The Table Mountain Aerial Cableway has for many years now offered a free adult ticket up the mountain on a South African citizen’s birthday – a deal which I’ve seldom made good on, but not necessarily for the lack of trying. It has far more to do with the fact that my birthday falls in the Cape Town winter season, meaning that weather conditions are almost never in my favour.
After a rare success in 2016, I once again tried my luck in 2017, however the strangely quiet cable car station should have been enough of a hint that the operation was shut for the morning, thanks to adverse conditions at the top of the mountain.
Not too daunted though, I instead altered my trip to that of even more of a local tourist, opting to go on a scenic drive (filled with photo stops) past the nearby kramat up on the ridge, even further up to Signal Hill, over Kloof Nek and down into Camps Bay, round the coast to Seapoint, lunch in the V&A Waterfront, and then ending it all off with a tour of the Springbok Experience Rugby Museum. Certainly a more than adequate replacement plan then.
Talking about the kramat, Cape Town is actually surrounded by a ‘holy circle’ of kramats – shrines of great Muslim spiritual leaders. There are about 20 recognised sites scattered throughout the peninsula, with two of these sites actually situated on Signal Hill – that of Tuan Kaape-ti-low at the Army Camp, and that of Sheikh Mohamed Hassen Ghaibie Shah on the ridge (the one that I pulled over at).
Continuing further up the road you will eventually reach Signal Hill, a great (car-accessible) location for viewing Table Mountain, Cape Town, its surrounds and the last vestiges of Peninsula Shale Renosterveld – particularly useful if you don’t feel like the strenuous walk that accompanies going up the likes of nearby Lion’s Head.
Driving down from Signal Hill towards Camps Bay, you’ll spot a couple of cannons overlooking Camps Bay along Kloof Nek road, originally placed there by the Dutch East India Company (VOC) to defend the castle from attack via the wagon track which led from Camps Bay to the Castle via Kloof Nek. Yes, I did pull over and take a few photos. I can only imagine that Chantelle was very happy not to be tagging along with me for the day!
As for Camps Bay itself, as always it is breathtakingly beautiful (when not overrun with sun-seeking beach goers), and the public art installations along the beach makes for a nice distraction while stretching one’s legs.
The remainder of the drive takes you around the rest of the rich, beautiful (seemingly always under construction) Atlantic Seaboard towards Green Point, and because I like stopping to take pictures, I inevitably stopped along the Seapoint promenade to get my first ever glimpse of the once relatively controversial Michael Elion’s “Perceiving Freedom” public sculpture/Ray-Ban advert.
I didn’t really mind it all that much to be honest.
As for the rest of my day NOT walking about on top of Table Mountain? It was pretty pleasant.