Mountain (Huri ‡oaxa
Khoekhoe language for where the sea
rises, Afrikaans: Tafelberg) is a flat-topped mountain forming a
prominent landmark overlooking the city of
Cape Town in South Africa.
It is a significant tourist attraction, with many visitors using the
cableway or hiking to the top. The mountain forms part of the Table
Mountain National Park. Table
Mountain is home to a large array of
fauna and flora, most of which is endemic.
7.1 Hiking on Table Mountain
7.2 Rock climbing
8 "Mensa" constellation
9 Image gallery
10 Foot note
11 See also
13 External links
Mountain seen from Lion's Head with low-lying cloud cover over
Cape Town under the clouds
The main feature of Table
Mountain is the level plateau approximately
3 kilometres (2 mi) from side to side, edged by impressive
cliffs. The plateau, flanked by Devil's Peak to the east and by Lion's
Head to the west, forms a dramatic backdrop to Cape Town. This broad
sweep of mountainous heights, together with Signal Hill, forms the
natural amphitheatre of the
City Bowl and
Table Bay harbour. The
highest point on Table
Mountain is towards the eastern end of the
plateau and is marked by Maclear's Beacon, a stone cairn built in 1865
Thomas Maclear for trigonometrical survey. It is 1,086 metres
(3,563 ft) above sea level, and about 19 metres (62 ft)
higher than the cable station at the western end of the plateau.
The cliffs of the main plateau are split by Platteklip Gorge ("Flat
Stone Gorge"), which provides an easy and direct ascent to the summit
and was the route taken by
António de Saldanha
António de Saldanha on the first recorded
ascent of the mountain in 1503.
The flat top of the mountain is often covered by orographic clouds,
formed when a south-easterly wind is directed up the mountain's slopes
into colder air, where the moisture condenses to form the so-called
"table cloth" of cloud. Legend attributes this phenomenon to a smoking
contest between the
Devil and a local pirate called Van Hunks. When
the table cloth is seen, it symbolizes the contest.
Mountain is at the northern end of a sandstone mountain range
that forms the spine of the
Cape Peninsula that terminates
approximately 50 km to the south at the
Cape of Good Hope
Cape of Good Hope and
Cape Point. Immediately to the south of Table
Mountain is a rugged
"plateau" at a somewhat lower elevation than the Table Mountain
Plateau (at about 1000 m), called the "Back Table". The "Back
Table" extends southwards for approximately 6 km to the
Hout Bay valley. The Atlantic side of the Back Table,
is known as the Twelve Apostles, which extends from Kloof Nek (the
saddle between Table
Mountain and Lion's Head) to Hout Bay. The
eastern side of this portion of the Peninsula's mountain chain,
extending from Devil's Peak, the eastern side of Table
and Fernwood Buttresses), and the Back Table to Constantia Nek, does
not have single name, as on the western side. It is better known by
the names of the conservation areas on its lower slopes: Groote Schuur
Estate, Newlands Forest,
Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, Cecilia Park,
and Constantia Nek.
Panorama from the top of Table Mountain. From left to right are
visible Lion's Head, Signal Hill, Robben Island, the
Cape Town city
centre, Table Bay, and Devil's Peak.
Devil's Peak, Table
Mountain and the Back Table seen from the Cape
Flats. In this view Table
Mountain is seen "side on" from the east. It
is the view of the mountain that greets a visitor to Cape Town
arriving by road (particularly along the N2). The distance from
Constantia Nek to the lower slopes of Devil's Peak on the right hand
side of the photograph is 9 km (as the crow flies).
Cape Peninsula § Geology
Main article: Cape Fold Mountains
Main article: Marine geology of the
Cape Peninsula and False Bay
Geological structure of Table Mountain. Compare with map on the
Geology of Table
Mountain in relation to the geology of the rest of
the Cape Peninsula.
The upper approximately 600 m portion of the 1 km high
table-topped mountain, or mesa, consists of 450-510 million years
old (Ordovician) rocks belonging to the two lowermost layers of the
Cape Fold Mountains. The uppermost, and younger of the two
layers, consists of extremely hard quartzitic sandstone, commonly
referred to as "Table
Mountain Sandstone" (TMS), or "Peninsula
Formation Sandstone" (as it is known as at present), which is highly
resistant to erosion and forms characteristic steep grey crags. The
70 m thick lower layer, known as the "Graafwater Formation",
consists of distinctively maroon-colored mudstones, which were laid
down in much thinner horizontal strata than the Table Mountain
Sandstone strata above it. The Graafwater rocks can best be seen
just above the contour path on the front of Table Mountain, and around
Devils Peak. They can also been seen in the cutting along Chapman's
Peak Drive. These rocks are believed to have originated in shallow
tidal flats, in which a few
Ordovician fossils, and fossil tracks have
been preserved. The overlying TMS probably arose in deeper
water, either as a result of subsidence, or a rise in the sea
level. The Graafwater rocks rest on the basement consisting of
Cape Granite. Devil's Peak, Signal Hill, the
City Bowl and much of the
"Cape Flats", however, rest on heavily folded and altered phyllites
and hornfelses known informally as the Malmesbury shales. The Cape
Granite and Malmesbury shales form the lower, gentler slopes of the
Mountain range on the Cape Peninsula. They are of late
Precambrian age, pre-dating the "Graafwater rocks" by at least
40 million years.
