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Flying South

To the Cape

SOUTH AFRICA | Friday, 24 January 2014 | Views [284]

Today’s plan was simple, head round the coast road to visit the Cape of Good Hope, maybe making a couple of stops along the way. We’d read that catching the rush hour can add hours to the journey so we waited until after 9 before heading off.

We started out slightly later than planned but the run round the bay from The Strand was very pleasant. The sea front here is reminiscent of every sea front location you’ve seen on tv that is somewhere hot and sunny. Wide walkways, golden (almost white) sandy beaches and lots of beautiful, and not so beautiful, people enjoying the place. Between built up areas the coast on the bay seems to be mainly dunes and some of the views looking out are great. It’s quite awesome to look out and see the points on both sides of the bay. You really get a perspective on the geography of the place.

Our first stop was in Muizenberg to visit the cottage owned by Cecil John Rhodes, in fact the very place he died. The place is now a small museum with 3 rooms which pretty much covers Rhodes’ entire life in it’s small but well crafted layout. The interesting thing for me was that the place gave me more feel for the man than anything else, and I believe this is by intent. This guy really was one of the giants of history. By visiting the cottage it also meant I have now visited the start of his funereal journey as well as the end, his grave which I visited in Matopos while we were in Zimbabwe.

After this we headed to a restaurant called the Brass Bell, on Deb’s advice, for lunch. The Brass ell is actually 4 slightly different places under one roof, as it were, although at least one of the areas is actually outdoor. We ate indoors as the wind across the bay was pretty fierce and between the four of us we demolished 2 extremely large Crayfish Platter’s for 2Two (A quick note here for all those reading this in the Northern Hemisphere: a crayfish down here is the name for a spiny lobster, not for a crayfish as we know them.) It consisted of half a crayfish each, a fillet of line fish 3 or 4 large prawns per person and more calamari than you could shake a big stick at, all accompanied by rice, fries and salad. The place also did some great craft beers. I sampled an Amber Weiss and a Pale Ale both of which were really good. Along side al of this Deb and I did sample a couple of G & T’s, after all “it’s hell in Africa!”

After lunch it was onwards to the Cape. The area itself is a national park here and the scenery is as g and untouched as it must have appeared to sailors throughout the ages. There is a car park almost at the end from where you can walk up, or take a kind of tram thingy, to the top of the first view point/lighthouse. From here there is another walk which leads down the side and across an exposed ridge to the far end of what we discovered is Cape Point. The views were amazing, if somewhat vertigo inspiring, and the coastline here is way beyond rugged but with large doses of awesome. We saw a strange lizard which I have yet to identify and a rock kestrel on the way over and on the way back there were a couple of rain belts moving in which managed to catch us. Being on the sheltered side of the point at that time we didn’t get too wet and I did catch an interesting picture of the two swathes of rain moving towards each other across the sea.

We then headed through the park to the actual Cape of Good Hope as shown on all the tourist guide maps for more photos and to enable us to say we’d done the job properly! This is also a great place, even more so than Cape Point as you don’t have to climb anywhere to get to it. There is a scenic walk up and over to Diaz beach but that is, thankfully, optional. The rocks here were jammed with some type of tern and a species of cormorant. So many that there didn’t seem to be an unoccupied patch of rock anywhere within view.

We then left the park area, later than intended and headed for Simonstown to try and catch a glimpse of the African Penguins in the colony at Boulder’s Bay. The actual colony is in a mini national park and so we decided to give that a miss a take a walkway which runs alongside it. From there we saw all the penguins we could wish for, close up in the greenery which has been ‘managed’ to hide the colony from the walkway, but also by looking through the gaps and over the top  to the beach and rocks themselves. I have to say penguins, despite all the warning signs about their bites, are every bit as cute and loveable as when you see them on tv. I will post a small spot of video at some point to make this point more obvious!

After this Deb navigated us over the tops, the views leaving Simonstown and heading up were amazing, and down to the western coast of the peninsula from where we took the route over Chapman’s Peak and through various local towns to Cape Town itself. It was getting dark by this point but my main impressions were of the grandeur of the coastline in the dusk and the picturesque, almost ethereal quality of the towns and villages when their lights were seen in the distance. Chapma’s Peak itself is insane. How you come up with the idea to pretty mush build a road around and over a mountain, right on the coast, where no obvious route for a road actually exists, is beyond me, but they did. You end up with a road which I would very much like to travel again in daylight as the view must be awesome by day. There is even one point where they are awesome by night. The road has been build into an ‘almost’ tunnel in the cliff. I say almost because, from where we were driving, if you opened the sun roof and half of the car was under ‘tunnel’ and one half wasn’t – brilliant!

Once we hit Cape Town we took a brief tour along some of the sea front there by night (This seems to be where all the clubs and nightlife is happening,) and then headed out past the world cup soccer stadium and on back to the Strand and supper. From what I saw Cape Town looks fabulous and I’m really looking forward to seeing it again in daylight!

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