Table Mountain
Overview
 
Table Mountain is a flat-topped mountain
Mountain
Image:Himalaya_annotated.jpg|thumb|right|The Himalayan mountain range with Mount Everestrect 58 14 160 49 Chomo Lonzorect 200 28 335 52 Makalurect 378 24 566 45 Mount Everestrect 188 581 920 656 Tibetan Plateaurect 250 406 340 427 Rong River...

 forming a prominent landmark overlooking the city of Cape Town
Cape Town
Cape Town is the second-most populous city in South Africa, and the provincial capital and primate city of the Western Cape. As the seat of the National Parliament, it is also the legislative capital of the country. It forms part of the City of Cape Town metropolitan municipality...

 in South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

, and is featured in the flag of Cape Town
Flag of Cape Town
The flag of Cape Town is the official flag of the city of Cape Town, South Africa.The current flag replaced the previous flag in 1996...

 and other local government insignia. It is a significant tourist attraction
Tourist attraction
A tourist attraction is a place of interest where tourists visit, typically for its inherent or exhibited cultural value, historical significance, natural or built beauty, or amusement opportunities....

, with many visitors using the cableway
Table Mountain Aerial Cableway
The Table Mountain Aerial Cableway is a cableway to the top of Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa. It is one of Cape Town's most popular tourist attractions with approximately 800,000 people a year using the cableway. On the 29 December 2004 the cableway passed its 16 millionth visitor.The...

 or hiking to the top. The mountain forms part of the Table Mountain National Park
Table Mountain National Park
Table Mountain National Park, previously known as the Cape Peninsula National Park, is a national park in Cape Town, South Africa, proclaimed on May 29, 1998, for the purpose of protecting the natural environment of the Table Mountain Chain, and in particular the rare fynbos vegetation...

.
The main feature of Table Mountain is the level plateau approximately 3 kilometres (2 mi) from side to side, edged by impressive cliffs.
Discussions
Encyclopedia
Table Mountain is a flat-topped mountain
Mountain
Image:Himalaya_annotated.jpg|thumb|right|The Himalayan mountain range with Mount Everestrect 58 14 160 49 Chomo Lonzorect 200 28 335 52 Makalurect 378 24 566 45 Mount Everestrect 188 581 920 656 Tibetan Plateaurect 250 406 340 427 Rong River...

 forming a prominent landmark overlooking the city of Cape Town
Cape Town
Cape Town is the second-most populous city in South Africa, and the provincial capital and primate city of the Western Cape. As the seat of the National Parliament, it is also the legislative capital of the country. It forms part of the City of Cape Town metropolitan municipality...

 in South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

, and is featured in the flag of Cape Town
Flag of Cape Town
The flag of Cape Town is the official flag of the city of Cape Town, South Africa.The current flag replaced the previous flag in 1996...

 and other local government insignia. It is a significant tourist attraction
Tourist attraction
A tourist attraction is a place of interest where tourists visit, typically for its inherent or exhibited cultural value, historical significance, natural or built beauty, or amusement opportunities....

, with many visitors using the cableway
Table Mountain Aerial Cableway
The Table Mountain Aerial Cableway is a cableway to the top of Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa. It is one of Cape Town's most popular tourist attractions with approximately 800,000 people a year using the cableway. On the 29 December 2004 the cableway passed its 16 millionth visitor.The...

 or hiking to the top. The mountain forms part of the Table Mountain National Park
Table Mountain National Park
Table Mountain National Park, previously known as the Cape Peninsula National Park, is a national park in Cape Town, South Africa, proclaimed on May 29, 1998, for the purpose of protecting the natural environment of the Table Mountain Chain, and in particular the rare fynbos vegetation...

.

Features

The main feature of Table Mountain is the level plateau approximately 3 kilometres (2 mi) from side to side, edged by impressive cliffs. The plateau, flanked by Devil's Peak
Devil's Peak (Cape Town)
Devil's Peak is part of the mountainous backdrop to Cape Town. When looking at Table Mountain from the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, or when looking at the standard picture postcard view of the mountain, the skyline is from left to right: the spire of Devil's Peak, the flat mesa of Table Mountain,...

 to the east and by Lion's Head
Lion's Head (Cape Town)
Lion's Head is a mountain located in Cape Town, South Africa, between Table Mountain and Signal Hill. Lion's Head peaks at above sea level. The peak forms part of a dramatic backdrop to the city of Cape Town and is part of the Table Mountain National Park....

 to the west, forms a dramatic backdrop to Cape Town. This broad sweep of mountainous heights, together with Signal Hill
Signal Hill (Cape Town)
Signal Hill aka Lion's Rump, is a landmark flat-topped hill located in Cape Town, next to Lion's Head and Table Mountain.The hill is also known as "The Lion's Flank", but this term is obsolete...

, forms the natural amphitheatre
Amphitheatre
An amphitheatre is an open-air venue used for entertainment and performances.There are two similar, but distinct, types of structure for which the word "amphitheatre" is used: Ancient Roman amphitheatres were large central performance spaces surrounded by ascending seating, and were commonly used...

 of the City Bowl
City Bowl
The City Bowl is a part of Cape Town in South Africa. It is a natural amphitheatre-shaped area bordered by Table Bay and defined by the mountains of Signal Hill, Lion's Head, Table Mountain and Devil's Peak....

 and Table Bay
Table Bay
Table Bay is a natural bay on the Atlantic Ocean overlooked by Cape Town and is at the northern end of the Cape Peninsula, which stretches south to the Cape of Good Hope. It was named because it is dominated by the flat-topped Table Mountain.Bartolomeu Dias was the first European to explore this...

 harbour. The highest point on Table Mountain is towards the eastern end of the plateau and is marked by Maclear's Beacon, a stone cairn built in 1865 by Sir Thomas Maclear
Thomas Maclear
Sir Thomas Maclear was an Irish-born South African astronomer who became Her Majesty's astronomer at the Cape of Good Hope....

 for trigonometrical survey. It is 1086 metres (3,563 ft) above sea level, about 19 metres (62 ft) higher than the cable station at the western end of the plateau.

The cliffs of the main plateau are split by Platteklip Gorge ("Flat Stone Gorge"), which provides an easy and direct ascent to the summit and was the route taken by António de Saldanha
António de Saldanha
António de Saldanha was a Castilian-Portuguese 16th century captain. He was the first European to set anchor in what is now called Table Bay, South Africa, and made the first recorded ascent of Table Mountain.- Background :...

 on the first recorded ascent of the mountain in 1503.

The flat top of the mountain is often covered by orographic
Orographic lift
Orographic lift occurs when an air mass is forced from a low elevation to a higher elevation as it moves over rising terrain. As the air mass gains altitude it quickly cools down adiabatically, which can raise the relative humidity to 100% and create clouds and, under the right conditions,...

 clouds, formed when a south-easterly wind is directed up the mountain's slopes into colder air, where the moisture condenses to form the so-called "table cloth" of cloud. Legend attributes this phenomenon to a smoking
Tobacco smoking
Tobacco smoking is the practice where tobacco is burned and the resulting smoke is inhaled. The practice may have begun as early as 5000–3000 BCE. Tobacco was introduced to Eurasia in the late 16th century where it followed common trade routes...

 contest between the Devil
Devil
The Devil is believed in many religions and cultures to be a powerful, supernatural entity that is the personification of evil and the enemy of God and humankind. The nature of the role varies greatly...

 and a local pirate called Van Hunks. When the table cloth is seen, it symbolizes the contest.

Table Mountain is at the northern end of a sandstone mountain range that forms the spine of the Cape Peninsula
Cape Peninsula
The Cape Peninsula is a generally rocky peninsula that juts out for 75 km into the Atlantic Ocean at the south-western extremity of the African continent. At the southern end of the peninsula are Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope...

. To the south of the main plateau is a lower part of the range called the Back Table. On the Atlantic
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

 coast of the peninsula, the range is known as the Twelve Apostles. The range continues southwards to Cape Point
Cape Point
Cape Point is a promontory at the southeast corner of the Cape Peninsula, which is a mountainous and scenic landform that runs north-south for about thirty kilometres at the extreme southwestern tip of the African continent in the Republic of South Africa. Table Mountain and the city of Cape Town...

.