A west-east (left to right) geological cross section through Table
Mountain on the Cape Peninsula, the
Cape Flats (the isthmus connecting
the Peninsula to the African mainland) and the Hottentots-Holland
Mountains on the mainland. It indicates how the Cape Fold Mountains
have been eroded in this region, leaving what was once the bottom of a
valley to form Table
Mountain with its flat table-top structure.
The basement rocks are not nearly as resistant to weathering as the
TMS, but significant outcrops of the Cape
Granite are visible on the
western side of Lion's Head, and elsewhere on the Peninsula
Chapman's Peak Drive, and The Boulders near Simon's
Town). The weathered granite soil of the lower slopes of the
Mountain range are more fertile than the nutrient-poor soils
derived from TMS. Most of the vineyards found on the Cape Peninsula
are therefore found on these granitic slopes of the Table Mountain
The mountain owes it table-top flatness to the fact that it is a
syncline mountain, meaning that it once was the bottom of a valley
(see diagram on the right). The anticline, or highest point of the
series of folds that Table
Mountain was once part of, lay to the east,
but that has been weathered away, together with the underlying softer
Malmesbury shale and granite basement, to form the "Cape Flats". The
"Cape Flats" form the isthmus that connects the
Cape Peninsula to the
Mainland. The Fold Mountains reappear as the Hottentots-Holland
Mountain range on the mainland side of the "Cape Flats". What has
added to the mountain's table-top flatness is that it consists
entirely of the very hard, lower layer of the Table
Formation. Originally this was topped by a thin glacial tillite layer,
known as the Pakhuis Formation (see the diagram above, left), above
which was the upper layer of Table
Mountain Sandstone. Both these
layers, but especially the tillite layer, are softer than the lower
layer of Table
Mountain Sandstone. When these softer layers eroded
away, like a cream-topping on a cake, they left a very hard, flat
erosion-resistant quartzitic sandstone platform behind which, today,
forms Table Mountain's top.
Satellite image of Table Mountain, surrounded by Cape Town
Mountain is the northernmost end of a 50 km long, and
roughly 6–10 km wide, Cape Fold
Mountain range that forms the
back bone of the Cape Peninsula, stretching from the Cape of Good Hope
in the south to Table
Mountain and its flanking Devil's Peak (to the
east) and Lion's Head-Signal Hill (to the west) in the north. Table
Mountain forms the highest point of this range. The range runs
parallel to the other Cape Fold
Mountain ranges on the mainland to the
A king protea growing in Peninsula
Fynbos on Table Mountain
Silver trees (Leucadendron argenteum) only occur naturally on the
granite and clay soils of the Cape Peninsula, surrounding Table
Mountain and the Back Table. A few tiny patches, possibly
planted there early in the Cape Colony's history, occur near
Stellenbosch, Paarl and Somerset West. This photo was taken on
Lion's Head, looking towards the Twelve Apostles.
The Disa uniflora, also known as the Pride of Table
Mountain is a
showy orchid that blooms under waterfalls, along streamlets and seeps
on the top and upper slopes of Table
Mountain and the Back Table, in
Indigenous forest on Table Mountain, with Devils Peak visible in the
Mountain and the Back Table have an unusually rich biodiversity.
Its vegetation consists predominantly of several different types of
the unique and rich Cape fynbos. The main vegetation type is
Sandstone Fynbos, but critically endangered
Peninsula Shale Renosterveld
Peninsula Shale Renosterveld and Afromontane
forest occur in smaller portions on the mountain.
