Table Mountain National Park is a 221-km² park in the Western Cape province of South Africa. It protects the natural environment of the Table Mountain Chain, and in particular the rare fynbos vegetation. The park contains two well-known landmarks: Table Mountain, and the Cape of Good Hope, the most southwestern extremity of Africa.
The park forms part of the Cape Floristic Region UNESCO World Heritage Site, comprises a large area of the Cape Peninsula and incorporates a number of park areas.
Table Mountain National Park consists of the greater Table Mountain chain on the peninsula, stretching from the well known Table Mountain behind Cape Town south to Cape Point. It incorporates Table Mountain, Tokai Forest, Silvermine, a large area in the vicinity of Cape Point, and a marine protected area.
The park is managed by South African National Parks.
The park is busy with ongoing restructuring and development. New areas are constantly being added to the park in an effort to link the separated portions and expand the park.
Marine protected areas
There is one large marine protected area which extends a few kilometers offshore from Mouille Point all around the coast of the peninsula to Muizenberg. The MPA is mostly a controlled zone, where limited extractive activities may be conducted with a permit, and some restricted zones where no extractive activities are allowed.
- Karbonkelberg restricted zone around Llandudno on the west side of the peninsula
- Cape of Good Hope restricted zone on the south-western side of the peninsula
- Paulsberg restricted zone south of Smitswinkel Bay
- Castle Rock restricted zone south of Miller's Point
- The Boulders restricted zone east of Simon's Bay, with some shore areas for the protection of penguins
- Kalk Bay restricted zone, north of the harbour
Cape Point, in the southern part of the park is the southern tip of the Cape Peninsula, it is not the Cape of Good Hope, which is slightly to the west, and not the southern tip of Africa, The most southernly point of the continent is at Cape Agulhas in the Overberg.
The Khoekhoe people were the inhabitents of the Western Cape before the arrival of European explorers. In 1488 the Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias was the first European to round the Cape of Good Hope, so named because it offered a route to India. In 1652 the Dutch established a settlement at Cape Town that served as a refreshment station for their ships plying between Europe and the Far East.
The first lighthouse, at 238 m above sea level, was built at Cape Point in 1859.
Even though the southern part of the peninsula had been a game park for may years, Table Mountain itself was first declared a national park in the 1960's under the care of the Table Mountain Preservation Board. Over the years other parts of the peninsula were added to the national park and today it incorporates a large part of the peninsula. Since 2004, the property has been included as part of the UNESCO Cape Floristic Region World Heritage Site.
Were it not for the Cape Flats, a "beach" of aeolian sand between the Cape Peninisula , Tygerberg, and the Hottentots Holland Mountains, the Cape Peninsula would be a rocky island with Table Mountain, close to its northern limit reaching an altitude of 1084 m above sea level, 50 km from north to south and up to 10 km located some 30 to 40 km off the African coast. Geologically, the peninsula consists of a sandstone cap above a substrata of Cape Granite and Tygerberg sedimentary rocks. The initial European settlement was in a hollow between Table Mountain and Table Bay. Further settlements rapidly developed along the lower east-facing slopes of Table Mountain. Development also spread westward and south along the coastline from Central Cape Town but not to the same degree. There are a few fishing villages on the peninsula coast.
Flora and fauna
The Cape Peninsula offers some typical fynbos vegetation. In the reserve are also a number of ostriches and antelopes. The baboons are used to people and often steal objects from tourists. Do not feed them! If a baboon approaches you, keep all food well hidden, and walk away facing the baboon but do not make eye contact. As long as they are not attacking you, leave them alone in their natural habitat (photos are allowed).
The peninsula has a warn Mediterranean climate with mild, wet winters and dry, warm summers. Average January maximum and minimum temperatures are 26° and 10°C respectively and average July maximum and minimum temperatures are 17° and 7°C respectively. Temperatures seldom drop below zero. Due to the mountain, the is considerable variation in rainfall with an annual average of 1500 mm in the Cape Town suburb of Newlands, but only 500 mm in Camps Bay (9 km away). The bulk of teh rain falls during the winter months (April to September).
