About Table Mountain

It’s easy to run out of superlatives when talking about Table Mountain. Its triple status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a National Park and a World 7 Wonder of Nature is amply justified.

Add to that the distinction of being the only natural feature on Earth with a constellation named after it – Mons MensaLatin for Table Mountain – and it becomes clear what a treasure Table Mountain really is. Older than all the major mountain ranges of the world (seven times older than the Himalayas), and steeped in history and legends, it rises almost sheer from the Atlantic, casting its shadow over a city of millions. It represents different things to different people: a temple, a gym, a refuge, a challenge, a culmination to a pilgrimage. People have died on its slopes, others found life. It has witnessed the rise and fall of an ocean, the birth and extinction of the dinosaurs. Millions of storms have eroded it down to a fifth of its original height, but still this crumbling relic pulsates with life and energy.

Table Mountain is a place where one can hear the hiss of complete silence. This stillness may at times be rippled by sounds such as the distant chime of a church bell, the muffled boom of surf, the babble of a brook or the clicking of frogs. That’s part of the magic of Table Mountain. What’s more, each side of the mountain has its own character: the sheer north face towering over the city, stacked with precipices, sparsely vegetated and sun-baked; the lush eastern side, clad in indigenous forest reminiscent of a tropical jungle; the buttressed western side, known as the Twelve Apostles, dissected and overlooking an ocean. Then there’s the back side, a forested and secluded valley where civilization feels a thousand miles away.

One of the most amazing things about Table Mountain must be the fact that it managed to retain so much wildness despite its proximity to a city. There are places where you could hole up for years at a time without seeing another human; where you’d have only the birds and bees for company. Pockets of primeval wilderness still exist on the mountain, where the city is out of sight and earshot, and where nature reigns supreme. All this less than 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) from the city center… traffic jams, shopping malls, boardrooms.

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