We had such a nice time today, watching the paragliders taking off into the sunset from Signal Hill, and heading out toward the beach at Sea Point.
We watched a number of successful take-offs, and we have to assume the landings went just as well, although we couldn’t see them. It was fun to have the close-up view of people’s faces and body language as they ran as fast as they could, sometimes with a little help from the crew, and then became airborne.
After watching 7 or 8 takeoffs, I began to think that I might want to take a try at this!
Once the sun dropped below the horizon, it was time for the crews to pack up and go home. I would tag the paragliding company if I knew their name, so if anyone recognizes a familiar face or company logo, please comment.
It’s been a busy week. We rented a car, and that of course obligates us to get out and about. So – here are some of our fantastic destinations.
Sea Point is a suburb of Cape Town, and is just around the corner from we were are staying. We visited one afternoon just before sunset, and here’s how it looked. Gorgeous!
Personally, I’m not wild about cable car rides. The alternative is a 2 hour hike, which the official website describes as follows: The duration belies the strenuousness of the hike. The cable car it is!
Once the doors of the car are closed and it begins to climb slowly, the operator instructs the passengers to keep their hands off the windows, and to let go of the rail. These instructions seem counter-intuitive, and it is a struggle to obey. The operator needs to repeat the statement twice more: let go of the railings, because the floor will begin to rotate. It’s a bit disconcerting, but does provide spectacular views.
Once you arrive at the top, you are free to scamper all over the plateau. There are marked paths, sort of, and signs instructing visitors to remain inside the designated areas. Of course there were the free spirits who had not yet learned they were mere mortals. See photo below. Fortunately there were no accidents the day we were there, but we did pass a monument dedicated to all those who had died while hiking the mountain.
The views are breathtaking. Remember to click on the photos to enlarge them.
This is a sweet little coastal town which is home to a naval base, and has an active harbor. It has a number of nice restaurants on the water, and Dutch-inspired architecture.
This was another scenic spot on the water, plus it has seals!
There was a crazy man inviting tourists to get their picture taken with this giant beastie, or to be photographed feeding it. Clearly he doesn’t actually believe those warning signs about wild animals biting. This quick video captures the depth of the man’s insanity.
Chapman’s Peak Drive
I first drove Chapman’s Peak Drive in 1993, by myself, in a car with the steering wheel on the right and the stick shift on the left. At the time, it was not a toll road, and it also had not been improved to protect cars from falling rocks. There were minimal safety precautions, and if a car went off the edge, it stayed there – it was simply too difficult to retrieve it. The drive has been greatly upgraded. The views are breath-taking (in a good way) and I heartily recommend it as a stop on your Cape Town trip.
At nearly every scenic overlook and rest stop, one can find a couple of souvenir vendors. There are hand-carved figures made of wood and ostrich eggs, and spectacular beaded creations, all available for very little money. We make it a practice not to bargain too hard. A dollar either way doesn’t mean that much to us, but for some of the vendors, it is very important.
Cape of Good Hope
Table Mountain National Park is a vast piece of land that runs from the city of Cape Town all the way to the tip of the peninsula. We picked a sunny day to make the hour and a half trip. It was a bit breezy at sea level, but when we reached the peak where the lighthouse sits, the wind must have been gusting at 50 mph. Even though we were freezing, we didn’t want to leave – such views!
Alas, there wasn’t a baboon in sight. I had really talked them up to Craig, insisting that we take every energy bar and cough drop out of our bags, since they are, um, highly motivated by food. However, to make up for the lack of baboons, we were treated to the sight of an eland antelope – believed by some to the the world’s largest species of antelope. He was quite an impressive sight!
I get a thrill out of seeing the exotic animals in a new place. Okay, I get a thrill out of any animal, including dogs and sheep. Like this little billy goat with his beard waving in the breeze. And look at these goofy ostriches on a farm we spotted as we headed back to the city. So funny!
I saved the most fun critters for last. Boulders Beach is the home of the African Penguin. They have their very own sanctuary and are carefully protected. There are little huts for the penguins to nest in if they choose, and a beautiful clean beach for them to frolic on. In these pictures you can see the mature penguins, as well as the babies, which have fuzzy brown immature feathers.
In the next few days, we’ll be heading to Muizenberg Beach, known for its colorful changing cabins, and the wine region, for a tasting tour. Check back soon for more photos. And it’s almost time for the “one year on the road” blog entry. Yikes!