Iconic and mythical, the flat top of Table Mountain is a testimony to the triumph of time and the majesty of nature.
Recently and official named one of the New7Wonders of Nature, its slopes and peaks hold much history and hope for the future.
Xhosa folklore holds that Qamata created the world. To dry the land, he had to overcome Nganyamba, the dragon under the sea. He solicited the help of the one-eyed goddess, Djobela, who created four giants to guard the land from the north, south, east and west. These giants were defeated in battle, and asked the goddess to turn them into mountains, so they could watch over the earth and protect it. The giant of the south, called Umlindi Wemingizimu, is Table Mountain.
HOW TABLE MOUNTAIN GOT ITS TABLE CLOTH
The famous cloud that settles, also called the Table cloth, is said to originate from a duel between an unwitting local and retired pirate, Van Hunks, who found himself in a duel with the devil. It is said that the man, most fond of his pipe and most proud of how much he could inhale, realised he was no match for the stranger before him and both disappeared in a puff of smoke. Today, this story is recalled every time the southeaster lays a layer of white over the mountain peaks.
SHOULD YOU FIND A MAGIC RING
Further down its slopes, the Platteklip or Fresh River holds a tale of a Malay washer woman who lost a ring. She was the wife of Abdol Malack, a respected Islamic scholar and the ring was said to be magic, protecting its wearer from any blade. Abdol Malack was still living in the middle of the twentieth century, in his house on Dorp Street, on the border of Bo-Kaap. As for the ring, many is the watchful hiker who hopes to chance upon it.
With all this talk of heavens, it is fitting to mention that Table Mountain is the only terrestrial feature to give its name to a constellation known as Mensa(‘The Table). One can see the constellation below Orion, in the Southern Hemisphere on a clear midnight in mid-July. The French astronomer Nicolas de Lacaille named it during a visit to the Cape in the mid eighteenth century.
A TRUE WONDER
In line with the naming of Table Mountain as one of the New7Wonders Of Nature, Cape Town’s Mayor, Patricia de Lille, recently gave her blessing to “a great accolade for a unique wonder of nature that belongs to all the people of Cape Town, South Africa, Africa and the world” that added clout to the city’s brand and bearing on the world’s travellers. “The wonder becomes part of school curricula, it becomes a ‘must see’ and ‘bucket list’ item for travellers and explorers.”
The voting campaign inspired the support of many South Africans as iconic as the mountain, and reflected a nation in union. This video shows Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu giving his support to this unique local wonder.
SOME INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT TABLE MOUNTAIN
Table Mountain is a World Heritage Site and natural home to fynbos, a unique, yet endangered, collection of shrubs and plants.
There are six recognized floral kingdoms in the world – the Antarctic, Australasian, Boreal, Neotropic, Palaeotropic and Cape. The Cape Kingdom is the smallest and richest has the highest known concentration of plant species and boasts of over 8200 plant species.
It is approximately 260-million years old – the granddaddy of Andes (250-million years), the Rockies (60-million), the Himalayas (40-million) and the positively young Alps (32-million years)!
The highest point of Table Mountain is 1085 m (3559 ft) at Maclear’s Beacon.
You can go up and down Table Mountain in many different ways. Many visitors enjoy walking or hiking up the mountain. The recommended route for the hike up is via Platteklip Gorge to the Upper Cable Station. Although only 3 km in distance, it is a demanding hike that could take from one to three hours to complete and not recommended for young children. There are over 350 paths up to the top of Table Mountain. You can take the popular rotating Aeriel Cableway – a mere 5 minute ride to the upper station which is at 1067m above sea level. And if you are feeling adventurous you can always abseil down under the guidance of abseiling experts!
There are many specials offered by the Table Mountain Cableway. For example, if it’s your birthday you can travel on Cableway free with compliments of Table Mountain Cableway. There is a half price Sunset Special during the months November – February, and many more specials that you can check our here. And surely seeing in the New Year from the top of Table Mountain will bring abundant luck for the year!