The majestic Table Mountain rises high above the Cape Town skyline; in 2011, the mountain was proclaimed one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. For centuries the mountain has exerted a magical appeal on those with a desire to reach the top. Before the inauguration of the fast cable car, the climb to the top was quite strenuous.
Table Mountain earned its name because of its flat top, resembling a table. In 1503, Portuguese explorer Antonio de Saldanha climbed to the top and named the mountain Tabao do Cabo, which means Table of the Cape. The plateau is almost 3 kilometres long and is flanked in the east by Devil’s Peak and in the west by Lion’s Head. The highest point on the mountain is McLear’s Beacon at 1086 metres.
The cable car whisks visitors to the top in less than 10 minutes and has transported more than 20 million visitors since its inauguration in 1929. During the ride the gondolas slowly rotate to give everybody a full view. At the top, you are greeted by a magnificent view of Cape Town and the ocean. There are various walking trails through beautiful nature and other viewpoints. There are free guided walking tours every day at 10:00 am and noon, departing from the cable car’s mountain station. Although many people find the climb up too long and strenuous, the 3-kilometre walk back down is very popular. On days with strong winds the cable car may be shut down and the walk will be your only option to get back down. Daredevils may descend faster by rappelling to the bottom of the mountain.
Sunrise and sunset are the best times to take the cable car up to Table Mountain. The golden light that shines on Cape Town is truly breathtaking. On the Table Mountain website you will find a monthly chart with the exact times for sunrise and sunset. Remember to always bring a jacket, even on warm summer days; it can be quite cool on top of the mountain.