, Table Bay and Robben Island, while the view to the south and west takes in the Atlantic Ocean. The mountain has two summit peaks: Devil's Peak and Lion's Head.
In 2004, Table Mountain was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site "to protect the fynbos (Afrikaans word for floral kingdom)," according to www.nationalgeographic.com. And indeed, there are 1,470 species of flora, including very rare species of orchids. In addition to the profusion of plant life, see if you can spot some of the many bird, mammal, insect, amphibian and reptile species the mountain hosts.
A view from the top of Table Mountain.
Avoid the rainy season and visit Table Mountain during the summer months, from November to February. Hike one of the 350 documented paths and trails, ranging from easy to difficult. Or try the three-day trek along the spine of the mountain, called the Hoerikwagga Trail. Table Mountain National Park has three access points where conservation fees are collected, but otherwise the park is mainly open access.
The Cableway, a cable car system that opened in 1929, carries 600,000 visitors per year to the top of Table Mountain, according to www.southafrica.net. The gondola travels at 10 meters per second and reaches the top in about 10 minutes. A rotating floor gives visitors a full view of Cape Town and the mountain. At the top, walk another 45 to 60 minutes to the highest point on the mountain, or stop and eat lunch in the Table Mountain Cafe near the upper station.
There are a few interesting trivia points about Table Mountain. For example, the veil of mist that often hangs over Table Mountain is referred to as the tablecloth. In addition to the two summits, several other peaks on the mountain are known collectively as the Twelve Apostles. And in July 2009, South Africa's Table Mountain was named one of 28 finalists in the "New 7 Wonders of Nature" competition, alongside Angel Falls in Venezuela and the Galapagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador, to name a few.
With a degree in journalism, Amanda Mininger worked for the newswire industry as a copy editor for more than seven years. From her home state of Colorado, Mininger writes articles about travel and fitness. Her work has appeared on the websites eHow.com and Travels.com.
timparkinson, Flickr.com; Rgtmum, Flickr.com (second photo)