The view from the top

Travel tales

The view from the top

This was my second visit to one of the most beautiful cities in the world, Cape Town in South Africa. It was all thanks to my job in a reputed bio-pharmaceutical company in Bengaluru that paved the way for me to go to Cape Town aka ‘Mother City’.

My first trip to Cape Town was in July 2013, for equipment qualification for one of our clients. I fell in love with the place at first sight and after that first visit, would always wish to visit the beautiful city again. That wish came true last year when I got a second chance to visit Cape Town. This time the duration of the work-related trip was a bit longer than the previous one; almost a month.

My team and I travelled to Cape Town via Abu Dhabi. It was close to 10 pm when we landed in Cape Town. Penny Thomson, an apartment owner and our host for the month, greeted us and drove us from the airport to her apartment in Old Mutual building in Darling Street. Old Mutual Building is a massive building built in 1930 and is a fine specimen of a period piece. The building is used for both commercial and residential purposes and is located in the heart of the city.

Penny showed us our apartment and handed over the keys to what would be our home for another 30 days. Our workplace was just 10 minutes drive from the apartment and we took cabs for commuting. The first two weeks were hectic as we worked for long hours to complete the planned activities.

One day, while I was narrating my trekking experiences, Rowan from the client’s side suggested that I go for a hike to the famous Table Mountain, a prominent landmark overlooking the city of Cape Town in South Africa. He even volunteered to accompany us. I was quite excited because even though I had been to Table Mountain on my previous visit, I never knew that there were options to hike as well. We planned the hike on a weekend; work was paramount and couldn’t be compromised in any way! I was super excited as this was my tenth trek and I couldn’t have asked for a better place.

On the fixed day, Rowan and his friend picked us from the apartment and we drove to the place together. Table Mountain is a flat-topped, table-like mountain that provides a stunning view of the entire city. The mountain is part of the Table Mountain National Park and is located at an altitude of 3,563 ft  above sea level. The lower part of the main plateau is called the Back Table. Collectively, the mountain range is known as the Twelve Apostles.

The mountain looks captivating from any angle. When the horizontal top of the mountain is covered by clouds, it reminds one of a table cloth draped over a table. Scenic beauty apart, this place is also an adventurer’s hub. One can choose from a variety of activities like hiking, rock climbing, caving and mountain climbing.

One can also select between many trails with varied levels of difficulty. We started our trek from Platteklip Gorge (Flat Stone Gorge). The trail was stony throughout, with intermittent steep ascents, and the path was neatly carved out. We met many people of varied age groups, mostly families, on our way up, and enjoyed the fascinating views and glimpses of the flora and fauna that surrounded us. We halted at places which offered great views of the city and the Atlantic Ocean. It took us about 3 hours to reach the ‘flat peak’.

From the top, the view was breathtaking — the azure blue of the Atlantic Ocean with the Devil’s peak in the east and the Lion’s head in the west.Signal hill on one side and cape city on the other side. The cliffs looked phenomenal yet dangerous. This full view is famously called ‘cape bowl’.

We spent about an hour at the top and took the Cableway to descend. The Aerial Cableway is one of the highlights of a visit to the Table Mountain. It goes both up and down and provides an exquisite panorama of the place. If one has enough time, they can stay back to view the sunset from atop the mountain.

There are many other places like Devil’s Peak and Lion’s Head where people go hiking. A few must visit places are The Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, Signal Hill, Chapman’s Peak, Hout Bay, Camps Bay and Cape Point. If one is planning an elaborate trip (5-6 days is ideal) then I suggest you do the hop on-hop off Red Bus City sightseeing tours. I did it and it was great. All in all, it was an unforgettable experience and I was one happy
‘trexplorer’ by the end of it.

How to get there

We took Jet Airways and the flight was via Abu Dhabi. The ticket rates depend on the season you travel in but the base range is around Rs 60,000 - Rs 70,000 per person for a round trip.

Places to stay

There are a variety of options like Airbnb, Hostelworld etc. We stayed in a service apartment and the cost was Rs 5,000 - Rs 6,000 per night.


(The author can be contacted at divyhn@gmail.com)

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