No resident or tourist should leave the Mother City without having visited the top of Table Mountain for it's sheer exhilerating views ... or stayed up there enjoying a picnic or meal whilst watching the sun go down on a fairy wonderland of lights.
Table Mountain has been voted one of the '7 Wonders of Nature' and is visible from almost anywhere in Cape Town making it a world famous landmark. The exhilarating ascent and descent of Table Mountain in the cable car is a definite must for any visitor. Even the locals are still awed time and again by these stunning views of Cape Town.
The mountain is home to a rich diversity of fauna and flora, many species of which are endemic and survive only in this unique ecosystem. There are approximately 1470 species of plants which include over 250 different species of daisies! Table Mountain alone has more flower species than England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales combined.
Animals such as porcupines and baboons live here freely, as well as furry rodents called Rock Dassies. These little creatures resemble rabbits without ears and the Table Mountain Ghost Frog is an example of an amphibian that is found in no other place in the world. There are also a number of interesting lizards.
Sculpted out of sandstone Table Mountain rises to 1086m at its highest point called Maclear’s Beacon. Its flat summit measures nearly 3km and provides breathtaking views over the city and its surrounding beaches. The panorama stretches from Table Bay to False Bay and around the mountain to Hout Bay Valley and Kommetjie. On a clear day one has a magnificent view across the Cape Flats to the Hottentots Holland Mountains.
For those athletic and energetic types, there are some 350 recognised paths to the summit, some undemanding and suitable for children, and some that are extremely difficult. It is not advisable that visitors climb without an experienced guide as the mountain can be deceptive. It is therefore strongly recommended that visitors contact the Mountain Club of South Africa on 021 465-3412 before embarking on a hike or climb.
Table Mountain is flanked on the east by the legendary Devil's Peak. As the story goes Van Hunks, a pirate in the early 18th century, retired from his eventful life at sea to live on the slopes of Devil's Peak. He spent his days sitting on the mountain, smoking his pipe. One day a stranger approached him, and a smoking contest ensued which lasted for days. The smoke clouds built up and a strong wind blew them down towards the town. When Van Hunks finally won the contest, the stranger revealed himself to be the Devil (hence Devil's Peak), and the two disappeared in a puff of smoke. Legend says that the cloud of smoke they left became Table Mountain's tablecloth - the famous white cloud that spills over the mountain when the south-easter blows in summer.
Of course, this phenomenon is also supported by a meteorological explanation. The moisture-laden south-easter blows against Table Mountain from over False Bay and rises. At a height of approximately 900 meters the winds reach the colder layers of air and thick clouds form. These clouds roll over the mountain and down towards the City Bowl. The characteristic tablecloth forms when the clouds reach the warmer, lower air layers and dissolve once more.
To the right of Table Mountain, Kloof Nek is linked to the aptly named Lion's Head. The spiral walk up Lion's Head passes through silver trees and spring flowers, and provides a 360º view of the Cape Peninsula as you go round the mountain. The walk is not terribly challenging, and is a popular family outing. At the top, you are rewarded with a breathtaking panoramic view where birds scramble for the crumbs left behind by numerous picnic baskets.
Lion's Head in turn is connected by a lion's body to the rump known as Signal Hill. Signal Hill derives its name from the time when it was used as a semaphore post for communication with ships at sea. It is from here that the noon cannon is still fired every day. After dark, the hill is a popular scene for couples who enjoy the romantic sight of the sparkle of the city lights with the backdrop of the floodlit Table Mountain.