I Climbed Table Mountain

It was 7:00 a.m.; the sun was rising and there were no clouds in sight.  We picked the perfect day to climb Table Mountain.  I really didn’t know what to expect.  One of my travel buddies had done some research and said he found the perfect route for us to hike up the mountain.  He said it would take approximately 2-3 hours.  There is no way climbing a mountain is going to take that long, I thought.  We had also read that people had been robbed on the trail so we left our cameras in the car and didn’t take anything of value with us.  Since we planned to take the Aerial Cableway back down, we drove up to its entrance and parked.  I dressed in some work out clothes, jacket, sunglasses and sneakers and with a water bottle in one hand and my phone in the other we began our trek.

IMG_20180403_121329_674.jpg

We took the Platteklip Gorge route.  There were plenty of people also hiking on this day that we saw at the beginning and throughout the hike.   The trail is not straight.  It has turns and twist, rocks and boulders and a constant uphill incline.  At some points I could walk straight up and down and at others I had to crawl on all fours.  Some of the trail has small fences on either side, but much of the trail does not.  I had to stop several times throughout to catch my breath as it can be quite exhausting.  Your mind can also play tricks on you which could lead to a panic attack for some.   I had to force myself to continue looking forward to ward off a panic attack of my own.  It is definitely not for the faint of heart.    I was doing good until I asked one of our friends how much further we had to go, and he said “we are about halfway there”.   I couldn’t believe that we only traveled halfway up the mountain.  It had been at least an hour or more.  I knew for sure we were almost there.  I regretted asking because at that very moment knowing as far as I’d come, I wanted to turn back.  Then some people were coming down the mountain and we sparked a conversation with some.  One gentleman was on his 100th hike.  He said he was with the charity group.   He was no spring chicken and if he could do it, so could I.  Well maybe not 100 times but I could definitely do it, just this once.  I pushed forward and up, sweating, panting and self-motivating.  I took in the sites of Cape Town below my feet.  I started to enjoy the journey and the scenery and stopped focusing on the end.

20180403_081738.jpg

20180403_075602.jpg

20180403_090450.jpg

That was until I saw something unfamiliar, big and brown in my peripheral.  I yelled and ran with new energy.  I ran passed my friends and up some boulders until it was out of my sight.  Later my friend told me that it was a rock hyrax.  (a small furry diurnal animal belonging to the Provavidae family, more commonly known as a dassie. Although it resembles a small rabbit, the dassie is actually a hoofed mammal related to the elephant. It has a short, furry body with short hoofed legs and a small tail-  https://www.tablemountain.net/blog/entry/table-mountain-for-nature-lovers)  At the time, I didn’t know what it was; I just knew I wanted no parts of it.  I think it gave me the boost I needed.

A short while later, a coupled passed us and I asked the women if she could let out a small yelp when she got to the top, so I could hear how much further we had to go.  Sensing we were nearing the top, I began to move faster.  Then some relief was upon us, cool rocks and water dripping from them.  I pressed my revealed skin on the cool, wet rocks and sat in the shade for a short while, gazing upon the trek behind me, down the mountain and through the gorge.  We had come a long way!

IMG-20180404-WA0005.jpg

20180403_110756.jpg

20180403_100454.jpg

20180403_083831.jpg

A few minutes later I heard the yelp in the near distance.  A few winding paths later, we made it to the top!  We had climbed Table Mountain.  It took us 2.5 hours.  Our two other friends said they had been waiting for us for over an hour.  Picture my eyes rolling.

20180403_105947.jpg

IMG-20180404-WA0025.jpg

It really is like a table at the top of the mountain.  You can walk around and see Cape Town from all angles, tiny houses below, trees and the sea.  I can only imagine what the scene looks like at sunset.

IMG-20180404-WA0006.jpg

IMG_20180403_121329_669.jpg

IMG-20180404-WA0028.jpg

We grabbed some food from the restaurant and took in the sites before buying our tickets for the aerial cableway to ride back down.  There was a delay because some crazy person decided to light a few fires on the mountain and they spread rather quickly, due to the dry climate.  We could see smoke and fire from the top and had to wait until the fire fighters brought in water via helicopters to get the fires under control before they would allow the cable cars to run again.  Eventually we were able to ride down, right passed the fires.  It was kind of unnerving to know the mountain we had just climbed was now burning.  Thankfully, no injuries were reported and the culprit was caught.   The ride down on the cable car was quick and I was happy that we climbed the mountain up because although the view from the top of Table Mountain is quite beautiful, it fails in comparison to the excitement of the journey of the climb up the mountain.

