The “Mother City.” The tavern of the seas. The place of sweet water. The place where clouds gather. Many names have been given to describe Cape Town, a city of dichotomy, surrounded by sea and mountains on opposite ends.
The geography of Cape Town is distinct and unique, with a mountainous landscape that has been admired by human eyes for hundreds of thousands of years.
Six hundred million years old, Table Mountain overlooks the city with a prominent presence. It is famous for its flat topped surface, a unique feature created approximately 300 million years ago.
When the mountain was still at sea level, ice sheets flattened the mountain’s layers of stone. This natural creation only became visible once the continents broke apart and propelled the mountain over the surface of the Earth.
You can catch glimpses of the mountain throughout the city, and witness its multilayered beauty, whether it is cloaked with clouds (often referred to as the mountain’s “table cloth”) or perched beneath a clear blue sky.
Beyond admiration, the mountain is also beloved for hiking and exploring, an activity enjoyed by both tourists and locals alike.
To reach the famous flat top of Table Mountain, you can either hike or enjoy a cable car. Hiking takes approximately one and a half to two hours, and a cable car takes approximately five minutes to reach the summit.
Entering and exploring Table Mountain on foot is free. If you wish to take a cable car, you can pay for either a one-way or round-trip cable car ticket. Prices tend to fluctuate, thus you can check the current prices here: https://www.tablemountain.net/
Various parts of Table Mountain are covered with plants and colorful flowers.
Table Mountain’s looming neighbor is Lion’s Head, a peaked mountain that also acts as a pinpoint to the city. Free to access, hiking Lion’s Head mountain takes approximately two to three hours to reach the summit.
The hike is relatively moderate in the beginning, but then requires several ladders, climbing chains and rocky inclines to ultimately reach the top.
The top of Lion’s Head has a congratulatory sign informing you that you have climbed 669.9 meters. It is a peaceful place to rest, explore, and soak in panoramic views of Cape Town.
If you examine Lion’s Head mountain from a certain angle, the mountain resembles a reclined lion. This can be particularly seen from the beaches of Clifton.
The Twelve Apostles
Attached to Table Mountain are the Twelve Apostles mountain range, which overlook Camps Bay.
Although the name contains the number twelve, eighteen peaks can in fact be counted on this range, and interestingly enough, each peak has its own name!
From North to South, they are named: Kloof, Fountain, Porcupine, Jubilee, Barrier, Valken, Kasteel, Postern, Wood, Spring, Slangolie, Corridor, Separation, Victoria, Grove, Llandudno Peak, Llandudno Corridor, and Hout Bay Corner.
Flat topped Signal Hill was once peppered with signal flags to communicate weather warnings and anchoring instructions for ships at sea.
It is considered one of the best places in Cape Town to watch the sunset. Signal Hill is also referred to as “Lion’s Rump” for its close proximity to Lion’s Head Mountain.
The Indian Ocean glimmers around Cape Town, with a multitude of beaches that range in size and beauty. Cape Town truly offers a beach for everyone, from the ritzy and glamorous, to the private and tranquil.
There are endless and versatile ways to enjoy the city. Stay tuned for my next post, where I highlight various attractions of Cape Town!