South Africa

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Table Mountain is probably South Africa's most famous landmark. and one of Cape Town's most popular tourist attractions. The vast majority of visitors gain access to the mountain via the cable car, but if you are fit, and enjoy a challenge, there are a host of different routes to the top. The climb can easily take 4 hours, and the unpredictable weather conditions can become a problem. There has been a number of fatalities due to visitors underestimating the difficulty of the climb, but if you are still keen to try it, then it would be wise to buy a map with the designated hiking routes marked on it. Of course there is always the option of taking the cable car to the top, and then taking the walk down.

A trip up Table Mountain is a "must do" for visitors to Cape Town, but the mountain is closed when it is covered by its famous "table cloth" or during high winds. So don't leave your visit to the last moment to avoid disappointment. On clear days the visitor is rewarded with superb panoramic views of the Cape Town area, the Atlantic Ocean, and over to the mountain tops of the Cape Peninsula.

The cable car is obviously the most popular way to gain access to the top of the mountain, so in the high season there are often long queues at the ticket windows, but do not be put off as these do not last long, and you will soon find yourself taking the lifts or steps to the level that the cable cars leave from. The ride only takes a couple of minutes during which the car revolves, giving everyone on board superb views.

When you reach the top, there are a number of well marked paths some of which are classed as suitable for wheelchair use. Others are a little rougher, but still easily managed in light footwear. To explore further, it is advisable to wear walking shoes or a good pair of trainers as the rocky surface can be quite rough.

This mountain of sandstone rises 1086 metres above the bay, with the flat area at the top measuring almost 3 kilometres from one end to the other. The mountain is home to around 1470 species of plants, a number of which are unique to Table Mountain.

On the summit there is a restaurant/snack bar, and a souvenir shop selling all the usual tourist type souvenirs which includes an opportunity to send a postcard bearing the Table Mountain postmark.

The main reward for visitors are the wonderful views over Table Bay, around to False Bay and then further around to the Hout Bay Valley and Kommetjie. On a clear day the visitor is rewarded with a most magnificent view across the Cape Flats to the Hottentots Holland Mountains.

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Table Mountain