Geology

The upper part of the mountain mesa
Mesa
A mesa or table mountain is an elevated area of land with a flat top and sides that are usually steep cliffs. It takes its name from its characteristic table-top shape....

 consists of Ordovician
Ordovician
The Ordovician is a geologic period and system, the second of six of the Paleozoic Era, and covers the time between 488.3±1.7 to 443.7±1.5 million years ago . It follows the Cambrian Period and is followed by the Silurian Period...

 quartz
Quartz
Quartz is the second-most-abundant mineral in the Earth's continental crust, after feldspar. It is made up of a continuous framework of SiO4 silicon–oxygen tetrahedra, with each oxygen being shared between two tetrahedra, giving an overall formula SiO2. There are many different varieties of quartz,...

itic sandstone
Sandstone
Sandstone is a sedimentary rock composed mainly of sand-sized minerals or rock grains.Most sandstone is composed of quartz and/or feldspar because these are the most common minerals in the Earth's crust. Like sand, sandstone may be any colour, but the most common colours are tan, brown, yellow,...

, commonly referred to as Table Mountain Sandstone
Table Mountain sandstone
The Table Mountain Sandstone is a group of rock formations within the Cape Supergroup sequence of rocks. Although still widely used in common parlance, the term TMS is no longer formally recognized; the correct name is the "Table Mountain Group" . The sequence is dominated by quartzites of very...

 (TMS), which is highly resistant to erosion and forms characteristic steep grey crags. Below the sandstone is a layer of mica
Mica
The mica group of sheet silicate minerals includes several closely related materials having highly perfect basal cleavage. All are monoclinic, with a tendency towards pseudohexagonal crystals, and are similar in chemical composition...

ceous basal shale
Shale
Shale is a fine-grained, clastic sedimentary rock composed of mud that is a mix of flakes of clay minerals and tiny fragments of other minerals, especially quartz and calcite. The ratio of clay to other minerals is variable. Shale is characterized by breaks along thin laminae or parallel layering...

, which weathers quite readily and is therefore not well exposed. The basement
Basement Rock
Basement or Basement Rock music was a sub-genre coined in 2006 in an article by music magazine TGR. This was first in relation to the existence of underground record label Criminal Records but more for the independent bands they represent. The roots of the sub-genre are noted to be as far back as...

 consists of heavily folded
Fold (geology)
The term fold is used in geology when one or a stack of originally flat and planar surfaces, such as sedimentary strata, are bent or curved as a result of permanent deformation. Synsedimentary folds are those due to slumping of sedimentary material before it is lithified. Folds in rocks vary in...

 and altered phyllite
Phyllite
Phyllite is a type of foliated metamorphic rock primarily composed of quartz, sericite mica, and chlorite; the rock represents a gradation in the degree of metamorphism between slate and mica schist. Minute crystals of graphite, sericite, or chlorite impart a silky, sometimes golden sheen to the...

s and hornfels
Hornfels
Hornfels is the group designation for a series of contact metamorphic rocks that have been baked and indurated by the heat of intrusive igneous masses and have been rendered...

es known informally as the Malmesbury shale. This has been intruded by the Cape Granite. Both rocks are of late Precambrian
Precambrian
The Precambrian is the name which describes the large span of time in Earth's history before the current Phanerozoic Eon, and is a Supereon divided into several eons of the geologic time scale...

 age. The basement rocks are not nearly as resistant to weathering as the TMS but significant outcrops of the Cape Granite are visible on the western side of Lion's Head.

Flora

Table Mountain has an unusually rich biodiversity. Its vegetation consists predominantly of several different types of the unique and rich Cape Fynbos
Fynbos
Fynbos is the natural shrubland or heathland vegetation occurring in a small belt of the Western Cape of South Africa, mainly in winter rainfall coastal and mountainous areas with a Mediterranean climate...

. The main vegetation type is endangered Peninsula Sandstone Fynbos
Peninsula Sandstone Fynbos
Peninsula Sandstone Fynbos is a unique and endangered vegetation type that is endemic to the Cape Peninsula in Cape Town. This type of Mountain Fynbos occurs on very poor, acidic soils but is incredibly rich in biodiversity with an enormous number of plant species – many of which occur nowhere else...

, but critically endangered
Critically endangered
Version 2010.3 of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species identified 3744 Critically Endangered species, subspecies and varieties, stocks and subpopulations.Critically Endangered by kingdom:*1993 Animalia*2 Fungi*1745 Plantae*4 Protista-References:...

