Why Is Table Mountain Called Table Mountain?

Why Is Table Mountain Called Table Mountain?

Cape Town is famous for many things, but Table Mountain stands out as a truly iconic landmark. When you look at it, it’s pretty easy to guess why it’s called Table Mountain.

In this article, we’ll dive into the history behind its name, the physical features that make it look like a giant table, and why it’s so important in local culture. We’ll also touch on Table Mountain’s global recognition as one of the New7Wonders of Nature.

Whether you’re planning a visit or just curious about this flat-topped mountain, I’ll make sure you get a good sense of why it’s much more than just a pretty backdrop to the city.

Key Takeaways

  • Table Mountain gets its name from its uniquely flat top which resembles a table.
  • The historical background of the mountain includes references by indigenous people and early explorers.
  • Table Mountain’s physical features such as its plateau, cliffs, and surrounding environment contribute to its table-like appearance.
  • The mountain holds great cultural significance in Cape Town and features in local folklore and indigenous stories.
  • Table Mountain’s naming is recognized globally, partly due to it being named one of the New7Wonders of Nature.

Historical Background

The story of Table Mountain starts a long time ago. People have lived around here for thousands of years, and the mountain has always been a big deal for everyone.

The local people, known as the Khoi people, called it Hoerikwaggo, which means “mountain in the sea.” It’s easy to see why – the mountain rises up like a giant from the ocean. Later on, when sailors from other countries started to visit, they gave it the name we know now – Table Mountain.

They thought the top of the mountain looked a lot like a table, especially when the clouds would settle over it and look like a tablecloth.

Physical Features

why table mountain is flat

Looking at Table Mountain from Cape Town, what catches your eye is its flat top.

It’s not like most mountains that have pointy peaks; instead, it looks like someone chopped the top off to make it super flat.

This flat surface is what makes people think of a table. The top is about 3 kilometers long, which is pretty big. Imagine a natural table that size! Also, when clouds hang over the mountain and spill over the edges, it creates a sight called the “Table Cloth,” because it looks just like a cloth covering a table.

These neat natural tricks help us understand why it got its tabley name.

Cultural Significance

Table Mountain isn’t just a big rock; it’s a huge part of the culture here in Cape Town.

For the Khoi and San peoples, this mountain has many stories and spiritual meanings. They’ve been living here way before anyone else and see the mountain as something special in their lives. For many locals nowadays, Table Mountain is a kind of symbol for home.

No matter where you go in the world, when you see a picture of that flat-topped mountain, you think of Cape Town right away. It’s also a place where people love to hike, have picnics, or just chill and look at the amazing view.

It’s a big part of what makes Cape Town, well, Cape Town.

Global Recognition

So, Table Mountain isn’t just famous in Cape Town; it’s known all around the world.

Back in 2011, it was voted as one of the New7Wonders of Nature. That’s a big deal because it means people from all over the planet think it’s as cool as I do.

This fame helps bring in tourists who want to see the table-like peak for themselves. When visitors come to Cape Town, they’ll often hear the story behind Table Mountain’s name and get to check out the view from the top.

After their visit, they’ll spread the word about this awesome place. Plus, the name Table Mountain is really easy to remember because, well, it’s like a huge stone table.

This kind of global shout-out helps make sure that Table Mountain and its unique name stay famous everywhere.


In the end, Table Mountain’s name is pretty straightforward, but there’s a lot behind it. Its flat top and the clouds that look like a tablecloth show us why it got its name.

But it’s not just about the shape.

This mountain has been a part of Cape Town’s history for a really long time and means a lot to the people here. And now, with people from all over the world coming to see it and it being named one of the New7Wonders of Nature, Table Mountain’s name is something people everywhere know about.

It’s a reminder of how cool nature can be and how it brings us all together.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is Table Mountain flat?

Table Mountain is flat because of the way it was formed a super long time ago. A long time ago, the top of the mountain was at the bottom of the sea. Layers of sandstone built up on the seabed and got squished into hard rock. Then, through a bunch of stuff moving around inside the Earth, the rock got pushed up to where Table Mountain is now. The top stayed flat because that’s how the layers of rock were when they were still part of the ocean floor. So, when you look at it now, it’s like seeing an ancient piece of the sea sitting up high in the air.

Why do people call it Table Mountain?

People call it Table Mountain because when you look at it, it has a really flat top that looks like a table. Sailors who were sailing to the East a long, long time ago would see it from their ships and thought it was a handy landmark because it stood out so much. Plus, when there are clouds on top of the mountain, they spread out flat just like a tablecloth, which makes the name even more fitting.

Can you walk on top of Table Mountain?

Yes, you can walk on top of Table Mountain. There are paths that go all the way up there, and it’s a favorite thing to do for both locals and visitors. It’s like a giant park up there with loads of space to walk around, see wild animals and plants, and just enjoy the amazing view of Cape Town and the ocean. But remember, it’s a pretty tough hike to get to the top, so it’s important to be prepared and be safe.

Jan Pretorius

About the Author

Jan Pretorius is a seasoned writer and an avid explorer with a deep passion for Table Mountain, Cape Town, and its surrounding areas. Having resided in Cape Town since 1995, Jan has dedicated over two decades to hiking and understanding the nuances of Table Mountain. As the author behind tablemountaincapetown.com, he shares his expert knowledge and insights, offering visitors a comprehensive guide to one of South Africa’s most iconic landmarks. Jan’s writing not only reflects his intimate familiarity with the region but also his commitment to showcasing its beauty and allure to the world.


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