Table Mountain, located in Cape Town, South Africa, is a magnificent landmark that is a sight to behold. It has been the subject of numerous discussions, attracting tourists, rock climbers, and nature enthusiasts alike. I
n this article, we will explore the reasons why Table Mountain is famous and what makes it a must-see destination for anyone visiting Cape Town.
The top reason why Table Mountain is famous is that it is one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature. While Table Mountain was known by many, it rose to global fame in November 2011 after it was voted in the Top 7 of this prestigious group.
Over 100 million votes were cast and 28 locations from around the world were among the finalists.
Let’s dig deeper into more reasons why Table Mountain is famous.
Why is Table Mountain Famous?
1.) It is one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature
The New 7 Wonders of Nature is a campaign started in 2007 to choose the wonders of nature. Free voting was conducted mostly via the internet, and the 7 winners were announced in November 2011. Table Mountain was chosen as one of the winners.
2.) It is one of the oldest mountains in the world
Table Mountain is believed to be more than 280 000 000 years old, making it one of the oldest mountains in the world. The Alps, a very popular mountain range in Europe, is a mere 40 000 000 years old.
3.) Former President, Nelson Mandela, declared it a “gift to Earth” in 1998
On World Environment Day in 1998, Nelson Mandela declared Table Mountain as a “gift to Earth”. In one of his quotes, he said the following: “During the many years of incarceration on Robben Island, we often looked across Table Bay at the magnificent silhouette of Table Mountain.
To us on Robben Island, Table Mountain was a beacon of hope. It represented the mainland to which we knew we would one day return.”
4.) In case you didn’t notice, Table Mountain has a flat top
Its most distinctive feature, the flat table top. During an ice age, which occurred more than 300 000 000 years ago, the top of table mountain was still at sea level. Sheets of ice flatted the layers of sandstone and formed the table top.
5.) More than 800 000 people visit Table Mountain every year
Cape Town is a favourite amongst tourists who flock to South Africa during its summer months. Table Mountain is its most popular attraction and a favourite amongst tourists, including celebrities like Oprah Winfrey.
Geographical Location of Table Mountain
Table Mountain is situated in the Western Cape Province of South Africa. It overlooks Cape Town, a bustling city surrounded by stunning beaches, majestic mountains, and lush forests. Its location, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, affords breathtaking views of the ocean, Robben Island, and the city of Cape Town.
Physical Characteristics of Table Mountain
Table Mountain is a flat-topped mountain that stands 3,558 feet tall and stretches over 3km wide. It is a prominent landmark that can be seen from miles away. Its plateau is approximately 3km² and is often covered in clouds, earning it the nickname “Tablecloth.”
The mountain’s unique shape has made it a symbol of Cape Town and South Africa.
Formation of Table Mountain
Table Mountain was formed over 300 million years ago during the late Paleozoic Era. The mountain was formed by the slow upliftment of a plateau, followed by the erosion of the surrounding area, which left the mountain standing tall above the rest of the landscape.
The sandstone rocks that make up the mountain’s foundation are over 500 million years old.
History of Table Mountain
Table Mountain has a rich history that dates back centuries. The Khoi people, who were the first inhabitants of the area, referred to the mountain as Hoerikwaggo, which means “mountain in the sea.”
The mountain was later named “Table Mountain” by European explorers because of its flat-topped shape.
During the colonial era, Table Mountain became a popular spot for tourists and was used as a navigational landmark for sailors. It was also used as a lookout point during the Anglo-Boer War and World War II.
In more recent times, Table Mountain became a symbol of resistance against the apartheid regime in South Africa.
Biodiversity of Table Mountain
Table Mountain is home to a unique and diverse range of flora and fauna. There are over 1,400 plant species found on the mountain, many of which are endemic to the area. The Cape Floral Kingdom, of which Table Mountain is a part, is one of the smallest and most diverse floral kingdoms in the world.
The mountain is also home to various animal species such as rock hyrax, dassies, baboons, and snakes. The significance of preserving the biodiversity of Table Mountain cannot be overstated. The mountain plays a vital role in the survival of these plant and animal species, many of which are endangered.
Without proper conservation efforts, many of these species could face extinction.
Despite its importance, Table Mountain’s biodiversity is under threat from various factors. Climate change, urbanization, and invasive alien species pose a significant threat to the flora and fauna found on the mountain. These threats could potentially have a detrimental impact on the ecosystem of the mountain, leading to a loss of biodiversity.
Tourism and Table Mountain
Table Mountain has become a popular tourist attraction, attracting visitors from all over the world. The mountain offers a range of activities for visitors to enjoy, including hiking, rock climbing, and cableway rides. Table Mountain also boasts a rich history and cultural significance, making it a must-visit destination for many tourists.
Table Mountain has become a top tourist attraction in South Africa, attracting millions of visitors each year. The mountain offers stunning panoramic views of Cape Town and the surrounding areas. It is also home to various hiking trails and rock climbing routes, making it a popular destination for adventure seekers.