 Peninsula Granite Fynbos
Peninsula Granite Fynbos
Peninsula Granite Fynbos is an endangered Fynbos vegetation type which is endemic to the city of Cape Town and occurs nowhere else. It is a unique type of tall, dense and diverse scrubland, scattered with trees...

, Peninsula Shale Renosterveld
Peninsula Shale Renosterveld
Peninsula Shale Renosterveld is a unique vegetation type that is found only on the slopes of Signal Hill and Devil's Peak in Cape Town, South Africa. It is critically endangered and exists nowhere else...

 and Afromontane forest
Afromontane
Afromontane is a term used to describe the Afrotropic subregion and its plant and animal species common to the mountains of Africa and the southern Arabian Peninsula...

 occur in smaller portions on the mountain.

The mountain's vegetation types form part of the Cape Floral Region protected areas. These protected areas are a World Heritage Site
World Heritage Site
A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a place that is listed by the UNESCO as of special cultural or physical significance...

, and an estimated 2,200 species of plants are confined to Table Mountain - more than exist in the whole of the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

. Many of these species, including a great many types of protea
Protea
Protea is both the botanical name and the English common name of a genus of flowering plants, sometimes also called sugarbushes.-Etymology:...

s, are endemic to the mountain and can be found nowhere else. In addition, the Table Mountain range has the highest concentration of threatened species
Threatened species
Threatened species are any speciesg animals, plants, fungi, etc.) which are vulnerable to endangerment in the near future.The World Conservation Union is the foremost authority on threatened species, and treats threatened species not as a single category, but as a group of three categories,...

 of any continental area of equivalent size in the world.

Remnant patches of indigenous forest
Southern Afrotemperate Forest
Southern Afrotemperate Forest is a kind of tall, shady, multi-layered indigenous South African forest.This is the main forest-type in the south-western part of South Africa, naturally extending from the Cape Peninsula in the west, as far as Port Elizabeth in the east...

 persist in the wetter ravines. However, varieties of fynbos
Fynbos
Fynbos is the natural shrubland or heathland vegetation occurring in a small belt of the Western Cape of South Africa, mainly in winter rainfall coastal and mountainous areas with a Mediterranean climate...

 dominate on the more exposed parts of the mountain (such as above the city) where conditions are too dry and harsh for forests. The mountain's natural wildfire
Wildfire
A wildfire is any uncontrolled fire in combustible vegetation that occurs in the countryside or a wilderness area. Other names such as brush fire, bushfire, forest fire, desert fire, grass fire, hill fire, squirrel fire, vegetation fire, veldfire, and wilkjjofire may be used to describe the same...

 cycle seasonally burns and thus rejuvenates the fynbos vegetation on these exposed slopes.

The mountain has also suffered under a massive onslaught of invasive alien plants
Invasive species
"Invasive species", or invasive exotics, is a nomenclature term and categorization phrase used for flora and fauna, and for specific restoration-preservation processes in native habitats, with several definitions....

 for well over a century, with perhaps the worst invader being the cluster pine
Maritime Pine
Pinus pinaster, the Maritime Pine, is a pine native to the western and southwestern Mediterranean region. The pejorative name 'pinaster' is derived from pinus + aster, translating as 'a poor imitation of a pine' Pinus pinaster, the Maritime Pine, is a pine native to the western and southwestern...

. Considerable efforts have been made to control the rapid spread of these invasive alien plants.

Fauna

The most common animal on the mountain is the dassie, or rock hyrax. They especially cluster around the upper cable station, near areas where tourists may discard or (illegally) supply food. There are also porcupines
Cape Porcupine
The Cape Porcupine or South African Porcupine, Hystrix africaeaustralis, is a species of Old World porcupine. Contrary to its name, this porcupine species inhabits much of Sub-Saharan Africa, excluding the southwestern deserts of the continent. This rodent is nocturnal and inhabits rocky outcrops...

, mongoose
Mongoose
Mongoose are a family of 33 living species of small carnivorans from southern Eurasia and mainland Africa. Four additional species from Madagascar in the subfamily Galidiinae, which were previously classified in this family, are also referred to as "mongooses" or "mongoose-like"...

s, snake
Snake
Snakes are elongate, legless, carnivorous reptiles of the suborder Serpentes that can be distinguished from legless lizards by their lack of eyelids and external ears. Like all squamates, snakes are ectothermic, amniote vertebrates covered in overlapping scales...

s and tortoise
Tortoise
Tortoises are a family of land-dwelling reptiles of the order of turtles . Like their marine cousins, the sea turtles, tortoises are shielded from predators by a shell. The top part of the shell is the carapace, the underside is the plastron, and the two are connected by the bridge. The tortoise...

s. The last lion
Lion
The lion is one of the four big cats in the genus Panthera, and a member of the family Felidae. With some males exceeding 250 kg in weight, it is the second-largest living cat after the tiger...

 in the area was shot circa 1802. Leopard
Leopard
The leopard , Panthera pardus, is a member of the Felidae family and the smallest of the four "big cats" in the genus Panthera, the other three being the tiger, lion, and jaguar. The leopard was once distributed across eastern and southern Asia and Africa, from Siberia to South Africa, but its...

s persisted on the mountain until perhaps the 1920s but are now extinct locally. Two smaller, secretive, nocturnal carnivores, the rooikat (caracal
Caracal
The caracal is a fiercely territorial medium-sized cat ranging over Western Asia, South Asia and Africa.The word caracal comes from the Turkish word "karakulak", meaning "black ear". In North India and Pakistan, the caracal is locally known as syahgosh or shyahgosh, which is a Persian term...

) and the vaalboskat (also called the vaalkat or African Wild Cat) were once common on the mountain. The rooikat continues to be seen on rare occasions by mountaineers but the status of the vaalboskat is uncertain.

Himalayan tahr
Himalayan Tahr
The Himalayan Tahr or Common Thar is a large ungulate related to the wild goat.-Habitat:...

s, fugitive descendants of tahrs that escaped from Groote Schuur
Groote Schuur
Groote Schuur is an estate in Cape Town, South Africa.Cecil Rhodes took out a lease on the house in 1891. He later bought it in 1893, and had it converted and refurbished by the architect Sir Herbert Baker...

 zoo in 1936, used to be common on the less accessible upper parts of the mountain. As an exotic species, they were almost eradicated through a culling programme initiated by the South African National Parks
South African National Parks
South African National Parks is the body responsible for managing South Africa's national parks. SANParks was formed in 1926, and currently manages 20 parks consisting of , about 3% of the total area of South Africa....

 to make way for the reintroduction of indigenous klipspringer
Klipspringer
The Klipspringer, Oreotragus oreotragus, is a small species of African antelope.-Name:The word klipspringer literally means "rock jumper" in Afrikaans/Dutch...

s. Until recently there were also small numbers of fallow deer
Fallow Deer
The Fallow Deer is a ruminant mammal belonging to the family Cervidae. This common species is native to western Eurasia, but has been introduced widely elsewhere. It often includes the rarer Persian Fallow Deer as a subspecies , while others treat it as an entirely different species The Fallow...

 of European origin and sambar deer
Sambar Deer
The Sambar ' is a large deer native to southern and southeast Asia. Although it primarily refers to R. unicolor, the name "Sambar" is also sometimes used to refer to the Philippine Deer and the Rusa Deer...

 from southeast Asia. These were mainly in the Rhodes Memorial
Rhodes Memorial
Rhodes Memorial on Devil's Peak in Cape Town, South Africa, is a memorial to English-born South African politician Cecil John Rhodes designed by Sir Herbert Baker.-Location:...

 area but during the 1960s they could be found as far afield as Signal Hill. The animals may by now have been eliminated or relocated.

History

Prehistoric inhabitation of the district is well attested (see for example the article on Fish Hoek). About 2000 years ago the Khoikhoi
Khoikhoi
The Khoikhoi or Khoi, in standardised Khoekhoe/Nama orthography spelled Khoekhoe, are a historical division of the Khoisan ethnic group, the native people of southwestern Africa, closely related to the Bushmen . They had lived in southern Africa since the 5th century AD...

 migrated towards the Cape Peninsula from the north, displacing the San and bringing with them their herds of cattle and sheep. It was the Khoikhoi who were the dominant local tribe when the Europeans first sailed into Table Bay.

