So Yay! I was lucky enough to get back to Cape Town for a week-end this year. Last year I had a blast discovering the historic side to this amazing town. This time it all started off really nice with the use of the airport lounge in Mauritius Airport and a trip to the mother city in business class (though my husband was super lucky to go on the new A350 and I was stuck in their old A319!). The first day I had beautiful weather and was able to enjoy a trip on the cableway to Table Mountain as well as a drive along the coast back to Cape Town. The rest of the week-end though was cold and rainy so I didn’t really do what I had planned (which was mainly a drive to Cape Point, Boulders beach and others) but I had a great time still – and it gives me yet a reason to go back to the Mother City! And well you can’t complain too much about the rain when you are in a city that is about to literally run out of it…
Hop On Hop Off
One of the ways to discover Cape Town and more-so the vicinity is to jump on a hop on hop off bus tour. Travelling solo at that moment I opted for the bus to take me to Table Mountain. Their 3 main tours in Cape Town are:
- The Red Tour: The City Tour to Table Mountain – is a super fast way to get to Table Mountain and you can also buy the tickets for the cableway in the bus on the way. It means no queuing to buy your tickets when you get there. This tour leaves from their office at the Victoria and Albert Waterfront, goes through Cape Town, past the Table Mountain and down on the coast via Camps Bay on the way back.
- The Yellow Tour: Downtown Tour – leaves from the Long Street Office and has 7 stops within the city. This one is very walkable really – so I guess if you want a break from walking and you have a multi-day ticket then you can put it to good use.
- The Blue Tour: Mini Peninsula Tour – leaves also from their office at the Victoria and Albert Waterfront. This tour goes through Cape Town and then circles out on the peninsula: via the gardens of Kirstenbosch, past the Constantia wine-lands, Hout Bay.. just to name a few!
- They also have the Constantia Wine Valley Bus, Free walking tour, cruises, Sunset Bus Tour and many other tours to choose from – enough to keep you busy if you like to ride the bus!
We stayed at the Westin Cape Town – which is located somewhere in between the city center and the waterfront. They very conveniently have stops for both the blue and the red tour right in front on the hotel. I had already bought my ticket online for the bus (you have the rates here), so I could join the tours wherever I wanted. I waited 5 minutes and hopped on the Red Bus Tour to take me to Table Mountain – bought my cable car ticket and enjoyed the ride up. The driver did mention a 30min waiting time before accessing the cable car and yes there was a bit of queuing but it only took a couple of cable cars to get on so really not bad. I went up in the afternoon and they sell tickets at a discounted rate for the afternoon only (adult return tickets from 8.30am – 1pm cost R290, 1pm to close costs R275 – they also have kids prices). You can also buy your tickets online on the Table Mountain’s website – it is the same rate.
There are free shuttles to take you to the lower cableway station, as well as local buses, you can walk, take a taxi or Uber and there is of course a car park if you are self driven. I guess it does get quite busy up there though and there is not that much space!
My experience of Table Mountain and the Cableway
As I already said really not that much waiting: It was the afternoon though and I have feeling the peak time is in the morning – I would guess simply because the chance of the weather remaining good is higher. I was lucky with the weather really – such a beautiful and wind free day. The cableway does close if the wind picks up too much or the weather turns. I guess the only way then to get down is by foot, or hope that it opens again – and it would obviously change the experience. So don’t forget a jumper and some good walking shoes just in case! Well, I had neither so it is good that the weather remained sunny and hot.
A bit of queuing and I was entering the cablecar. There are 2 cables – so one goes up and the other goes down at the same time. The most amazing about the cableway, is that the cable car slowly rotates on itself so wherever you are standing in the car you get amazing views of Cape Town, Lion’s Head and the mountains going up and down – no need to fight for a spot at the open window. There is a driver in the cable car.
Here are a few Quick Tips from the Table Mountain’s web page – a good read if you are planning to go.
Once you get up there, a surprising world opens to you! I was really amazed by the nature up there: the rock formations are quite incredible and the views around are just spectacular. There are fabulous views of Cape Town, Table Bay and the nearby peaks of the surrounding mountains. The area is huge so you can spend quite a lot of time at the summit – walking around and soaking in the special nature.
There is also a free Audio Tour you can download on your mobile that will guide you around the top (and information you can listen to in the queue before the cable car as well). There are free guided tours you can join at the top – they run every hour for 30minutes – from 9am til 3pm. There are a couple of places you can enjoy a drink and some food, also a shop called ‘Shop at the Top’. You can also hike, watch the sunset or if you are feeling super adventurous abseil down a cliff face…
I just walked around and enjoyed the views and took the cableway down again. You can stay as long as you want (just remember the weather – as they say everybody who goes up must come down again!). It took a bit more waiting on the way down – I ran in to a big group. But nothing too bad really.
Some Fun Facts about Table Mountain
- The Lower Cable Station is located at 363m above sea level and the Upper Cable Station is at 1’067m.
- The highest point of Table Mountain is Maclear’s Beacon at 1’085m.
- Table Mountain is part of the Cape Floristic Region World Heritage – no picking of flowers allowed and no feeding the small animals either.
- The cableway can carry 65 people at the time – that’s 800 people an hour!
- and it travels at a maximum speed at 10m per second – it’s fun the impression you get as you cross the path of the cablecar going in the opposite direction.
- The cables are 1’200m long and weigh 18tonnes.
- The cableways works on a counter weight system weighing 134 tonnes each.
- The Table Mountain Aerial Cableway first opened in 1929 and has transported more than 25 Million people.
Via Camps Bay to Cape Town
I hopped back onto the bus. It runs every 15-20minutes so the wait is not that long and the tour continues towards Camps Bay, Clifton and the beautiful coastline all the way back to the Victoria and Albert Waterfront. The drive down is gorgeous. Here you can hop off at Camps Bay – an upmarket area with beach clubs, views over the Twelves Apostles, its wide beach and fancy sunset spots.
The last stop, before the tour finishes at the V&A Waterfront, is Green Point and the famous Cape Town stadium, built for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Today it is used for large sport events and also concerts. You can also visit the stadium.
A short drive and you are at the Waterfront. If it gets close to rush hour here (so around 5pm) you should really change to the Blue Tour to get you out of the waterfront – you can then hop on the red or yellow route at stop 5 again. The traffic can be horrendous and the red line makes a little detour (that becomes a long wait because of the traffic).