During the night, our ship rounded the Cape of Good Hope and left the Indian Ocean to return to the Atlantic Ocean – our starting body of water. So, now it is becoming more apparent that our trip is coming to an end. This could have been very rough around the Cape due to winds and currents, but it was surprisingly rather calm. We had some large swells from time to time, but on the whole, it was fairly mild.
We woke while it was still dark to listen to Barbara’s sail in commentary. It was a bit pointless since it was dark for most of it. However, we did get to see the four peaks that surround Cape Town on three sides, the most impressive and the landmark – Table Mountain because of its flat top and when the clouds hang over it, it looks like a tablecloth. [The clouds are barely covering the flat mountain top.] When it started to get light, I went up on deck to take some pictures – and then enjoy the Table Mountain rolls – the last I think we’ll get of these delicious rolls that change their name with every great sail-in.
A few quick facts about Cape Town. It is the 3rd most populous city in South Africa and lies at the foot of Table Mountain (3,750 feet tall) and is on the shore of Table Bay. It is one of the world’s largest dry docks, so ship repairing is an important industry here. [We are docked in a true working harbor, unlike the fishing harbor nearby where the Victoria and Alfred center is with its shops, restaurants and entertainment.] Because of its natural beauty, Cape Town is the tourism capital of South Africa. Finally, it is also famous for its fine wines produced in three areas nearby.
Caught up with Barb and Charlie during breakfast and then we went to wait for our tour to be called. Jack, BJ, Charlie, Barb and Doug and I were finally all on the same tour together again. It had been a while, so we were all looking forward to it.
The weather had really turned cold – 54 degrees when we got up. It was also cloudy and rain was in the forecast, so we all bundled up in sweaters for our tour. It was called Cape of Good Hope which was an 8 1/2 hour tour. The most southern part of South Africa is a long, narrow peninsula ending at the Cape of Good Hope. Today we drove to Cape Point to get a good view of the Cape of Good Hope. We took the western route down the peninsula and returned on the eastern side. It was a beautiful drive with many little seaside towns along the way. The western side is more dry with more scrub brush vegetation, while the eastern side is more lush and green. The water is much warmer on the eastern side as well.
We started with a drive by the Victoria and Alfred (known as the V and A) harbor which was built because of the strong waves and many ship wrecks in that area. Today it is a vibrant area and a tourist attraction.
We passed by the Cape Town Stadium which was being built when we were here in 2010. Some of the World Cup soccer games were played here. It is unique with its glass roof. [This picture was taken at a later date, but shows the stadium well.] A golf course is right next to it. It is a perfect place for my son, Rob!
We drove along the coast and because it was low tide, we could more easily see all the rocky outcroppings along this craggy and rocky shoreline. The oldest lighthouse in South Africa is here. [We were sitting on the other side of the bus so I couldn’t get good pictures of the coastline or anything along it, such as the lighthouse!]
One of the first seaside suburbs we passed through was Sea Point, which is a popular area for older adults with its own shops and restaurants right on the promenade. It also is a great spot for sunsets.
Next was Bantry Bay with its houses going up the side of the mountain side. The hills have to be stabilized before anything can be built. It is an expensive housing area – with great views of the ocean.
Along the Clifton area, there are huge boulders and rocks out in the ocean. It is a beautiful beach area but not so great for swimming – not to mention the cold water! This was followed by Camps Beach which had a great big sandy beach, but cold water and strong currents make swimming here less desirable.
Many people believe that the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean, two of the most contrasting waters with the cold Benguela current on the West Coast and the warm Agulhas current on the East Coast, meet at the Cape of Good Hope. Geographically, however, the Indian Ocean joins the Atlantic Ocean at Cape Agulhas National Park. Our guide also told us that seaweed only grows in the Atlantic Ocean, not the Indian, so that is why we could see lots of kelp floating in the bays we passed.
After driving along the Table Mountain coastline, we started up to the beautiful Chapman’s Peak Drive which afforded us great views from an elevated perspective. There were a lot of bike riders on the side of the road. People in S. Africa really are active in the outdoors and do a lot of cycling and hiking. We drove around the very large Hout Bay with its sandy beaches until we came to our first look out point where we could take pictures.
Having driven past many beautiful seaside resort homes, we also passed an area called Ocean View which is one of the townships in this area where the non-whites were sent during apartheid. It is a very poor settlement and the name has nothing to do with the area! As our guide noted, this is a country of great contrasts – and we saw first hand what she meant.
