Trek Across a Magic Kingdom

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:

SMH Traveller Table Mountain hike coverSMH Traveller Table Mountain hike cover story


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:

About alisonstewartwriter

Alison is a writer, journalist and travel writer, born in South Africa, now living in Australia. She has had nine books published - two books for adults and seven for young people. Four of them have been translated into Italian, Danish, Dutch and Thai. Her latest project, Cold Stone Soup, an unpublished memoir about growing up under apartheid and migrating to Australia has won the FAW 2013 National Literary Awards (Jim Hamilton Award for a non-fiction manuscript). Cold Stone Soup was also runner-up in the 2010 Penguin/Varuna Scholarship. Her first book for adults, Born Into the Country (Justified Press 1988, South Africa) was shortlisted for the 1987 AA Mutual Life Vita Young Writers’ Award. Heinemann Australia published her next adult novel, Bitterbloom in 1991. Her YA novel, The Wishing Moon was shortlisted for the 1995 Australian Multicultural Children’s Award and was a 1995 Children’s Book Council Notable book. Her YA dystopia, Days Like This, published by Penguin Australia was a finalist in the inaugural 2010 Amazon/Penguin Breakthrough Novel Award in the YA category. Alison worked for years as a news and feature journalist. She is now a regular travel writer for The Sydney Morning Herald and Melbourne Age and online Fairfax Media publications.
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