Sunday, November 16, 2008

Climbing Table Mountain (Nov. 15, 2008 - Cape Town, South Africa)

At home, we think doing something like the Grouse Grind is fun, and it makes a great workout. So it seemed only fitting that when we found out you can hike to the top of Table Mountain instead of taking the cable car, we didn't think twice.

It was a hot day and I managed to get very sunburned yesterday, so the walk to the base of Table Mountain was a feat in itself. Twinges of heat stroke made the uphill haul seem never-ending. At the base of the mountain is a parking lot for tour buses and a lower cable car station, much like Grouse Mountain. We walked past the masses along the road that traverses the base of the mountain until we came to the trailhead 2km away. From there, it was a 2 hour, 620 metre elevation gain to the top. This is actually less vertical than the Grind (I think?), but with a lot of switchbacks and intense sun, it takes a lot longer.

The first half hour of the trail meandered up the talus cone of the Platteklip Gorge above, and a pretty little waterfall cascaded over the rocks beside the trail. There is a variety of flowers in bloom everywhere right now that is bright pink and adds a splash of colour to the landscape. Flat rocks form a staircase-like trail, but some steps, much like the Grind, were obviously not designed for short people. The views as we climbed became increasingly beautiful, and near the top of the gorge, the view out to the city and the turquoise sea was only a sliver between the two cliff walls on either side of us.

Exactly at the two hour mark, we finally broke out onto the flat top of Table Mountain and joined the throngs of tourists milling around the paved paths with baby strollers and wheelchairs. Their experience of Table Mountain will surely be different than ours!

The vistas in all directions from the top were breathtaking. To the north and east, Cape Town and the far off bay sprawled into the distance, with the hills of wine country fading into the horizon. To the northwest lay Robben Island. Camps Bay and its many beaches lay below us to the west and stretched out as far as the eye could see. To the south was the Cape peninsula. We could see most of the route we drove yesterday, including the lighthouse at Cape Point. It was quite a sight!

Our noses caught a whiff of burgers on the BBQ, so once we had taken in the view, we refueled at the mountaintop restaurant before hopping in the cable car for the quick ride down. The floor of the cable car actually rotates 360 degrees during the descent, which we thought was brilliant! Not so brilliant were the guys at the top offering to take people rapelling down the west face of Table Mountain. Seriously - you would have to be crazy to sign up for that deal!

Back on solid ground and with tired legs, we walked all the way back to home sweet home at zebra crossing for a well deserved shower and a nap. I have no idea how far we walked today, but it feels great to know that we can add "climbed Table Mountain" to our lifetime achievements list.


  1. hope you are having a blast. we miss you

  2. wow, i think this is the longest I've ever not heard from you! I misssss you!!! Bet you're having a blast, watch out for the hippos, they are cute but have a nasty bite ;)


    ps. is it just me, or is it not hilarious that my word verification for this comment is 'poodiva' ?!?!

    love you poodiva!!

  3. poodiva! Love it! Miss you too, but the hippos remind me of you so it's all good :) Just kidding, their mouths are much bigger. HAHA!!

  4. I'm pretty sure Amanda and I were crazy enough to repel down the side of Table Mountain - glad you guys are having a good time!