The Cape of Good Hope

Location: Cape Town, South Africa

We awoke early this morning after a good nights sleep, very nearly in the correct time zone. We got a big breakfast at the hotel and made our way to the lobby to meet Wayne, who was our tour guide for the next two days.  Today’s destination was the famous Cape of Good Hope. Prior to the opening of the Suez Canal nearly all maritime traffic between Asia and Europe had to pass around this Cape. It can be a rough sail, as different currents and winds wreak havoc on those sailing around during the wrong time of year. The European “discoverer” first wanted to call it the “Cape of Storms”, but the King of Portugal was much better at marketing and elected to call it the Cape of Good Hope to encourage ships to sail around it. The justification for the name is that if you make it around, you are halfway to Asia and the hard part is over.

The weather was very fortunate today, with sunny skies and a light wind. Ordinarily it is very windy, which could make some of the hiking later in the day along the mountainous coast less pleasant.

We started by exiting town and driving along the western edge of the Table Mountains. This was largely a scenic drive with very informative narration by our guide. We learned that the main mountain (Table) has a flat top which is frequently blanket by clouds which are thought of as a tablecloth. It’s also surrounded by about 18 peaks, which one former colonial governor referred to as the 12 Apostles. The name stuck. This strange numbering convention and marketing ploy reminded of us our trip to see the Twelve Apostles in Australia.

Table Mountain with a "tablecloth."
Table Mountain with a “tablecloth.”

Before continuing to the Cape we went to the Gourmet Market in Hout Bay. Everything looked great, and we sort of regretted eating breakfast first, because their were lots of tasty things we could have gorged ourselves on. We were somewhat good and shared a small nutella gelato. Ryan also picked up some dried game meat to have later in the trip after workouts.

We continued along down Chapman’s Peak Drive, which was built by a and early 19th century English governor so that he could drive his car along a scenic path. We, along with countless other locals and tourist have since enjoyed the beautiful views ourselves. It reminded us of both the Great Ocean Road and the Amalfi Coast.

The view!
The view!

After the scenic drive we made it to the park which contains the Cape of Good Hope. Soon after entering we saw our first wildlife of the trip, an ostrich.

All he wanted to show us was his butt.
All he wanted to show us was his butt.

Our first stop took us to the aptly named “Flying Dutchman” funicular which took us up to see the Cape Point Lighthouse. But first Wayne took us down a side path to get a better, and much less crowded view of Cape Point and some nest cormorants.

Cape Point
Cape Point
Cormorants
Cormorants

Then we made our way up the lighthouse itself. The lighthouse is no longer functional, but it serves as a decent look out point and tourist marker.

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Following that, we made our way back down the hill for lunch. Surprisingly, despite the popularity, the park is not very developed as a tourist trap. There were very few shops and restaurants, nor are there guardrails along the paths. They wanted to have a more natural look to the park, creating a view that we generally enjoyed. We had an excellent seafood lunch at Two Oceans Restaurant on site. Ryan went for shrimp and calamari, while Rachel had the first (of many?) sushi meal in Cape Town.

After lunch we took a scenic trail down to Cape of Good Hope itself. We took our time and plenty of pictures as we walked along the narrow boardwalk. At one point Ryan took a side path down to the beach, while Rachel smartly decided not to have to climb back up 300ft and continued onward until Ryan rejoined. Eventually we made it to the top of the hill and got more great pictures. The climb back down the other side of the hill to the other parking lot was a bit of a challenge at times, but we made it back.

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At the top of the Cape of Good Hope!
At the top of the Cape of Good Hope!

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Our last stop of the tour took us to the Boulder Bay penguin colony! This enclosed beach house over a thousand African Penguins, which were previously called jack-ass penguins because their call sounds like a donkey. This species is very endangered and the numbers are still plummeting.

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Ain't no party like a penguin party!
Ain’t no party like a penguin party!

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Ryan became his usual giddy self in the presence of penguins. We spent about an hour here.

PENGUINS!
PENGUINS!

Wayne then drove us back to the hotel on the eastern side of the table mountains, giving a different view than earlier in the day. After returning to the hotel we planned to go back out again and have dinner at the Waterfront. But we were exhausted from the hiking and still a little jet-lagged so we decided to eat a small dinner at the hotel and make it an early night.

Tomorrow, we have an early day when we travel several hours to the actual southernmost point of Africa, Cape Aghulas.

Total steps: 13,473

Total penguins species observed: 1 (African)

 

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