Table Mountain’s Tablecloth – Ancient Myth or Modern Marvel?

By Go Touch Down Travel and Tours
Edited by Admin
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During the summer months, Table Mountain is best admired in all its magnificence against the blue backdrop of clear Cape skies. Ironically, it’s on such cloudless days that the mountain’s legendary white tablecloth is suddenly cast over the “table”, as if by God himself.


It’s no wonder that when the ancient San saw the tablecloth, they attributed its appearance to their mantis god smothering a mountain blaze with his massive white kaross (animal skin). Another myth handed down over generations would have us believe that the tablecloth is caused by a smoking contest between the devil and a legendary local pirate known as Van Hunks.



Albeit marvelous, the truth is less fantastical. Table Mountain’s tablecloth is nothing more than an orographic cloud formation (clouds that develop in response to the forced lifting of air by the earth’s topography). As a south-easterly wind blowing up the mountain slopes meets colder air at higher altitude, condensation takes place, and a thick mist soon coats the top-most regions of the mountain.

As the cloud cover pours over the side of the mountain, the process is reversed. Clouds encounter warmer air layers lower down, where the moisture evaporates, making the clouds disappear.



Here are a few more interesting facts:

  • Table Mountain is officially one of the New Seven Wonders of the World
  • At approximately 260 million years old, Table Mountain is one of the oldest mountains on earth. By comparison, the Andes mountain range is about 250 million years old, the Rockies about 60 million, the Himalayas 40 million and the Alps 32 million years old
  • Rotair cable cars, similar to the ones used at Table Mountain Aerial Cableway, are also used in Mount Titlis in the Swiss Alps and in Palm Springs, America

Did you know? A visit via aerial cableway to the summit of this majestic giant is part of your exciting Cape Town Experience with Go Touch Down.


(Portions of the above information excerpted from

Cape Town


Kruger National Park

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