The Table Mountain National Park, place of beautiful mountains and
Previously known as the Cape Peninsula National
Park, the Table Mountain National Park is situated on the Cape Peninsula at the south-western tip
of the African continent in the Western province of South Africa.
The Cape Peninsula is a narrow stretch of land, that has the form of a finger when you look it
up on a map, with beautiful mountains, valleys, forests and sun-drenched bays and beaches.
Consisting of four separate sections, the Park stretches from Signal Hill in Cape Town, right
down to the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point in the south, a distance of about 60 kilometres.
The park contains two world renown landmarks, the majestic Table Mountain accompanied by its
seconds Signal Hill, Lions Head, Devils Peak and the Twelve Apostles and Cape Point with the
legendary Cape of Good Hope.
Find out more about this extraordinary national park with its stunning
Map of the Cape Peninsula showing the lay-out of the Table Mountain Park Table Mountain National Park near Cape Town in South Africa
The eastern side of the Peninsula faces the cold Atlantic Ocean, whereas the eastern False Bay side is
warmed by the Agulhas Current. Table Mountain National Park is one of the 20 national parks that fall under
the South African National Parks body.
Other lesser known features include beautiful mountains, spectacular beaches, indigenous forests, the unique
in the world Cape Floral Kingdom and stunning scenery to name but a few. And all this right on Cape Town’s
The Cape Peninsula is of great historical significance to South Africa, with important South African history
landmarks ranging from the Stone Age to modern times such as the Apartheid era.
These include the early evidence of the strong presence of the San and the Khoikhoi people, the first
Portuguese explorers rounding the Cape of Good Hope, the settlement of the first Europeans and the walk to
freedom by Nelson Mandela from the Robben Island prison.
Apart from some areas of indigenous Afromontane forest and a few remaining wetlands mainly around Kommetjie
and Noordhoek, the main vegetation of the Table Mountain National Park is the Cape Fynbos, part of the world
renown rich and unique Cape Floral Kingdom.
"Fynbos" is the name in "Afrikaans" (meaning "delicate bush") that was given to the scrubby vegetation which
is unique to the Cape and can be found in abundance on the mountain slopes. It is said that Fynbos is an
ancient type of vegetation, with some species such as the Restios dating back to prehistoric times.
As one of the eight World Heritage sites in South Africa, the Park is home to the Cape Floral Kingdom which is
considered one of only six floral kingdoms worldwide. Scientists regard its extraordinary bio-diversity as a
Fynbos comprises four major vegetation types, Proteas (sizeable shrubs with wide leaves), Erica’s (heath-like,
shrubs growing at low level), Restios, (reed-like plants) and Geophytes, (bulbs such as Watsonias and Disa’s).
Leopards were last seen in the Park around 1920 Table Mountain National Park near Cape Town in South Africa Photograph by Arno and Louise Meintjes
Large predators such as the Cape Lion and Leopard as well as the Spotted Hyena and Black-backed Jackal that
used to roam the Cape Peninsula region and beyond in times gone by, have disappeared at the hands of
the European settlers.
It is believed that the last lion in this region was shot around 1802, while Leopards continued to live on the
Cape mountains until maybe the 1920s, after that they were never seen again.
Chacma Baboons are a familiar sight on the Cape peninsula Table Mountain National Park near Cape Town in South Africa Photograph by Arno and Louise Meintjes
The same thing happened with the large herbivores like the African Elephant, Black Rhino, Kudu, Eland, Bontebok
and Mountain Zebra although the last three species were re-introduced to the southern region of the Park.
Other smaller mammals to be found in the park are the Chacma Baboons, the Dassie or Rock Hyrax, the Caracal,
and a number of small antelope species, such as the Cape Grysbok and particularly the Klipspringer which was
re-introduced only recently.
A Humpback Whale breaching the water of False Bay Table Mountain National Park near Cape Town in South Africa Photograph by Stellwagen
There are two large mammal species that are doing very well around the Cape Peninsula, namely the Whale and the
Dolphin. The Southern Right and Humpback Whales are certainly the star attractions, visiting the Peninsula
coastline every year between August and October, entertaining lots of spectators as they come near to the shore
to mate and calve.
Almost as popular are the beautiful and inquisitive Dolphins which usually are found around the Peninsula.
Frequently sighted types are the Bottlenose Dolphin, the Common Dolphin and the Dusky Dolphin.
Face to face with a Jackass Penguin on Boulders Beach Table Mountain National Park near Cape Town in South Africa Photograph by Sally London
When compared to the bird rich northern and eastern parts of South Africa, the range of bird species in the
Cape Peninsula is quite possibly not as impressive, yet the Table Mountain National Park's growing bird register
is substantial, with quite a few endemic species.
One will find quite a variety of indigenous bird species like the Cape Sugarbird, the (Grey-backed Cisticola
Cisticola subruficapilla), the Karoo Prinia (Prinia maculosa) among others to look out for.
But some of the park’s most famous birds are definitely the Jackass Penguins at Boulders Beach. Then there are
the Birds of Prey to look out for such as the Verreaux's (Black) Eagle, Jackal and Steppe buzzards, Rock Kestrel
and Peregrine Falcon. And do not forget the Seabirds like the Cape Gannet, Black-browed Albatross, Sooty
Shearwater and the White-chinned and Giant Petrels.
A tranquil journey featuring sights and sounds from the V and A Waterfront Cape Town, Cape Peninsula
and Cape Point.
A tour to the national botanical garden, Kirstenbosch and the historical wine estate, Groot Constantia,
finally ending up on the top of Table Mountain.