Cape Town’s Table Mountain is one of the seven natural wonders of the world, a UNESCO world-heritage listed area. Its hikes – the main one being the Hoerikwaggo Trail which runs 80 kilometres or so from the top of the mountain to the tip of the Peninsula at Cape Point – rivals some of the world’s great walks. But not many people know about this as the walk or parts of it are poorly publicised and can be difficult to organise.
Hiking Table Mountain, the mountain which Nelson Mandela has called “a gift to the earth” is something I should have done a lot earlier; I grew up on its slopes.
From 1000 metres up in the air, you occasionally glimpse Robben Island. As I consulted my excellent interpretive guide to the Table Mountain National Park, Mountains in the Sea – Table Mountain to Cape Point, produced by South African National Parks, I found Nelson Mandela’s words pertinent:
“Over centuries the mountain has stood as a symbol of human capacity for hope and freedom, whether for the Khoikhoi tribes fighting colonial domination, for Indonesian and Malaysian slaves who for generations buried their leaders and holy men on it slopes, or for twentieth century political prisoners. It is … a sacred and precious place … To us on Robben Island, Table Mountain was a beacon of hope. It represented the mainland to which we knew we would one day return.”
For someone growing up under apartheid, who took the mountain for granted, as with many other things, I now understand that this mountain is not just any mountain.
I hope you enjoy my article, published as the cover story on May 4, 2013 in The Sydney Morning Herald Traveller/The Age Travel and other Fairfax newspapers. Here is the online link, followed by screen shots of the cover and double page spread:
I have chosen hiking on Table Mountain as my highlight travel story for 2013. Have a look at the story on December 14, 2013 – A Look Back in Wonder – Sydney Morning Herald and Age travel writers pick highlights from the year: