Photography, Travel

South Africa Trip 2004 – Day 11

06/04/2004

Today I planned to go up Table Mountain if the weather was good enough to afford a good view from the top.  After breakfast at the hotel I got a taxi to take me to the bottom of the mountain.  The driver repeatedly tried to get me to agree to let him take me to see more interesting sights in and around Cape Town but I had decided to go to the mountain and did not change my mind.  There was a queue of cars going up the road to the mountain so in the end I got out and walked.  I had a guide book describing the footpath up the mountain but I think I must have missed the start, there were a large number of coaches parked and later I realised that this is where I realised I should have started if I wanted to do the easier walk.  The walk up was quite hard, especially as I was living up to my nationality and doing part of it in the midday sun.  The path was very steep and uneven with many large rocks, at least one of which was over half my height, not at all the well worn tourist path I had been expecting!

I managed to end up heading the wrong way part way up and was on a very narrow path when I met an English family going the other way.  We stopped to talk and it soon became apparent that we were both heading for the summit and that I was going the wrong way.  I think that this is where the easier path would have joined the hard one I had been taking.  After this the path became easier and more defined but was still steep and hard work in the hot sun.  All the way up different groups of people kept passing each other as they stopped to rest and drink at different points everyone exchanged hellos and words of encouragement each time we passed.  Very few people seemed to be foolish enough to try coming down this way!

Finally I reached the top and found somewhere to collapse for a bit.  The immediate impression of the summit was that it was disappointingly touristy.  There was a large cafe/restaurant which sold fast food at high prices and a gift shop.  There were walls to stop people falling off, a concession to public safety that I had so far never seen in this country.  Even the well-worn tourist paths added to the sense of disappointment.

However, after I had rested and eaten a bit I realised that these tourist paths led off to less frequented areas of the summit where there were wonderful views of the mountains to one side and Cape Town and the sea on two others.  I spent several hours wandering round, taking photos and writing in my diary often just enjoying the atmosphere and the view.

It was getting late by the time I decided to head down so I took the cable car rather than walk.  I bought 15 post cards to write this evening back at the hotel and took a a taxi home.  Was so exhausted that I ordered room service rather than go out for dinner and sat up writing all the postcards so that I could post them in the morning.

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