Table Mountain; new ‘7 Wonders’ of nature

OBINNA EMELIKE

Those who are tied of visiting the same old ‘Seven Wonders’ of the world, can now heave a sigh of relief, as there are now seven more awesome attractions that promise better adventure and sightseeing for them.

Following a recent announcement by the organisers of the search on November 11, 2011, seven more global attractions made the famous list of world Seven Wonders. The good news for the African continent is that Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa, that forms part of the Cape Floral Region, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is among the New 7 Wonders of Nature.

Others include- the Amazon, Halong Bay, Iguazu Falls, Jeju Island, Komodo, and the Puerto Princesa Underground River. Again, Table Mountain’s new 7 Wonders of Nature status follows Cape Town’s recent confirmation as the 2104 World Design Capital.

“We are excited about this win. From being awarded the World Design Capital 2014 designation just a few weeks ago to Table Mountain being named one of the new 7 Wonders of Nature today, Cape Town, South Africa and Africa at large are standing proud,” Mariëtte Du Toit-Helmbold, Cape Town Tourism CEO, says.

Having initially been chosen as one of the 440 candidates in 2009, Table Mountain attracted millions of votes from around the world before voting closed on Friday. In Cape Town, a crowd gathered at the V&A Waterfront amphitheatre for the official announcement on Friday night. There were celebrations when Sabine Lehmann, CEO, Table Mountain Cableway, read out the results in alphabetical order. Table Mountain’s campaign was promoted by various celebrities, including Desmond Tutu, Archbishop Emeritus, Blair Underwood, Hollywood actor and the Springbok rugby team.

A survey by Grant Thornton, an accounting firm, forecasts the seven wonder status will attract expected revenue of R1.4-billion annual boost to the South African economy, as well as the creation of 11,000 jobs in the next five years. Table Mountain, which at about 360-million years old, is one of the world’s oldest mountains, and an iconic landmark for many reasons. Of all the final 28 contenders for the new 7 Wonders of Nature, it was the most accessible, just 20 minutes’ drive from Cape Town International Airport.

The Table Mountain Cableway, established in 1929, has taken more than 21-million visitors to the top of the mountain, where there are fantastic views of the Cape Town coastline, city centre and suburbs. Hikers can take the Platteklip Gorge route up Table Mountain, and be at the top within an hour. The mountain is home to a wide range or fauna and flora, boasting more species of plants than the entire United Kingdom.
“I would like to thank everyone who took the time to vote for Table Mountain and the celebrity ambassadors – from Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the Springbok Rugby team to all the journalists, musicians, comedians, actors, politicians and sports stars who campaigned on our behalf,” says Lehmann.

Facts about Table Mountain:
It is the only terrestrial geographical feature to have a constellation named after it and also one of the oldest mountains in the world, estimated to be about 260 million years old. It dates back further than the Andes, the Rockies and the Swiss Alps. One of the first women to record her experience of the mountain was Lady Anne Barnard, who climbed Platteklip Gorge in her husband’s trousers. The first recorded climb was in May 1503, when Portuguese navigator Admiral Antonio de Saldanha climbed Platteklip Gorge and referred to the mountain as Taboa do Cabo (Table of the Cape).
The Table Mountain ghost frog (Heleophryne rosei) is a critically endangered species endemic to the eastern and southern slopes. The mountain’s cloudy “tablecloth” is the stuff of legends: one tells of the San Mantis god smothering a blaze with a huge white karos (animal pelt). Another says the cloud comes from a smoking contest between the Devil and a pirate called Van Hunks.

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