Tag Archives: lion’s head

Table Mountain trip : Lion’s Head (7#10)

Lion's Head and Signal Hill
In case you missed it, see the previous post in this series.

Kerry-Anne and I once spent a chilly new year's eve on top of Table Mountain - it really does get pretty cold up there at night. If you ever have the opportunity to go up the mountain at night, I'd highly recommend it. Only, try to get up before the sun sets and bargain on spending about two or three hours up top... with a warm jacket!

The city lights look absolutely beautiful from the top of the mountain at night. Take a look at this 360° photo taken by Lee Casalena from the top of Lion's Head (which you can see in this photo). Isn't it awesome? Imagine seeing this in real life!

Breakwater at Table Bay harbour

Breakwater at Table Bay harbour

The mountain in the background, along with Lion's Head and Signal Hill to the right unmistakably identifies this breakwater to be part of Table Bay harbour (which is the big harbour where your cruise liner would normally drop you off).

I heard recently, on the radio, that plans are afoot to build a proper arrivals and departures terminal that will cater for tourists arriving on large liners. Currently, visitors normally disembark alongside a commercial (and not very pretty) pier very close to the beautiful Table Bay Hotel - which I have to say is hugely convenient if you plan on bunking in one of the hotel's 5-star rooms!

Tsotsi and the CIA

Cape Town Graffiti

One of the large gangs in the Cape Town area goes by the name "The Americans", and one of the other large gangs calls itself "The CIA". We can't be sure, but it's possible that one of these gang members marked this wall with the name CIA.

Tsotsi is a Sesotho word meaning "thug" or "thief", and the word is often used to refer to a gang member. Tsotsi is also the name of an Academy Award-winning film directed by Gavin Hood that depicts the life of a gang leader in Soweto, near Johannesburg.

It's easy to judge gang members for who they are and what they do. The film Tsotsi gave me a little more insight into the life of one young man who grew up in an environment that practically forced him down a path of crime and gangsterism. The hard side of a gang member is a given, but the movie also depicted the softer side of a young man just trying to survive in the world in which he lives. I seriously encourage you to watch the movie - it really was fantastic.

Watch the short trailer here on YouTube, or a different one on the official movie site.

An outrageous sunset in Cape Town

HDR sunset photo from Woodstock

I don't often "fiddle" with our daily photos much, but decided this time to try and compile an HDR version of the the spectacular sunset that we had last Wednesday. And, while this is an HDR photo, I didn't play with the colours and didn't fiddle with brushes or weird filters to alter the original photos in any way.

If you're unfamiliar with HDR (High Dynamic Range) photography, give me a moment to explain. Typically, when humans look at high-contrast scenes (like sunsets) our eyes adjust so quickly that we're able to see detail in a huge amount of contrast - from the very bright sun dipping below the horizon, to the dark shadows caused by mountains, buildings and other obstacles.

HDR photos are typically composed of three or more photos of exactly the same scene, taken one after the other from exactly the same position, only at different exposures - meaning that one photo will be really dark (underexposed), one will be really bright (overexposed) and one will be properly exposed.

One then uses software to merge the three (or more) photos into a single picture that typically takes the best from all three photos and combines them into a single photo. My photo above got a little out of hand (with the eerie-looking shadows creeping along the road and down from Devil's Peak) ending up looking perhaps like the scene belongs more in a movie about demons and vampires.

PS. I promise, there are no vampires in Cape Town. Demons, however - there are plenty - we've been battling several of them at work in the last week! ;)

South Africa votes on Wednesday!

We're voting on Wednesday

The air has turned cool, the sky has turned grey, and the first significant rains of the year have started to fall. Millions of South Africans will be heading to the polls to vote in our national elections on Wednesday, and fortunately it seems as though the weather will start clearing in preparation for that.

