I am woken by a bird knocking on the window of my room-it's gone before I can identify it though. Outside it is cool and in the leaf filtered sunlight it's hard to remember that I'm in the centre of a city. The coffee machine grinds fresh beans, and with a hot and fragrant mug in hand I stand outside in the coolness of the morning, listening to the gurgling of the Camissa (sweet water) River that runs from the mountain to the sea.
The trail officially leaves from the Nelson Mandela Gateway at the Waterfront. "Day 1", the city tour, is optional, but I'm thrilled to be doing it-Cape Towns past is rich and diverse and it will be fascinating to explore it.
As an Urban Park, TMNP and Cape Town are inextricably linked. This part of the trail contextualises the park by exploring the relationship between the history of the city, the mountain and the sea.
The sea smell of the harbour is strong, and mingles with the diesel and breakfast smells of the busy waterfront. The sky is cerulean blue, and cloudless. It will be a hot day, but beautiful.
I meet my fellow travellers and the city guides from "Footsteps to Freedom". They are our hosts on this first day, and brief us about what to expect on their historical tour of the city.
We begin with a brief tour of the Robben Island Museum. This is followed by a harbour tour, and it's easy to imagine why Hoerikwaggo means "mountain in the sea". From this perspective the mountain rises up from the ocean, the gulls hang suspended in the air, and sea fat seals lounge in the tires on the harbour walls.
Moving further out of the harbour we're priviledged to watch as about 30 dolphins feed and dive and cut through the water with choreographed precision. It's hard to know where to look they are so fast and there are so many of them slick and glistening in the green of the sea. We can see the silvered fish they are chasing, and the seals and gulls join in the spectacle.
The Waterfront documents much of Cape Town's early history. Many of the old buildings that front the city all have a role in the modern Waterfront, just as they did more than a hundred years ago, when this was a contested site, and battles raged between people, land and sea.
Back on the edge of the city, we start to walk up towards the mountain, and step by step we retrace 350 years of dramatic history: the arrival of the dutch, colonialism, imprisonment, slavery, apartheid, violence and confrontation, but also freedom, hope, multi-culturalism and reconcialiation.
And so we walk together through time, past Gallows Hill, up towards Bo Kaap and along Chiappini street, past homes built in the 1760s, bright against the blue blue sky and cobbled streets. The colours are intense-reds, yellows, orange, purples, greens... We learn about the Auwal Mosque, dating from 1794, and the religious and cultural influences that have helped shape the city.
Making our way to Heritage Square we walk past St Stevens Dutch Reformed Church, the "Groote Kerk", and then on towards the old town hall, past flower sellers and some of Cape Town's Art Deco architecture.
Two police men on horse back amble by, the horses' shod feet clanging on the cobbles. The granite of the buildings has soaked up the sun and is warm and smooth to touch. And always the mountain in the background, looking out towards the sea.
Grand Parade has witnessed its share of history as well. A recently freed Nelson Mandela stood here, in sight of the old castle (the oldest occupied building in South Africa), and spoke about freedom and tolerance, to a nation on the verge of a new era.
There is so much to see and hear, and the guides pause often to recount an anecdote or to share some historical information. The District Six Museum documents the rich and distinctive cultural life of this part of Cape Town that was shattered by the forced removals in the 1960s. The personal testimonies articulate these experiences with messages of loss, of hope, of individual triumphs and sorrows. The small details weave a rich and moving tapestry that sensitively captures an important part of the city's past.
We wind up past parliament and the old Company Gardens, before we stop for a delicious lunch and a chance to digest the morning's activity.