A World Heritage Site and an international icon, this national park is historically important and a soulful retreat for thousands of people in Cape Town. Table Mountain itself is almost entirely surrounded by the city, but the Cape Peninsula to the south is pounded by the Atlantic Ocean on each side, much of which is protected as a marine reserve. Despite the several million people living on its boundaries, the park retains a wilderness feeling. This remarkable stretch of land has more plant species than the entire British Isles, and is home to caracal, otter, klipspringer and black eagle.
Table Mountain National Park
Last week I had one of my long-time dreams come true, flying over Table Mountain National Park, and the beautiful city of Cape Town, and the Cape Peninsula. My friend Jean Tresfon took me up in his little gyrocopter, which is ideally suited to aerial photography, because of the unobstructed views it offers, as well as its stability.
I've grown up in Cape Town, and have photographed the peninsula and surrounding ocean countless times, all from the ground. So to get airborne over my home town was truly epic! Conditions were perfect for flying - and for photography, although there was a bit of heat haze. Check out some of the photos below.
Jean and I were treated to some fantastic views of the scenery, as well Read more »
Table Mountain National Park...the first park we visited for Year in the Wild back in June. Here's the awesome video which Year in the Wild part-time team member Timmy Henny filmed and edited. The idea is to give a visual overview of what the park is all about. So there's no voice-over...I think the images speak for themselves! It was filmed all within a few days, and edited while Timmy was busy filming in West Coast National Park!
This video is a trial run...and we hope to bring you more on the other 30 amazing places we will be visiting. Watch this space.
It's always good to meet up with Paddy Gordon, Table Mountain NP's manager. Its the third or fourth time I've chatted to him in the last few years. I had a cup of tea with him in his office in Westlake, while I was doing the Table Mountain leg . I wrote a blog for Wild Magazine's website - so you can also follow my journey there. But here's a longer version of the interview I did with Paddy.
Paddy's experience as a park manager at Richtersveld and Mountain Zebra has helped him manage the complexities of running a park like Table Mountain. Since 2001, Gordon has been at the helm of Cape Town's iconic landmark, and admits its difficult keeping the numerous powerful stakeholders happy.
"This park is so Read more »
While on Table Mountain National Park, I spent a bit of time with Calvin Mojapelo, the People and Conservation Manager for the park. His role is to make sure that all of Cape Town’s communities – rich, poor, old, young, of all races – have some sort of interaction with the mountain, and thereby hopefully develop an appreciation and understanding of the role SANParks plays in conserving the city’s landmark.
Calvin grew up in Zimbabwe, and now 42 years old, the former plastics engineer’s passion for helping people led him to various people-centric roles at a University of the Western Cape, UCT, Allan Gray and now SANParks.
“I have a passion for teaching and training and motivating others,” Calvin said. “I love building lasting and meaningful relationships, and my job at SANParks gives Read more »
I've just written this blog for the SANParks website, and you can also follow my journey there...
On reflection, I think Table Mountain is actually a really appropriate place to start the journey, because it is symbolic of our country’s (and earth’s) environmental situation. There are 4,5 million people living nearby to Table Mountain National Park, most of them in the city of Cape Town. Houses, buildings, roads, factories, vineyards, farms, shopping malls and apartments surround the mountain, and every square inch of land that isn’t within the park’s boundary is being developed. The mountain and the national park itself is squeezed from all sides by what some people may call a human plague! We are Read more »
If you've seen my website's "about me" page, you'll see a photo of me and my border collie Jasper...on Noordhoek Beach. For me, it's my favourite place in Table Mountain National Park...well, probably all of Cape Town. Which is a tough call, because there are so many places I enjoy going around the peninsula. Anyway, Noordhoek has been a place that I've spent many, many hours running the 4km long stretch of white sand with Jasper, walking with friends, swimming (despite the FREEZING water), and simply sitting and absorbing the place's wild spirit.
I've been to Noordhoek Beach at all times of the day and night, when its howling a gale (which is normal!), pouring with rain, sunny and hot, and in between. Whenever I've come away from it, I've felt like a restored person. Which is what Read more »
Orangekeloof is a restricted area near Constantia Nek of Table Mountain and is a favourite of the locals who tend to keep it a secret. You need a permit to enter it, and only a few people are allowed in every day. It shelters the oldest, and most intact indigenous mountain forest on Table Mountain. The first settlers chopped down most of everything else around the mountain, but Orangekloof was spared. Old yellow wood trees stand proudly alongside the Disa River, which flows from the top of the mountain, down the kloof and into Hout Bay.
Like the other tented camps on Table Mountain, it’s been built using alien wood that has been cleared by the national Working for Water program. The design is based on the forest surroundings, using “Touching the Earth Lightly” principles. Almost Read more »
This morning I chatted to Xola Mkefe, who manages the northern sector of Table Mountain National Park. This part of the park stretches from Signal Hill in the city bowl all the way south to Constantia Nek.
Xola spoke of the challenges that come with running a famous landmark that is surrounded by a famous city. Visitor safety is crucial, he said, as one attack on a touristy by a mugger on Table Mountain gets far more press than any other mugging that occurs.
“The attacks aren’t actually out of hand,” said Xola, “but any attack on Table Mountain will make front page news. So our main challenge is to change perceptions of the mountain as a dangerous place. It’s not a crime-ridden place. And the criminals are not the usual criminals you find in the city…most are taking a chance. My Read more »
Woke up this Monday morning at Silvermine to a classic winter’s “sunny” day in Cape Town. No clouds, cold and crisp. After a cold night, I managed to wake up in time (!) for the sunrise at about quarter to eight, and I climbed to the ridge above the tented camp. As I got there, the sun was creeping up over the Hottentots Holland mountains. To my right was False Bay, and to my left was the back side of Table Mountain and Constantiaberg. In front of me lay the southern suburbs of Cape Town, stretching all the way out to the winelands. A great way to start the day!
The city was going to work. There was a constant buzz of traffic and noise and human life below, but behind me the proteas and fynbos were also waking up. Sunbirds and insects were going about their Monday morning routine. Read more »
Last night was the first night of Year in the Wild! I spent it at the beautifully-built and conceived Silvermine Tented Camp on top of Table Mountain. It was a cold, clear night, with a moon rising above the city of Cape Town. Even though we are in the middle of one of South Africa's biggest cities, we could hardly hear the city below. Instead, the only sounds that broke the silence were frogs, crickets (I think they were crickets?) and the odd brave francolin which called out during the evening.
The Silvermine Tented Camp is just one of several self-catering camps which have been built in the past few years on Table Mountain, as part of the multi-day Hoerikwaggo Trail, which runs from the city centre, all along the top, to Cape Point. I grew up in Cape Town, and I've always wondered Read more »
Hi! And welcome! This is the first blog post for my Year in the Wild website. The wild, pristine places will work their magic on me for sure.
I’m writing this while sitting in Kalk Bay at the bottom of the African continent in Cape Town, South Africa, and the Atlantic Ocean is in front of me. I can see a huge pod of dolphins feeding on a school of fish in the middle of the bay, and thousands of seagulls are hovering above them, waiting to dive on a morsel. It’s made me think of all the natural wonders we’re still to see on our journey.
I'll be travelling across South Africa to 31 of the country’s most special wildlife and wilderness areas. I want to document and celebrate and share the natural beauty and wonders of the last remaining wild places in South Africa. I'll take photos, Read more »