Fees and permits
Most sections of the park do not require any fees to be paid, specifically
- Table Mountain - Access on foot to the mountain is free. Cable car ticket prices are shown below.
- The southern area towards Cape Point
Table Mountain cable car: first car up at 8:30AM, last car up 4:30PM-9:30PM depending on the time of year. Ticket prices, return/one-way (valid until 20 Sep 2017):
- Adult: R255/135
- Children (4-17 years): R125/65
- Children 3 years and under: free
- Discounts on Fridays only (available at ticket office only) for:
- South African seniors (60 and over): R100/53
- Local and international students: R130/70
Daily park fees (valid until 31 Oct 2017):
- Boulders - adults R70 per person, children R35 (you can see the penguins without having to pay any fees, but the penguins' private beach is managed by TMNP and an entry fee is charged.)
- Cape of Good Hope - adults R135 per person, children R70
- Silvermine - adults R50 per person, children R25
- Oudekraal - adults R40 per person, children R25
- Perdekloof picnic site - adults R15 per person, children R7
- Newlands picnic site - adults R25 per person, children R15, vehicles R25
- Tokai picnic site - adults R25 per person, children R15, vehicles R25
The easiest way to see the park is by car. Most major international car hire companies have offices in Cape Town. Traffic drives on the left, distances are given in kilometres and road signs are generally compatible with European road signs. Roads are sealed and are usually well sign-posted.
The principal railway line in the area is the suburban that links 1 Cape Town and 2 Simonstown. This line is designed to handle commuter traffic, but does provide a link to Hout Bay and Simonstown. Trains may not be running all the way to Simon's Town
There are also two cable-hauled transport systems within the region, both of which are oriented towards the tourist traffic:
- The 3 Table Mountain Cableway provides an easy way to the top of Table Mountain. Advanced bookings are advised, but users should note that it is often closed due to high winds. The base station can be accessed by car or by bus, alternatively one can walk following a 1.5 km footpath from the Cape Town suburb of Oranjezicht (2.5 km from the city centre).
- The 4 Cape Point Funicular railway provides an easy route from the Cape Point car park to the Cape Point lighthouse.
- 1 Cape of Good Hope. The Cape of Good Hope is located about 2 km to the west of Cape Point and is at the south-westerly tip of Africa. Access to the headland and to the associated Dias Beach is from footpaths from the road to Cape Point. There are stong ocean currents in the vicinty of both the headland and the beach and swimming is dangerous.
- 2 Cape Point.
- 3 Table Mountain.
- 4 Signal Hill.
- 5 Lions Head.
- 6 Bolders Beach.
- Scuba diving
There is a small curio shop located at Cape Point
- Table Mountain Restaurant, On top of Table Mountain, close to the Upper Cable Station. hours. A 120 seat, self service restaurant. No booking required. Enjoy From R20 for a simple breakfast.
- Black Marlin Restaurant, ☏ . 9AM to 6PM.. The resaurant, located in a former whaling station, specialises in seafood.
Cape of Good Hope
- Olifantsbos Cottage, ☏ , email@example.com. R1900 per night for the cottage (sleeps 6).
- Eland and Duiker Cottages, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. R625 per night for 4 people.
- Wood Owl Cottage, ☏ , email@example.com. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 11AM. R480 per night for 3 people.
Be wary of approaching chacma baboons at Cape Point. They regularly attack tourists. They usually won't hurt you much, but will steal food and any other thing that night small of food, whether or not you are holding it in your hands or in a pack. If one approaches you, walk backwards slowly, facing the baboon, but be aware that there will usually be others around. When driving past in your car or stopping nearby, close all windows!
- Go to all the harbours and villages around the Cape Peninsula.
- Cape Town is an option with the V&A Waterfront and other attractions
- The Cape Winelands are less than an hour drive.