Table Mountain is a flat-topped mountain overlooking the city of Cape Town in South Africa providing an epic view of Africa. It is a prominent tourist attraction and visitors use cable car or hike to the table top. The mountain is a part of the Table Mountain National Park preserving a variety of flora and fauna.
The area surrounding the Table Mountain has been inhabited since the prehistoric times; the Khoikhoi tribes migrated to this region around 2000 year ago and were the dominant tribe when the Europeans first arrived. The first European to climb the mountain was António de Saldanha, who came here during an expedition in 1503 AD. He named the mountain Taboa do Cabo (Table of the Cape: Portuguese).
In 1796, the British constructed three blockhouses in the honour of the royal family of England. These blockhouses still exist and can be reached from the Rhodes Memorial.
The mountain became part of the new Cape Peninsula National Park (later renamed to Table Mountain National Park) in the 1990s.
The Table Mountain is a flat plateau about 3 km from side to side and is edged by steep cliffs. The Devil’s Peak lies on the east of the mountain and the Lion’s Head to the west, together forming a dramatic backdrop of the Cape Town.
Flora and Fauna
The mountain is rich in biodiversity. Its vegetation forms part of the Cape Floral Region protected area, there are an estimated 2200 varieties of plants endemic to the mountain, and is a World Heritage Site. The most common animal found on the mountain is the Rock hyrax. Porcupines, mongoose and tortoise are also found. Big carnivores like lions and leopards have been long extinct locally and only smaller ones like the African Wild Cat still inhabit the area.
Some of the main attractions at the Table Mountain National Park are:
- Cape of Good Hope
- Table Mountain
- Signal Hill and Lions Head
- Hiking: Hiking is a great way to go around the Table Mountain and is a popular activity among locals and tourists alike. The ascent will require about 3 hours and the hikers should carry sufficient amounts of water with them. Skeleton gorge route, Pipe tracks and the Hoerikwaggo Trails are some of the popular routes taken by hikers.
- Rock Climbing: There are different points of rock climbing with varying difficulty levels, the prominent ones located below the upper cable station.
- Caving: Table Mountain has some unusual cave systems which have developed in the sand stone, different from the usual limestone caves found at most places. The biggest of these are the Wynberg Caves located on the Black Table.
- Mountain Biking: There are many jeep tracks on the slopes of the mountain which allow mountain biking. Proper safety gear and caution should be used while doing the biking.
- Cableway: The Table Mountain Cableway takes visitors from the lower cable station on Tafelberg Road to the top of the mountain. The ascent offers great views of the Cape Town, Table Bay and Robben island.
Cover Photo: pixabay