Recently we South Africans celebrated one of my favourite holidays, called Heritage Day. What is heritage day you ask? There is quite a bit of history behind where it originated from. In the past the 24th of September was simply known as “Shaka day”. It was a day to commemorate the legendary Zulu King Shaka. King Shaka played an important role in uniting disparate Zulu clans into a cohesive nation. The day was later changed to “Heritage Day” as to include all South Africans (of all races and cultures) to give them the opportunity to celebrate their heritage and also to unite into a cohesive nation. With so many different cultures in our country it is almost impossible for everyone to see eye to eye on all matters, but this day always reminds us that we are one big rainbow nation and that we should all stand together to build a better South Africa. (Wow that was deep.)
If there is one thing that all South Africans have in common it is most certainly our almost obsessive love of having a braai (BBQ). Whether you live in the city, a townships or on a Freestate farm, we all love to braai. And that is what heritage day has turned into, people of all races and cultures come together and braai.
I decided that before I could light up a fire and start to braai I had to go out and climb Table Mountain first. I see the mountain every day, but I don’t really “see” it anymore. People come from all over the world to see Table Mountain and I felt like I was taking the sight for granted.
With a fresh spring breeze and the smell of blooming wildflowers in the air we set off at the foot of the mountain to begin the ascend. The overall climb to the top is a little less than 3km, but don’t let the distance fool you. It is quite a steep climb and you feel the strain on your upper legs almost instantly after starting the trek.
If you take it slow I would say anyone would be able to do the climb, regardless of your fitness level. Just make sure that you take frequent rest stops and drink a lot of water. The African sun can be deceiving, even on a cloudy day, so remember to bring sunblock and also wear a hat to protect you from the powerful UV rays. If it looks like a sunny day it can still get a bit chilly on the mountain if the wind picks up, so it is not a bad idea to bring a light sweater or a jersey.
Every time that I sat down to take a breather it was as if though I got hynotised by the spectacular view you get of Cape Town. I had to remind myself on more than one occasion that I was actually there to climb the mountain and not to sit and stare at Robben Island.
The last part right before you reach the top of the mountain is probably the trickiest. This is the steepest part of the climb and the stone steps are quite high, but the numerous 6-year old children that passed me with ease gave me the perseverance to push through and climb all the way to the top.
Once you reach the top you feel an immense sense of accomplishment. The fact that I was climbing one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the world in my home country made me feel so proud to be a South African. The fact that Table Mountain is actually situated in the Cape Floristic Region which has been declared as a World heritage site, made it even more awesome. I climbed a mountain at a World Heritage site on National Heritage Day, I think that is very poetic.
There is a restaurant and a souvenir store on top of the mountain. The food and beverages can be a bit pricy but being the only stores on the mountain it is expected. We opted to take the cable cart down to complete our Table Mountain experience. Return tickets for adults were priced at R215 and one way tickets at R110. I think it is important to experience both the climbing part, as well as the cable cart. Each of these offer you a unique perspective of the mountain as well as views of the city.
After having the perfect day of being a tourist in my own city I returned home and rewarded myself with ice cold beers and yes, just like you thought, a braai. If you ever find yourself in Cape Town, climbing Table Mountain is a definite must, but make sure that it is followed by a good old braai, because thats just how we roll. I love this city.