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Conquering Table Mountain

by Kirsten Honeyman
photographs by Kirsten Honeyman

Photographs to illustrate the article published in The Mediterranean Garden No. 90, October 2017

Whilst on an MGS trip to the Western Cape region of South Africa in 2016, the Honeymans decided to climb up the impressive Table Mountain, hike across the top and descend by cable car.

Kirsten Honeyman writes: "When pursuing the best way to climb to the top we were advised to take the Skeleton Gorge trail out of Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden rather than the more frequently used trail at Platteklip Gorge. Our route would be a little longer, and we would summit further from the cable car, but the Skeleton Gorge trail would be through a lovely forested area. We left mid-morning from Gate 2 of Kirstenbosch under blue skies."

Table Mountain rising above Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden, with Skeleton Gorge on the left

Onwards and upwards towards a fantastic sandstone formation

"After two hours of continuous climbing, we finally emerged from the gorge and were able to look down at Kirstenbosch far below. The terrain flattened out slightly, but it was soon evident that the flat top of the mountain was really an illusion and that more challenging hiking awaited us. The saving grace was the stunning beauty of the fynbos flora and the spectacular views in every direction."

Erica empetrina

Protea cynaroides, King Protea, in bud

Leucadendron strobilinum, Peninsula Conebush

Fynbos flora

"As we rounded the mountain along its northern edge, spectacular views of Cape Town were visible through a light mist. We could see Robben Island, just off the coast, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for twenty-seven years, and the white doughnut of the soccer stadium could be made out among the buildings of Cape Town."

The author on the outer rim trail
(Sara Robinson)


Cape Town in the mist

"After five hours of nearly continuous hiking, we finally arrived at the scenic overlook in the area of the cable car terminal. There we were richly rewarded with incredible views of the Cape Peninsula. The waters of the Atlantic were a soft patchwork of aqua and marine blue, extending to the horizon where, over 6,900 kilometres (4,300 miles) away lay the continent of Antarctica. Immediately to the south of Table Mountain, at a somewhat lower elevation, the formation known as the Back Table extended southward for approximately 6 kilometres."

Back Mountain
(Bruce Honeyman)

"Feeling immensely pleased with the visual recompense of our difficult hike, we headed to the cable car station. Our intense pleasure at having successfully conquered Table Mountain quickly evaporated when we realised that the terminal was inexplicably closed with no sign of life within.  We had no choice: we would now be faced with a gruelling two-hour descent straight down Platteklip Gorge."

Descent of Platteklip Gorge

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