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Report 2042: Early Summer in the Western Cape, South Africa

By Panda from UK, Summer 2012

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Page 4 of 12: Cable car up Table Mountain and Kirstenbosch Botanic Garden

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First thing the next day, I peeped out of the window, checked the forecast on the Table Mountain website and decided that today was finally the day to take the cable car to the top. It was a pleasant drive of about 20 minutes up towards the start of the access road, with flowering trees and some lovely old villas to admire on the way. We parked on the road leading up to the lower cable car station (plenty of side of the road parking) and had a gentle uphill walk of about 500m. There are plenty of tours offered to the Table Mountain and the Hop on Hop off Bus also goes to the base and taxis are easily available, but with a car it is a very easy independent trip. It would be possible to drop passengers right at the station, then park further down. The cable car is very efficiently run – we had a short queue at the kiosk (return tickets 205 R) and then joined a well marshaled moving queue to board. The cars are large (holding up to 65 passengers each journey) with wonderful clear views – everyone immediately tries to go for the outward facing places to get the best views across the town but there is no need as, shortly after leaving the base station, the car starts to rotate slowly, so that everyone gets a good view over Cape Town and the ocean. The journey takes about five minutes. At the top, there are marked paths across the plateau, together with plenty of view points and a café.

After we returned to the car, we decided to go straight to another local attraction, the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, on the lower slopes of the other side of Table Mountain. This was one of our favorite visits of the trip. After an easy 13km drive down through the southern suburbs, we reached the large car park and paid the 42R entrance fee. The gardens are a delight, beautifully kept, but also blending naturally with the wooded landscape around. It is a popular local destination for picnics, and we passed several groups with picnic mats spread out as we made our way around the varying sections. Built on the lower slopes of the mountain, it is a hilly site and the upper parts would be a challenge for those with mobility problems. My husband is a big fan of Proteas, the national flower of South Africa, and we saw many lovely specimens. I fell in love with the banks of Bird of Paradise flowers, wondering if they would thrive in my small London garden (apparently not, sadly). As we set off back down hill, we were amused to find a tortoise scuttling past us at great speed– we think he might have forgotten his brakes, because he suddenly swerved across the path and came to a relieved looking stop in the shade. We had felt quite fit striding up and down the steep part of the gardens, but being overtaken by a tortoise somehow put an end to that smugness...

We had lunch in the shade on the terrace at the Moya restaurant, which had charming service, even if the portions were a bit hearty for a hot day. I had springbok shanks which were a slightly startling brick red color and very meaty. I was very impressed by the quality and range of goods available in the very large gift shop, where I bought some pretty teacloths with Kirstenbosch flower designs for the neighbors who were keeping an eye on our house at home

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