Whether they are called mesa, butte, amba, or tuya, table top mountains are some of the most spectacular geological features of our world. Formed in the same way as other mountains (a combination of lava eruptions and geological folding and bending), it’s their flat tops that make them such fascinating standouts from the pointy mountains. Let’s have a look at some of the amazing table top mountains around the world.
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Survey the World from an Island in the Sky, USA
Canyonlands National Park in Utah sports an ever-changing landscape of canyons, tepuis, buttes and mesas. The Tepuis or table top mountains here are among the oldest geological formations on our planet, dating back some two billion years. Utah owes this amazing landscape to the Colorado and Green River erosion, when the waters carved out these stunning rock formations over millennia. The views across the national park from the top of a mesa are simply breath-taking.
Join Sir Arthur Conan Doyle at Mount Roraima, Venezuela
If climbing isn't your thing, stay in your armchair and read Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's famous novel "The Lost World" instead. At 9,094 ft/2,772m Mount Roraima is the highest and most famous of the table top mountains in Venezuela. Totally isolated from the forest that surrounds it at its foot, Mount Roraima boasts nearly one third of plant species that evolved on the mountain and are unique to this plateau, just like the plants and prehistoric animals Sir Arthur Conan Doyle describes in his 1912 novel, using a similar table top mountain scenario for his dinosaur infested plot.
Hitching a Ride up to Table Mountain, South Africa
The most famous of all table top mountains on Earth, Table Mountain received its name in 1503, when António de Saldanha, as the first European who had landed in Table Bay, scrambled up this mountain and named it. At its highest point Table Mountain measures 3,563 ft/1,086m. Essentially, this is an extraordinary level plateau stretching for 2 miles/3 km from side to side, overlooking the city of Cape Town. The plateau is surrounded by steep cliffs and affords amazing views over the city, the Atlantic coast to the west and south and Table Bay to the north. Footsore tourists can hitch a ride on a cable car all the way up to the top.
Do as the Gentoo Penguins do on Brown Bluff, Antarctica
Home to cute Adelie and Gentoo penguins, Antarctica's Brown Bluff Mountain is located in one of the coldest climates on the planet and one of the least visited table top mountains as a result. Situated at the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, this tepui is a flat topped 2,444ft/745m high volcano permanently capped by ice, although it has a reddish-brown cliff of imposing proportions that towers above colonies of squawking penguins.
Looking out for Thor on Mount Asgard, Canada
Located in Auyuittuq National Park in Baffin Island, Mount Asgard is a twin-peaked mountain that belongs to the Baffin Mountain chain and the most famous of Canadian table top mountains. Named after Asgard, the mythological Norse realm of the gods, Mount Asgard became even more famous in 1976, when stuntman Rick Sylvester performed a jaw-dropping base jump off its twin-peaks for "The Spy Who Loved Me", one of the best remembered James Bond movie opening sequences of all times.
Commune with God at Debre Damo, Ethiopia
Rising tall out of the desert plains of Northern Ethiopia is the flat-topped mountain of Debre Damo. Debre Damo is not only the name of the impressive mountain but also the name of a 6th century monastery which sits on the summit. The monastery is home to a collection of Christian manuscripts and also boasts the oldest existing church building in Ethiopia. Remarkably, the monastery is only accessible by a rope up a 50 foot sheer cliff. But don’t worry about that minor inconvenience, we women aren’t allowed anyway!
Pay a Visit to the “Other” Table Top Mountain in Australia - Mount Conner
You can be forgiven for thinking that Uluru is Australia’s only magnificent table top mountain. After all, it seems to get all the attention. Mount Conner is actually not that far from Uluru and can be seen from the road from Alice Springs to Uluru. Mount Conner is a horseshoe-shaped mountain and is called Artilla by the Australian Aborigines. They believe the mountain is home to icemen who create the cold weather.
I’ve had the immense pleasure of visiting Table Mountain in South Africa but I’d happily go see the others! Do table top mountains fascinate you?
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