Stretching high above the cool waters of the southern Atlantic Ocean and running parallel to Cape Town's well-travelled Victoria Road, a series of mountains looms overhead known as the Twelve Apostles. A combination of high peaks and flattened buttresses, with a bevy of crags, ravines, gullies, and ridges, these impressive mountains were referred to as the Kastellbergen, or Castle Mountains, by the Dutch. The most iconic of the mountains in this range is by far Table Mountain. The flat top peak of the mountain, a result from horizontal layers of sandstone being exposed to wind and water erosion, reaches 1,086 m above sea level and stretches approximately 3 km from side to side. The first recorded climb of the mountain was done by the Portuguese navigator, Admiral Antonio de Saldanha, in 1503. It was de Saldanha who gave the mountain its name, Taboa da caba, meaning table of the cape.
Talbe Mountain has its own orographic cloud cover (i.e. the Tablecloth), forming rapidly when a south-easterly wind is directed up the steep slopes. It is this thick layer of continuous condensation that is mainly responsible for the lush growth of plateau vegetation. The abundant flora includes about 2,200 species of plants, such as disa orchids, over 250 species of daisies, and silver trees (most of which are endemic to this region). Local wildlife species includes Himalayan tahrs (Hemitragus jemlahicus), caracals (Caracal caracal), rock hyraxes (Procavia capensis, the Table Mountain ghost frog (Heleophryne rosei), and chacma baboons (Papio ursinus). The Cape Floristic Region of Table Mountain National Park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004, and the national park itself is now considered one of the new seven wonders of nature in the world. (Photograph taken April 2014 by Chris Makowski, Coastal Education and Research Foundation (CERF), Coconut Creek, Florida, U.S.A.)