Tag Archives: lion’s head

Watching Table Mountain from up on Signal Hill in Cape Town (2021-01-24) Nature and Animal Attractions | Photo Gallery 10 MAR 2021

Want a view over Cape Town but don’t actually want to walk to get it? Then Signal Hill has everything you need! For non locals, to reach this landmark flat-topped hill next to Lion’s Head and Table Mountain, take the fun little drive up Kloof Nek Road, swing to the right when you get to the top of the road (do not go left unless you actually wanted to reach the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway station), follow the road past all the eager hikers going up and coming down Lion’s Head, shoot past the eye-catching white and green-domed Mohamed Hassen Ghaibie kramat, and then take the final bend, coming to rest in the handy (but tiny) parking lot right on top of the hill.

In the days before radio signals (i.e. this no longer applies), Signal Hill served as the vantage point from which signal flags were used to communicate weather warnings and anchoring instructions down to visiting ships in order to ensure that they were adequately prepared for the typical stormy weather that accompanies mooring in Table Bay. Similarly, ships could communicate back if in need of assistance or other instructions. Moving on, as the local time signal system, Signal Hill is also known for its very special Noon Gun (jointly operated by the South African Navy and South African Astronomical Observatory) which, although now very unnecessary, to this day still happily gives all local pigeons a hearty fright with its booming midday announcement.

As mentioned earlier, the winding road up to the summit runs past a couple of features, like the Appleton Scout Campsite (operatd by Scouts South Africa), several tombs (or kramats) of Muslim missionaries and religious leaders, and of course the entrance to the super popular hike up Lion’s Head. The flat topped Signal Hill itself comes with magnificent views over Cape Town city centre and the Atlantic Seaboard, and also serves as a jump off point for local paragliders, including that of the famous Tandem Paragliding experience which has since become a popular event for both locals and tourists alike. In terms of ecology, Signal Hill also just so happens to be one of the only places in the world where the critically endangered Peninsula Shale Renosterveld vegetation can be found. Endemic to Cape Town, the Peninsula Shale Renosterveld used to be the dominant ecosystem of the Cape Town City Bowl, but thanks to urban development, only a tiny patch on Devil’s Peak and Signal Hill itself remain as the surviving sample of this type of vegetation.

This particularly little visit to the top with Chantelle and the girls came after first a lovely walk along the Sea Point promenade, followed by some picture snapping in the colourful Bo-Kaap. In other words proper Cape Town tourist stuff, which is exactly then why directly following our waltz about in the wind above Cape Town, we shot down to the V&A Waterfront and made it our mission to make it through to the Lindt Studio before it closed for the day. (We succeeded, but only just!)

Cable Cars and Signal Hill Sightseeing in Cape Town (2017-05-11) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 24 AUG 2018

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.

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As for the rest of my day NOT walking about on top of Table Mountain? It was pretty pleasant.

Related Link: Table Mountain Aerial Cableway | Signal Hill | Camps Bay

Weekend in Review (19-21 October) My Life 22 OCT 2007

I’m sitting here in the office on a rather grey and overcast Cape Town Monday morning, and cant help but smile if I think back to the enjoyable weekend I’ve just had. It started on Friday (as most weekends generally do), where I enjoyed a productive day at work, cramming in a lot of programming and other generally fun stuff. From there it was off to gym where I had a good super circuit workout and then it was back home to await Chantelle’s arrival.

We met up with Retha at Ocean Basket in the Waterfront a little later, where we enjoyed a delicious supper (though I wish they could afford plates instead of a crocked up old pan to be honest) and good conversation, followed by a decadent ice-cream filled sugar cone from Dodge outside. However, I now need to watch my pocket if we ever go to the Waterfront again Chantelle has just discovered Haagen Daz has moved in!

Saturday morning we were up bright and early (well, only I really had to get up shame, C suffered from insomnia the evening and apparently didn’t sleep a wink unlike me who snored so loud I kept the pigeons off the balcony), all ready for our big adventure up Lion’s Head. It was our trial walk, a test to see a) whether or not we would make it up okay, and b) if we make it up, can we invite people with us next time around. The weather couldnt have been any better, with us enjoying a morning of glorious sunshine, touched with a gentle cool breeze just when we needed it. We had a great walk up, ambling along and taking it all in at our own gentle pace. We eventually reached the top after an hour and a half of walking, ate our snacks and then descended, taking around an hour to get back down.

lion's head cape town

An added bonus was that both Chantelle’s ankle and my knee held out just fine on this expedition. It got a little sensitive towards the end of the walk, but was strong enough to make it just fine, meaning were definitely going to be doing this more often, especially now that summer is finally upon us!

From there we drove straight through to a house in Fresnay (it’s in Sea Point – I didn’t know that, I thought it might be on the Cape Flats to be honest), where Retha is currently house-sitting for one of her tutoring clients. Crazy, skimpy-pajama-wearing-in-front-of-guests-teenage-dropout-that-comes-with-the-house aside, the place Retha is sitting is absolutely gorgeous. Its one of those places that oozes money on the inside, and really, it isn’t often you get to experience such high class living outside of Top Billing (Of course, you’ll note that I only talk of the inside the outside is rather kak. I’ll pick a nice suburban home like my moms any day!) Once wed finished playing with the wonderfully textured carpets littering the home, we tucked into a delicious avocado and toast breakfast while cooling our feet after the long walk.

Chantelle’s lack of sleep the previous night was taking its toll on her and we went back home where I tucked her in bed, stole her snacks and continued to play some Final Fantasy X-2 for the afternoon. However, it would seem that the karate chop to the back of her neck didn’t work and again, she just couldn’t grab any shuteye.

Saturday evening was of course dominated by the Rugby World Cup Final. Also, we had sneakily organised to make Saturday evening the night where Chantelle and my parents meet each other for the first time. Monty (Cs dad) organised a feast fit for the kings (featuring the most succulent and tender fillet I have ever tasted!) and the meet and greet seemed to go down exceptionally well. Stomachs full, we shifted to the lounge where we settled down to the main course for the evening the Final! I’ll sheepishly admit to being a bit bored by it, particularly the lengthy aerial ping pong sections and secretly wished the English had had their try awarded so that the game might have opened up a little, but man, winning the cup comes first and I’m very proud that our boys have finally done it again! A tightly contested game in which defence mattered the most, and our boys went in and did the job that was required of them. A great victory and a very proud moment for South African rugby. Well done Bokke!

(Damn, South Africa turned into one big party zone following the win the streets remained noisy well into Sunday morning!)

Not that we spent much time celebrating though Chantelle had decided to take a sleeping tablet just in order to get some rest, and the thing worked like a bomb (I was almost afraid I would have had to drag her up the steps to the flat!). But what matters most is she slept through the night (even with all the cars hooters going off all around us, and woke up fresh and ready to go on Sunday morning.

Which, believe it or not, we actually did. We managed to pull ourselves out of bed for church in the morning and were even so energised that we planned on going up Tygerberg Hill in the afternoon which was eventually dropped when we couldnt wake up from our long afternoon nap! :P We did a bit of visiting with the folks in the evening, dropping by Cs parents place to catch Idols (*yuck*) and steal the leftover chocolate cake pudding (*yum*) and then popping around to my parents place for some burgers and to pick up my racing bike which Chantelle plans on now using in Gordon’s Bay.

So yeah, this past weekend certainly had its share of ups and I can safely tick this one off on my calendar as having been another thoroughly enjoyable and busy weekend :)