Friday, 17 February 2017

DAY 3: Saturday, 17th February
A hot and tedious ascent to Table Mountain and rewarding views from the top

Dead woman and dead dog after the climb 
The crocodile seems to have helped! We did it! Woke up at seven in the morning. The bright morning sun already shining on table mountain. The climb up was indeed as our trekking map warned us: “a sustained, unrelieved climb with a view that slowly shrinks between dark, forbidding walls as you (at last!!!) near the summit”. We were though not the only ones trying to put a climb up table mountain in our “done-it” logbook. A line of people from all ages and races were fighting like us against the high steps, heat and never ending steep rocks. Finally emerging out of the Platteklip Gorge we enjoyed the most stunning views over the city, the surrounding coastline and the table mountain ridge towards the south. Cape of good hope and the very southern most point of Africa cape of Agulhas lay beneath our feet. An exhilarating moment.

Praising my dear husband of his super mountaineering skills (indeed much fitter then my last hiking group that I had guided to Burma!) I subtly made it clear, that we actually hadn’t quite reached the top of table mountain. The REAL top is named Maclear’s Beacon is is another 1hrs walk and 19m of a climb further ahead of us. Resigning into his fate we followed the Hoerikwaggo Hiking Trail and walked along moors and fascinating vegetation with beautiful flowers and amazing rock formations. 

Phil not really liking heights (except when being in an aircraft or balloon) had to face his toughest route on our way back towards the cable car station when we climbed along the mountain ridge where the cliffs plunged a mere 1500ft down to the city of Cape town. Escaping the weekend crowds at the mountain restaurant we went down the mountain in only 4mins by a revolving cable car. We could have done it with less effort but with also less rewarding memories!

Celebrating our ascent we enjoyed a glass of gin tonic a the Pub “Mixa Schwarma” and then ended up with trying Mozambiquen food at a hippie looking restaurant all painted in yellow. We tried their curries with coconut, but all we could taste was a spiciness that turned your inside out but left the desire to cool off with the taste of coconut. In the meanwhile a black African tried to sell us funny looking self-made grasshoppers, two girls next to us chatting about making careers in South Africa with dubious university degrees whilst I got seduced by a girl to try out a great “Stumpen” of  a Spanish cigar. What a fantastic, unforgettable day!

17 Feb. Day 3

Well the crocodile got eaten after all, accompanied by a bottle of Fleur du Cap. No doubt preparing my stamina for Mountain Task Number One – climbing Table Mountain. Now Allie suggested that this would be from half-way up and so not quite so daunting as the whole 3500ft. She omitted to mention that the chosen route involved an additional 2km hike along the base of the mountain followed by a near vertical (my words, but not far wrong) ascent to the top via Platteklip Gorge.We were overtaken by several other hopeful groups of climbers bu, I’m glad to say, eventually still beat them to the summit. Once on top I was all for heading straight to the café by the cable car station for urgently needed refreshment, but Allie had noted that the highest point on the mountain was, in fact, 19M higher than our current level and so must be achieved with a further 2km ‘loopschen’ (her word for any allegedly small extension of an already exhausting expedition).

Eventually we reached the café only to find that all the unfit fatties who chose to ascend by cable car were already in a monumental queue for beer and ice cream. We abandoned the quest and, after photographing a George VI pillar box cast in Derby in the 1940s, set off for the city again.

Evening meal at a Mozambican restaurant filled with a mixed crowd of locals and run by a middle-aged hippie lady. Back to the hotel to embalm limbs wracked by muscular pain and sunburn.

Plan to visit Robben Island in the morning before we leave for Namibia, but I’m not sure if time will allow.

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