Waking up at 6 am in the morning – this is how a real vacation should start! We had a big challenge ahead: conquering the summit of the Table Mountain. For this purpose we had even brought our super heavy hiking shoes. So there were no routes to escape: traveling with hiking shoes in the backpacks without putting them on would be rather stupid. When we came out of our room at 6:30 we suddenly realized 2 things: 1) we needed to eat something before our legendary climbing; 2) the breakfast began at 7:30. And here is one more advantage of the guest houses in comparison to the hotels. The woman who was already preparing breakfast in the kitchen decided not to leave us hungry and packed sandwiches, juice and some fruits for both of us. Now we had everything to go.
We came by taxi to the starting point of our hiking trail. Table Mountain is considered to be one of the most climbed peaks of the world. There are about 350 various paths to get to its summit. And it’s really easy to get lost there without an experienced guide. So we decided to withhold experiments and chose the most common route via Platteklip Gorge, which took its rise from the lower cable way station and required supposedly 2-3 hours to reach the top. As it gets really hot by noon, it is better to start earlier and to take enough water along.
The way to the top was really beautiful. And although it was rather strenuous, we enjoyed it a lot and were quite disappointed to find ourselves at the summit already in 1,5 hours. On our way Michael was telling me horror stories about the mountain. Due to the cold Atlantic neighborhood the weather in the city changes very fast, so it might be clear and sunny when you start climbing the mountain and get completely cloudy and misty when you reach the highest point. That is the reason why it is thought to be so dangerous for the hikers. More people have died on Table Mountain than on Mount Everest.
There is a legend that the tablecloth (this white cloud that covers the mountain) is caused by a smoking contest between the devil and a retired pirate known as Van Hunks. Van Hunks liked to climb Devil’s Peak (the mountain nearby) and smoke his pipe while overlooking Cape Town. The devil got really unhappy about this and challenged the pirate to a smoking contest. This competition continues up to now and is especially tough in the summer months.
During the hiking we met several other climbers. One of them appeared in front of us when we were already completely sweated and out of breath. He cheerfully walked by… barefoot! I looked astonished at his outfit, compared it to my hiking shoes and started taking pictures. He told me that feeling the ground with his feet allowed him to get closer to Mother Nature or something like this.
We continued walking and after a while we were outrun by a group of the guys. First I got really irritated that we are so slow and made an attempt to get ahead. But Michael reminded me that we are here to enjoy but not to compete with others. When I met the guys on the top I saw that one of them had artificial legs.
We walked around the table mountain for a while, had our lunch with a stunning panorama view from the top, headed to the view point, but it suddenly got really chilly and windy and we realized that the smoking contest had started again: the clouds were covering the mountain really fast. So we decided to take the cable car to go down.
At the cable car I photographed the main tourist attraction: rock hyrax (or dassie) which looks like a very fat hamster.
On our way down a group of schoolchildren started singing in the cable car. It was so beautiful and harmonic that all the fascinated listeners applauded. The children sang the National anthem of South Africa – Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika (God Bless Africa). This one:
It was around 2 a.m. when we came down and thought of going back to our guesthouse to relax there a bit. But then we saw a sightseeing bus right at the bottom of the mountain, which offered a city tour across the whole city and had a stop not far from our accommodation. Why not, we thought. So we were driving along the coast watching the never-ending villas on the right and empty beaches on the left. On one of the beaches they had even built an open-air fitness club where everyone could train. But when I looked at all this luxury, my overall impression was: it must be very boring to live in one of those posh houses behind the high fences.
The Waterfront stop looked livelier than others. We got out there and walked to the Nobel Square with 4 sculptures on it, dedicated to South Africa’s four Nobel Peace Prize laureates: Albert Luthuli, Desmond Tutu, FW de Klerk and Nelson Mandela.
While we were reading about them, a man approached us and offered a romantic tour on a big sailing boat just for two of us with wine and champaign on board. I’m usually really skeptical about such offers: either it costs a fortune, or it’s just some crap. However the price was not very high and the boat looked attractive. It was just the rainy weather forecast that scared away many clients. Well, it’s not so easy to scare us =)
After half an hour in the boat I already knew why nobody wanted to sail today. The waves were huge, the boat was swaying from side to side and I was suffering from sea sickness and couldn’t move anymore. Michael, on the contrary, looked happy, talked to the crew and was really excited. At least someone enjoyed the trip.
After the boat trip we were finally so exhausted that we could only go back to the guesthouse. On that day we didn’t even want to go out anymore. The weather got bad in the evening anyway. It was cold and rainy. So we just stayed in the room and ordered a very tasty pizza from the restaurant nearby. The day tour to the Cape of Good Hope was planned for the next day and it meant that we had to wake up at 6:30 again.