Table Mountain, so-named for its flat top, is a mountain measuring 3,558 feet tall that overlooks and cradles the city of Cape Town, South Africa. The mountain is the central component of Table Mountain National Park, which is part of the regions’s Cape Floral Region, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Wheelchair access is possible all the way to the mountaintop, via the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway.
Cable Car to the Top
The Table Mountain Aerial Cableway is a dual line cable car system with two pods that carry 65 passengers each. It is the only method by which wheelchair users can make it to the mountain’s peak, unless you fancy mountain climbing. The cost of a return journey on the cableway is R255 (in South African Rand, about $20 USD). On October 1, 2017, rates will increase to R290 from 8 a.m to 1 p.m. and R275 from 1 p.m. onwards. Wheelchair users receive expedited access to the cable car, and will not be required to wit in the standard queue. An elevator is available to access the boarding platform at the lower station.
The journey up and down the mountain takes between 4 and 5 minutes. The floor of the cable car makes a single rotation during both the ascent and descent, so keep this in mind when positioning your wheelchair. This allows everyone to get a 360 degree view, and was a feature I enjoyed.
Exploring Table Mountain in a Wheelchair
Once I had made it to the top, I was confronted with a series of rough and occasionally steep pathways, but it was still wheelchair accessible! One section of stairs requires wheelchair users to take the long way around, but you are still able to see the majority of the mountaintop.
By taking the long route around the entire summit, you’ll pass a really cool bridge which, on a clear day, offers some fantastic views of the mountainside. It is built into the rock face and is a great spot for a photo-op.
On the day I visited, the cloud cover was thick, beginning at about 3,000 feet. This shrouded the view of the ground below, but I occasionally caught glimpses of the city of Cape Town, like the one pictured.
When the clouds parted, I used it as an opportunity to take this wheelchair travel selfie from the top of Table Mountain:
I wish the forward-facing camera on my iPhone was a little better in quality, but it still took a great picture! Having explored the accessible areas of the mountaintop, I decided to head indoors to warmup. There is a cafeteria-like dining establishment, the Table Mountain Cafe, which is wheelchair accessible (though oftentimes crowded with people).
Because I was visiting Table Mountain in the winter (South Africa is in the southern hemisphere), it was very chilly at elevation. While I didn’t eat anything, I enjoyed a glass of bubbly for R64 (~$5 USD). I toasted to a successful day on Table Mountain and checking-off this beautiful World Heritage Site from my bucket list!
Location & Transportation
In order to ascend Table Mountain, you’ll need to make your way to the lower cable car station, which itself is around 1,000 feet up the side of the mountain. I rode up to the station in a wheelchair accessible van with Rene from Travel with Rene. On the way back, I hopped on the City-Sightseeing bus, which offers hop-on/hop-off service to many of the city’s top tourist attractions.
Tickets for the City-Sightseeing bus are pretty affordable – one day passes are R170 ($13 USD), and two day passes are R270 (~$21 USD), if purchased online.
Alternatively, you can take city bus #107 to the Kloof Nek stop, then walk (roll) the additional 1.1 kilometers up to the cableway station. This is quite a steep hike, however, and would not be possible for manual wheelchair users.
Table Mountain has long been on my bucket list, because it is one of the most beautiful natural features of South Africa. In addition to the natural beauty, visitors also have the opportunity to look down on the amazing city of Cape Town, the historic Robben Island, the South Atlantic Ocean and more. My trip to the top of Table Mountain allowed me to experience a fine example of accessible development, and it is a memory I will hold close for a long time.
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