Mountains are often inaccessible for persons with mobility impairments but that’s not the case with South Africa’s own Wonder of Nature.
In 2007 a global initiative to identify seven new wonders of nature chosen by a global poll was conceptualised. By the time voting was completed in 2011, 100 million votes had been submitted from around the world. Table Mountain was one of the selected destinations. It forms the northern-most part and nominative icon for Table Mountain National Park (TMNP), extending down the Cape Peninsula to Cape Point.
But how accessible is the mountain, also a World Heritage Site, to persons with physical disabilities? While pedestrian routes are limiting because of steep gradients and rough terrain, for those using the cableway the answer is “Very”…
There is accessible parking at the entrance to the lower cable station, but individuals who need to use this parking will need to disclose their situation to security. There are several public transfer options. Lifts from the parking level take people with mobility impairments to the cable-car entrance, where control gates, doorways and threshold into the cable car have all been designed to accommodate wheelchairs.
Accessible toilets are located at both the lower and upper cable stations. On the mountaintop there is an extensive network of pathways, boardwalks and viewpoints, and while sections are inaccessible, there is a range with ramps and suitable surfaces. The retail and catering facilities are also designed to be accessible. The cableway does not operate when conditions are too windy and wet.
The cableway periodically arranges specials for local visitors to enjoy the mountain at reduced rates. There are more plant species in TMNP than in the whole of the United Kingdom. More information (including rates) about Table Mountain, the rest of TMNP, or the other 18 national parks can be found on the SANParks website at www.sanparks.org.
Designated UA accommodation units are kept on reserve for those who need them and can only be booked directly with SANParks on special request. Unlike other units, they cannot be booked in advance online until the reserve period has expired. Visitors pay a daily conservation fee to make use of park facilities and enjoy the natural heritage. However, if you buy a Wild Card, that fee is waived.