António de Saldanha was the first European to land in Table Bay. He climbed the mighty mountain in 1503 and named it Taboa do Cabo (Table of the Cape, in his native Portuguese
Portuguese language
Portuguese is a Romance language that arose in the medieval Kingdom of Galicia, nowadays Galicia and Northern Portugal. The southern part of the Kingdom of Galicia became independent as the County of Portugal in 1095...

). The great cross that the Portuguese navigator carved into the rock of Lion's Head is still traceable.

In 1796, during the British occupation of the Cape, Major-General Sir James Craig
James Henry Craig
General Sir James Henry Craig KB was a British military officer and colonial administrator.-Early life and military service:...

 ordered three blockhouse
Blockhouse
In military science, a blockhouse is a small, isolated fort in the form of a single building. It serves as a defensive strong point against any enemy that does not possess siege equipment or, in modern times, artillery...

s to be built on Table Mountain: the King's blockhouse, Duke of York blockhouse (later renamed Queen's blockhouse) and the Prince of Wales blockhouse. Two of these are in ruins today, but the King's blockhouse is still in good condition. and easily accessible from the Rhodes Memorial
Rhodes Memorial
Rhodes Memorial on Devil's Peak in Cape Town, South Africa, is a memorial to English-born South African politician Cecil John Rhodes designed by Sir Herbert Baker.-Location:...

.

Between 1896 and 1907, five dams, the Woodhead, Hely-Hutchinson, De Villiers, Alexandria and Victoria reservoirs, were opened on the Back Table to supply Cape Town's water needs. A ropeway ascending from Camps Bay
Camps Bay
Camps Bay is an affluent suburb of Cape Town, South Africa. In summer it attracts a large number of foreign visitors as well as South Africans looking for a beach holiday. It is renowned for its white sandy beaches fringed by palm trees and has a trendy nightlife.-History:The first residents of...

 via Kasteelspoort ravine was used to ferry materials and manpower (the anchor points at the old top station can still be seen). There is a well-preserved steam locomotive from this period housed in the Waterworks Museum
Waterworks Museum
The Waterworks Museum is located on the northern side of Table Mountain, between the Woodhead and Hely Hutchinson Reservoirs, in Cape Town, South Africa. The museum was founded in 1972 by Terence Timoney, a retired waterworks engineer...

 at the top of the mountain near the Hely-Hutchinson dam. It had been used to haul materials for the dam across the flat top of the mountain. Cape Town's water requirements have since far outpaced the capacity of the dams and they are no longer an important part of the water supply.

The mountain became part of the new Cape Peninsula National Park in the 1990s. The park was renamed to the Table Mountain National Park
Table Mountain National Park
Table Mountain National Park, previously known as the Cape Peninsula National Park, is a national park in Cape Town, South Africa, proclaimed on May 29, 1998, for the purpose of protecting the natural environment of the Table Mountain Chain, and in particular the rare fynbos vegetation...

 in 1998.

Fires are common on the mountain. The most recent major fire
2006 Table Mountain fire
The Table Mountain fire was a large fire in and around the Table Mountain National Park in Cape Town, South Africa. It broke out at approximately 4 p.m. on 26 January 2006 above Tafelberg Road, and spread quickly due to dry conditions and strong winds of up to...

 came in January 2006, destroying large amounts of vegetation and resulting in the death of a tourist. A charge of arson and culpable homicide was laid against a British man who was suspected of starting the blaze.

In November 2011, Table Mountain was provisionally named one of the new seven wonders of nature by New7Wonders of the World.

Cableway

The Table Mountain Cableway takes passengers from the lower cable station on Tafelberg Road, about 302 m above sea level, to the plateau at the top of the mountain. The upper cable station offers views overlooking Cape Town, Table Bay
Table Bay
Table Bay is a natural bay on the Atlantic Ocean overlooked by Cape Town and is at the northern end of the Cape Peninsula, which stretches south to the Cape of Good Hope. It was named because it is dominated by the flat-topped Table Mountain.Bartolomeu Dias was the first European to explore this...

 and Robben Island
Robben Island
Robben Island is an island in Table Bay, 6.9 km west of the coast of Bloubergstrand, Cape Town, South Africa. The name is Dutch for "seal island". Robben Island is roughly oval in shape, 3.3 km long north-south, and 1.9 km wide, with an area of 5.07 km². It is flat and only a...

 to the north, and the Atlantic
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

 seaboard to the west and south.

