Iconic Table Mountain is the most beloved and photographed landmark in all of South Africa. Every year more than 800,000 visitors ascend to the top (so come early)!Some hike up the steep mountainsides, but most ascend the way we did: via a revolving aerial cable way while enjoying 360° panoramic views of Cape Town and the Atlantic Ocean. Table Mountain is 3,563 feet at its highest point,
although the Back Table is a two-mile long, level plateau of “table top.”
Some geologists estimate that Table Mountain’s mesa was formed by volcanic and glacial action during the Ordovician Period some 5oo-600 million years ago, making it at least six times older than the Himalayas and one of the oldest mountains in the world. Regardless of it’s exact age, Table Mountain is ancient, and it’s the only terrestial feature on earth that has a constellation named for it: Mensa, meaning “the table,” so named by the French astronomer, Nicolas de Lacaille back in 1763 after a two-year study of 10,000 stars in the Southern Hemisphere.
Table Mountain is listed as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. The Cape Floral Kingdom is the smallest of the world’s plant kingdoms, but the richest for its size, boasting 8,500 distinct species, 1,470 of which occur on Table Mountain and the Back Table. That is more than all the plant species in the United Kingdom!Sadly, 70% of the plants are endemic (found no where else in the world), and despite incessant attempts at conservation, this area also has the highest number of threatened species of any equivalently-sized continental area. We only had an hour to explore the top, but there are many hiking trails of varying lengths to experience Table Mountain’s beauty. There are jeep trails up the steep slopes that make first class mountain bike paths, the most famous being Plum Pudding Hill.Rock climbing and caving are also popular sports.
The largest cave is Wynberg, but over 100 caves
have been discovered in the peninsula and on Table Mountain. Good maps are available, and if you decide to go exploring, be sure to buy a map, because dense mists can descend without warning any time of the year. In fact, the flat top of the mountain is notorious for being enveloped
in orographic clouds, which are formed when the moist sea air rises to the top of the mountain
and hits colder air. While we were visiting, we were able to enjoy one of these dramatic changes from sunny to cloudy in a matter of minutes.
The locals call this effect “spreading the table cloth,” and legend has it that the foggy table cloth is caused by a smoking match between the Devil and the Dutch pirate, Van Hunks. What do you think? Do you believe that legend? I’m always charmed by legends, which are known to be fictitious. I’m not so charmed by scientists who promote their theories as fact. For instance, I don’t think anybody can “prove” how the world came to be. Personally, I believe God created the earth with the appearance of age. I believe each “day” was a period of time, like the word “day” is used in other passages, such as “the day of the Lord.” I don’t know if a “day” had 24 hours or one nanosecond or 600 million years, but I believe God spoke and it happened. Our world did not need 600+million years to evolve.“Nothing comes from nothing. Nothing ever could…” (as Maria Von Trapp sings). But, I don’t think our world’s beauty comes from our doing something good in our childhood or from eons of evolution, I believe the biblical account, which says that our gorgeous planet was created by God, who is the definition of goodness and omnipotence. How about you?
“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.” (Genesis 1:1-5)