Cable Car up Table Mountain


Originally published in Crème de la Crème, January 2010

Louis White

Capetown and Table Mountain are in an area of outstanding beauty. Game Parks and wild life and scenery abound, there are wineries, and Capetown itself is a civilised haven to return to after a few days of exploration for some R&R and a little light shopping.

Capetown is the second most populous city of South Africa with just under four million inhabitants and is an extremely fashionable place for both locals and tourists alike.

The coastline does have similarities to Australia’s and like their fellow antipodeans South Africans have a liking for sport – they are not too bad at it either being the current rugby World Cup holders and were the first cricket team to defeat Australia on home soil in 15 years in the 2008/09 Australian summer.

Whether you want to take a day trip to a winery or safari; wonder around the waterfront for a day; have a palette for delicacies such as Bobotie (like meatloaf but tasty) or Boerewors (sausage); a liking for fine wine especially of the white wine variety or just a sense of adventure to look at some of the greatest creatures to ever walk the earth, then you are not going to be disappointed upon your visit to Capetown.

Table Mountain will be one of your first priorities once you land in Capetown. It gets incredibly busy but is well worth the visit. There are many ways to explore Table Mountain with the most conventional being the Cableway, which is not fully enclosed. While embarking upon your upward journey you will see people hiking up the mountain, which is surprisingly big upon arrival – the plateau is 3km in diameter - and hosts spectacular views in every direction you look.

Later in the day you will see orographic clouds come over the mountain to form what is perceived to be a ‘tablecloth’. Watching it from the Victoria and Albert Waterfront with a beer or a glass of wine in your hand is a sight to behold. Legend has it that the clouds are formed as a part of duel between the Devil and a local pirate named Van Hunks. When the tablecloth is seen, it is a symbol that the contest is on.

Many guests head straight to the luxury serviced apartments of the Waterfront Village situated in the world-renowned V&A Waterfront in Capetown. There is a plethora of quality restaurants including Gordon Ramsay and Nobuyuki Matsuhisa (Maze and Nobu respectively) and the rooms are equally appealing.
Located at Camps Bay is the Atlanticview Boutique Hotel, which not only has beautifully- adorned rooms, but also a spectacular 180-degree view of the Atlantic Ocean, Lions Head, Table Mountain and the Twelve Apostles. The Table Bay Hotel is also at the V&A Waterfront between Robben Island and Table Mountain and winner of many awards. The rooms are expansive; the stylish writing desks bring a sense of homeliness and you have views of either the harbour or the ocean.

The beaches in Capetown are beautiful but be warned: the water can be a little cold depending on what ocean you are swimming in. The four Clifton beaches are the most popular with dramatic backdrops and steep cliffs to walk down to reach the beautiful white sand and sparkling blue water. These are the trendy beaches where locals reside but being part of the Atlantic Seaboard the water can be a tad chilly.

Not far away is Camps Bay, which is more family orientated with more streetside cafes and restaurants in its vicinity. Further along the coastline you will find the picturesque Llandudno beach with stunning views. Difficult to reach and more remote, it is well worth the visit especially if you like your surf.

It is not until you reach False Bay where the water is about six degrees warmer thanks to the influence of the Indian Ocean, the water is far shallower and therefore more family friendly, and the atmosphere is more laid back with lifeguards regularly on patrol. It is about 45 minutes drive from Capetown.

You can’t go to South Africa without going on safari. Just near Capetown is the Aquila Game Reserve with Kagga Kamma and Inverdoorn nearby. Aquila prides itself on its educational experience and the importance of wildlife in our society. You can choose either day game drive or if you are more than game, go on a horseback safari.

Of course if you are prepared to leave Capetown the Kruger National Park is a great place to start, as it is the biggest game reserve in the country at just under 20,000sqkm. There you will not only find the big five - lion, elephant, leopard, rhino and buffalo - but more than 500 bird species, 147 kinds of mammal and be in total awe of mother nature.

The Cape Winelands is the wine region of the Western Cape Province and is divided into six main wineries attaining world heritage status back in 2004. Constantia, Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, Paarl, Robertson and Wellington are the most popular regions. Stellenbosch is the most well known and was the home of the first official wine route back in 1971. A quaint town offering scenic settings and an array of fine wine, it is only 55km east of Capetown where you can either make a long day trip or settle in for a couple of days.

Capetown will appeal whether you just want to relax on a beach, eat at a fine restaurant, take a day-safari winery tour or simply sit back in the sunshine and enjoy the views of Table Mountain and the waterfront.

Capetown as published in PDF form