Construction of the cableway was first started in 1926, and the cableway was officially opened in 1929. In 1997, the cableway was extensively upgraded, and new cars were introduced carrying 65 instead of 25 passengers. The new cars give a faster journey to the summit, and rotate through 360 degrees during the ascent or descent, giving a panoramic view over the city.

The top cable station offers viewpoints, curio shops, a restaurant and walking trails of various lengths.

Hiking

Hiking on Table Mountain is popular amongst locals and tourists, and a number of trails of varying difficulty are available. Because of the steep cliffs around the summit, direct ascents from the city side are limited. Platteklip Gorge, a prominent gorge up the centre of the main table, is a popular and straightforward direct ascent to the summit. Par for the course is about 2.5 hours but is done between 1–3 hours depending on one's fitness level.

Longer routes to the summit go via the Back Table, a lower area of Table Mountain to the South of the main plateau. From the Southern Suburbs side, the Nursery Ravine and Skeleton Gorge routes start at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden. The route via Skeleton Gorge to Maclears Beacon is known as Smuts Track in memory of Jan Smuts
Jan Smuts
Jan Christiaan Smuts, OM, CH, ED, KC, FRS, PC was a prominent South African and British Commonwealth statesman, military leader and philosopher. In addition to holding various cabinet posts, he served as Prime Minister of the Union of South Africa from 1919 until 1924 and from 1939 until 1948...

, who was a keen hiker. The Bridle Path, or Jeep Track, makes a more gradual ascent from Constantia Nek
Constantia Nek
Constantia Nek is a low pass over the Table Mountain range in Cape Town, South Africa, linking Constantia to Hout Bay in the west. It is one of three passes connecting Hout Bay to the rest of the city, and, with Ou Kaapse Weg is one of the two passes over the mountain range between the city centre...

 along the road used to service the dams on Back Table. There are many other paths in popular walking areas on the lower slopes of the mountain accessed from Constantia Nek
Constantia Nek
Constantia Nek is a low pass over the Table Mountain range in Cape Town, South Africa, linking Constantia to Hout Bay in the west. It is one of three passes connecting Hout Bay to the rest of the city, and, with Ou Kaapse Weg is one of the two passes over the mountain range between the city centre...

, Cecilia Park
Cecilia Park
Cecilia Park is a stretch of land on the lower eastern slopes of Table Mountain in Cape Town, located just to the south of Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens....

, Kirstenbosch
Kirstenbosch
Kirstenbosch is the name of a famous botanical garden nestled at the foot of Table Mountain in Cape Town....

, Newlands Forest
Newlands forest
Newlands Forest is a conservancy area on the eastern slopes of Table Mountain, beside the suburb of Newlands, Cape Town. It is owned and maintained by the Table Mountain National Parks Board, along with the City Parks Department of Cape Town, and includes a Fire Station, Nursery and Reservoir.The...

 and Rhodes Memorial
Rhodes Memorial
Rhodes Memorial on Devil's Peak in Cape Town, South Africa, is a memorial to English-born South African politician Cecil John Rhodes designed by Sir Herbert Baker.-Location:...

.

On the Atlantic side, the most popular ascent is Kasteelspoort, a gorge overlooking Camps Bay
Camps Bay
Camps Bay is an affluent suburb of Cape Town, South Africa. In summer it attracts a large number of foreign visitors as well as South Africans looking for a beach holiday. It is renowned for its white sandy beaches fringed by palm trees and has a trendy nightlife.-History:The first residents of...

, while the Pipe Track is a level route popular with walkers.

The Hoerikwaggo Trails are four hiking trails on Table Mountain ranging from two to six days, operated by South African National Parks. The original inhabitants of the area, the Khoekhoen and San tribes called Table Mountain Hoerikwaggo – "sea mountain". The four Table Mountain hiking trails are called the People's Trail, Table Mountain Trail, Orangekloof Hiking Trail and Top to Tip Trail.

Rock climbing

Rock climbing
Rock climbing
Rock climbing also lightly called 'The Gravity Game', is a sport in which participants climb up, down or across natural rock formations or artificial rock walls. The goal is to reach the summit of a formation or the endpoint of a pre-defined route without falling...

 on Table Mountain is a very popular pastime. There are well-documented climbing routes of varying degrees of difficulty up the many faces of the mountain. The main climbs are located on cliffs below the upper cable station. No bolting can be done here and only traditional climbing
Traditional climbing
Traditional climbing, or trad climbing, is a style of rock climbing in which a climber or group of climbers places all gear required to protect against falls , and removes it when a passage is complete...

 is allowed. Commercial groups also offer abseiling from the upper cable station.

