Disclaimer: This post is purely relating my personal experience and is not a sponsored post #NotSponsored
Please note: I am not a wheelchair user but use crutches for walking (Wheelchair used for long distances).
I recently celebrated my birthday which, as you know, can be a rather costly expense these days so I looked at a few “free birthday” options available and decided on a trip on the Table Mountain Cableway.
Up to this point I’d never been in the “new” cable car. The old cable car was replaced somewhere around 1974 and a new and improved version replaced that one around 1992 or thereabouts if I remember correctly. The last time I took a trip up the cableway was with my parents as a 9 or 10 year old which definitely was before 1974. I had also read reports about how accessible the new cable car is for people with disabilities and how accessible the mountain itself has been made for people with disabilities – it was now my turn to check all this out.
My cousin agreed to accompany me just in case I needed assistance and with not being sure how accessible the trip would really be, I welcomed her company.
On arrival into the parking area, I showed the Parking Marshall my disability parking disc and he immediately directed me to the disability parking where the Security Marshall guided me into the parking space.
On exiting my vehicle, using my crutches for walking the Security Marshall immediately noticed my difficulty in walking and asked if I would not prefer to use a wheelchair. I immediately took him up on the offer.
He then asked both my cousin and myself if we had our tickets and we both responded that we still needed to buy the tickets. He asked if either of us was celebrating our birthday and I responded saying it was my birthday. He then told my cousin to take my ID document with her to the ticket office and to get the tickets in the meantime and told her where to find us when she got back (at the lifts in the lower cable station).
Leaving me to carry on walking at my own pace, he then followed my cousin and about halfway to the ticket office signalled to the Security Marshall closest to the ticket office that we need a wheelchair. The Security Marshall with me then met the other one halfway to get the wheelchair and proceeded to bring it to me.
While all this was happening (while I was slowly making my way to where I needed to be), I heard a voice from somewhere above where I was walking calling “Ma’am, Ma’am”. On looking up (I think it was to the second floor of the building) there was a lady (looked like a Manger or Supervisor). She asked if I was alone or with a family member to which I responded “family member”. She asked where the family member had gone and I said “to purchase our tickets”. She then instructed the Security Marshall who, at this point was still walking slightly ahead of me, to organiser a wheelchair for me to which he responded that he had already done so. At this point he then walked a little faster to meet the other Security Marshall on his way with the wheelchair.
By the time he got me settled in the wheelchair my cousin arrived back with our tickets and he helped us into the lift and told us where to go. He could not go with us because he needed to get back to his post.
The lift (elevator): does not have audio announcements so if you a visually impaired and not able to see the display above the keypad, you will not know which floor you are on unless you ask someone. The keypad inside the lift also does not have any Braille impressions – the buttons are smooth to the touch (room for improvement here).
On arrival at the top (5th floor), we then boarded the cable car with the other patrons. According to the website a car departs (up and down) every hour but due to the large number of people, the cars basically depart as soon as they are full.
Cable car: has a revolving floor (2 levels) and the wheelchair easily slides from docking station into the car itself. The floor is a little narrow so an ordinary manual wheelchair has to be angled slightly sideways so as to not interfere with the opening and closing of the doors.
If travelling with a Service Dog, I would also advise you to have another person with you just to make sure the animal’s paws are correctly positioned on the floor so as to not get jammed when the doors close or when the floor starts revolving.
There is a Cableway staff member in the car with you using the Public Address System (PA System) to make all the announcements. Before the car moves off, you are told to stand clear of the doors and not hold onto the hand rails because once the car starts moving the floor will start rotating.
As the car comes into the station at the top of the mountain, there is another announcement to thank you for taking the trip and making Table Mountain the 7th Wonder of the World and that you are now 1067m (3,500 feet above sea level). You are also requested not to pick any flowers nor desecrate any rocks, stick to all designated pathways and to enjoy your time on top of the mountain.
Table Mountain: the wheelchair easily slides out of the cable car onto the docking station and you are free to explore the mountain together with everyone else. There are many wheelchair accessible walkways/pathways so although there are still many areas where there are steps, there are sufficient walkways/pathways for wheelchair users to still enjoy the sights.
Even if you have very good upper body strength, I still advise you to take someone with you to help navigate the various pathways because they are all natural stone pathways so your wheelchair could get caught on a stone that’s slightly raised. There are also many pathways/walkways with steep inclines which is even difficult for someone pushing your chair so trying to navigate this on your own could be a challenge even if you have good upper body strength.
Disability accessible bathrooms: these are located in the (docking station) building just as you get out of the cable car so if you need the toilet, it is best to do that first before exploring otherwise you have to come all the way back into the building again for the toilet. I was unfortunately not able to explore the bathroom set up so am currently not able to talk about the accessibility aspect.
The Restaurant at the top of the mountain: The restaurant seems to be fully accessible. Wide sliding doors open automatically as you approach. Again, I was not able to access the restaurant, as I opted to wait for my cousin at one of the outside tables while she quickly popped in to grab some coffee for me which was a good thing apparently because the restaurant was extremely busy and very hot (seemed like the air conditioning was not working).
While sitting at the outside table I did not encounter any restaurant serving staff so I assume it’s one of those where you have to go in, buy what you need and you choose a table to sit and eat what you’ve bought.
The Gift Shop: The shop is tiny and jam packed with goods to buy so although it is wheelchair accessible, it is very difficult to move around inside because aisles are narrow and with people walking in and out all the time trying to get through with a wheelchair is problematic but doable. The door to the shop seems to be very narrow because a manual wheelchair just about manages to get in so if you are in a larger motorised wheelchair, I doubt you will be able to get through the door to the shop. Everyone is super friendly and willing to let the wheelchair user pass as soon as they become aware of your presence.
Getting back to the building for departure is a challenge as you can well imagine because where it was a steep incline out of the building to explore the mountain, you are now faced with a steep decline back into the building to get your cable car back to the bottom of the mountain.
Overall, I was super impressed with the service. Every single staff member was super vigilant in terms of disability accessibility required and knew exactly what to do without being asked.
Whoever did the disability awareness training with the staff, in my opinion, did an excellent job. I’ve not encountered this level of disability awareness anywhere in Cape Town.
#UniversalAccess #Disability #DisabilityAwareness #Tourism
#DisabilityRights #TableMountainCableway #Travel #TableMountain #CapeTownExperiences @TableMountainCa @CapeTownTourism