A Tale of Two Capes

For my last full day in South Africa, I really packed it in.

I booked a tour to Cape Point through the Green Cab, an eco-friendly shuttle bus that provides transport to the popular southern point on the Western Cape. When the Portuguese first came to current day South Africa, they landed at Cape Point in the 1650′s. However, they did not colonize the area; that was the Dutch, where reminisces of them are still here today, such as Dutch namesakes like Simon’s Town, a suburb of Cape Town near Cape Point — named after one of the first Dutch Governors of the Cape, Simon van der Stel. The Dutch and British battled it out for years, switching control a few times, with the British taking final control until the Union of South Africa was born in 1910 (read the history here). Throughout present day South Africa, there is still much Dutch and British influence everywhere.

 

The view is spectacular at Cape Point. Riding the funicular to the top of the mountain, the 180-degree view offers scenes of Simon’s Town in the distance, the Atlantic ocean to one side, and the Indian to the other. History tells us that the Point is where ships could turn towards Europe, Asia or anywhere. There is a defunct lighthouse at the top, which history also says was too high for the incoming ships to see, therefore another working lighthouse was built below, with paths along side the mountain. From here, you can also see the Cape of Good Hope, one of the most southern tips of the African continent and a mixing point path of both ocean currents. My guide for the day told me, which was confirmed by our good friend, Wikipedia:

There is a misconception that the Cape of Good Hope is the southern tip of Africa, because it was once believed to be the dividing point between the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. In fact, the southernmost point is Cape Agulhas, about 150 kilometres (90 mi) to the east-southeast. The currents of the two oceans meet at the point where the warm-water Agulhas current meets the cold water Benguela current and turns back on itself—a point that fluctuates between Cape Agulhas and Cape Point.

 

While you are at the Table Mountain National Park, the home of the two Capes, there are known to be Baboons, Osterich’s and other wildlife lurking about. In fact, there are signs everywhere that warn you: “Baboons are dangerous and wild animals – don’t feed them.” My guide also told me stories about how the Baboons will try to jump through windows and into cars to get food. Beware! Lock your doors.

Since I didn’t see any wildlife, my guide took me the the nearby Cape Point Osterich Farm to see an Osterich! And did I see one!?! At the farm, you can also buy lots of goods made of Osterich and meat, Osterich meat. Apparently, there were some Baboons nearby — but, I didn’t see them! #darn! I was also hoping to see some penguins. Since I missed them on my trip to Robben Island, I asked my tour guide  to take me into Seaforth, a town near Simon’s Town, to the Boulders Penguin Colony that houses African Penguins. I was expecting the penguins to be a little more lively; they were actually kind of boring laying about trying to get a tan. Nevertheless, worth the 45ZAR (about $4.50US) to see them. I was told they are usually screaming and dancing about — not today! #LOL

On the 60-or-so minute coastline drive, you follow a scenic road around the mountain through Chapman’s Peak. The views are also gorgeous of the mountain, the ocean and its bays. However, I was told that the road was plagued by falling rocks from the mountain hurting — and actually killing — people. Therefore, years ago, South Africa sent experts to Switzerland, which has similar mountain problems, to find out how to rectify the problem. The experts came back and built strategic walls and netting alongside the mountain that would catch falling rocks before they hit the road. They also built side tunnels through the mountain for cars to go through so rocks could still fall down the side and into the ocean. So, while you drive through the curvy roads of Chapman’s Peak, there is random netting alongside the mountain – even some filled with stones caught!

 

 

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