Table Mountain, one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature, is one of the most awe-inspiring and iconic attractions in Cape Town. We’ve listed 5 fun facts about this breathtaking sleeping giant, one of the few mountains in the world to be surrounded by a city (this also makes Cape Town one of the few cities in the world to have a mountain and nature reserve in the middle of it!). There are hundreds of trails to hike and, for slightly braver visitors to the Cape, rock climbing and abseiling are sure to get the blood pumping. The views from the top are breathtakingly beautiful and worth the hike if you choose to go that route. For those that are less inclined to hike, there’s always the cable car.
The Table Mountain Aerial Cableway has been in operation for many decades and is now one of the most visited attractions in the city. The cable car itself not only gets you from the base of the mountain to the very top and back, it also rotates as one rides up and down allowing passengers a full 360 degree view of the mountain, the city, the ocean and everything between.
Here are some fun facts about the mountain that you may not have known:
Did you know?
1. Along with Mount Everest (Nepal), the Matterhorn (Swiss Alps) and Kilimanjaro (Tanzania), Table Mountain is one of the most globally recognised mountains.
2. Table Mountain is approximately 260-million years old.
3. Reduced by massive erosion, Table Mountain and Lion’s Head once connected the Peninsula to the Hottentots Holland Mountains, and are the last remaining remnants of a massive range that stood thousands of metres high 220-million to 280-million years ago.
4. The indigenous people of the Cape, the Khoikhoi, referred to Table Mountain as Hoerikwaggo, which translates to ‘Mountain of the Sea.’ It wasn’t until 1503 when Portuguese explorer, Antionio de Saldanha, was the first white man to hike the Mountain and named it Taboa de Cabo, meaning ‘Table of the Cape.’ And it wasn’t until 1652 that Dutch settlers started calling it Tafelberg, which translates from Dutch to its current name, Table Mountain.
5. Table Mountain is the only mountain in the world to have a constellation of stars (“Mensa”) named after it. It is one of 12 constellations drawn up in the 18th century by French astronomer Nicolas Louis de Lacaille in honor of Table Mountain. After a visit to South Africa, he recalled how Table Mountain was often covered in clouds when a southeasterly stormy wind blew, which is why he made a ‘table’ in the sky under the clouds.