Table Mountain's vegetation types form part of the Cape Floral Region
protected areas. These protected areas are a World Heritage Site, and
an estimated 2,285 species of plants are confined to Table Mountain
Cape Peninsula range, of which a great proportion, including
many species of proteas, are endemic to these mountains and valleys
and can be found nowhere else. Of the 2,285 species on the
Peninsula 1,500 occur in the 57 km2 area comprising Table
Mountain and the Back Table, a number at least a large as all the
plant species in the whole of the United Kingdom. The Disa
uniflora, despite its restricted range within the Western Cape, is
relatively common in the perennially wet areas (waterfalls, streamlets
and seeps) on Table
Mountain and the Back Table, but hardly anywhere
else on the Cape Peninsula. It is a very showy orchid that
blooms from January to March on the Table
of the mountain. Although they are quite widespread on the Back Table,
the best (most certain, and close-up) place to view these beautiful
blooms is in the "Aqueduct" off the Smuts Track, halfway between
Skeleton Gorge and Maclear's Beacon.
Remnant patches of indigenous forest persist in the wetter ravines.
However, much of the indigenous forest was felled by the early
European settlers for fuel for the lime kilns needed during the
construction of the Castle. The exact extent of the original
forests is unknown, though most of it was probably along the eastern
slopes of Devil's Peak, Table
Mountain and the Back Table where names
such as Rondebosch, Kirstenbosch, Klassenbosch and Witteboomen survive
(in Dutch "bosch" means forest; and "boomen" means trees). Hout Bay
(in Dutch "hout" means wood) was another source of timber and fuel as
the name suggests. In the early 1900s commercial pine plantations
were planted on these slopes all the way from the Constantiaberg to
the front of Devil’s Peak, and even on top of the mountains, but
these have now been largely cleared allowing fynbos to flourish in the
regions where the indigenous
Afromontane forests have not survived, or
Fynbos is a fire adapted vegetation, and providing fires are not too
frequent, regular or intense, they are important drivers of fynbos
diversity. Regular fires have dominated fynbos for at least the
past 12 000 years largely as a result of human activity.
Vasco da Gama
Vasco da Gama named the South African coastline Terra de Fume
because of the smoke he saw from numerous fires. This was
originally probably to maintain a productive stock of edible bulbs
(especially watsonians) and to facilitate hunting, and later,
after the arrival of pastoralists, to provide fresh grazing after
the rains. Thus the plants that make up fynbos today are those
that have been subjected to a variety of fire regimes over a very long
period time, and their preservation now requires regular burning. The
frequency of the fires obviously determines precisely which mix of
plants will dominate any particular region, but intervals of
10–15 years between fires are considered to promote the
proliferation of the larger
Protea species, a rare local colony of
which, the Aulax umbellata (Family: Proteaceae), was wiped out on the
Peninsula by more frequent fires, as have been the silky-haired
pincushion, Leucospermum vestitum, the red sugarbush, Protea
grandiceps and Burchell's sugarbush,
Protea burchellii, although a
stand of a dozen or so plants has recently been "rediscovered" in the
saddle between Table
Mountain and Devil's Peak. Some bulbs may
similarly have become extinct as a result a too rapid sequence of
fires. The fires that occur on the mountains today are still
largely due to unregulated human activity. Fire frequency is therefore
a matter of chance rather than conservation.
Despite intensive conservation efforts the Table
Mountain range has
the highest concentration of threatened species of any continental
area of equivalent size in the world. The non-urban areas of
Cape Peninsula (mainly on the mountains and mountain slopes) have
suffered particularly under a massive onslaught of invasive alien
plants for well over a century, with perhaps the worst invader being
the cluster pine, partly because it was planted in extensive
commercial plantations along the eastern slopes of the mountains,
north of Muizenberg. Considerable efforts have been made to control
the rapid spread of these invasive alien trees. Other invasive plants
include black wattle, blackwood, Port Jackson and rooikrans (All
Australian members of the acacia family), as well as several Hakea
species and bramble.
Dassies (rock hyrax)
The most common mammal on the mountain was the dassie (the South
African name, from Afrikaans, pronounced "dussy"), or rock hyrax.
