A Secret Way to the Top of Table Mountain

Table Mountain is possibly the number one destination for travelers visiting Cape Town, South Africa. The prominent landmark consisting of approx. 500 million year old rocks, forms a dramatic backdrop to the city.

Most people take the aerial cableway to the top of Table Mountain, which offers spectacular views of jagged rocks, bare vegetation, and the city below. Once you reach the viewpoint, plan to spend an hour walking around to see as far out as Cape of Good Hope in the south, Devil’s Peak in the east, and Lion’s Head to the west. Buy tickets in advance, though also note that the aerial cableway is closed when there’s adverse weather, high winds or needs maintenance. On busy summer days, the lines can be very long and the visit may take an entire day, if not a better part of it.

Sunset is the best time to be on top of Table Mountain and local residents can get tickets for half off.

When I was in Cape Town in late December, I was stuck in traffic to get to the entrance of the park, it took about an hour in the line to get to the cable car (with advance tickets), and 2 hours to get back down. There was one restaurant on top, but I couldn’t get anything to eat or drink, because the lines took forever.

Another way to explore Table Mountain is by hiking, and the Platteklip Gorge trail is the most direct and popular trail up the mountain. It normally takes 2 hours each way. Some areas can be slippery and steep. In summer, this may be strenuous as the sun is quite strong and there aren’t many trees. You must carry lots of water, walking poles, some granola bars, hat and sunscreen.

The best way to see Table Mountain is a private wine safari. I met with my Durbanville Hills Table Mountain Wine Safari Guide, Henri Bruce, at the SANParks Table Mountain office, and we rode in his open safari jeep straight past the lines, unlocking barriers marked as no private entry, and driving through the winding rugged paths through the mountain. On the scenic drive, Henri pointed out the different shrubs and flowers indigenous to the mountain, and shared interesting stories of his many hikes. We stopped to take photos of sparkling fynbos trees and vibrant protea flowers, as well as False Bay, and the beaches dotting Cape Town below us.

Once we reached Devil’s Peak, we got off the vehicle and went for a walk around the block house and historic cannons. Meanwhile, Henri set up a picnic table with different kinds of cheese, fresh fruits, and cold cuts, accompanied by a selection of Durbanville Hills wines.

We spent about 3 hours wine tasting, talking about travel, and enjoying the infinite scenery, while an occasional hiker or two would walk past, perhaps a little jealous of how relaxed we were, while they still had the afternoon sun ahead. It also gets quite windy midday on top of the mountain, so make sure to bring a jacket.

After a beautiful day, Henri dropped us at the Cape Grace Hotel for a wine tasting at the bar, and a scrumptious dinner at Signal restaurant.

The experience can be booked through the concierge desk at Cape Grace Hotel, a charming family-owned boutique hotel located at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town, or directly through Durbanville Hills.

Ten percent of all proceeds are donated to South African National Parks (SANParks) for the conservation and general upkeep of South Africa’s national parks.

5 Must See Places in Cape Town, South Africa

What does your mind envision at the mention of Cape Town, South Africa? Perhaps you see flashes of Cape Town’s tumultuous history. Remnants of the apartheid, a system of racial segregation from 1948 to 1994, loom heavily over this beautiful city.  There remain visible reminders of the painful class system, displaced persons and civil unrest.  However, it is time to take another look.  Cape Town is a coastal town, comprised of a majestic port, vineyards as far as the eye can see, pristine beaches and so much more. In Cape Town a traveler will find a bit of everything.

Cape Town was originally founded as a resupply stop for the Dutch East Indies Company.  Today, Cape Town is the legislative capital of South Africa. It is the second most populous city in South Africa and the largest city in the Western Cape.  Here are some sites you must visit to gain a new perspective on the country.

Majestic Table Mountain

CapeTown Table Mountain

On a clear day in the city, Table Mountain’s prominent summit can be seen for miles around. It is widely recognizable and makes up the backdrop of the area.

