Posted: 12/6/2009


     It's one of the most recognizable backdrops of any city on earth. Antonio de Saldanha was the first European to land in Table Bay in 1503 and name the mountain Tabao de Caba-Table Mountain.

    I took the swift cable car that fits 65 people on the 2 minute ascent. It is a circular car that rotates so that tourists can get different views on the way up and down. On top at 1,000 metres is a terrific view in all directions, but most surprising is the size of the are, 3 km wide.There are different paths and one of them takes 45 minutes to Macleers Beacon, and most of them 15-25 minutes. A huge area. Its a delight to see all the flowers, shrubs, insects, birds, and if you are lucky, some animals. There are national park rangers to give advice, plus a restauarant, gift shop and rest rooms.

    It is part of the single richest floristic area in the world. There are 1,450 different speciaes including the national emblem, the King Protea flower. A little rat like animal, the dassie or rock hyrax has as its nearest relative the African elephant.  Porcupines, mongooses, gilded lizards. snakes, butterflies. The last lion was shot dead here in 1802 and there were leopards until 1920.

      Redwinged starlings roost in the cliffs and the Vereaux Black Eagle, Cape Sugarbird and orange breasted sunbird circle overhead.  There are climbing trails from the base if you want a lot of exercise but it probably takes a couple of hours to get to the top, with thousands of steps.  There have been many fires and in 2006 one person was killed a a British man was charged with deliberately starting a fire.

     It is often enveloped in clouds but was perfect and clear on my visit. Great views in all directions and the two nearst other mountains, Devil's Peak and Lion's Head, and below was Cape Town, Robben Island, and Greenpoint Stadium, which will host group matches and a semi-final. Filming on top with a crew was US national team press officer Michael Kammaran, who was happy with the draw: England, Slovenia, Algeria. "USA has played in all three venues, Royal Befekong in Rustenburg, Ellis Park and Loftus Versfeld, so we are familiar with the locations."  Of course USA did so well at the Confederations Cup in June, losing in the final to Brazil, after beating European champions Spain in the semi-final.