Table Mountain – what’s it like on top?

This is the blog of Mark Wordsworm, the travelling worm. I’m a 25-year-old bookmark and can proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC).

Today’s travel notes

Me and the TC were in Cape Town, South Africa, last week. We spent a day on Table Mountain. This worm has been there before (blogged too). The top of the mountain is one of the TC’s favourite places to be. This worm is fond of it too, though it can be a trifle draughty. I find myself hanging onto my hat, and the TC hanging onto me. It’s lucky one of us is the strong and silent type.

My impressions? A place of quiet and beauty.

The book I’m in

The Secret She Kept, by Amelia Carr. Tangled secrets, tangled emotions. The TC is moving me through this well-written book at a good pace.

Travel tip

If the mountain is clear, go up it. Do not delay. Tomorrow may never come. Or the cloud may roll in.

The photos

Me at Maclear’s beacon on top of Table Mountain:

Table Mountain - what's it like on top?

We walked across the top of the mountain to Maclear’s Beacon. It’s a two-hour hike there and back, mostly flat with a short scramble when crossing from the front table to the back table. Great views, unique vegetation. Sir Thomas Maclear (1794 – 1879) was the queen’s astronomer at the Cape of Good Hope. He was a good friend of David Livingstone. One of the craters on the moon is named after him. Hmph, pretty famous, I suppose. He didn’t have a blog, though, unlike this worm.

Maclear’s beacon is at the highest point of Table Mountain – more than a kilometer up, at 1085 metres) It’s not much to look at: Just a heap of stones, built  to act as a trigonometrical beacon. Still, it’s a good destination to aim for.

Table Mountain - what's it like on top?

A view of Table Mountain draped in cloud, seen from the Waterfront in Cape Town. The TC took this photo after we intrepid explorers had come back down the mountain. You can just make out the top cable car station, towards the midlle-right of the photo where the cloud cover ends:

Table Mountain - what's it like on top?

What on earth is that giant Lego man doing there? He is 18 metres high, made of 4200 Coca-Cola crates. A little bird told this worm the statue is called “Elliot” and is making a statement about recycling.

A close-up view of the top cable car station, with one of the cars visible near the bottom of the picture:

Table Mountain - what's it like on top?

The next photo shows the view from the top. Those cables swoop down at a seemingly impossible angle, don’t they. At the end of the cables is the bottom cable car station. Also in the picture is Lion’s Head, the odd-shaped hill on the left of the cables. Cape Town city is to the right. In the bay, partially obscured by the cables, you can just make out Robben Island:

Table Mountain - what's it like on top?

If you’re lucky enough to be at the top when the cloud moves in, you’ll see it flowing off the mountain and dissolving in the warmer air. This video also shows the coast on the west side of the mountain, ending with an eagle-eye view of Camps Bay, a popular Cape Town beach:

Walking into cloud on the mountain top is atmospheric and eerie:

The TC will take pot shots at plants wherever she goes. Pot shots with her camera, of course:

Table Mountain - what's it like on top?

A plant in the mist:

http://youtu.be/h9tNVNt-UPY

Another pink plant:

http://youtu.be/h9tNVNt-UPY

A protea bush:

Table Mountain - what's it like on top?

A protea flower in bud, with a dead bloom behind:

Table Mountain - what's it like on top?

Back in the pink:

Table Mountain - what's it like on top?

Walking back towards the cable car station, we chose the city side of the mountain. The cloud was advancing, swooping off the edge and rolling down towards the city:

That’s all for today, dudes.

Patting lions and licked by a giraffe in South Africa

This is the blog of Mark Wordsworm, the travelling worm. I’m a 25-year-old bookmark and can proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC).

Today’s travel notes

Me and the TC have recently returned from a trip to South Africa. While in Johannesburg, we visited the well-known Lion Park, in Honeydew. Get up close and personal with a lion, be licked by a giraffe, or chat to a meerkat.

This post is mostly about lions. But I’ll tell you a bit about Johannesburg while we’re at it. In contrast to my usual adventure-filled writings, this is a post in which a whole lot of nothing happens. But it’s attractive nothingness, with just a hint of hidden violence.

I see that the Lion Park has a celebrity wall. This worm is sure they’ll add my picture to it soon!

My impressions? Somnabulance.  Slow-moving pedestrians on shimmering pavements. Umbrellas wavering in the haze of the summer heat. Barbed wire atop high walls. Electrified fences. Gorgeous shopping. Intense industry. Building, ever building. Chaotic crossroads. Hawkers. Quality and squalour. Awesome. Much inthe last few sentences describes the lions too. The giraffe is all awesome.

The book I’m in

Code to Zero, by Ken Follett. Titbits of rocket science, Soviet spies, CIA and NASA. Just want you want for a good, fast read.

Travel tip

If you’re going to get licked by a giraffe, have a wet wipe handy.

The photos

Me looking nonchalant, with lion looking uncomfortably interested:

Lions and a giraffe outside Johannesburg, South Africa

I twaut I taw a puddy tat:

Lions and a giraffe outside Johannesburg, South Africa

Sleeping lions – that’s all that happens in this video, honest:

Lions are not always dignified:

Lions and a giraffe outside Johannesburg, South Africa

And then, that effortless dignity of the jungle king:

Lions and a giraffe outside Johannesburg, South Africa

I was safely inside the car with the TC when she took this photo:

Lions and a giraffe outside Johannesburg, South Africa

Safely? When a lion is just a few feet away and looking right at you, the thin metal of a car door seems a flimsy barrier.

The other denizens of the park provide some light relief:

Lions and a giraffe outside Johannesburg, South Africa

You’ve just gotta love a face like that.

Fancy being licked by a giraffe?

Lions and a giraffe outside Johannesburg, South Africa

The TC discovered that a giraffe’s tongue is long and slightly rough to the touch. The saliva is plentiful and sticky.

Patting lions and licked by a giraffe in South Africa

Mmmm:

Lions and a giraffe outside Johannesburg, South Africa

That’s all for today, dudes.

Hartbeespoort Dam and Magaliesberg, South Africa

This is the blog of Mark Wordsworm, the travelling worm. I’m a 25-year-old bookmark and can proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC).

Today’s travel notes

Me and the TC have just returned from a trip to sunny South Africa. One day we drove to the Magaliesberg mountain range, near Johannesburg. We headed up in the cable car to catch the view, then drove round the Hartbeespoort Dam.

The TC, bless her cotton socks, keeps humming a ditty from her childhood in South Africa (the RSA):

Braaivleis, rugby, sunny skies and Chevrolet

Braaivleis, rugby, sunny skies and Chevrolet

They go together, in the good old RSA

Braaivleis, rugby, sunny skies and Chevrolet

She’s even found it on YouTube. Ah, “the horror, the horror,” this worm weakly whispers.

My impressions? Sunny skies, a touch of chaos, some green scum, and many friendly people.

The book I’m in

I, Spy? (Sophie Green Mysteries, No 1) by Kate Johnson. A good, humorous read. The TC read the book on a Kindle. I felt a bit of an outsider, worming my way in and nibbling at the words whenever I could. The electronic bookmarks littering the pages were ten a penny and rather characterless, I feel.

Recommended restaurant

Squires on the Dam, Hartbeespoort Dam (opposite snake park). Things were a little rocky at the start. Indiana Jones would have felt right at home when the roof opened up and dumped a torrent of icky-smelling water all over the TC. This worm had to make a quick run for cover. My cardboard constitution is not compatible with water. But the restaurant staff recovered quickly, as did the TC, and our party of 13 people had a good meal and plenty of fun.

Travel tip

When travelling by air in South Africa, don’t put anything valuable in a suitcase that you’re checking into the hold. The TC’s luggage was rifled through on her trip from Johannesburg to Cape Town.

The photos

Me and a green doringboom, the famous thorn tree of Gauteng. Grandma, what big thorns you have!

Hartbeespoort Dam and Magaliesberg, South Africa

A cable car going up to the top of the Magaliesberg:

Hartbeespoort Dam and Magaliesberg, South Africa

The view from part way up:

Hartbeespoort Dam and Magaliesberg, South Africa

The green roof at the end of the cables is the lower cable station. Behind that is the Hartbeespoort Dam.

Another view from part way up:

Hartbeespoort Dam and Magaliesberg, South Africa

Off to the right of the picture is the dam wall.

The top cable station is quite pretty:

Hartbeespoort Dam and Magaliesberg, South Africa

Me gracing a plaque about “Harties”, as the locals call Hartbeespoort Dam:

Hartbeespoort Dam and Magaliesberg, South Africa

The vegetation at the top is scrubby and grassy:

Hartbeespoort Dam and Magaliesberg, South Africa

We came across the occasional flower:

Hartbeespoort Dam and Magaliesberg, South Africa

A worm’s eye view of a sprig of grass:

Hartbeespoort Dam and Magaliesberg, South Africa

Things can be pretty when viewed from underneath:

Hartbeespoort Dam and Magaliesberg, South Africa

More from a worm’s perspective:

Hartbeespoort Dam and Magaliesberg, South Africa

We came back down via cable car, and continued our drive around the Hartbeespoort Dam. This is the Romanesque archway that guards the dam wall:

Hartbeespoort Dam and Magaliesberg, South Africa

The dam wall:

Hartbeespoort Dam and Magaliesberg, South Africa

I’ll leave you with this idyllic picture of emerald green water… Wait! The end of this video is not for the squeamish:

Why is the water green? This worm heard many theories from concerned South Africans. Tons of raw sewage pumped into the dam. Nuclear waste from the nearby Pelindaba nuclear power plant. Uranium-containing water from nearby goldmines. Algae. Weeds. You name it, Harties suffers from it. Ag siestog, man.

That’s all for today, dudes.