Between about 2000 and 2004 (no one is certain about the exact year or
years) their numbers suddenly plummeted for unknown reasons. They used
to cluster around the restaurant at the upper cable station, near
areas where tourists discarded or (inadvisably supplied) food. The
population crash of the dassies was in all probability responsible for
the decline in the
Verreaux's eagle population on the Peninsula, which
is believed to have consisted of 3 breeding pairs during the period
1950 to 1990, with only 2 pairs, maximally, ever having been reported
to fledge a chick each in any given year. With the commencement of
formal monitoring in 1993, two breeding pairs were recorded on the
Mountain Chain in 2004: one below the upper cable
station at the western end of Table Mountain, in Blinkwater Ravine,
the other on the cliffs below Noordhoek Peak. The nest near the
cable station was abandoned in 2006, leaving only the Noordhoek pair,
which continued to fledge chicks reasonably regularly till 2013, at
which point one member of the pair disappeared. From 2013 till January
2017 only a single Verreaux's Eagle, presumed to be a female, remained
on the Peninsula. She continued to maintain the nest under Noordhoek
Peak, but seemed unable to attract a mate. But in early 2017 a pair of
eagles was seen by at least 7 independent observers during the course
of 10 days (27 January - 5 February). It remains to be seen whether
they will breed later in the year. Dassies are an important part the
Verreaux's eagle's prey on the Peninsula. (See Foot note[nb 1])
Mountain is also home to porcupines, mongooses, snakes, lizards,
tortoises, and a rare endemic species of amphibian that is only found
on Table Mountain, the Table
Mountain ghost frog. The last lion in the
area was shot circa 1802. Leopards persisted on the mountains until
perhaps the 1920s but are now extinct locally. Two smaller, secretive,
nocturnal carnivores, the rooikat (caracal) and the vaalboskat (also
called the vaalkat or Southern African wildcat) were once common in
the mountains and the mountain slopes. The rooikat continues to be
seen on rare occasions by mountaineers but the status of the
vaalboskat is uncertain. The mountain cliffs are home to several
raptors species, apart from the Verreaux's eagle. They include the
jackal buzzard, booted eagle (in summer), African harrier-hawk,
peregrine falcon and the rock kestrel. In 2014 there were four
African fish eagles
African fish eagles on the Peninsula, but they nest in trees
generally as far away from human habitation and activity as is
possible on the Peninsula. Their numbers in 2017 is unknown.
Up until the late 1990s baboons occurred on all the mountains of the
Peninsula, including the Back Table immediately behind Table Mountain.
Since then they have abandoned Table
Mountain and the Back Table, and
only occur south of Constantia Nek. They have also abandoned the tops
of many of the mountains, in favor of the lower slopes, particularly
when these were covered in pine plantations which seemed to provide
them with more, or higher quality food than the fynbos on the mountain
tops. However these new haunts are also within easy reach of Cape
Town's suburbs, which brings them into conflict with humans and dogs,
and the risk of traffic accidents. There are now (2014) a dozen troops
on the Peninsula, varying in size from 7 to over 100 individuals,
scattered on the mountains from the Constantiaberg to Cape
Point. The baboon troops are the subject of intense research
into their physiology, genetics social interactions and habits. In
addition, their sleeping sites are noted each evening, so that
monitors armed with paint ball guns can stay with the troop all day,
to ward them off from wandering into the suburbs. From when this
initiative was started in 2009 the number of baboons on the Peninsula
has increased from 350 to 450, and the number of baboons killed or
injured by residents has decreased.
Rau quagga in the animal camp on the slopes of Devil's Peak, above
Groote Schuur Hospital.
Himalayan tahrs, fugitive descendants of tahrs that escaped from
Groote Schuur Zoo
Groote Schuur Zoo in 1936, used to be common on the less accessible
upper parts of the mountain. As an exotic species, they were almost
eradicated through a culling programme initiated by the South African
National Parks to make way for the reintroduction of indigenous
klipspringers. Until recently there were also small numbers of fallow
deer of European origin and sambar deer from southeast Asia. These
were mainly in the
Rhodes Memorial area but during the 1960s they
could be found as far afield as Signal Hill. These animals may still
be seen occasionally despite efforts to eliminate or relocate them.
Himalayan tahr in Skeleton Gorge on Table Mountain.
On the lower slopes of Devil's Peak, above
Groote Schuur Hospital
Groote Schuur Hospital an
animal camp bequeathed to the City of
Cape Town by Cecil John Rhodes
has been used in recent years as part of the
Quagga Project. The
quagga used to roam the Cape Peninsula, the
Karoo and the Free State
in large numbers, but were hunted to extinction during the early
1800s. The last quagga died in an Amsterdam zoo in 1883. In 1987 a
project was launched by
Reinhold Rau to back-breed the quagga, after
it had been established, using mitochondrial DNA obtained from museum
specimens, that the quagga was closely related to the plains zebra,
and on 20 January 2005 a foal considered to be the first quagga-like
individual because of a visible reduced striping, was born. These
quagga-like zebras are officially known as Rau quaggas, as no one can
be certain that they are anything more than quagga look-alikes. The
animal camp above
Groote Schuur Hospital
Groote Schuur Hospital has several good looking Rau
quaggas, but they are unfortunately not easily seen except from within
the game camp, which is quite large and undulating, and the animals
are few. The animal camp is not open to the public.
Mountain from Capt. Cook's ship HMS Resolution by William Hodges
De Villers reservoir, just to the left as the Bridle Path reaches the
top of the Back Table
Prehistoric inhabitation of the district is well attested (see for
example the article on Fish Hoek). About 2000 years ago the Khoikhoi
migrated towards the
Cape Peninsula from the north, displacing the San
and bringing with them their herds of cattle and sheep. It was the
Khoikhoi who were the dominant local tribe when the Europeans first
sailed into Table Bay.
António de Saldanha
António de Saldanha was the first European to land in Table Bay. He
climbed the mighty mountain in 1503 and named it Taboa do Cabo (Table
of the Cape, in his native Portuguese). The great cross that the
Portuguese navigator carved into the rock of Lion's Head is still
In 1796, during the British occupation of the Cape, Major-General Sir
James Craig ordered three blockhouses to be built on Table Mountain:
the King's blockhouse, Duke of York blockhouse (later renamed Queen's
blockhouse) and the Prince of Wales blockhouse. Two of these are in
ruins today, but the King's blockhouse is still in good
condition. and easily accessible from the Rhodes Memorial.
Between 1896 and 1907, five dams, the Woodhead, Hely-Hutchinson, De
Villiers, Alexandria and Victoria reservoirs, were opened on the Back
Table to supply Cape Town's water needs. A ropeway ascending from
Camps Bay via Kasteelspoort ravine was used to ferry materials and
manpower (the anchor points at the old top station can still be seen).
There is a well-preserved steam locomotive from this period housed in
Waterworks Museum at the top of the mountain near the
Hely-Hutchinson dam. It had been used to haul materials for the dam
across the flat top of the mountain. Cape Town's water requirements
have since far outpaced the capacity of the dams and they are no
longer an important part of the water supply.
Arguments for a national park on the Cape Peninsula, centred on Table
Mountain, began in earnest in the mid-1930s. Following a big fire in
1986, the Cape Times started a 'save the mountain' campaign, and in
Cape Peninsula Protected Natural Environment (CPPNE) area was
established. However, environmental management was still bedeviled by
the fragmented nature of land ownership on the Peninsula. Following
another big fire in 1991, Attorney General Frank Kahn was appointed to
reach consensus on a plan for rationalizing management of the CPPNE.
In 1995, Prof. Brian Huntley recommended that SANParks be appointed to
manage the CPPNE, with an agreement signed in April 1998 to transfer
around 39,500 acres to SANParks. On 29 May 1998, then-president Nelson
Mandela proclaimed the
Cape Peninsula National Park. The park was
later renamed to the Table
Mountain National Park.
Fires are common on the mountain. The most recent major fires include
those of January 2006, which burned large amounts of vegetation and
resulted in the death of a tourist (a charge of arson and culpable
homicide was laid against a British man who was suspected of starting
the blaze), and March 2015.
In November 2011, Table
Mountain was named one of the New7Wonders of
Mountain Aerial Cable Car
Mountain Cableway takes passengers from the lower cable
station on Tafelberg Road, about 302 m above sea level, to the
plateau at the top of the mountain, at 1067 m. The upper cable
station offers views overlooking Cape Town,
Table Bay and Robben
Island to the north, and the Atlantic seaboard to the west and south.
Construction of the cableway was first started in 1926, and the
cableway was officially opened in 1929. In 1997, the cableway was
extensively upgraded, and new cars were introduced carrying 65 instead
of 25 passengers. The new cars give a faster journey to the summit,
and rotate through 360 degrees during the ascent or descent, giving a
panoramic view over the city.
The top cable station offers viewpoints, curio shops, a restaurant and
walking trails of various lengths.
Hiking on Table Mountain
Winter ascent of Table Mountain. Hikers set out on one of the many
The plaque at Maclear's beacon at the highest point on Table Mountain
(and the Cape Peninsula) at 1084 m. It commemorates Maclear's
recalculation of the curvature of the earth in the Southern
Hemisphere. In 1750, Abbé
Nicolas Louis de Lacaille
Nicolas Louis de Lacaille had measured the
curvature of a meridian arc northwards from Cape Town, to determine
the figure of the earth, and found that the curvature of the earth was
less in southern latitudes than at corresponding northern ones (i.e.
that the earth was slightly pear-shaped, with the wider bulge south of
the equator). However, when Sir
George Everest visited the Cape in
1820 and inspected the site of La Caille's measurements in Cape Town,
he suggested to Maclear that the gravitational effect of Table
Mountain could have caused a miscalculation of the curvature of the
meridian. This was based on Everest's experience in the Himalayas.
Taking this factor into account Maclear established the curvature of
Southern Hemisphere was in fact the same as that of the Northern
Hiking on Table
Mountain is popular amongst locals and tourists, and a
number of trails of varying difficulty are available. Because of the
steep cliffs around the summit, direct ascents from the city side are
limited. Platteklip Gorge, a prominent gorge up the centre of the main
table, is a popular and straightforward direct ascent to the summit.
