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Sunday, 12 July 2009

The Table Mountain in Cape Town

The Table Mountain is one of the world´s most renowned sights; this remarkable landscape is a flat-topped mountain overlooking the city of Cape Town in South Africa. The mountain forms part of the Table Mountain National Park. This spectacular landscape can be seen at times as far as 200 kilometers out to sea, the harbor of Table Bay was always easy to find because of the high sandstone block which is approximately 450 million years old (Silurian/Ordovician era). Table Mountain is 1086 meters high, it main feature is a level plateau around 3 kilometers from side to side, bordered by steep cliffs. The plateau is edged by Devil´s Peal on the left and Lion´s Head on the right. From a distance this great cliff seems unbroken, but the closer we get to it, we notice that the cliffs of the maim plateau are split by Platteklip Gorge (Flat Stone Gorge), which provides an easy and direct rise to the summit.

Hiking on Table Mountain is very popular; there are numerous trails to the summit, ranging from easy scrambles to dangerous climbs. The Table Mountain Cable-way, which was officially opened in 1929, makes it possible for visitors to reach the plateau at the top of the mountain, and also provides awesome views over the city while ascending and descending. More than 250.000 passengers use the cable-way each year.

The most famous animal on Table Mountain is the Dassie (rodent-like animal). There are also many other animals such as snakes, porcupines, mongooses, tortoises and Himalayan mountain goats. These goats are fugitive descendants from animals which escaped from Groote Schuur Zoo in 1936. The Main vegetation of the mountain is unique, an estimated 2.200 species of plants can be found on the mountain alone.

The flat top of the mountain is often covered by the famous "tablecloth" cloud, which is without a doubt, an awesome scenery. The "tablecloth" is a neat cap of cloud which, unrolls across the flat summit and drapes itself over the edges in a tidy, almost straight line. These clouds are formed when a south-easterly wind is directed up the mountain´s slope into colder air, where the moisture condenses.

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