Since we didn’t get to go to the top of Table Mountain yesterday, we made a point to wake up super early and be among the first to line up in front of the cable car’s ticket counter, which opened at 8am. However, the first hop-on hop-off bus would only depart at 8:30am and reach Table Mountain at 9:20am, therefore we decided to take a taxi so we could reach there early.
When we got to the cable car station they weren’t many people around. We went to the counter to get our tickets. “The cable car is closed due to strong winds,” said the staff. What?! Un-freaking-believable! Fiza and I looked at each other. What were we supposed to do? It was only 8am, if we were to go to anywhere else we would have to wait for the first hop-on hop-off bus to arrive at 9:20am. “We must go up!” declared a determined Fiza. She reminded me about a stewardess who we met during our flight - the lady had been to the top of Table Mountain four times and was heading for her fifth. That was it, we so had to go up, at least once!
Why the sad face? Because the cable car was closed! We had some coffee while waiting for the wind to change pattern so the cable car could operate.
An alternative way to go up was to climb the mountain like these two guys, which was a no-no for us!
Finally, after some test runs, the cable car was given a go-ahead! We quickly got into the line and got the tickets. Yeay!
We left the counter and proceeded to the gate where other ticketholders (they must have purchased their tickets online or much earlier) had already stood in line to get onboard. I overheard somebody saying “There are five levels of queuing up to get to the top!” Hmm, I wondered what the levels were. Let’s count!
Level one: Queue to buy the ticket
Very long. We wanted to buy the tickets online, but the system didn’t let us to buy tickets less than 24 hours before the ride (we only decided to do this yesterday). So we had to go to the counter.
Level two: Queue for photo session
We got the tickets, but couldn’t board just yet. Why? Because everyone had to pose for a photo shoot before jumping into the cable car.
Level three: Queue to get into the elevator
We had to take the elevator to go up to the platform. Staircases were only for the use of people coming down from the platform, not going up. Hundreds of visitors, only two elevators. You do the math.
Level four: Queue to get our tickets scanned
Now that we had reached the platform, we could board, right? Wrong! We had to queue to get our tickets scanned to we could enter the boarding area.
Level five: Queue to get into the cable car
There might be more than one cable car operating at any one time, but with so many people visiting the mountain each day, it was unavoidable to have to wait some long minutes for your turn to get into a car and go up.
The big blue car we had been waiting for. Could you see trekkers walking along the trail down there?
One car could fit 64 + 1 people, so it was really packed. The guy in green was the driver. I guess he was the + 1.
After five levels of queuing up for a short cable car ride, we reached the top of Table Mountain!
Was the view worth the patience? Definitely!
A diagram explaining how the “tablecloth” (the layer of cloud on the top of Table Mountain) was formed.
Visitors could choose any of the three trails available to circle the mountain top. Dassie Walk would take 15 minutes, Agama Walk would take 30 minutes and Klipspringer Walk would take 45 minutes. Knowing that mountain walking wasn’t our best attribute, we chose the Dassie Walk. After finishing it we realized hey, that wasn’t so hard, we could definitely do more! After all we went through a lot (five levels of queuing up) to get to the top, we couldn’t just go down without getting the best of what it had to offer. So we challenged ourselves with Klipspringer Walk’s 45 minutes route!
The view on top. We walked on rocky trails surrounded by mountain vegetations.
Fairy princess ;-)
Could you see that?
A guy standing on another peak far away!
Getting my face wiped by the clouds was an amazing feeling!
A view of Cape Town city from the top of Table Mountain.
No need to pack your hiking gears, saris would do.
We completed the Klipspringer Walk! Yeay!
We had coffee and cake at the mountain top café and bought some souvenirs before queuing up again for a ride downhill. Then we took the hop-on hop-off bus to Camps Bay where we switched from red route to blue route.
Our next destination was a township called Imizamo Yethu. We actually had no idea what to expect, all we knew was that there would be a tour guide waiting for us at the bus stop and we could get “Original T-Bag Design Curios” (a type of African craftwork) at the township.
What comes to your mind when you hear the word “township”?
- Beautiful suburb ala Wisteria Lane?
- Houses with white fences?
- Immaculately trimmed front yards?
Those were our thoughts too. Imagine our surprise when we hopped off the bus and found ourselves in the middle of black people’s squatter homes! Fortunately an old couple from Netherlands hopped off there too, so we felt a bit safer.
Let me tell you about the history of townships in South Africa. During the apartheid era, cities were exclusively for white people. Black people could only go there to work, not to stay. Black men were given workers hostels outside the city’s perimeter, while black women were left in the rural area relying on allowances sent to them by their men. It was soon realized that keeping workers away from their families only caused unstable workforce. Therefore low cost houses were later developed so workers could bring their families to live with them. Congregations of these houses were later known as townships.
The township of Imizamo Yethu, an absolutely different side of Cape Town from what we knew.
A shebeen, where locals got themselves drunk. “It’s the place to be,” said the tour guide.
Amongst the rundown houses, there was a fish and chip stall that doubled up as computer repair shop...
...and a telephone booth to make calls to the outside world.
Young girls played at the church cum community centre...
...while young boys showed off their football skills on the street.
Advertisements offering abortion service could be seen everywhere. The tour guide told us that the biggest problem at the township was AIDS, followed by tuberculosis.
The sad state of living the people were in.
The tour guide (wearing a cap) was with us until we safely boarded the bus. Behind him was the Dutch couple.
The visit was a real eye-opener for us. Never had we thought that we would ever go to such a place. It was totally unplanned for, a real surprise, in every sense of the word. Even after we hopped back on the bus, we still couldn’t believe that we actually went there!
On the way back to the city, the blue route took us pass the Mariner’s Wharf at Hout Bay Harbor which had a lovely beach...
...and along the coastal road of the cape peninsular.
It was such a scenic ride back to town. We were glad that we sat on the upper deck though we had sand particles flying into our faces!
We reached the waterfront in time for dinner. Again, we went to Victoria Wharf Shopping Mall’s food court. This time around we tried an Asian stall that served mostly Thai style food. Felt just like home! Then we returned to the hotel still trying to wrap our heads around the unbelievable things we went through today:
- Couldn’t believe we went to the top of Table Mountain!
- Couldn’t believe we visited a township, a place we never ever thought of going!
- Couldn’t believe we were so focused on sightseeing that we forgot to eat. The last meal we had before dinner was coffee at cake at Table Mountain’s café!