A look at Cape Town from Table Mountain

The hardest thing about being surrounded by gorgeous rocks is not being able to climb them. That was the only downside of my mini-trek up Table Mountain in Cape Town.

This 1,085m (3,558ft) massif dominates the skyline of Cape Town the way the Shard dominates London’s, but I find its natural beauty a little more exciting than the glass construction back home.

I was very lucky with this mountain. It is often covered in thick cloud at the top even on the clearest of days, which has been dubbed the ‘tablecloth’ by the locals, but on 28 December 2014, when I chose to ascend it, it remained clear for the whole day.

The top of the mountain can be accessed in a number of ways – via the easier, but longer, Back Table route, the steep but direct, Platteklip Gorge route, or by cable car.

Though the cableway is technically the quickest way to reach the summit, and not super-expensive at R225 for a round trip (around £13), the mountain is so popular that queues to get to the top can last for hours. For me, that was just an extra reason to use my own feet to reach the summit, but not for Zayn. No matter how much I tried to talk up the walk, he outright refused, saying he would “die on the way” and leaving me to plod up with his sister and her husband (both of whom I am very grateful to for coming with me).

Our ascent took around 2 hours. Zayn joined the queue as we left and arrived to the top just 15 minutes before us. Considering the journey up takes just minutes, that means a good hour and a half in the queue. Just saying!

The views from Table Mountain over the city are worth every second of the trek, too, especially when visibility is as good as it was on the day. It is really worth checking out the weather forecast, though, to avoid the disappointment of being stuck inside a cloud.

Botany geeks would also be excited to know that Table Mountain is home to 2,200 different species of plants – more than the entire United Kingdom! There is even a plant that can leave you with nasty burns that take three weeks to heal, so careful what you touch up there.

In 2012, Table Mountain was officially named one of the seven new wonders of nature, along with the Amazon rainforest, Vietnam’s Halong Bay and Argentina’s Iguazu Falls, so it really is worth a visit.

If I go back again though, I am bringing my climbing gear. The mountain itself, and the region around it, is just begging to be climbed (and it is already popular with climbers worldwide)!


A night out…the Durban way

A blog post is supposed to begin with the most memorable moment of an event you are describing…well, the most memorable moment of my night out in Durban was standing in the middle of a backyard garage at 3am with three not-so-sober blokes twice my size (whom I knew, at least!).

Eating a ‘Johnny’s’ at the end of a night out in Durban is a rite of passage, they told me. But what is a ‘Johnny’s’? That was kept a secret until this very moment, possibly because one could agree to eat this only after drinking a considerable amount of beer and cocktails.

That is how I came to be standing in the car park, staring at a large hand-written sign in the window displaying a menu, and wondering why there was only one thing available with variable amounts of cheese on it – ranging from “chip single cheese” for 27.50 South African rand (around £1.50) right through to “CHIP TWENTY X CHEESE” (twenty?! Twenty times cheese?!!!).

We got a single cheese. It turned out to be a roti wrap the size of my forearm filled with chips, (definitely more than a single serving of) cheese and curry sauce. A heart attack in a wrap, or THE perfect end to a night out? My friend Zayn and I shared one, but even half of it was the size of my face. I am pleased to say I finished my half.

We drove to a place called The Cube to eat our ‘Johnny’s’ (the dubious decision to drive after a night out is a discussion for another post!). The Cube is essentially a grassy hill looking over the city, with a cube-shaped art installation in one corner (hence the name).

As we sat there, staring at the lights and stuffing our faces with gooey carbs, I thought back to the classy way the evening had started. We went to the most upmarket cocktail bar in Durban, so classy it sits away from the main party streets to attract a more refined clientelle.

The bar, called Lucky Shaker (http://luckyshaker.com/), opened in Durban only a few months ago and is modelled on some of New York’s swankiest cocktail bars. It served plenty of pink drinks to match my pink dress, and I didn’t even notice I was drinking alcohol – a sign of a good cocktail bar!

The most innovative drink on the menu was the Marshmallow Fizz: a sweet milky concoction which comes with a s’more on the side – an American invention of marshmallow and chocolate melted between two pieces of biscuit.

“At least we started classy!” I thought, chewing on my last mouthful of chips, cheese and curry. I suppose I was warned I would put on a few pounds in this part of the world.

About me: In search of adventure everywhere

This blog has taken many shapes already in the short time it has existed, but increasingly it is gravitating towards climbing-related topics, as I am a little obsessed with the sport.

I’ve spent most weekends this summer outdoors learning to climb on different types of rock and in different styles. So far, my climbing partner Valentina and I have covered North Wales, Sheffield, the Wye Valley, Southern sandstone and limestone in Frankenjura, and we also have a trip to Italy coming up, and climbing plans in warmer climes in the winter.

Recently, myself, Valentina and our friend Tamsin embarked on an ambitious project to create videos, vlogs and blogs about everything to do with climbing and our lifestyle as we learn and develop our new skills.

The project goes under the name Vertical Souls. We have a Facebook page and a YouTube channel, and this blog will act as the written outlet for our thoughts and experiences.

Please follow us, like our Facebook page, and give us all the support you can! We are very committed to making this project work long term.

Thank you, and happy adventuring 🙂