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South Africa's Wonder - Table Mountain

August 30th, 2015, by David Schwenk

South Africa's Wonder - Table Mountain

When I first visited Cape Town, South Africa it was in early December 2008. Arriving at the airport I was met and transferred to my hotel by an African Travel sister company representative from Thompson’s Africa. It was nighttime and city was ablaze with holiday lights. 
“You are lucky” the driver commented. “Table Mountain is illuminated for the holiday season and not too many people have a chance to see this.”

I stared in amazement. High intensity spotlights flooded mountainside with light. A sight to see. 
Interestingly, the first time Table Mountain was illuminated was in 1947 during the British Royal Family’s visit. It was also a sight to see for English explorer Sir Frances Drake who gazed upon it around 1580. “The fairest Cape, the most stately thing we saw in the whole circumference of the globe.” Drake wrote in his ship’s log.

Now, I’ve seen other magnificent peaks in the world, namely, the Matterhorn in Zermatt and Sugar Loaf in Rio-De-Janeiro. These giants are taller but Table Mountain is one of the most recognizable mountains in the world. It stands 3,280 feet high, ending on a virtually flat top mesa. That’s about 3 Eiffel Towers stacked on top of each other.

Table Mountain also stands right in the middle of the smallest and richest floral kingdom in the world with 2250 different species of flora surrounding it. It also stands on the tip of the African Continent. No wonder Table Mountain was declared one of the new Seven National Wonders of the World in 2011. It also earned the prestigious title of one of UNESCO’s World Heritage sites in 2004.

This past May, I had a chance to return to Cape Town and see Table Mountain once again. But unlike my first visit in 2008, I had a chance to go to the top of this magnificent peak. Ascending to the top was a thrill in itself. Unlike other gondola cable cars, Table Mountain has what’s called a “rotair” car. The floor of the cars rotate through 360 degrees during the ascent or descent, giving passengers a panoramic view.

Once on top of the peak the views are incredible. One could see the infamous Robbin Island the “Alcatraz” of South Africa. Here, Nelson Mandela was incarcerated, along with some 3000 other anti-apartheid activists, for two decades of a life sentence. In 1996, Robben Island was declared a National Monument and a World Heritage Site in 1999. Gazing down upon one of the most beautiful cities in the world, I felt so grateful that I finally succeeded in reaching the top of this incredible mountain. And, when you go to Cape Town, you must also take that cable car ride to the top of South Africa’s wonder – the Table Mountain.

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