Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Cape Town: Climbing Table Mountain and Other Adventures

Table Mountain

Most visitors to Cape Town take the cable car to the top of Table Mountain, but not us.  On Sunday, we decided to hike to the top – after all, it’s only 3 km! 

We had read various reports of people being mugged on the trails or falling to their death in a sudden fog.  Lucky for us, the trail we chose was packed on a sunny day without a cloud in the sky, diminishing the possibility of being mugged or falling to our death.  We chose the most direct route to the top via Platteklip Gorge.  We quickly discovered the trail was not for the faint of heart.  In fact, it is not so much a trail as 3 km of steep stone steps with amazing views at every break (of which there were slightly more than usual). 

Plenty of other visitors were also attempting the trail, and we passed various ill-equipped groups as we made our way to the top.  (Are TOMS a good choice for a steep hike?)  If you look closely at the photo on the left you can see all the hikers slowly making their way up the gorge.

Just under 1.5 hours after we began our ascent, we made it to the top of the gorge!

However, reaching the actual summit of Table Mountain necessitated a comparatively simple hike (approximately 30 minutes) along the top to Maclear’s Beacon.

Proud of our exertions, we determined the best course of action was to finish our day with a beer at the top and take the cable car back down.  As this was yet another hike along the mountain top (only about 15 minutes), we were treated to panoramic views of Cape Town as well as the mountain range known as the "12 Apostles."  The range continues southward to Cape Point where we were previously.

Robben Island

Monday morning, we embarked on the Dias (one of the boats originally used to transport prisoners) to Robben Island.  The tour included a bus trip around the island, but most importantly, included a visit to the prison led by a former political prisoner.  We have been fascinated to learn more about this country's political history throughout our five weeks here, including on our visit to Robben Island, and have welcomed the opportunity to meet South Africans from a wide variety of backgrounds.  

Nelson Mandela's Cell

On our return boat trip, Cape Town’s infamous clouds descended onto Table Mountain, eliminating it entirely from sight.

We were understandably quite happy we had chosen to make the ascent on Sunday. 

We spent the majority of the day at Robben Island, but also fit in some time to explore the waterfront and city centre on foot.

We leave Cape Town behind today as we start our three-day drive to Namibia.  After spending three days in a city -- the first on our trip -- we are excited to get back to the bush. Wish us luck with our new rental car and border crossing!


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