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.
It forms part of the Cape Floristic Region UNESCO World Heritage Site. The park covers a large area of the Cape 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 around Cape Point, as well as a number of marine protected areas.
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
- The coastal area around Boulders for the protection of penguins
- Cape of Good Hope marine restricted zone
- Castle Rock and Paulsberg restricted zone south of Boulders
- Karbonkelberg restricted zone around Llandudno
- Kalk Bay restricted zone
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 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 original inhabitents of the Western Cape. 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 peninsular 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 peninsular were added to the national park and today it incorporates a large part of the peninsular. 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 Peninisular and the Hottentots Holland Mountains, the Cape Peninsular 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 peninsular consists of a sandstone cap above a substrata of Cape Granite. The initial European settlement was in a hollow between Table Mountain and Table Bay. Further settlements rapidly developed along the flower slopes of the east-facing slopes of Table Mountain. Development also spread westwards from Central Cape Town but not to the same degree. The entire coast is dotted with fishing villages.
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 peninsular has a warn Mediterranean climate with mild, wet winters and dry, warm summers. Average January maximum and minimum temperatures are 26 and 10 respectively and average July maximum and minimum temperatures are 17 and 7 respectively. Temperatures seldom drop below zero. Due to the mountain, the ia 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 compatinble with European road signs. Roads are sealed and are usually well sign-posted.
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 4 Cape Point Funicular railway provides an easy route from the Cape Point car park to the Cape Point lighthouse. 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).
- 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.
- Two Oceans Restaurant, ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Oct-Apr: 9AM to 6PM. May-Sep: 9AM to 5PM.
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 aware of approaching chacma baboons at Cape Point. They regularly attack tourists. They won't hurt you much, but steal food and other things from you. If one approaches you, walk backwards slowly, facing the baboon. 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.