Caving

Most of the world's important caves occur in limestone
Limestone
Limestone is a sedimentary rock composed largely of the minerals calcite and aragonite, which are different crystal forms of calcium carbonate . Many limestones are composed from skeletal fragments of marine organisms such as coral or foraminifera....

 but Table Mountain is unusual in having several large cave systems that have developed in sandstone. The biggest systems are the Wynberg Caves, located on the Back Table, not far from the Jeep Track, in ridges overlooking Orange Kloof
Orange Kloof
Orange Kloof or Orangekloof is an area of Table Mountain National Park in Cape Town, South Africa.It is located at the northern end of the Hout Bay valley, just to the west of Cecilia Park. It is a conservation area with highly restricted access, vegetated by indigenous Afro-temperate forest and...

 and Hout Bay
Hout Bay
Hout Bay is the name of a coastal suburb of Cape Town, South Africa with a mix of neighbourhoods from the very rich to the very poor. It lies in a valley on the Atlantic Seaboard of the Cape Peninsula and is twenty kilometres south of the Central Business District of Cape Town...

.

"Mensa" constellation

Table Mountain is the only terrestrial
Earth
Earth is the third planet from the Sun, and the densest and fifth-largest of the eight planets in the Solar System. It is also the largest of the Solar System's four terrestrial planets...

 feature to give its name to a constellation
Constellation
In modern astronomy, a constellation is an internationally defined area of the celestial sphere. These areas are grouped around asterisms, patterns formed by prominent stars within apparent proximity to one another on Earth's night sky....

Mensa
Mensa (constellation)
Mensa is a constellation in the southern sky, created in the 18th century. Its name is Latin for table. It covers a keystone-shaped wedge of sky stretching from approximately 4h to 7.5h of right ascension, and −71 to −85.5 degrees of declination. Other than the south polar constellation...

, meaning The Table. The constellation is seen in the Southern Hemisphere
Southern Hemisphere
The Southern Hemisphere is the part of Earth that lies south of the equator. The word hemisphere literally means 'half ball' or "half sphere"...

, below Orion
Orion (constellation)
Orion, often referred to as The Hunter, is a prominent constellation located on the celestial equator and visible throughout the world. It is one of the most conspicuous, and most recognizable constellations in the night sky...

, around midnight in mid-July. It was named by the French astronomer
Astronomy
Astronomy is a natural science that deals with the study of celestial objects and phenomena that originate outside the atmosphere of Earth...

 Nicolas de Lacaille during his stay at the Cape in the mid eighteenth century.

Gallery

See also

  • Table Mountain National Park
    Table Mountain National Park
    Table Mountain National Park, previously known as the Cape Peninsula National Park, is a national park in Cape Town, South Africa, proclaimed on May 29, 1998, for the purpose of protecting the natural environment of the Table Mountain Chain, and in particular the rare fynbos vegetation...

  • Mesa
    Mesa
    A mesa or table mountain is an elevated area of land with a flat top and sides that are usually steep cliffs. It takes its name from its characteristic table-top shape....

  • Devil's Peak
    Devil's Peak (Cape Town)
    Devil's Peak is part of the mountainous backdrop to Cape Town. When looking at Table Mountain from the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, or when looking at the standard picture postcard view of the mountain, the skyline is from left to right: the spire of Devil's Peak, the flat mesa of Table Mountain,...

  • Lion's Head
    Lion's Head (Cape Town)
    Lion's Head is a mountain located in Cape Town, South Africa, between Table Mountain and Signal Hill. Lion's Head peaks at above sea level. The peak forms part of a dramatic backdrop to the city of Cape Town and is part of the Table Mountain National Park....

  • Sleeping Giant
    Sleeping Giant (Ontario)
    The Sleeping Giant is a formation of mesas and sills on Sibley Peninsula which resembles a giant lying on its back when viewed from the West to North-Northwest section of Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada. As one moves southward along the shoreline toward Squaw Bay the Sleeping Giant starts to separate...


External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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