Par for the course is about 2.5 hours but is done between 1–3 hours
depending on one's fitness level. This route is very hot in summer, as
it is located on the north facing slope of the mountain, with almost
no shade along the 600 m climb from Tafelberg Road to the Table
Map showing the conservation areas and forests of the eastern slopes
Mountain and the Back table. e.g. Cecilia Park, Kirstenbosch,
Newlands Forest, and Groote Schuur Estate. The north face of the
Mountain flanked by Devil's Peak to the east and
Lion's Head to the west, as well as the "Twelve Apostles" on the
Atlantic side are also shown.
Longer routes to the summit go via the Back Table, a lower area of
Mountain to the south of the main, northern, plateau (which
constitutes "Table Mountain" as seen from the
Cape Town City Centre
and Table Bay). From the Southern Suburbs side, the Nursery Ravine and
Skeleton Gorge routes start at
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden.
The route via Skeleton Gorge to Maclear's Beacon is known as Smuts
Track in memory of Jan Smuts, who was a keen hiker. The Bridle Path,
or Jeep Track, makes a more gradual ascent from
Constantia Nek along
the road used to service the dams on Back Table. There are many other
paths in popular walking areas on the lower slopes of the mountain
accessed from Constantia Nek, Cecilia Park, Kirstenbosch, Newlands
Forest and Rhodes Memorial.
On the Atlantic side, the most popular ascent is Kasteelspoort, a
gorge overlooking Camps Bay, but there are a few others, but not as
many as on the east side of the mountain.
There is a popular "Contour Path" that runs from Constantia Nek, and
then, in succession, above Cecilia Park,
Gardens, Newlands Forest, and from there, above Groote Schuur Estate,
past the King's Blockhouse, at the north-east corner of Devil's Peak,
immediately below the Mowbray Ridge cliffs, to the front of Devil's
Peak and the north face of Table Mountain, ending at the bottom of
Kloof Corner Ridge at the western end of the Table Mountain
cliffs. It starts at
Constantia Nek at 250 m, but
immediately gradually climbs to around 320 m at Angela's Memorial
and the look-out point above Cecilia Park. It then undulates down and
up again at about this elevation as far the north-western corner of
Kirstenbosch, when the path suddenly climbs quite steeply to
470 m to the scree (or Dassieklip) below the cliffs of Fernwood
Buttress. It then descends again to 350 m, only to ascend again
to 400 m, 1 km later. It remains at this level, as a true
'contour path', to the King's Blockhouse, and from there, eventually,
to Tafelberg Road (at 400 m). From the King's
Blockhouse it is
possible to choose a footpath that will lead to the "upper contour
path" which traverses the front (north face) of Devil's Peak and Table
Mountain at 500 m, to just beyond the Lower Cable Station. From
there it is possible, from either contour path, to join up with the
"Pipe Track" which starts from Kloof Nek, and then runs at an
elevation of about 300 m, below the cliffs of the Twelve
Apostles, on the Atlantic side of the mountain range as far as the
Oudekraal Ravine, where the path goes up the ravine to join the
"Apostles Path" on top of the Back Table at an elevation of
685 m. There are innumerable paths which join the contour
path from below (at least five from
Kirstenbosch alone), and somewhat
fewer that join it from above.
On top of the mountain, and particularly on the Back Table, there is
an extensive network of well marked footpaths offering hiking
opportunities over a wide variety of terrains, and distances which can
be covered in 30 minutes to several hours (or even all day if so
desired). Good maps of all the routes are available at bookshops
and outdoor recreation stores, which hikers are advised to use, as
dense mist and cold weather (or extreme heat) can descend without
warning at any time of the year.
The Hoerikwaggo Trails were four hiking trails on the Cape
Mountain Chain ranging from two to six days, operated by
South African National Parks
South African National Parks (SANPARKS) between the Victoria &
Alfred Waterfront and Cape Point. Today (2017) the trails can no
longer be undertaken with an official SANPARKS guide, and only four of
the original accommodation facilities are operational (the Overseer's
Cottage on the Back Table, the
Orange Kloof Tented Camp, the Slangkop
Tented Camp and the Smitswinkel Tented Camp). These camps are
"self-catering", each with communal ablution facilities, with large
communal kitchen/lounge areas, fully equipped for 12 persons.
SANPARKS arranges for luggage and provisions to be transported to the
operational cottages and tented camps, so that the hikers can ascend
the mountain unencumbered by heavy backpacks.
