Table Mountain is that rare wondera mountain that is the perfect attraction for every visitor to Cape Town.

The tableau of this landmark, with or without its tablecloth (courtesy of the Cape Doctor or South-Easter blowing clouds in from the sea and across the peninsula) is instantly recognizable. When it is viewed as a triptych with Devil’s Peak and the Lion’s Head, or when you add Signal Hill, the 17 peaks of the Twelve Apostles (nope, no mistake), Orange Kloof, Cecilia and Newlands forests and the upper reaches of Kirstenbosch, Table Mountain National Park offers a never-ending adventure of climbing, hiking, exploration, relaxation, discovery and daydreaming.

But then you know all of this already.

Here are facts you might find a little more surprising:

  1. At 260 million years, Table Mountain is older than the Andes (250 million years) and the Himalayas (a mere youngster at only 40 million years), the Alps (65 million) and the Rocky Mountains (80 million).

  2. The first woman to write about climbing to the top of Table Mountain was Lady Anne Barnard in 1797. She summited during the first British occupation. Her entourage on this occasion included her husband the Colonial Secretary of the Cape, her maid, John Barrow (naturalist and explorer), a further twelve servants… and the trousers she had borrowed from her husband for the purposes of accomplishing the feat.

  3. The last Black Maned Cape Lion was seen in 1802.

  4. Lesser spotted was John Lennon on his secret four-day visit to Cape Town in the early 1970s. He meditated on top of Table Mountain.

  5. The Table Mountain National Park contains the world’s richest single floral kingdom. Within a tiny area of 500 square kilometers, you will find 2 600 plant species. Table Mountain alone is home to over 1 700 of these species.

  6. Tranquility Cracks used to be very much a local secret… but the hike through the craggy labyrinth of fissures and stone towers that can reach up to 5 m high along the Twelve Apostles has become a viral phenomenon thanks to this video:

  7. Table Mountain National Park has a number of beaches. Our favorite might be the beautiful beach called Oudekraal which lies tucked into a curve between Bakoven and Llandudno. This secret goes way back as it served as a refuge for escaped slaves once upon a less idyllic time… luckier visitors now use it for a swim, a braai, a picnic or some diving. (If you prefer a deserted beach visit Diaz beach at the Cape of Good Hope.) There is also a beach at the top of the mountain! The far end of Hely-Hutchinson dam features a bright white sandy stretch…

  8. Then there are the penguins. And you can swim with them at Boulder’s Beach outside Simon’s Town.

  9. A more direct (which is shorthand for steep and difficult) but less crowded route to the top is Woody Ravine. The popular route is Platteklip Gorge.

  10. The park has two lighthouses. The oldest hails from the 1850’s … unfortunately, it was constructed too high above the ocean to be effective when the clouds are low and this leaves only one currently in operation.

  11. During the 1800’s there was an official iceberg sighting just off Cape Point.

  12. The Mountain is home to the elephant’s closest living relative. The Rock Dassie is also related to the manatee.

  13. Table Mountain is the only terrestrial structure in the world to have a constellation named after it. In 1754, French astronomer Nicolas Louis de Lecaille named the southern constellation Mensa after the iconic landmark.  He originally called it Mons Mensae, which is Latin for “the table mountain”.

  14. At least one marriage takes place on the Mountain every month.