When planning my Africa trip, I heard more than once “don’t miss Table Mountain”, “Table Mountain is a must”, “Table Mountain”, “Table Mountain”. The universe was sending too many people for me to ignore, so I figured I had to plan some time at Table Mountain. Easier said that done. In my research, there were many stories of missing out due to weather conditions – cloud cover, rains, winds, etc. When planning out my itinerary, I booked a city tour with a Table Mountain visit for my first day. Well, if you read about my travel meltdown, you know that I didn’t make it to Table Mountain that day. I rebooked the tour for my last day in the city knowing that I was taking a chance and could miss out.
Luckily, I had the concierge book my ticket online which allowed me to visit anytime, cost 205 ZAR (about $19). This was to be used on the last day, however, I managed to get the wine tour guide to drop me (and a few others) at Table Mountain rather than the hotel at the end of our tour. The sun was shining, no winds and nary a cloud in the sky. This meant a very quick visit before the last cable car back – I would have about an hour to explore before sunset but wouldn’t be able to do the various treks further out. I figured I would do those on my last day visit on the tour that was rescheduled (it would end up raining that day and the Table Mountain visit canceled).
What I didn’t realize was how far up the drive up to the cable car entrance (for those afraid of heights, this is a bit high already at 363 metres above sea level but provides a lovely view of the city without going up the mountain). As I had my ticket (full price) already, I was able to skip the lines and go right to the queue for the cableway. Note: After 6 pm, sunset tickets are half-price with the last cable car departing at 8:30 pm.
If you worry about not being able to see on the way up, a staggering 704m, don’t worry, the cable car rotates as it goes up at a max of 10 m a second providing everyone with a view (for those freaked out about heights, spinning cable cars, or your mate is dragging you – you can sit in the middle to avoid the views). I was able to get a window to put my camera out for photos but must say, even for me this was high up, I can’t believe I actually researched hiking up to the top with a group (insanity for me anyway, kudos to those who have done it though).
Reaching the top station at 1067m above sea level, I just followed the crowds out to begin my exploration as I was on a one hour photo mission. But what happened when I got my first glimpse from Table Mountain? I was stunned.
On this side, we were above the clouds, like being in an airplane seat looking down at the clouds except I was on a mountain with much more leg room and better food (there is a cafe, of course).
On the other side, I was able to look out at Cape Town below.
And yet, over on that side, there was more.
One hour was not enough but I had to make do.
With a good number of informational signs along the walk to describe the view or indicate which path to take atop the mountain, each with an estimated return journey listed, I was able to decide what views, treks could be done in my short time.
For me, I stayed on the local path to the various lookout points never straying too far. I stayed behind the rails and adhered to all safety notes but others not so much….
My eyes were on overload with each view more amazing than the last as I alternated between taking photos and just taking in the scene. Sometimes, it’s hard to shut off the camera and just be still in the beauty of the world – Table Mountain definitely challenged me to be still. As the sun started to set, I saw many visitors starting to make their way back to the cafe/cable car station so I followed. There were private groups with their own sundowners and snacks, couples holding hands in the moment, kids running around, families at tables and then me milling about to get the photos and eek out my last minutes on top of the mountain.
With the sun setting and the group’s gathered waiting for it to end, I decided to leave early to avoid the crush of people for the cable car (I was also starving for dinner). As the cable car worked it’s way down, I took this last photo of the incredible view of Cape Town and then put my camera away to be still and enjoy the ride.