Hearing that Table Mountain can be completely obscured by fog much of the time when we saw a good forecast we took the chance straight away. Our chosen ascent was the Platteklip which was apparently a steady climb all the way.
What the website didn’t say was that it got steeper and steeper with altitude and so as we slowed down it felt like we were perennially 15 mins away from the summit!
On the top we had panoramic views of Lions Head through the old city and out to the Cape Flats area. Gingerly we even too some photos with legs hanging over a sheer 600m drop.
On the back side of table mountain we could see the undulating coastline of bays which fray down the coast toward the cape.
After building up something of an appetite it was time to head down in the very fancy rotating cable car and head to the Mount Nelson Hotel for high tea.
The Mount Nelson is one of those grand-dame old British colonial hotels where time appears to have stood still around 1910.
Out on the veranda on our table for 7 we first were introduced to our ‘Tea Ambassador’ – I can only imagine what Victorians would have made of that – to guide us through our selection from 40 or so teas. First up were the sandwiches and samosa on three tiered cake platters. The sandwiches just kept on coming, mostly because Mark kept on asking for more. The key to high tea is that it is a marathon and not a sprint!
Next up were the scones, jam and cream and then finally we had our pick of the sweets on an enormous oval table – the only decision is what to have first.
After one and a half hours of stuffing ourselves we rolled out of the hotel which was luckily just next door to our hostel and effectively hibernated for the remainder of the day!
As a final farewell to Cape Town myself Mark and Roger headed down to see what gives the town it’s name – the Cape of Good Hope.
Heading down the Cape itself we stopped at the botanical gardens on the slopes of Table Mountain. The ghost of Cecil Rhodes popped up again as he used to own much of the land here and donated it to the city for a University and also for the botanical gardens.
Down the coast at Simon’s Town is where the Royal Navy used to harbour during the winter months. Nearby at boulders beach is a colony of African penguins which loiter on the rocks and generally hide in the bushes with their chicks.
I didn’t realise initially but the Cape isn’t the most southerly point on the continent – that title goes to Cape Agulhas but the currents tend to meet around the Cape itself with great swirling froth all around.
Initially the lighthouse was built on the top of the promontory but once built they realised it was so foggy that it was obscured most of the time so they had to build another one lower down to make safe the treacherous waters!
After spending some time watching the waves roll in from the Southern Ocean we headed back to Cape Town – the end of the African leg of my journey and my return to Dublin fittingly starting from the tip of the continent.