Table Mountain (Dutch/Afrikaans: Tafelberg) is a mountain and prominent landmark in the City of Cape Town, South Africa, and is known for its distinctive flat top. Its proximity to the city and the panoramic view of the surrounding ocean and beaches makes the landmark a popular tourist attraction, where visitors are allowed to hike up the mountain or go up via a cable way3.
It is also the home of a number of endemic fauna and flora and forms part of the Table Mountain National Park.HistoryThe area surrounding Table Mountain has been settled by the Khoi and San people some 2000 years ago4. The European expansion era of the 1500s brough along the region’s first European visitors, with the Portuguese explorer, Antonio de Saldanha, being the first recorded European to have climbed the mountain in 15035, naming it Tobao de Cabo (Table of the Cape in Portuguese).Between 1896 and 1907, the British occupiers completed the construction of 5 dams to supply the port city of Cape Town with fresh water6. Demand has since outstripped the supply from the mountain’s dams, so they are largely left unused, but still visible and accessable. In 1926, the city commissioned the construction of the first cable way to transport visitors to the mountain top7, approximately 1km above sea level (up to that point, visitors had to climb up and down the mountainside). Construction was completed and the cable way was capable of transporting 25 passengers at a time.
In 1997, the cable way was upgraded and the cars are now capable of transporting 65 passengers per trip while providing a panoramic view of the city with a rotating platform. In 2011, Table Mountain was voted as one of the 7 New Wonders of the World8.FeaturesTable Mountain is the largest feature in a mountain and hill range located within the City of Cape Town. The main feature of the mountain is its distinctive 3km level plateau and is flanked by Devil’s Peak and Lion’s Head mountains on either side of it. This range, together with Signal Hill, forms the natural amphitheatre of the City Bowl and the Table Bay harbour. The highest point of the mountain is 1086m above sea level.
Table Mountain is often covered by clouds, sometimes referred to as the ‘table cloth’ by locals, formed by the region’s infamous south-easterly winds. Folk-lore attributes this cloud formation to a smoking contest held between the Devil and a Dutch pirate named Van Hunks. When this cloud cover forms, the locals often quip that it looks like Van Hunks is challenging the Devil again.