Table Mountain is one of South Africa’s most iconic landmarks. It’s the first thing you see on arrival in Cape Town and the last thing you see when you bid the city farewell. It is also South Africa’s most photographed attraction and forms part of the “New7Wonders”, voted by 500 million people globally in 2012.
Table Mountain has been named Africa’s leading tourist attraction by the World Travel Awards for the last three years (2019, 2020 and 2021) and has once again snatched the title in this category for 2022. It is an enormous triumph that Table Mountain has once again been chosen as the continent’s leading tourist attraction for the fourth year in a row.
Here are some facts about Table Mountain you may or may not know:
- “Hoerikwaggo” meaning “Mountain in the Sea” was the original name for Table Mountain, given to it by the indigenous Khoisan people of the Cape.
- Table Mountain is one of the oldest mountains in the world, believed to be about 240 million years old.
- The Mountain is approximately 25 000 hectares in size.
- The mountain gets approximately 900 000 visitors a year.
- It is the only South African and only natural site on the planet to have a constellation of stars named after it. The constellation is called “Mensa”, which means “table” in Latin.
- Table Mountain was once four times higher than its current height with the highest point now standing at 1 086 metres (93 563 feet) above sea level (which is called Maclear’s Beacon).
- Maclear’s Beacon was named after the man who built a stone cairn at the site in 1865. The beacon was built for a trigonometric survey.
- Table Mountain is 240 million years old, and is one of the oldest mountains in the world (The Alps are a relatively youthful 40 million years old).
- The rocks at the base of the mountain are shale and the rocks at the western side are Cape granite.
- There are about 350 trails that will get you to the top of Table Mountain and contain approximately 160 kilometres of cycling track.
- The most common animal found on the mountain is the rock hyrax or dassie, a mammal that resembles a guinea pig.
- The cableway was built in 1929 with a capacity to transport 25 people to the top of the mountain. Today, the cableway can accommodate 70 people per trip.
- Fresh spring water from Table Mountain was a resource for passing ships, transported out into the sea via canals that are now hidden beneath the streets of Cape Town.
- The City of Cape Town has Table Mountain to thank for its location. If it were not for the freshwater supply from Table Mountain’s Platteklip stream, Cape Town would have been located at the safer natural harbour of Langebaan on the West Coast.
- The mountain proves to be as romantic as it is majestic with more than 80 couples taking their marriage vows on top of Table Mountain in recent years.
These interesting facts and so many more are what give Table Mountain bragging rights to be one of the seven wonders of nature.