When you in Cape Town you have to visit the Table Mountain Cable Car
Table Mountain Aerial Cable-way started operating on the 4th October 1929. The Cable-way has become as much of a landmark in Cape Town as Table Mountain itself, and has carried almost 15 million passengers to the top. Some of its better-known visitors include Oprah Winfrey, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Margaret Thatcher and Jackie Chan, to name just a few. Work on a complete upgrade began in January 1997, and the new Cable-way was officially opened on the 4th October 1997 – the anniversary of the original launch almost 70 years previously.
Table Mountain provides a magnificent backdrop to Cape Town, and is famous for the tablecloth of clouds that pours down its slopes when the south-easter blows. This is a mountain of many moods and offers walkers and hikers a range of routes at various hiking levels. If you want the view without the effort, catch the state-of-the-art revolving cable car to the top, and have lunch or dinner in the table-top restaurant.
Rotating Cable Car
Unlike their predecessors, the new cable cars (or Rotairs), transport you to the top in under 10 minutes. Each car has a carrying capacity of 65 people and a revolving floor giving a 360-degree view of the city and mountain as you glide to the top. The cars also offer excellent aerodynamics in high wind enabling a more reliable service.
On the top of Table Mountain, designated walkways lead you all over the tabletop to experience extraordinary views past Robben Island, to the very edge of the world as it curves into the Atlantic Ocean. Then look south along the rocky mountain ridges leading to Cape Point. The curio shop allows you to take home momentos bearing the insignia of Table Mountain – South Africa’s premier tourist attraction. Visitors can also enjoy a hot or cold buffet meal in the self-service restaurant.
Biodiversity Hot Spot
Table Mountain is a biodiversity hot spot with many endemic species. Some of the most conspicuous fynbos plant species on the mountain are proteas, including South Africa’s national emblem the King Protea.
One unusual animal you can expect to encounter on the mountain is the Dassie or Rock Hyrax. About 50 cm in length, it resembles a guinea pig, but is actually the closest living relative to the elephant. The Table Mountain dassies are very sociable and have lost their natural fear of humans, but don’t touch or feed them as they bite.
Table Mountain National Park
Take a hike, a ride, a walk, a stroll. Fly your kite, catch a wave, dive, snooze or picnic. If you are a nature addict and need a fix then the stunning sunsets, exquisite flora and fauna, vast white beaches and waves crashing endlessly against sheer cliffs, should satisfy your cravings.
All these elements combine to form the essence of Table Mountain National Park (TMNP). Established in 1998, TMNP stars in the City of Cape Town and extends along the Table Mountain chain from Signal Hill in the north, to Cape Point in the south. The park incorporates 24,000 hectares and an additional 1,000 square kilometres of marine and coastal reserve.
Part of the Cape Floristic Region World Heritage site, TMNP is the heart of the unique Fynbos plant kingdom – the only plant kingdom on earth contained in one country. It is also the smallest yet richest kingdom in the world, with an area smaller than the City of London boasting no less than 2,285 plant species, many of which are endemic to the park. Because TMN is a park within a city, the conservation land is fragmented by urban development and private land. Few people realise that it is in fact one single Park, offering a diversity of attractions.
Within the SANParks stable, the TMNP is unique in that it is largely an open access park, offering locals and visitors free entry at the majority of its access points. In certain sections of the park, entrance fees are charged, which get channelled straight back into conservation initiatives and environmental education.
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