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We had an early start today – up at 7:30, breakfast and on the road to Cape Town at 9:00. It was shaping up to be another bright, sunny day, perfect for the gondola ride to the top of Table Mountain, the most prominent landmark of Cape Town, and then to the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden. We were excited!
The drive to Cape Town was easy, little traffic until we got closer to the city and then it slowed down, so it took a while – we got there about 11:30. It had been a few years since Kevin and Lesley had been there and the traffic, in general, has increased significantly. We drove quite a distance up the mountain, but got a parking spot quite close to the gondola base. The queue for tickets wasn’t too long, so we were on the gondola after and little wait and the ride up was less than 5 minutes.
I’ve been on many gondolas in my skiing days, but have never been on one that rotates. One complete rotation gave everyone a chance to look right out onto Cape Town, the Atlantic Ocean, Lion Head Mountain, Signal Hill, Robben Island (Dutch for Seal Island), Table Bay and Devil’s Peak.
Table Mountain is a flat plateau 1,086 metres (3,563 ft) above sea level and approximately 3 kilometres (2 mi) from side to side. The cliffs are really impressive. It is now advertised as the 7th nature wonder of the world.
Robben Island is 6.3 km off the coast of Blouburgstrand, Cape Town and is where Nelson Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years in prison, before the end of apartheid.
What was interesting to see as we walked around the top, was that there were very few barriers, mostly stone walls not much more than waist high and many were used for seating. Definitely not what we’re used to seeing in overly safety conscious North America or Australia.
The rock formations and vegetation were very interesting and the photography was awesome, despite the less than ideal time of day and the bright sun. We expected it to be cool up there, but it was pleasantly warm and not too windy, so walking around in shorts and t-shirts was very comfortable. There were many people there, but it’s so spread out that there wasn’t any problem with getting in each others’ was to take photographs. Lesley is a novice photographer, but really keen to learn and she was enjoying it thoroughly, catching on quickly. She’s using her new Lumix camera, so what’s not to enjoy?!
After a couple of hours, we went to the cafe for a sandwich lunch and then took the gondola back to the base.
Back in the car, we slowly made our through the traffic to Kirstenbosch. The land was bequeathed to the South Africa by Cecil Rhodes, who died in 1902. It has a long history worth reading about: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kirstenbosch_National_Botanical_Garden
We spent some time wandering through the gardens, taking photos and enjoying afternoon tea and delicious scones.
The drive home took us along the Cape coast past a popular surfing beach and a huge ‘squatter’ settlement, or township, called Khayelitsha. It is reputed to be the largest and fastest growing township in South Africa. I read that the name means ‘Our New Home’, in one of the South African languages. I wanted to take a drive through, but fat chance of that, eh Kevin? I had to settle for a drive-by shooting.
What a full, interesting day! It’s getting warmer each day and Lesley has planned our time so that we see the highlights, during our short time here. We go to bed knowing that we have something special to look forward to when we get up.