The original inhabitants of the area, the Khoekhoen and San tribes,
Mountain Hoerikwaggo – "sea mountain". The four Table
Mountain Hoerikwaggo hiking trails were called the People's Trail,
Mountain Trail, Orangekloof Hiking Trail and Top to Tip
Rock climbing on Table
Mountain is a very popular pastime. There are
well-documented climbing routes of varying degrees of difficulty up
the many faces of the mountain. The main climbs are located on cliffs
below the upper cable station. No bolting can be done here and only
traditional climbing is allowed. Commercial groups also offer
abseiling from the upper cable station.
Most of the world's important caves occur in limestone but Table
Mountain is unusual in having several large cave systems that have
developed in sandstone. The biggest systems are the Wynberg Caves,
located on the Back Table, not far from the Jeep Track, in ridges
Orange Kloof and Hout Bay.
The slopes of Table
Mountain have many jeep tracks that allow mountain
biking. The route to the Block House is a popular route for bike
riding. Plum Pudding Hill is the name of a very steep jeep track. Bike
riders should follow the directional signs on display for mountain
Mountain is the only terrestrial feature to give its name to a
constellation: Mensa, meaning The Table. The constellation is seen in
the Southern Hemisphere, below Orion, around midnight in mid-July. It
was named by the French astronomer
Nicolas de Lacaille
Nicolas de Lacaille during his stay
at the Cape in the mid-18th century.
View from Signal Hill with Devil's Peak to the left
Upper Cable Station from the summit of Lion's Head
The cable car with
Robben Island in the background
Cape Town, Signal Hill,
Table Bay and
Robben Island as seen from the
upper cable station of the Table
Cape Town seen from Bloubergstrand.
The concrete part of the Bridle Path—the most gradually-inclined
route to the Back Table
Cape Town and
Table Bay from the slopes of Devil's Peak, showing some
of the mountain biking jeep tracks.
Cape Town's beach, the Atlantic Ocean, and Table Mountain.
The Upper Cable Station as seen on your way up from the cable car.
Lion's Head as seen from Table
Mountain cable car.
Time is a Gift, one of several plaques at the top of Table Mountain
The Table Cloth draped over the north facing slopes
View of Table
Mountain from Blouberg beach.
View of Table
Mountain at sunset.
As seen from the other side of
Table Bay at sunset.
Table Mountainin South Africa
A 360° panorama of the
Cape Town surrounds as seen from Devil's Peak.
Mountain is obvious, occupying a large portion of the view. The
edges of the panorama point approximately southeast.
^ In 2011-2012 dassies began to be seen in Bakoven, on the Atlantic
coast, below the Twelve Apostles Mountains. They were then seen in the
Silvermine region of the Table
Mountain National Park, and in 2015 at
the restaurant on the top of the western end of Table Mountain, as
well as elsewhere in the mountains. But even in 2017 dassies are still
not as abundant as they were on the Peninsula
Mountain Chain in the
Cape Fold Mountains
Mountain National Park
Cape Town (Map) (9th ed.). 1:50,000. Topographical. Chief
Directorate: National Geo-spatial Information. 2000.
Mountain in Cape Town". www.vibescout.com. Retrieved
^ "15 Things You Didn't Know About Table Mountain". 2017.
^ "Table Mountain". BootsnAll Travel. December 2002. Archived from the
original on 2013-01-02. Retrieved 2006-12-21.
Cape Town Info". Retrieved 2009-03-27.
^ a b c d e f g h i Compton, John S. (2004) The Rocks & Mountains
of Cape Town. Cape Town: Double Story. ISBN 978-1-919930-70-1
^ McCarthy, T.; Rubidge, B. (2005). The Story of
Earth and Life. Cape
Town: Struik. pp. 188–192. ISBN 1-77007-148-2.
^ a b Tankard, A. J.; Jackson, M. P. A.; Eriksson, K. A.; Hobday, D.
K.; Hunter, D. R.; Minter, W. E. L. (1982). Crustal Evolution of
Southern Africa. 3.8 Billion Years of Earth' History. New York:
Springer. pp. 338–344. ISBN 0-387-90608-8.
^ "Geology of the Cape Peninsula". UCT Department of Geological
Sciences. Archived from the original on 2012-07-19. Retrieved
^ "The Geology of Table Mountain". CapeConnected. Retrieved 20 July
^ a b Manning, John (2007). "Cone Bush, Tolbos". In: Field Guide to
Fynbos. Cape Town: Struik Publishers. p. 258.
Cape Peninsula - Ld arge
^ a b Trinder-Smith, Terry (2006). "Orchidaceae". In: Wild Flowers of
Mountain National Park. Kirstenbosch, Claremont: Botanical
Society of South Africa. pp. 104–105.
^ a b c d e Manning, John (2007). "The World of Fynbos". In: Field
Guide to Fynbos. Cape Town: Struik Publishers. pp. 8–23.