Political parties have been advertising on lamp posts, and several times each day on radio stations. I'm not sure how political radio ads are dealt with in other countries, but here the station has to play a standard message before each ad, along the lines of: "The following message was paid for by the political party concerned and does not necessarily reflect the views of this radio station." I guess we should give the same message before this photo: the views of the ID and ANC aren't necessarily those held by CTDP. ;-)

Voting in South Africa is tricky. We have one very large party (the ANC) and several much smaller opposition parties. The chance of one of these opposition parties coming into power is zero, but in theory, if the ANC doesn't win an outright majority, the smaller parties could join together and govern as a coalition. This has happened at provincial level in the past. Which brings me to the next point: we don't vote only on a national basis, but on a provincial basis too. This means that we could vote for party A at national level (perhaps because we believe in their ideals) and for party B at provincial level (because we believe they will be more efficient at running our province). Or we could vote for the same party in national and provincial elections, of course!

Wednesday's going to be an interesting day. I'm keen to see if the tide has started to turn against the ANC's two-thirds majority win of 2004. Personally, I don't think it's a great idea to have one party (any party) with complete power, so let's see what happens this time around. Let's go and vote, people!

And sometimes it’s the big things :)

Table Mountain after sunset

There are so many fantastic sunset spots in Cape Town: Clifton 4th Beach, Summerville in Camps Bay, Signal Hill, Table Mountain itself, Scarborough, upstairs at Wakame in Mouille Point, Blouberg Beach (which is where today's photo was taken), the top of Tygerberg Hill, Lovers' Lane... if you live in the city, or have been here, which is your favourite? And yes, I know, that's like asking you to name your favourite dessert - but give it a try anyway.

As much as I love all the other spots, I'd have to say that the two most spectacular sunsets I've ever experienced were the two I watched from the top of Table Mountain. Clifton 4th Beach is a close second, though, and a bit more accessible, to be fair. :)

Paragliding off Lion’s Head

Lion's Head

Lion's Head is a very popular launch spot for paragliders in Cape Town. That's not at all surprising, of course - can you imagine what the view must be like from up there? Actually, as it turns out, you can do more than just imagine it. There is, in fact, a way for you to paraglide from Lion's Head without leaving your chair.

This post has taken a little longer to write than it should have, because in the course of my research I discovered an awesome-beyond-words paragliding simulator on the Paragliding Earth website. And I've been paragliding all around Lion's Head for the past half an hour.

If you'd like to try it for yourself, go to the listing for Lion's Head, and click on "Fly on this site: PG simulator in GoogleEarth!". You'll need to have the Google Earth Plugin installed. And while you wait for the landscape to load up, you can prepare for your flight by reading everything you need to know about paragliding from Lion's Head.

Have fun, and happy landings!

Up on Lion’s Head

Lion's Head

It's been quite some time since we've taken a walk up Lion's Head. I chatted with Robynn (mentioned in the previous post) and she told me that she was up on Lion's Head earlier this month, when it was full moon. A lot of people walk up this "little mountain" at night, especially when it's full moon.

We've heard differing opinions on whether one should take a torch up Lion's Head when there's a full moon. Some say that if you use a torch, all you can see is the small area in front of you. Robynn was telling me though that there were plenty of people without torches, stumbling dangerously as they followed the circular route down the mountain.

Although the full moon does provide a lot of light, the moon rises on one side of Lion's Head and creates a very dark shadow on the other until it gets overhead. So perhaps the safest option is to take a torch anyway, and decide as you're hiking whether you need it or not.

Today's photo, with Lion's Head in the background, was taken at a farewell gathering at a friend's place for a couple visiting Cape Town from our sister-city, San Francisco. Thanks for visiting, Ray and Renee - and come again soon!

Back in beautiful Cape Town

Signal Hill and Lion's Head

On Sunday, after launching our new WordPress version of Cape Town Daily Photo, I caught a flight with four colleagues to Johannesburg (the largest city in South Africa), a mere two hours' travel time from Cape Town.

I remembered after landing how different Cape Town is from Johannesburg. It seems almost like a different country entirely. We ate lots of good food, stayed in a nice hotel, and spoke with many interesting people, but today I'm really happy to be back in sunny Cape Town.

Perhaps I've mentioned it before, but us Capetonians are often teased about how preoccupied we are with our mountains - especially Table Mountain.  Even though I'm aware of this there came a point when I genuinely realised that I missed the mountain - I just couldn't find my bearings without the landmark. Were it not for a trusty GPS I'd still be roaming the streets looking for our hotel. :) I really think Cape Town would slip into a huge emotional depression if the earth one day swallowed up our beloved mountain.

We are silly, aren't we?