Daily Archives: 2016-06-25

One of the New7Wonders of Nature

25Jun

Looming large and welcoming you to Cape Town, whether you are arriving by plane, train, boat or automobile, is the iconic Table Mountain, one of the 7Wonders of Nature.  Looking at it from below is one thing, but it is quite another to be atop the mountain, from where one is afforded such wonderful views of Cape Town, Robben Island, the Peninsula and beyond.

One can of course walk up Table Mountain, but getting to the top of Cape Town’s mountain doesn’t have to involve any more exertion than stepping aboard the 85-year-old Table Mountain Cableway which provides one with a gentle, quick and vista-full trip up to the top of the mountain.

Getting up and down
The trip to the top is an outing in itself, as you are safely and gently transported from the lower cable station to the top of the mountain and visa versa. The journey takes a little more than 5 minutes and the high tech rotating cable car offers the best views of the city. There are trips up and down every 10 – 15 minutes and the cableway operates 7 days a week, with the first car heading up at 8h00. The departure time of the last car down depends on the time of the year, and varies between 18h30 and 21h30.  Click here for updated operating times. Once at the top, over 3500ft above the city, you will find a vast network of well-marked paths to explore as well as strategically positioned lookout points.

Altitude hunger
There is a restaurant atop the mountain offering full meals as well as a small shop where you can pick up a snack and a post card. One could also pack a tasty picnic to enjoy at the top, remembering of course that you will be in the Table Mountain National Park, so please make use of refuse bins, or better still take all your waste down with you.

Nature abounds
Visitors to Table Mountain can enjoy wonderful views of the Rock Hyrax (Dassie) scuttling along the rocks, lizards sunning themselves, butterflies flitting past and you might even be lucky enough to spot a porcupine digging for bulbs.
The bird life is wonderful too, from the large Verreaux Eagles to the small colourful sunbirds. All these creatures live in the fynbos, and 100’s of these plant species occur no where else on the planet.

When the wind blows…
Please note that the cableway is a weather-dependent operation and strong winds and poor visibility on top of the mountain will result in a suspension of services or closing of the cableway. Contact the Table Mountain Cableway to confirm that the car is operational on your chosen day.

Getting to the Mountain .. Made Easy!
Do the right thing for the planet – take the bus! Parking can sometimes be hard to find on busy days, and you can end up more than 1km away. The Cableway can be reached by public transport: the Cape Town Integrated Rapid Transit system, MyCiTi, stops at the top of Kloof Nek Road and a convenient Shuttle service takes visitors to the Lower Cable Station. A number of Route options take visitors to the Kloof Nek Road stop. Another great way to get to the mountain is with the City Sightseeing’s Hop-On Hop-Off Bus, a service that runs every 20 minutes and does an 80 minute round trip, stopping at a number of tourist attractions. You can also purchase your Cable Car Tickets directly from the City Sightseeing Bus drivers.

Seal Island

25Jun

Seal Island in False Bay is home to well over 60 000 bawling, squalling, squabbling Cape fur seals. They’re top of the menu for the great white sharks that patrol this area, and there’s always a chance to see a spectacular (and bruising) encounter between the two species.

The best way to see a seal’s true abilities is under water, when it looks like a comical dog that can fly. But even on the surface, without any grace evident, this is still a fascinating animal. If you go to Seal Island, you’ll find out why.

Seal Island is a modest-sized island less than 6km out to sea in the huge False Bay just off Hout Bay outside Cape Town. There are a number of boats that can take you there.

Once you are at the island, you’ll have a feeling you’re watching an exotic soap opera in another language, starring more than 60 000 actors.

The whole island is an ever-changing scene of brown bodies stretching, hauling their clumsy bodies along the rocks, blissfully scratching themselves with their silly hind-flippers, arching their backs like yogis, bellowing and orking at one another, squabbling and mock-biting, pups yelling for their mothers in unnervingly human voices. They’re all shades of brown, from dark chocolate through to mahogany and pale Weimaraner.

These are officially known as Cape fur seals, and those comical little tags on the side of their necks will tell you why they are called ‘eared seals’.

This is not the kind of island where you can disembark – it’s way too rocky. Not that you would want to – skippers try to keep well upwind of the island, which has a distinctive smell.

The seals are well aware that they are the favourite meal of sharks and enter the ocean with a degree of caution. In fact, a few visitors have seen the famous ‘Air Jaws’ manoeuvre as a shark has launched a flying attack on a seal. This is where the famous Discovery Channel filmed their famous documentary of the same name. Maybe you’ll be lucky too.