Table Mountain is a flat-topped mountain overlooking Cape Town, South Africa. It is a major tourist attraction, with either a hike or cableway to the top. The mountain forms part of Table Mountain National Park. It is a level plateau measuring about 2 miles and is edged by impressive cliffs. Devil’s Peak is to the east, and Lions Head to the west. Together with Signal Hill, it forms a natural amphitheater of the City Bowl, and Table Bay Harbor. The highest point is 3, 563 feet above sea level. Barry lives on the ocean side of Table in a lovely home in Camps Bay. We will enjoy life here.
The mountain is often covered by orographic clouds, which form when south-easterly winds whip up the slopes into colder air. The moisture in the air condenses and forms the “table cloth” of a cloud. Legend attributes this to a smoking contest between the Devil and a local pirate by the name of Van Hunks. Table Mountain sits at the northern end of a sandstone mountain range that forms the spine of the Cape Peninsula.
The upper part of the mountain is made of Ordovician quartzitic sandstone, also called Table Mountain Sandstone (TMS). It resists erosion well, and forms very characteristic steep gray crags. Below the sandstone is shale, with a base of phyllites and hornfelses, also known as Malmsbury shale. These rocks are from the Precambrian Age.
The mountain also contains great biodiversity, with several types of vegetation. The main vegetation is Peninsula Sandstone Fynbos (endangered), with several other minor but endangered species. The vegetation in protected areas are a World Heritage Site. There are an estimated 2200 species of plants confined to Table Mountain.
The most common animal to the Mountain is the dassie or rock hyrax. There are also porcupines, mongooses, snakes, and tortoises. The last lion was shot back in 1802. Leopards existed until the 1920s. The rooikat, a small, nocturnal carnivore, has been seen on rare occasions.
The Table Mountain Cableway takes passengers from the lower cable station to the plateau on the top of the mountain. From the upper station, the view includes Cape Town, Table Bay, and Robben Island, as well as the Atlantic seaboard. It opened in 1929, and was upgraded in 1997, with new cars carrying 65 passengers. Over 16 million people have ridden to the top of Table Mountain. A restaurant and cocktail bar also adorn the top station area.
Hiking is popular on the mountain, with trails of varying difficulty. Rock climbing is also popular. Also, several large sandstone caves also attract adventurers. The Park itself also encompasses the Cape of Good Hope, the southwestern most extremity of Africa. It is the ONLY natural site on the planet to have a constellation of stars (Mensa) named after it. We will hike up to the top of Table Mountain on Thursday when the weather clears. Then have lunch up top before taking the tram back down. The view of Table Mountain is even better from the ocean side. Eat your hearts out!!!