June 18, 2024

Classes in the clouds

3 min read

Education and knowledge determine so much about the quality of our lives, shaping and texturing our experiences across every domain. “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world,” said Nelson Mandela. 

Everywhere we look, there are signs of climate change and of the devastation that humans have brought to this planet. The warning bells are ringing, and it makes awareness days such as World Environmental Education Day (26 January) perhaps even more significant than ever before.

It’s especially pertinent in South Africa, where we’re blessed to live in the midst of numerous pristine areas, protected by the fervent efforts of conservation staff who serve as the human custodians of these precious natural heritage zones.

In Cape Town, both locals and international visitors are constantly enthralled by the majestic natural beauty that surrounds them, and most inspiring of all is the imposing sight of one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature right on our doorstep. The iconic Table Mountain is visible from various locales around the city, where it looms serenely, often adorned with its characteristic crown of cascading mists.

“We aim to empower and upskill our youth with a renewed interest in and love of the planet and our natural environment. Hopefully, this also kickstarts an interest that leads to an employment opportunity down the line,” says Wahida Parker, managing director of Table Mountain Aerial Cableway Company (TMACC). “As an environmentally focused, conservation-oriented organisation, our role lies in fostering a sense of wonder, and an inquisitiveness about conservation and the natural sciences, in all South Africans – especially among the youth.

“Part of TMACC’s mission to afford access to every South African to the top of Table Mountain at least once in their lifetimes is the Class in the Clouds initiative: a project intended to inspire young South African learners by letting them enjoy the natural splendour of the Cape Floristic Region for themselves. We launched the initiative over 20 years ago, to let learners from all over South Africa experience the beauty of Table Mountain and learn first-hand about the remarkable fauna and flora of the region. 

Over the course of two decades, more than 330 000 learners of all ages have already enjoyed this unique, highly engaging environmental education experience.

Class in the Clouds has grown to become a highlight of the year for many of the country’s primary and high school learners, who often look forward to their mountain adventure for weeks in advance. “It’s an exciting day for them, when they get to swop the classroom for a trip of a lifetime,” says Parker.

Learners ascend the majestic cliffs and crags of SA’s most iconic natural landmark, riding in Rotair cable cars that allow them a 360-degree view of Cape Town and its surrounds. 

“It’s wonderful to see the sense of sheer awe that the children experience when suspended in the cable car, traversing the vast expanse above the rocky slopes leading up to the iconic flat-topped summit. What better way to get outside, connect with nature and spark a curiosity about the world, and the importance of preserving our environment, in the minds of South Africa’s schoolgoers?” Parker enthuses.

“Let’s teach our children about International Day of Environmental Education, and then, if you’re a parent, teacher or leader of a community group, why not follow it up by taking the next step and booking an outing for your group with Class in the Clouds?”

This year, Class in the Clouds will run from Friday, 1 March until Thursday, 31 October, Parker says, adding that TMACC offers a special, per-learner concession rate.

“We want to ensure every South African school comes to join the fun, up at our famous class in the clouds!”

The Class in the Clouds experience is complemented with a virtual online equivalent for learners to revisit their memories of the special day and show their families. It also lets children all over the world, who may never get to visit beautiful South Africa, see what it’s like on Table Mountain, via a 3D virtual tour, right from the comfort of home or at school, on any laptop or smartphone!

Email cic@tablemountain to get started with your booking today. The Class in the Clouds programme is not offered on weekends, public holidays or during the March school holidays. Keep in mind that the Cableway will close for annual maintenance from 15 July to 1 September 2024.

Leave a Reply