20180403_124158.jpg

20180403_125226.jpg

Would I hike it again?  When I was asked this question right after we came down, I said NO, rather quickly.  But if you ask me that question now…I’d say YES!  It was worth it.  I can honestly say, I climbed the infamous Table Mountain!

Side notes: Despite the stories of robberies on the mountain, we never felt unsafe.  There were always plenty of people on the trail.  Bring some cash or a credit card to purchase snacks and drinks at the top of the mountain.  Stay hydrated by carrying and drinking plenty of water.  Wear comfortable footwear with grips.  Bring sunglasses.  Don’t forget your camera.  Tell Mr. Hyrax I said hello.  If you’re thinking about climbing Table Mountain, Do It!

IMG_20180403_121329_670.jpg

 

Why Cape Town Should be on Everyone’s Bucket List

“Welcome to the Mother City” is the sign you see when you leave the plane and commence to walking through Cape Town International Airport.  It was a welcome sign!  Let me start first by saying, 7 days is not nearly enough time to experience the mother city, but it was enough time to realize why Cape Town should be on everyone’s ‘Bucket’ List.  Here are my top 5 reasons:
Scenery

Beaches, Mountains, Color, Unique Architecture, and Amazing Wildlife you get it all in Cape Town. But don’t just take my word for it, check out these pictures.

20180403_095414.jpg
The Climb to Table Mountain
IMG_0139
Clouds descending from the Mountain tops over the city
IMG_0152
Greenery
IMG_0229
Views of the City from Signal Hill
IMG_0418
Sun setting over a Game Reserve
IMG_0506
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens
IMG_0541
Beautiful Beaches
IMG_0184
Bo-Kaap
IMG_0226.JPG
Glass homes on hills
IMG_0406
Aquila Game Reserve– Rhinos, Zebras
IMG_0549
Penguins at Boulders Beach


Food

I traveled in a group of 6 people with different eating habits, vegan, vegetarian, selectitarian, and carnivores and no-one had to compromise as finding good food was in abundance.

IMG_0169
Vegan Edo wrap
IMG_0171
Mushroom Kabobs at the Old Biscuit Mill
IMG_0174
Avo toast- Old Biscuit Mill
IMG_0175
Paella- Old Biscuit Mill
IMG_0177
Dessert at the Old Biscuit Mill
IMG_0180
Pulled Pork Sandwich- Old Biscuit Mill
20180408_124511.jpg
You read that right, Ostrich Shwarma. They also serve Antelope and Alligator in South Africa, among other game meat
20180406_090833.jpg
Jarryds on Sea Point for Breakfast, Buddha Bowl
20180408_124758-2.jpg
The infamous, Butternut Squash Salad at Tasha’s on the V&A Waterfront

Affordable

One South African Rand is about 0.083 USD, which means American Dollars go very far. Almost every time, our group of 6 dined out, our bill was under $100 usd total. Sometimes it was as low as $50.00. Several times we ate at vegan restaurants and eating vegan is not cheap but it was there. Shopping for authentic hand-maid items was cheap too. We did most of our shopping at the Green Market and on Long street.

20180331_134805-1.jpg
Wine

Cape Town is a renowned wine region so visiting some wineries is a must do while there. We visited 3 in one day, Chamonix, Babylonstoren, and Waterford Estate and enjoyed wine tasting at all of them. Although the wines weren’t my taste (I’m a sweet red kind of girl and most of their wines are dry), it was still an enjoyable experience, especially driving through the wine country. My favorite was Waterford Estate.

IMG_0569

IMG_0570
Chamonix’s wine cellar

IMG_0578

IMG_0581
Babylonstoren glass house setting
IMG_0586
Waterford estate-glamorous
IMG_0591
Wine and Chocolate pairing at Waterford

Culture and History

This country is recovering from an ugly past, but facing it and educating others is a way to prevent it from repeating itself. It’s also a form of therapy. This therapy is evident in the voices of the Robben Island tour guides who were once prisoners there during apartheid.

The culture is seen and heard throughout in the dialects, vibe and food of the African natives. Be still and listen to the voices and the music and visit the museums. Enjoy the colors and diversity all around.

IMG_0439
Former Prisoner now conducting tours at the same place he spent years imprisoned, Robben Island
IMG_0443
Prisoner explaining a picture of Nelson Mandela when he was imprisoned at Robben Island
IMG_0447
Mandela’s cell
IMG_0436
Former Room of Prisoners and old beds

Cape-Town is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve visited. It is diverse in population and landscape. The food is tasty, the music will get you moving and there is no shortage of things to do. If you haven’t already, what are you waiting for… Add it to your list! Thank me later.

Check back to read how I spent my 7 days in Cape Town, Vegan Eats, and Tackling Table Mountain.

IMG_0280