Activities available at Table Mountain
There are numerous activities available on Table Mountain, catering to visitors of all ages and interests. Some popular activities include hiking, rock climbing, and cableway rides. There are also guided tours available for visitors who want to learn more about the history and cultural significance of the mountain.
Accessibility of Table Mountain
Table Mountain is easily accessible by various means of transportation. Visitors can take a cableway ride to the top of the mountain or hike up one of the many trails. The mountain is also located near the heart of Cape Town, making it easily accessible for visitors staying in the city.
The Table Mountain Aerial Cableway is one of the most popular attractions on the mountain. The cableway takes visitors to the top of the mountain in just a few minutes, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding areas. The cableway has a long history and has undergone various renovations and upgrades over the years to ensure the safety and comfort of its passengers.
Overview of the Cableway
The Table Mountain Aerial Cableway is a popular attraction that takes visitors to the top of the mountain. The cableway has been in operation for over 90 years and offers stunning views of Cape Town and the surrounding areas.
History of the Cableway
The Table Mountain Aerial Cableway has a long and fascinating history. The cableway was first opened in 1929 and has undergone various renovations and upgrades over the years. It has become an iconic attraction in South Africa, attracting millions of visitors each year.
Renovations and upgrades to the Cableway
Over the years, the cableway has undergone various renovations and upgrades to ensure the safety and comfort of its passengers. In 1997, the cableway underwent a major renovation, replacing the old cable cars with newer, safer models.
In 2020, the cableway underwent further renovations to upgrade its facilities and improve the overall visitor experience.
Hiking Table Mountain
Hiking Table Mountain offers an incredible opportunity to explore one of the world’s most stunning natural wonders up close. There are several hiking routes up the mountain, each with its own unique challenges and rewards.
From the popular Platteklip Gorge route to the lesser-known Skeleton Gorge trail, there is a hiking route suitable for all skill levels. While hiking Table Mountain can be a challenging and strenuous activity, taking the necessary safety measures and being adequately prepared can ensure a safe and memorable experience.
Table Mountain National Park
Table Mountain National Park is a protected area that encompasses not only Table Mountain, but also several other mountains, valleys, and beaches in the Cape Peninsula. It is a biodiversity hotspot, with a rich and diverse flora and fauna. The park spans over 25,000 hectares and is managed by South African National Parks.
The importance of preserving Table Mountain National Park cannot be overstated. The park is home to over 2,200 plant species, 147 bird species, and 70 species of mammals, many of which are endemic to the area. Some of the park’s most iconic species include the Cape Sugarbird, the Table Mountain Ghost Frog, and the Cape Mountain Leopard.
Conservation efforts in Table Mountain National Park have been ongoing since the 1800s. In the early years, the main focus was on protecting the water catchment area of the mountain. Today, the park faces a number of challenges, including invasive plant species, poaching, and climate change.
To tackle these challenges, the park employs a number of conservation strategies, including invasive species control programs, anti-poaching patrols, and environmental education programs for local communities. The park also partners with universities and research institutions to conduct scientific research that will inform conservation strategies.
Events on Table Mountain
Table Mountain is not just a natural wonder, it is also a hub for cultural and social events. Every year, thousands of people gather on the mountain for a range of events, from music festivals to charity walks.
One of the most popular events on Table Mountain is the Two Oceans Marathon. This ultramarathon takes place every year on Easter Saturday and attracts runners from around the world. The course takes runners up and over the mountain, offering spectacular views of the Cape Peninsula.
Other popular events include the Table Mountain Blues Summit, the Table Mountain Challenge, and the Table Mountain Full Moon Hike. These events offer a unique opportunity to experience the mountain in a different way and to connect with other like-minded individuals.
Table Mountain in Literature and Art
Table Mountain has been an inspiration for artists and writers for centuries. From the indigenous Khoi people who told stories of the mountain’s creation, to contemporary artists who use the mountain as a backdrop for their work, Table Mountain has a rich cultural history.
In literature, Table Mountain has been featured in countless novels, poems, and travelogues. Some of the most famous works that reference Table Mountain include J.M. Coetzee’s “Disgrace,” Olive Schreiner’s “The Story of an African Farm,” and Alan Paton’s “Cry, The Beloved Country.”
In art, Table Mountain has been depicted in a wide range of styles, from traditional landscape paintings to modern installations. Some of the most famous artworks that feature Table Mountain include Jacobus Hendrik Pierneef’s “Table Mountain, Cape Town,” Gerard Sekoto’s “Table Mountain,” and William Kentridge’s “Black Box/Chambre Noire.”
Table Mountain has also been featured in popular culture, appearing in films, television shows, and video games. Some of the most famous examples include “The Gods Must be Crazy,” “Black Mirror,” and “Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag.”
Table Mountain is not just a mountain. It is a symbol of Cape Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and a biodiversity hotspot. Its significance is felt not only by the people of South Africa, but by people around the world who have been inspired by its beauty and majesty.
Whether you are a nature lover, an adrenaline junkie, or a culture vulture, Table Mountain has something to offer. From hiking and rock climbing to music festivals and art exhibitions, there is always something new to discover on the mountain.