Friday, June 14, 2013

South Africa 7: CapeTown: Table Mountain, Clifton Beach and the New Year Eve

The Mightly Table Mountain among the clouds
We woke up to the morning of 31st December pretty excited as we were to visit the famed Table Mountain today. We had booked the cable car to the top of the mountain online so we simply went to the ticket counter to collect our tickets. The ride to the parking lot was in itself a great experience with panoramic views of the city and V&A waterfront in particular from here. At the ticket counter, we were to be disappointed again as the cable car was not running because of strong winds. So this was the 3rd event after Sky diving and shark-cage diving to be cancelled due to weather. With no other option available as this was to be our last day in CT, we simply took refund of the tickets and went to enjoy Clifton Beach.

White Sands of Clifton Beach
Clifton beach is anyways one of the best beaches of South Africa but it has become even more of a must visit for us Indians after the Tumhi ho Bandhu song from bollywood movie, Cocktail. It was only a short drive from where we were and we reached there soon after a nice breakfast at a restaurant close to the beach. Clifton beach is basically four beaches that are separated by natural blockades and are numbered from 1 to 4. Generally each number beach is suited for a particular kind of visitors but for today, it was only Beach 1 & 2 that had any crowd. As it was very windy and the water was freezing, nobody was really going into the water and everyone seemed to be enjoying the sun that was still trying find its way from behind the clouds. Even we didn't go into the water and just settled on a boulder close to it where we could feel the occasional splash of water from the waves rushing onto these boulders.

This is what we scaled, Lion's Head
While lying on this boulder, I noticed the dominating hill right behind us. Upon asking a local, I found out that this was Lion's Head and we can even hike to its top if we wish. As we were unable to go to the top of Table Mountain, I immediately wanted to hike to the top of Lion's Head. Thankfully, my friends agreed to play along and we drove to the base of Lion's Head. Once there, we realized that all of us were in slippers/flip-flops as we had prepared only for the beach and it wouldn't be easy doing this 3.5 km hike in those. We contemplated a bit on whether to go back to the apartments to get shoes but then decided to just start hiking right now. With the sun out shining over our unfit bodies, we were soon sweating like pigs and were tired in just about 1 km of hiking. A short break and we continued to hike as long as the route didn't look tough but for a gradual ascent.

View of Signal 
After some more time, and then the trek narrowed a bit. Further ahead, and then one needed to climb small rocks with the help of chains. These chains have been put up to assist the hikers scramble over the steep rocky faces. This might sound tough but is actually very easy to do if you do it slowly. After almost 2 hours of hiking, we reached the summit of this interestingly shaped mountain. Once there, we were immediately mesmerized by the view with the city and Table Bay on one side and the scenic Atlantic Ocean coastline on the other. We had most of this view at various points while we wound our way around the head but the complete view from the top was a different story altogether. 
Climbing along these Chains
And then it went vertical

While I was taking pictures from here, a red colored Rescue Chopper came towards Lion's Head and continued hovering in the air towards a side. I climbed down a bit to find the rescuers climbing down the rope to a point on the hill. At the point where they landed, I could see a guy injured lying on the rocks. They immediately put him on the stretcher, sealed him in the bag sort of thing and he was airlifted back to the chopper. The chopper moved to the nearby hospital for emergency care to the injured person. I was again pleasantly surprised with the immediate rescue action available in this country compared to my own country. After this, we climbed down the hill and I found one of the rescuer also hiking down. I saluted his effort and moved down the path.

The final climb over the rocky face
After this, we rushed to a Hyperstore to pick our tickets for the New Year concert that we had booked online for the night. Once there, we were surprised to see a long queue. However, this queue was not for the concert but for some money withdrawal. We were in a hurry as we needed to reach V&A waterfront to catch the ferry to Robben Island. However, we needed to wait for our turn as the queue culture is very strong here. Once our turn came, they refused us the tickets as I had failed to carry the credit card from which the tickets were booked. Realising soon that convincing them wasn't working, we rushed to V&A waterfront hoping for the ferry to be delayed today as we were already late. However, we soon found out that even this ferry was cancelled due to strong winds. As usual, we applied for a refund and decided to go back to the hotel.

View of Atlantic Coastline from the summit

Romancing over the cliff. Anyone?
Back at the hotel, I picked up my credit card and went to the Hyperstore again to pick our tickets. This time we managed to get the tickets without any hassle. Forgetting the two experiences that were already cancelled due to weather, we readied ourselves hoping for an exciting New Year party. All dressed up, we went to V&A again only to find all the roads blocked due to heavy traffic moving into this area. In some time, we finally managed to find a parking spot. Once out, it seemed like being in the car was better as there was a huge crowd all over the area. As we had no idea where exactly the concert was to take place, we moved in the direction in which everyone else was moving. After some time, we reached the location of the concert where a few more people were standing looking shell-shocked. We asked the guy standing next to a counter on where do we get the entry from. To that he replied, "The concert has been cancelled because of weather. Strong winds". Hearing this, I also joined the others standing there looking as baffled as them. Realizing that this is over and I should move on, we immediately went to the waterfront where a music concert was going on. Unlike the one I had booked for, this one was free and was as crowded  as it could be. Anyways, the music was good and we jostled with the crowds to move a bit ahead to be able to see it and enjoyed it after that until the clock struck 12 and everyone wished everyone a Happy New Year.

The Rescue Chopper hovers as the injured guy is pulled up
After this, we went back to our apartments and packed our bags as we were to fly out from CT at 6 in the morning. From there, we would be taking 3 flights to reach back home. Considering how many drinks three of us had, we were lucky that the fourth one was a teetotaler. But it was really fun boarding the flight in such state. We slept off as soon as we boarded all three flights only to wake up at our intermediate stops at Jo'burg and Addis Ababa. Thanks to this, we didn't feel the pains of the long flight back and landed in Delhi all fresh from our long nap.



shooting star said...

view of atlantic coastline is so pretty!!!!

loved reading this post!!

sachin dixit said...

It was undoubtedly a heavenly view worth the short hike up!!

Anonymous said...

Absolutely fantastic. Hard about these places during cricket matches... Have to visit once.

sachin dixit said...

Truly mate.
And we have also understood the reason why teams go down for as little as 50 runs in Cape Town. The winds are so strong that they were shaking our car even with four guys inside it. Think of the ball coming to a batsman. Clearly impossible for our Indian batsmen to adjust to such deliveries!! :P

Anonymous said...

Nicely written article ,well explained check trivago for finding a good accommodation on your next travel

sachin dixit said...

Thanks dude. I will surely check out this Trivago while booking my next trip!!

Royal Adventure said...

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