Table Mountain, Cape Town, South Africa!
Next Stop…Table Top!
A mean southeasterly wind has been blowing every three or
four days since we arrived here in Cape Town.
They call this wind the “Cape Doctor.” Centuries ago, when Cape Town was growing
quickly - first as a Dutch East Indies colony - and, subsequently, under British rule, the medical care was not
great and often contagion spread throughout the town. When the wind came up, it
literally blew the germs away and it became known as the “Cape Doctor.”
But, living as we do, in a marina at the foot of Table
Mountain means that that wind comes barreling down the mountain buffeting Peregrina with up to 56 knots! The
wind literally makes waves in the marina and the boats are rockin’ and rollin’ like
crazy! What’s more, the clanging in the rigging of the 400+ boats berthed on
the dock can be cacophonous!
You can actually see the wind picking up as the clouds starting pouring over the edge of Table Mountain. The faster they fall and the darker they become, the more wind you can expect down here at sea level. Here’s the view on a clear, calm day and then another look as the clouds come rolling in…
While this is a fascinating phenomenon, it was playing havoc
with our sightseeing schedule! We wanted
to visit the #1 tourist destination in Cape Town which is, of course, Table
Mountain! Trouble is, the only way to get up the mountain (aside from walking a
very long steep trail which was NOT gonna happen since I have a broken toe) is
the Cable Car which shuts down when the weather deteriorates and/or the winds
pick up over 40 knots.
Several days of cancellations preceded our ascent, but,
finally we had a crystal clear day and we jumped on a bus and found our way to
the base of the mountain. Sir Francis Drake was the first person to sail around the
world between 1577 and 1580. Upon seeing
Table Mountain and the Cape Peninsula, he wrote in his log, “The fairest Cape.
The most stately thing we saw in the whole circumference of the globe.”
We’d have to agree. Table
Mountain, at just over 1086 meters/ 3,562 feet), may be quite small in comparison to the other
great mountains such as Everest, the Matterhorn and Sugarloaf, but with its
flat top mesa,Table
Mountain is one of the most recognizable landmarks in the world.
The Table Mountain Cableway has been carrying passengers up the mountain since 1929. To date, more than 16 million visitors have traveled to the top of the mountain with a perfect safety record. The latest cable system was installed in 1997 and uses 65-passenger cars called “Rotairs” which have a revolving floor that allows all passengers a spectacular 360-degree view of the city and the surrounding area. Here’s one coming down the mountain (Note the business-savvy VISA advertising on the bottom of the car)
And here’s a view taken out the window from about half way up the mountain!
At the top of the mountain, we were met with incredible views in every direction. Here we are overlooking the city harbor.
Here’s another view looking out towards the south.
We were able to take a nice close up of the spectacular Cape Town Stadium built for the 2010 Soccer World Cup. It’s shaped like a giant traditional African hat and wrapped with a Teflon mesh to capture and reflect natural light. Built for 4.5 Billion Rand (roughly $450 million US dollars) it seats 68,000 fans for sporting events and concert performances.
Back on top of the mountain, there’s not a lot of wildlife
up here as you can imagine. (Although a
few years ago, a retired racehorse inexplicably found itself lost on Table
Mountain and collapsed on the upper mesa!
The cable company provided a free ride down for the pooped-out
Aside from the rare, renegade racehorse, it’s easy to spot
the little Dazzie’s (Hyrax) playing in the rocky ledges.
These cute little herbivores grow to about 8-10 pounds as adults and their closest relative is the African Elephant! This is based on similarities in their feet and teeth. Take a look. I’m not seeing the resemblance to the portly pachyderm but what do I know?
Eventually, an air horn blew announcing the last car down
the mountain and we checked off another milestone on our Bucket List and a page
from 1,000 Places To See Before You Die, our favorite reference book
Next Stop? You’ll have to wait and see Where in the World are Margie and Peter?