If you ask people about Cape Town, South Africa odds are the first thing that pops into mind is Table Mountain. The iconic mountain soars 3,563 feet (1086 meters) above sea level and creates a stunning backdrop for all of Cape Town. We were fortunate enough to take the cable car up on our recent trip to Cape Town and thoroughly enjoy the mountain.
We arrived shortly after opening to avoid the mass amounts of tourists, like us, wanting to see Cape Town from above. We made sure to check the cable car’s website early to see if winds would be a factor. Earlier in our trip we tried to go to the top with our tour group, only to find out the cable car would not be running due to high winds. Looking back at it, though, we are glad we did not go with our tour group, but instead had a full day to ourselves to hike and explore the top of the mountain.
As we waited in line for the cable car we heard languages from every part of the globe. We made out some tour guides telling their clients to be back down in one and a half hours, which is enough time to see the main part and soak in the view. We, however, wanted to experience more and hike to the opposite end to Maclear’s Beacon, the highest point.
We boarded the cable car along with twenty or so other people and departed. I have been on a few cable cars like this and have been on many ski-lifts, but I was completely shocked at how steep this cable car runs. Almost instantly after taking off you are above the main building, and continue rocketing skyward. Another fun treat from the elevator-like lift is the floor rotates as you climb. throughout the ride you do a full 360 degree rotation ensuring everyone on board gets a picturesque view of Cape Town.
When we arrived at the top we were surprised to learn it wasn’t too crowded yet! We walked out of the main building and instantly were overcome with the breathtaking view. Without a cloud in the sky and a slight wind in the cool air, we decided to enjoy the typically crowded area first before departing on our hike. We walked around the edge and marvelled at Robben Island, Lions Head, Signal Hill, and the City Bowl.
With the sun beginning to rise farther into the clear blue sky, Emilee and I realized we forgot sunscreen and will need it for our pasty white skin. We dip into the gift shop at the top and buy a tube of SPF30 sunblock and apply it. Then, we walk to the South side of the mountain to take in the views of Hout Bay, and the other mountains leading to the Cape of Good Hope, which we had visited the day prior. Just as we were in awe again, we saw a funny looking animal bathing in the morning sun. A Dassie, which is very similar to a rabbit, is a hoofed animal in the same family as the elephant. They are extremely cute, and very skilled at mountain life.
After taking in the views one more time, we gather our things and begin our hike towards Maclear’s Beacon. The terrain is rocky, with fairly smooth walking paths as we hike by King Protea flowers, the National flower of South Africa. Some of the paths are leveled slightly with concrete which helps determine where to walk, and where not to, since Table Mountain is surrounded with cliffs on every side. The majority of the hiking is flat, although to get to Maclear’s Beacon there is one steep valley you have to go down, then back up. Once at the top of that hill it is flat again, and you can follow the trails to the other side.
We arrive to Maclear’s Beacon and take a breather and enjoy the view. We take pictures of our lego mini-figures, then have a small snack. After reading the plaque on Maclear’s Beacon we begin our hike back to the cable car. Along the way we see a puff adder snake. I did not get a good enough picture of it to share, but it was about 15 inches in length and three inches around (here’s their description). We didn’t know at the time, but it is a venomous viper snake species! I’m very glad we didn’t know this at the time, though, or Emilee may have taken the quick way off the mountain to avoid it!
When we got back to the top of the cable car, it was much more crowded than when we had left it. It was also much hotter than when we started, but luckily there is a convenient store that sells beer on draft and snacks! We grab a beer each and a bag of chips to split, and give our legs a break. As we enjoy our spoils from the hike we couldn’t help ourselves but to stare at this city’s beauty. I had been told before it was one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and that day proved it to me.
As we head back to the cable car building, I run down a trail near the lift and snap off a few photos of the incoming cable car. When I return to Emilee, who is waiting in line, she tells me her jealousy that the employees of Table Mountain have one of the best commutes in the world, and that we need to come back to Cape Town, just to get to enjoy this beautiful spot again.