Eamonn Fitzgerald: What exactly is your role in the Table Mountain campaign?
Fiona Furey: I am the Campaign Manager, so basically I’m the person driving it forward, going out there and getting the public to vote.
Eamonn Fitzgerald: How do people in South Africa feel about Table Mountain?
Fiona Furey: Most South Africans feel very sentimental about the mountain, (the same goes for anyone who has visited Cape Town). I think Nelson Mandela summed it up best: “During the many years of incarceration on Robben Island, we often looked across Table Mountain at its magnificent silhouette… To us on Robben Island, Table Mountain was a beacon of hope. It represented the mainland to which we knew we would one day return.”
Eamonn Fitzgerald: What’s so special about Table Mountain for you?
Fiona Furey: I feel it’s the feeling of tangible tranquility you get on top of the mountain, it’s so calm and peaceful up there you cant help but put any stress and worries aside and just breath, (it sounds so corny I’m almost embarrassed to type it but it’s true!). The walks on the mountain are incredible, imagine less that 5 minutes drive from a city centre is a World Heritage site with incredible bio diversity and amazing views.
I love that it is accessible to and enjoyed by people from all walks of life irrespective of age, cultural or economic back ground. On Saturday I was talking to a group of teenage boys on top of the mountain, they were all decked out in the latest gear, fancy trainers, sunglasses, baggy shorts (hanging down low showing their undies) baseball caps etc, they looked like they’d just walked off the set of a rap music video shoot. My first thought before they started chatting to me was “they must have been dragged up here either by a teacher at school or their parents”, but not so. These kids had started hiking at 6am from Kirstenbosch (which is a very challenging route up) and reached the top just before mid day, I asked them would they be taking the cable car back down, they said “No way! We’re walking. How amazing is that, even the “coolest” of teenage boys choose to spend their Saturday not watching MTV but doing a nature walk/climb up their mountain?
Eamonn Fitzgerald: Why should people vote for Table Mountain?
Fiona Furey: OK, my own personal bias aside, (and apart from it’s “obvious good looks”), the world is divided into six floral kingdoms:
1.Holarctic kingdom: (North American west coast and Central Asia)
2. Paleotropical kingdom (Central Africa)
3. Neotropical kingdom (South America)
4. Australian kingdom
5. Holantarctic kingdom (Tip of South America)
6. Capensis kingdom (Western Cape, South Africa)
Which means Table Mountain is its own floral kingdom!
Table Mountain is a South African icon and the only natural site on the planet to have a constellation of stars named after it — Mensa, meaning “the table.” The flat-topped mountain has withstood six million years of erosion and hosts the richest, yet smallest floral kingdom on earth with over 1,470 floral species. Table Mountain boasts numerous rare and endangered species. It is the most recognized site in Cape Town, the gateway to Africa, owing to its unique flat-topped peaks which reach 1,086 m above sea level.
There are 22 snake species on the mountain, of which five are deadly and only ten non-venomous. The deadly ones include the Cape cobra (Naja nivea), puff adder (Bitis arietans), boomslang (Dispholidus typus), rinkhals (Hemachatus haemachatus) and berg adder (Bitis atropos). Snakes are bashful creatures and are unlikely to behave aggressively; remember that they are probably as afraid of you as you are of them.
Table Mountain is one of the oldest mountains on the planet. It’s six times older than the Himalayas and five times older than the Rockies. Mount Everest in the Himalayas is 60 million years old so Table Mountain is estimated to be 360 million years old. It was named a World Heritage Site in 2004. In a nutshell it IS one of the 7 Wonders of Nature.
Eamonn Fitzgerald: Why should people visit Table Mountain?
Fiona Furey: It is a nature lover’s dream! And for those people who are not interested in the biodiversity and just want a great day out, it’s an incredible experience. The lower cable car station is less than five minutes drive from the city centre and the cable car itself takes less that five minutes to reach the top. So in less than fifteen minutes (give yourself an extra five for parking and getting tickets etc.) you go from the bustle of the city to absolute calm and tranquility. The views are breathtaking, Eamonn, I’m not joking, you feel like you are on top of the world.