The last town we passed by before getting to the cape was Scarborough where baboons are a menace. There were warning signs about them. There are even special rangers to help take care of the problems these animals cause, for example, moving them out of the area. This town is also known as a “conservation town,” especially with how they conserve water.
At last, we arrived at the entrance to Table Mountain National Park where the Cape of Good Hope is located. In 1938 the local authority proclaimed this land a nature reserve. In 1988 it was incorporated into the Cape Peninsula National Park. In 2004 the name changed to Table Mountain National Park. The drive to the very end of the peninsula was beautiful with False Bay on one side. The Indian Ocean current heats up the ocean so that this bay is a great place for tourism and the water is more like a sub tropical environment. In this picture it’s almost hard to determine the line between the water and sky.
We went to Cape Point to get a better view of the Cape of Good Hope, which was originally called the Cape of Storms because of all the shipwrecks due to the high seas and strong winds. It was later changed to the Cape of Good Hope so as not to frighten the sailors. Here is a picture of it jutting out into the water. There is a wide beach, Dias, on one side and a trail you can walk out onto the tip. To get up to Cape Point, we took a gondola type of cable car – less than a 5 minute ride – and the views were great going up. You could also walk up.
On the top is the old lighthouse. You could climb the steps to get to the top, but you couldn’t go inside. This is no longer being used. The new lighthouse is on False Bay. Apparently, there were a lot of shipwrecks in spite of this old lighthouse, so it was moved. There is a huge rock, called Bellows Rock, out in the water off of the Cape of Good Hope that contributed to the wrecks. It looked like a big ripple in the ocean.
Standing at a certain point at the top, you could see the Cape on the left and False Bay on the right – separated by this narrow land point. It was a beautiful view. In this picture, you can only see the sandy beach of the Cape side and the path dividing the Cape from the bay.
As we drove out, we could see what the tip looked like from the other side. It doesn’t have the same sandy beach. This is more craggy and rocky, but very beautiful. As we headed back along the eastern side, we saw how much greener and more lush this side is.
Nestled in a sheltered cove between Cape Point and Simon’s Town is Boulders – world famous for its colony of African Penguins. Although it is set in the midst of a residential area, it is one of the few sites where the endangered bird can be observed at close range, wandering freely in a protected natural environment. From just two breeding pairs in 1982, the penguin colony has grown to about 2,000 in recent years. As we walked along the boardwalk, these were the first penguins we saw – so it seems there may soon be 2,001!
We saw them both in and out of the water. They make a donkey-like braying sound. Their distinctive black and white coloring is a vital form of camouflage – white for underwater predators looking upwards and black for predators looking down into the water. Their feathers, as an adult, are waxy to protect them from the cold water when they go out to sea to feed. You can tell the adults because of the white and black feathers. The adolescence are brown without the coloration. It takes a year for their feathers to get waxy. And the chicks are fluffy. Here is a picture showing all three. There is only one chick on the right side and the two adolescence have their backs to the camera. They were really fun to watch. We took lots and lots of pictures of these little guys!
After the penguins, we had a great seafood buffet lunch at a restaurant (Seaforth Restaurant) within walking distance of the penguin boardwalk. Along the way there were little craft stalls set up as well as some singers/dancers. We had another shopping opportunity – and bought a wooden giraffe. Simon’s Town was quaint with lots of little shops and cafes along the road. It is also a large navy base.
Our drive back to Cape Town was pretty. We passed through the oldest wine region in S. Africa – Constancia. Before coming down the mountain, we had a great overview of the whole city. We also saw the maximum prison (buildings with the red roofs) where Nelson Mandela was also held (besides his time on Robben Island.)
Our last stop on the tour was Kirstenbosch National Botanic Gardens which sprawls over 1,300 acres and contains 4,580 species of indigenous plants. The setting is beautiful, and we enjoyedd a wonderful walk through part of it. There were long lines of people as we were leaving because it was the last night of their evening concerts and this one was sold out. Would have been great to have been able to attend this since we were here overnight. We had a chance to go to the gift shop here which was remarkable with high quality items and lovely statues for sale.
When we got back to Cape Town, the six of us opted to be dropped off at the V & A shopping area close to the ship. We enjoyed a little more shopping before calling it a day and heading back to the ship – it was almost 8 p.m. and we had had a long day. We saw the new Ferris wheel (resembling both the London and Singapore ones) all lit up at night. This is a fun and safe place to stroll, eat and shop. We’ll be back!!!!