Climbing Table Mountain
So we were back in the majestic beauty of Cape Town and spent a few more days enjoying its wonderful array of bars, restaurants and cafes. And then one morning we decided it was time to climb Table Mountain. The mountain itself, which looms high above the city of Cape Town, was not covered in cloud as it had been the previous few mornings and the sun was shining above, so the conditions were perfect. Claire and I put on our hiking boots and jumped in an Uber Taxi that took us to the bottom cable car station where we would begin our hike.
The place was heaving. It was a war Friday morning and there were people everywhere, most of them were taking the cable car up to the top. However, we were walking. We set off and before we’d even got that far, the views were already amazing. The lower cable car station is itself situated above the city, so still offers you great views of Cape Town. Every five minutes or so, as we climbed the steep side of Table Mountain, we’d stop and turn around to take in the views.
The route we took was the most direct one that zigzags its way up the main face, through a gorge, to the very top. We walked along rocky paths with drops on one side, before turning up the main gorge where we would take a big rocky stair case almost all the way to the top. The sheer cliff face off Table Mountain is so dramatic, especially when you are walking up it. There were plenty of other hikers on the day, which gave the climb a nice atmosphere and the nearer we got to the top the more people we came across.
Once we got to the top the views were incredible. The clouds had started to come in during the climb, but that didn’t bother us one bit. Down below was Cape Town, and behind the city was the bay bending off down the coast. We could see for miles in every direction, whether that was out to sea to the horizon, or back inland where the green and orange veld was stretching out below.
Though it wasn’t the longest hike we’d done, or the most difficult, the views at the top made it one of the most enjoyable. The perfect final hike on this fantastic trip we’ve been on that is sadly coming to an end. After wandering around soaking in the sights, we got a coffee in the café and sat looking out the window at the ocean below. About twenty minutes later we jumped on the cable car that took us back down to the bottom. The hike up took two hours, the trip down was three minutes.
The next few days were spent shopping, eating and drinking and seeing a few more sights. We made our way to the District 6 Museum one day to read all about what happened there. This was an inner city suburb that was filled with people of all races. Then, in 1966, the government at the time declared it a white-only area and started the long process of moving all of the black and ‘coloured’ – South African term for mixed race – people out of town. Most were relocated to newly built townships far away from the centre of Cape Town, meaning they’d have to travel for hours to make it back into the city for work. By 1982 over 60,000 people had been relocated, mostly against their will, and all of their old houses were bulldozed. Very few of the original buildings were left standing. Thankfully now, after some work by locals and then President Nelson Mandela, a lot of the aged ex citizens of District 6 have been allowed to move back into the area, which is now a multi cultural place once again. This situation was the inspiration for the sci-fi alien movie District 9 – a brilliant film that was shot here in South Africa and one that I have ever since it came out many years ago.