^ a b Trinder-Smith, Terry (2006). "Introduction". In: Wild Flowers of
Mountain National Park. Cape Town: Botanical Society of
South Africa. pp. 19–35. ISBN 1874999600.
^ Manning, John (2007). "Disa". In: Field Guide to Fynbos. Cape Town:
Struik Publishers. pp. 162–163. ISBN 9781770072657.
^ a b Sleigh, Dan (2002). Islands. London: Secker & Warburg.
p. 429. ISBN 0436206323.
^ Bond, William J. (1996). Fire and Plants. London: Chapman and
^ a b Kraaij, Tineke; van Wilgen, Brian W. (2014). "Drivers, ecology,
and management of fynbos fires.". In Allsopp, Nicky; Colville,
Jonathan F.; Verboom, G. Anthony. Fynbos, Ecology, Evolution and
Conservation of a Megadiverse Region. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
p. 47. ISBN 9780199679584.
^ a b c d Pauw, Anton; Johnson, Steven (1999). "The Power of Fire".
in: Table Mountain. Vlaeberg, South Africa: Fernwood Press.
pp. 37–53. ISBN 1 874950 43 1.
^ Saunders, Christopher; Bundy, Colin (eds.), eds. (1992). "A way of
life perfected". Readers’ Digest Illustrated History of South
Africa. Cape Town: Reader’s Digest Association Ltd.
pp. 20–25. ISBN 0-947008-90-X. CS1 maint: Extra text:
editors list (link)
^ a b c d Maytham Kid, Mary (1983). "Introduction". In: Cape
Peninsula. South African Wild Flower Guide 3. Kirstenbosch, Claremont:
Botanical Society of South Africa. p. 27.
^ "Perceval" (PDF).
^ "Brochures, booklets and posters". Capetown.gov.za. Retrieved
^ Pooley, Simon (2014). Burning Table Mountain: an environmental
history of fire on the Cape Peninsula. London / Cape Town: Palgrave /
UCT Press. pp. 162–183. ISBN 978-1-349-49059-2.
^ Information gleaned from reports in the Cape Bird Club's newsletters
from the 1950s onwards
^ Jenkins, A.R.; van Zyl, A.J. (2005). "Conservation status and
community structure of cliff-nesting raptors and ravens on the Cape
Peninsula, South Africa". Ostrich. 76: 175–184.
doi:10.2989/00306520509485490. ISSN 0030-6525.
^ a b Hockey, P. A. R.; Dean, W. R. J.; Ryan, P. G., eds. (2005).
Roberts Birds of Southern Africa (Seventh ed.). Cape Town: John
Voelcker Bird Book Fund. pp. 531–532.
^ Jenkins, Andrew; van Zyl, Anthony (2002). "Home on the range. Raptor
riches of the Cape Peninsula". Africa Birds & Birding. 7:
Cape Peninsula Baboon Research Unit
^ a b
Managing Baboon-human conflict: City of Cape Town
^ http://www.quaggaproject.org/ The
Quagga Project South Africa
^ "The First British Occupation (1795–1803)". The Fortress Study
Group. Archived from the original on 2011-07-11. Retrieved
^ "Kings Block House".
Cape of Good Hope
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from the original on 18 November 2008. Retrieved 2009-02-01.
^ "THE BATTLE OF BLAAUWBERG - 200 YEARS AGO". Military History
Journal. The South African Military History Society. 13 (4). Retrieved
^ Pooley, Simon (2014). Burning Table Mountain: an environmental
history of the Cape Peninsula. London / Cape Town: Palgrave / UCT
Press. pp. 135–161. ISBN 978-1-349-49059-2.
^ Pooley, Simon (6 March 2015). "Independent Online". Retrieved 10
January 2017 – via Google.
^ "The Provisional New 7 Wonders of Nature". new7wonders.com.
Mountain Aerial Cableway Company". Retrieved
^ a b c Slingsby, Peter (2010). Table Mountain, the map. Muizenberg:
Baardskeerder. ISBN 978-1-920377-10-6.
^ a b c Clarke, Hugh; Mackenzie, Bruce (2007). Common wild flowers of
Table Mountain. Cape Town: Struik Publications. pp. 12–13,
96–98. ISBN 978 1 77007 383 8.
^ "Hoerikwaggo Trails". SANParks. Retrieved 2006-12-21.
^ "Hoerikwaggo Tented Camps". Table
Mountain National Park. Retrieved
Cape Town Direct. Archived from the
original on 3 April 2007. Retrieved 2007-03-19.
^ Wagman, Morton (2003). Lost Stars. McDonald & Woodward.
p. 207. ISBN 0-939923-78-5.
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