The small matter of how Mr C and I would spend Christmas in South Africa was something we discussed again, and again, and again. But we never seemed to be able to come up with an answer that got both of us excited. Christmas in the Cape winelands sounded lovely, but we already had a week planned there for early December. There were some reputable hotels serving Christmas dinner in the key tourist areas of Cape Town. But we either a) found out they’d been booked up months ago, b) didn’t feel it was a hotel that was worth splashing out on or c) found some pretty average reviews for them on Trip Advisor.
I’m a huge believer in gut feelings. And something was telling me not to put down the deposit on what could be an otherwise mediocre but overpriced Christmas lunch. I wanted to do something more than that and be in the great outdoors. So, we waited, and waited, until we decided we would spend Christmas Day on Table Mountain!
A Christmas Day on Table Mountain
Ok, so it’s not wildly inventive. Table Mountain is the biggest tourist attraction in Africa (yes, it’s even more popular than the Pyramids, can you believe it?) But Christmas Day was set to be a clear, sunny day and we thought it would be pretty cool to spend December 25th enjoying one of the most spectacular mountains on the planet.
Of course, when we got to the cable car base of the mountain around mid-morning, every man and his dog had also decided to spend Christmas on this great peak (Of course they had, it was a beautiful day!). So, it was around a one hour wait as we snaked through various queues to board the cable car.
Each cable car holds around 65 people and there’s a revolving floor in the car, which gives you the chance to enjoy all possible views as you ascend the mountain.
Those prone to vertigo may not like the open window part – so perhaps close your eyes, or stand in the middle of the car!
Once we were at the top, the views were of course, absolutely stunning.
We took a picturesque walk past dramatic rock formations, colourful wild flowers and carpets of fynbos to Maclear’s Beacon, where we could enjoy views of Devil’s Peak and beyond.
The Maclear’s Point walk takes a couple of hours to do and is quite steep and rocky in parts. So I’d advise anyone doing Table Mountain, to study the hikes carefully before you commit.
You can of course, also hike up Table Mountain instead of taking the cable car and then just have a stroll once you’re at the top. I hope to do this one day, but it was Christmas Day and it was very hot. So we decided the flat hikes might be a better idea!
Everyone was getting into the festive spirit on the mountain with their Santa hats. So we were glad we brought ours!
After a hike to Maclear’s Point (and many, many, pictures with our hats on), it was then on to the cafe for a spot of late lunch.
Sadly, this was another hour’s wait and it was pretty chaotic in there. If we were ever lucky enough to do it again, we’d probably go up either early in the morning, or at sunset and take our own picnic as the food wasn’t great (and it certainly wasn’t the Christmas menu they had promised on their website!)
But we couldn’t complain. We had the most phenomenal views, sunshine, each other (aw)…
…oh and a lovely glass of bubbles.
What more could you ask for?!
Hope you had a lovely Christmas!
Tips for visiting Table Mountain
#1 Check the weather before you check your tickets. Cape Town is a very windy city and the mountain is often affected by thick cloud. If it’s not safe for the cable cars to go up, they will ‘close’ the mountain.
#2 Ask for advice on which hiking trail to take – they all vary and some are much harder than others.
#3 Never hike alone on the mountain. It sounds like silly advice, but this is a mountain and there are many sheer drops, so you need to respect the potential dangers!
#4 Take a picnic – we would definitely do this if we went back. We’d also love to return at sunset.
#5 Always be prepared to walk back down the mountain. Occasionally the cable car has to be closed due to weather conditions. If that’s the case when you’re already at the top of the mountain, you may have to hike down!
#6 Always take lots of sunscreen, a hat and water. It sounds like common sense but I was shocked at how intense the sun was – the atmosphere is thinner up there!
7# Book your tickets online in advance. It saves you a bit of time once you’re there as you can jump to the ‘prepaid’ queue.
Hope you enjoyed the post and found the tips helpful. Have you been up Table Mountain and do you have any advice? Please drop me a note and let me know. For more info, head to TableMountain.net.