Table Mountain a Magical Experience

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Table Mountain is as iconic as Michael Jackson (for very different reasons of course). If you live in Cape Town, or anywhere else in South Africa for that matter, or are visiting from a far-off country, you just have to visit the flat-surfaced mount.

If sheer drops, large boulders and an enjoyable but strenuous walk is your forte, you can choose to hike up the mountain and catch the Cableway down or vice versa. Just remember you can’t always rely on the Cableway (due to unpredictable weather conditions the Cableway is sometimes stopped).

Why not take advantage of the hikers’ special (valid until 30 September 2010). As part of Cape Town’s Tourism Month, the Cableway is offering a great deal on cable car rides: start your day early with an invigorating hike up to the top Cableway station and you can buy a one-way ticket for R45 before 9:30am. You can buy your ticket at the top at the “Shop at the Top”, but you can also check the other specials for more deals.

Otherwise you can take the easy route and buy a return ticket. Start at the bottom and go all the way to the top in the modern cable car. You can enjoy a spectacular 360 degree view of Cape Town for 5 minutes as you’re transported to the summit. The cable car has a rotating floor so everyone inside gets a glorious glimpse of their surrounds.

First launched in 1929, the cable car has seen numerous upgrades that have resulted in its stat-of-the-art status and well-established safety record. There are two cars in operation and take about 4-5 minutes to reach the top. They travel at about a speed of 10m per second, gliding past the whopping 1086m of the mountain smoothly. The view is astounding; on a really clear day you can even see as far as Robben Island.

Once at the top the fresh air is inescapable. There is a curio shop and a self-service café so you needn’t go hungry. Recently the café introduced compostable plates and containers for food instead of regular washable plates thus saving about 20 000 litres of water a day! The compostable containers are made out of organic materials that turn into water, carbon dioxide and compost – they form part of the cable car’s attempt to reduce the human ecological footprint on the surrounding environment.

There are a few short walks to take along the top; these include The Dassie Walk, The Agama Walk and The Klipspringer Walk. If you’re up to it you could even hike all the way to the bottom, taking in the natural sounds, sights and smells as you go along. Be sure to take some water and sun cream with you though. Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens lies at the bottom of Table Mountain and if you have enough energy left after your hike you can explore the astoundingly rich biodiversity within the botanical garden borders.

The cable cars run every 10-15 minutes, but cannot take bookings as they only operate when the weather permits. You can buy your ticket at the bottom cable car or online. The cable car is freely available to people with disabilities and there are dedicated wheelchair bays at the bottom cable car.

To find out more call them on 021 424 0015 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              021 424 0015      end_of_the_skype_highlighting. To inquire about weather conditions call 021 424 8181.

Some tips for hikers:

Never hike alone

The group should never split

Always take enough drinking water

Select the route best suited to your group’s fitness level and experience

Don’t rely on being able to ride up or down the cable car (it operates weather permitting)

Allow sufficient ascending and descending time with a stop-over period at the top

Hike with someone familiar with your route

Don’t stray off designated paths

Always take note of information, danger and directional signs

Ensure someone knows where you are at all times

Take weatherproof clothing

Be aware of weather changes and don’t be afraid to turn back

In an emergency find a spot that offers safety from the cold. Never continue hiking in misty or dark conditions

If you get lost, retrace your steps. If you can’t find your way move downwards down broad, open slopes.

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