Thursday, April 15, 2010

Hiking Lion's Head and Table Mountain

Cape Town and the Cape Peninsula is absolutely stunning. Fondly known as the 'Mother City' for being the oldest South African city, Cape Town is situated on one of the most spectacular locations on earth, only rivaled by the coastal cities of San Francisco, Vancouver, and from what I can see from postcards, Rio De Janiero. It is a beautiful part of world -- absolutely brilliant!

Lion's Head:


There is plenty to do in Cape Town and the surrounding area to keep you busy for at least a week, and we managed to do just that -- filling up each of our eight days in Cape Town with a variety of activities. On Easter Sunday, we woke up to beautiful blue skies, but windy, however the wind didn't deter us from conquering Lion's Head. After getting our caffeine fix at Melissa's on Kloof Street, we slowly made our way up to the base of Signal Hill Drive.

Melissa's on Kloof Street:

The hike up is short, but steep with some minor rock scrambling near the summit. The 360 degree view from the top (669m) is amazing; you can see the entire City Bowl, Clifton's Beach, and Camps Bay below you; and in the distance Robben Island. We sat at the summit taking in the views and soaking up some much needed Vitamin D. It's been a long while since our pasty arms and legs have seen sun so we easily got sunburned during our 2 hour hike as we forgot to lather ourselves with suncream before leaving the flat! Opps.

Enjoying the views:

We made our descend down Lion's Head via the lion's rump, also known as Signal Hill, home of the famous the Noon Gun which is still fired daily exactly at noon. From Signal Hill, you get great views of the seafront promenade of Mouille Point, Sea Point, Greenpoint, and of course, the brand new Greenpoint Stadium built for the 2010 World Cup. Go Team USA!

Keenan and I ran into a nice Englishmen who we befriended on top of Lion's Head. Hailing from Nottingham, he has been living in Cape Town for the past 38 years. He felt bad that we had to trek all the way back down to Kloof Nek as there is no footpath connecting Signal Hill to the nearby neighborhood of Bo-Kaap or De Waterkant that he kindly offered us a ride back down the hill to City Bowl. We graciously accepted his offer and our legs thanked him as well.

Bring on the World Cup:

We headed back to Long Street for lunch at Nando's, the South African chain now literally on every High Street in the UK, for yummy peri-peri chicken. Long Street is Cape Town's busiest street lined with a mix of bars, restaurants, shops, and backpackers lodges. I can't say that I liked Long Street due to its dodgy elements such as "dagga" (read: cannabis) and chaps aggressively selling you fake Prada eyeglasses on the street. Keenan and I decided that our evenings would be best enjoyed back at our rented flat overlooking Company's Garden, drinking wine and relaxing rather than simultaneously watching our backs and wallets as we navigate through the crowds on Long Street. We stocked the kitchen with wine, cheeses, fruit, and dessert for the rest of our stay in Cape Town at the nearby Pick-N-Pay and Woolworths (aka M&S).

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The next day we were originally scheduled to go to Robben Island, but due to high winds, all tours were canceled, but we were lucky enough to reschedule for Wednesday, only later to find out that the boat was broken and no tickets were available until Sunday (our last day in Cape Town). We re-booked for Sunday counting our lucky stars that we would be able to visit Robben Island, the prison where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated from 1964 to 1982.

Although it was windy (but sunny), Keenan and I decided to switch up our plans and do a hike to Table Mountain, Cape Town's iconic landmark. Most people see Table Mountain via the Aerial Cableway, which was of course down due to the strong winds, so this leaves us no choice other than to hike up on the Platteklip Path to the Upper Cableway Station. "Up--relentlessly up!" is how the brochure described the hike; and yes, up it was! The hike proved to be quite challenging with steep and large steps up to the summit. I'm not sure if two back-to-back steep hikes was the best idea, but we did it anyways.

Break #1:

Once on top, we felt like we conquered the world. Like our previous hike up to Lion's Head, the view from Table Mountain is awesome. Wow -- Beautiful views everywhere. As there was no table cloth that day, we can see as far as Hout Bay. And with the cableway down, we literally can count the number of people on two hands on top of the mountain with us, a little treat for us as Lion's Head was rather busy.

On top of the world:

Rocky terrain of Table Mountain:

View of Lion's Head:

By the time we made our way back to the flat, we were exhausted from the hike. After a leisurely dinner at Addis in Cape (Ethiopian) off Long Street, we hit the pillow excited for our day trip to False Bay.

More to follow from Cape Town...

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