An interesting phenomenon known as orographic clouds occurs at the site of Table Mountain. Locals have been known to call these clouds the “table cloth.” These clouds give the mountain both a mysterious and majestic feel yet can appear to completely swallow up this 3,559 ft landmark. At times, there are opportunities to literally walk through the clouds.

The summit of the mountain can be reached by cable car and boasts awe inspiring views.  The plateau of the mountain is 2 miles from side to side, revealing picturesque views of the city below and the ocean beyond. Visitors to Table Mountain walk among the fiery sunset colored flora, and take photographs of each other against the backdrop of the intense shades of grey and purple. Save some energy, there is more, now choose to hike, mountain bike, go rock climbing or visit some caves in the national park.

Reclaimed V and A Waterfront

Victoria and Alfred WaterfrontThe Victoria and Alfred Waterfront has undergone many transitions over the centuries.  The harbor basins were originally built between 1860 and 1920 at the direction of Prince Alfred, Queen Victoria’s youngest son.  Presently the V and A Waterfront is Cape Town’s number one attraction. The harbor is vibrant with more than 80 restaurants, retail stores, hotels, an aquarium, amphitheater and private residences. The waterfront attractions include the Nelson Mandela Museum and the launch for a boat ride to visit Robben Island, where Mandela was imprisoned for 18 years. Here is a tip; purchase tickets online weeks in advance of your visit to ensure your visit to Robben Island during your stay in Cape Town. With 400,000 square meters of mixed development use at The Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, there is sure to be entertainment and cuisine to suit every persons tastes.

Brilliant Bo Kaap

BoKaap DistrictThe Bo Kaap district in the city of Cape Town is an artistic statement that quickly catches the eye.  The homes, painted in vividly bold colors, leave a lasting impression.  The area was originally known as the Malay Quarters although several groups of people dwelled in the community, including a significant population of Muslims.  Today, the traditions can still be experienced with its abundance of Malaysian cuisine, Muslim mosques, carnivals, museums, and bright facades.

Unspoiled Beaches

The beaches are a must see while visiting Cape Town.  They are sugary white and impeccably maintained. The city has over 80 beaches and facilities, as recognized by their government with the most popular destinations for visitors being Clifton, Camps Bay and Boulders Beach.

Hout Bay BeachClifton Beach is known for the luxury of the surrounding homes, boutiques, and restaurants.  This “Millionaire’s Row” is a place to go see and be seen and has been coined Cape Town’s St. Tropez, a province located on the French Riviera.  St. Tropez is known as “the” beach destination for the famous, wealthy, and beautiful.  Clifton Beach, while known for its posh ambiance is also a destination for sunbathers.

Camps Bay Beach, just down the road from Clifton Beach, gives a more laid back atmosphere than the Clifton area.  It is family friendly during the day and has ample amounts of dining and shopping. During the evening the beach is also known for its bars and intriguing nightlife.

Boulders Beach is a recreational site that is a part of the Table Mountain National Park.  It has slightly warmer water and its rocks dissipate the waves making snorkeling ideal.  It also happens to be the home to a colony of endangered African penguins.

Exquisite Vineyards

Constantia Winery

Less than an hours drive from Cape Town’s city center are captivating landscapes of wine country. Rolling hills of endless vineyards span the territory of Cape Town incorporating more than 20 wine producing regions. Many have won international awards and continue to produce sought after harvests.

Wineries such as Constantia and Cape Point deliver warm hospitality, world-class wine, and a reprieve from the busier city.  To visit, consider companies such as South African owned Luhambo Tours, which accommodates tours to various wine estates.

A local source for information can be essential to experiencing the most Cape Town has to offer. Tour with a lifelong resident and licensed operator like Auriol’s Tours for a unique perspective with uncommon expeditions.

The traditional and contemporary life styles in Cape Town co-mingle; the natural beauty and artistic flair merge making it a destination to behold.  A recommendation, when thinking about travel to Cape Town, South Africa, envision the need for at least seven days in order to experience most of what Cape Town has to offer.

To learn more about traveling to Cape Town, visit Cape Town Tourism.

~ By Kaylah Burks, an athlete, who enjoys traveling the world while staying health conscious.  Follow her on Instagram @jadenlie