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Hiking Table Mountain: Cape Town, South Africa

Table Mountain conquered!

Table Mountain conquered!

The day started at 5 am.  I stumbled out of bed, trying not to wake the other five women in my room.  It was hot already.  My mission: To hike Table Mountain, one of the new Seven Natural Wonders of the World and ironically one of the oldest mountains in the world, with rocks dated at 600 million years old.  Reportedly, this is six times older than the Himalayas.

Darren and I traveled by car to a parking lot about half way up the mountain.  “Oh this will be easy,” I said.  “We’re practically to the top already.”  I eat my words now.

Thus began a walk that lasted two-and-a-half hours and climbed unmercifully up over rocky boulders that resembled stairs.  That is if stairs were designed by sadistic giants.  Some “steps” were half a meter high.

All was well and I was tolerating the difficulty without complaint until the sun peeked over the mountain.  At that point, it seemed that my blood turned to magma and every step became a trial.  Words that would make a sailor blush were spoken between breaths.

I pretended I was admiring flowers closely when really I was using any excuse in the book to stop.  But a real flower admirer would be busy…there are over 2,200 species of plants on Table Mountain!

If you’ve been slacking on your exercise, I suggest you take this walk to immediately realize how unfit you are.  Every labored breath, every wobble of the knees, the heart seemingly pumping out of your chest will bring you in tune with your reality.  Unless, of course, you’re Darren, who spoke words that might as well have been venom sinking deep below my skin: “I’m finding it quite easy.”  Death stare.

Scared on the tram.

Scared on the tram.

As usual, my determination gets me there even when my body resists.  And so it did today. Finally, I heard the magic words from Darren: “We made it!”

The views from the top of Table Mountain were as expected.  Amazing.  On top, there is a regular village of concessions including a cafe where we had celebratory coffee.  The top (nearly two miles of it) was swarmed with tourists who had traveled up the easier way, by the Table Mountain Cableway.  This is how we got down.  For me, this was a terrifying death ride in a sardine-packed, globe shaped tram car, with a spinning floor.  Had it lasted any longer, I would have delivered a gastric surprise for my fellow riders.  Fortunately, it was quick.

We returned to the car in 37-degree heat (98 degrees Fahrenheit).  I poured myself inside and Darren took me further on to Signal Hill where the views are also spectacular.

Upon return to my hostel, a nap was in order – made all the sweeter by the day’s beautiful toil.

Views from Table Mountain:


  1. Oh no he dit’nt! He said he found it quite easy? Man, he really earned that death stare. Great writing Laura, I laughed and laughed and wished I was there with you.

    Jayne xx

    • Thanks Jayne! I am glad you laughed! I laugh too….NOW. And yes, he REALLY said that!!!
      I wish you had been there too although I have no doubt you would have been outpacing us both.

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