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Cape-Town-2015

Table Mountain’s flat top is as synonymous with South Africa as Nelson Mandela or Bishop Tutu. The icon is a tourist magnet, attracting visitors from all over the world. More than 24 million people have been transported to the summit since the cable way opened in 1929.

While the mountain excites visitors to our city, it’s what gives us Captonians our “chill” reputation. We’re defined by the weight of the mountain pressing down on us. I don’t mean literally, we’re not flat like those cardboard cut-outs of actors you see at the cinema. It’s more that living with a view on an awe-inspiring mountain has an effect on our collective psyche. We slow down to drink in the beauty*.

Riding in the cable car is fun, but you can queue for over an hour in season. Plus, you’ll see so much more if hike the slopes –  2200 plant species for example, some of which are endemic and found nowhere else in the world. If you’re in good health and the weather is fine, strap on a pair of comfy boots and grab a camera. Nothing tops an exhilarating ascent on foot for a kick to the endorphins.

Here’s a quick review of our three favourite tracks.

 

India Venster

India Venster is a popular but challenging route to the summit that begins 50m to the right of the lower cable car station. This one is for the experienced hiker. Don’t attempt if you’ve only ever walked to the shops for a packet of cigarettes. You’ll live to regret your bravado, or maybe you won’t.

Fitness Level: Tough to Difficult

Hiking Time: 2–4 hours (up). You can take the cable car back down.

Technical Challenges: Some scrambling up rocks and mild climbing.

Views: Spectacular, obviously.

 

Lion’s Head

Lion’s Head is a short hike for the moderately fit. The path is so well-maintained you can even hike it on bright nights. In fact, it’s a Cape Town tradition to hike Lion’s Head during full moon. Grab your torch and windbreaker. Watching the sun sink into the sea while the giant yellow moon rises over the city is a sight you’ll remember forever.

Fitness Level: Moderate

Hiking Time: 1 – 2 hours (up and down)

Technical Challenges: None, unless you’re acrophobic in which case a couple of the ladders to the summit might turn your stomach. Add a thrill by scrambling up and down the chains.

Views: The view from the top is the visual equivalent of surround sound. Sea, city, mountain. You name it, you can see it.

 

The Pipe Track

The Pipe Track is a path constructed to service a pipeline running below The Twelve Apostles. The pipeline was built in the 19th century to carry water from Disa Gorge to the Molteno Reservoir in Oranjezicht. The hike follows a contour path along the Atlantic seaboard side of Table Mountain.

Fitness Level: Your granny can do it to Slangolie. All the way to Corridor requires a moderate level of fitness.

Hiking time: 4 and a half hours return, if you go all the way. However, you can turn around anytime as the way in is also the way out.

Technical Challenges: The track is very exposed to the afternoon sun in summer. Hike either in the A.M. in summer, or better yet, on a gorgeous winter’s day when the proteas are in bloom.

No matter you level of fitness or bravery, always be safe. Read the safety guide on San Park’s website before you set foot on the mountain.

Factoid 1: Table Mountain is more than 600 million years old. Respect!

Factoid 2: in 2012, Table Mountain was named one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature.  Our most famous Archbishop Desmond Tutu made this video he was so proud.

*  We also drink wine.

 

Post by Rachel Zadok @rachelzadok

Desmond Mpilo TutuCH (born 7 October 1931) is a South African social rights activist and retired Anglican bishop who rose to worldwide fame during the 1980s as an opponent of apartheid. (Wikipedia). My first memory of Bishop Tutu was of sitting at my grandmother’s table at breakfast in the 1980s. My grandmother, a counsellor of recovering alcoholics and abused woman, was eating a boiled egg with rye toast while reading the newspaper. I was nine or ten years old.

“Tsk,” she said, shaking the paper in irritation. “Bishop Tutu is a really evil man.”

At the time, I did not know who Bishop Tutu was, or even what a bishop was. In my imagination, I pictured a devilish ballet dancer, tatty red tulle, matching red eyes and horns. I was just a kid. Apartheid was not yet part of my consciousness. Little did I know that the man she was talking about would become one of the men I admire most. A man of integrity and passion, whose moral compass is always set to true North.

Fast forward a decade. My grandmother still eats a boiled egg and rye toast for breakfast, but her views have changed. She is a recovering racist: proof that anyone, of any age, is capable of change. Bishop Tutu is her hero and she quotes him often during telephonic counselling sessions.

I don’t remember her favourite Bishop Tutu quotes, like I said, she quoted him often, but I imagine these three are amongst them:

 

“Resentment and anger are bad for your blood pressure and your digestion.”

“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”

“We may be surprised at the people we find in heaven. God has a soft spot for sinners. His standards are quite low.” 

 

And these three are mine:

 

“History, like beauty, depends largely on the beholder, so when you read that, for example, David Livingstone discovered the Victoria Falls, you might be forgiven for thinking that there was nobody around the Falls until Livingstone arrived on the scene.”

“I am not interested in picking up crumbs of compassion thrown from the table of someone who considers himself my master. I want the full menu of human rights”

“When the missionaries came to Africa they had the Bible and we had the land. They said “Let us pray.” We closed our eyes. When we opened them we had the Bible and they had the land.” 

 

Factoid: Bishop Desmond Tutu was awarded the Nobel Prize of Peace in 1984 for his leading role in the movement to resolve the problems of Apartheid. Two years later, he became the first black African Archbishop in history, when he was elected as Archbishop of Cape Town.

 

Do you have a favourite quote from Bishop Tutu? Share them with us on our Facebook page.

 

Post by Rachel Zadok @rachelzadok

 

Image by Jason Bagley (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Vuvuzela Man on Stilts by Jason Bagley (CC BY-SA 2.0)

 

South Africans love a good honk on a vuvuzela, as football fans from all over the globe discovered in 2010 when we hosted the World Cup. The unique sound they make – like the mating call of Nguni cattle – can be heard miles from any stadium on match day. However, you can’t blow your vuvuzela all the time, no matter how much you might want to. So, we’ve come up with five ways to use your vuvuzela without waking up the neighbours.

  1. Vuvuzelas make great funnels. The length and tapering width of a vuvuzela makes it the perfect funnel for both liquids and fine dry goods like rice or flour. Keep one in your kitchen, and another one in the boot of your car in case you run out of petrol.
  2. A vuvuzela can be the ultimate romantic gesture. Show your partner you love her as much as you love the beautiful game. Present her with a vuvuzela filled with long-stemmed roses. This will signal that you take your relationship seriously enough to want to share your interests, while telling her that you appreciate her needs too.
  3. Do you wish you had a kitchen garden to rival a celebrity chef’s, but live in a tiny apartment with no garden? Fill vuvuzelas with potting soil and plant a different herb in each one. Their roots will love the length of the vuvuzela and your herbs will flourish. Hang the vuvuzelas on the wall outside your kitchen or on your balcony and voila: a vuvuzela kitchen garden. Tip: throw in a marble before filling it to stop the soil falling out the bottom.
  4. Vuvuzelas are handy for DIY projects too. Make a beautiful festive table using vuvuzelas for the legs, or a bookshelf using them as struts to hold up the shelves.
  5. Create a bright and colourful chandelier using vuvuzelas. The trumpet shape creates the perfect shade for a bulb while the durable plastic stem acts as a safe conduit for the electric wires.

Factoid: Blowing on a vuvuzela produces a long B flat note. #SouthAfricanCulture