Table Mountain is the iconic centerpiece that towers over Cape Town, and a trip to the top is likely on every visitor’s to-do list. you need to be careful, though, to manage your time before and during, though, as it can be full of surprises. some tips:
- check their website before heading out, especially if it’s windy out, because they can and will close in case of inclement weather.
I hope this changes by the time the Table Mountain cableway opens in about two hours. pic.twitter.com/7oPJ4DJ60v
— Jonathan Khoo (@jonk) November 11, 2014
- take public transit to get there. they put together a nice walk-through on how to do it. just remember to take 106 or 107 and get off at Kloof Nek (they don’t announce stops, so you may want to ask the driver for help when you board). after you get off the bus, continue walking up the hill and around the corner to the left until you get to the shuttle bus station. these shuttles to the lower station run every 20 minutes.
- buy your ticket online. there are two lines — one for those with and one for those without tickets — and while the line for those with was much longer this morning, they let more of those people through at a time than those who still need to get them.
the line closest in is for people with online tickets; the line in the back is for those without. this was what it looked like around 11 AM. by the time i descended a little over an hour later, the line was half the length. they do say on their website that afternoons are much less crowded. each gondola holds 65 people, and it takes 4 minutes per trip not including loading time, so you’re definitely in for a wait. it’s not just that line, but there’s one on this side of the street to get up into the lower station as well. i easily waited well over an hour just to get into the gondola.
here’s a hyperlapse (4x) of the trip up (click through and watch in HD for best results). the floor of the gondola spins around slowly so you get a complete view of the surrounding area. be sure to be one of the first on so you get a spot towards the outside. towards the front and back are windows with no tinted glass, hence the bright areas in the video.
the first is a panorama from the lower station (while i was waiting in line) — compare that to the last one of the same view, from up top. i walked around the summit counter-clockwise so first up is Camps Bay to the west (actually lots of pictures in this direction), finishing with central Cape Town to the east. you can use Lion’s Head, the small singular mountain on the right in the second picture as a point of reference.
oh! i learned that the continuous cloud wave effect i mentioned yesterday is known as the “tablecloth”! from the pamphlet you get (and yes, it’s as cool as it sounds):
No visit to Cape Town is complete without a glimpse of the mountain’s famous tablecloth, a meteorological phenomenon that causes cloud to tumble down the mountain slopes like billowing fabric. Legend has it that a retired pirate, Jan van Hunks, encountered the devil on the mountain, and in order to save his soul, challenged the devil to a smoking contest. They stoked their pipes and have been smoking ever since.
i put up a Vine, but you can’t really tell from this resolution, sadly. the thing sticking up at the top right of the mountain is the upper cableway station — this was definitely when it was closed! just imagine a large cloud continuously spilling over the edge, nonstop.