All Around the Cape

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

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!

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Table Mountain

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.

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Standing in the Victoria & Albert Waterfront, looking toward Table Mountain, you can see the cable car station at the very top right of the plateau.

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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.

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The parent in me wanted to scold her, and order her back on the path immediately.

The views are breathtaking. Remember to click on the photos to enlarge them.

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Simon’s Town

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.

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Hout Bay

This was another scenic spot on the water, plus it has seals!

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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.

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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.

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The large white objects are ostrich eggs.
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I watched the seller making these clever beaded animals. He told me he was from Malawi, but couldn’t survive there so he came to SA. This was the only way he could make money – by using a skill his grandmother taught him when he was 8 years old.
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Hand carved? I really can’t say.
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This vendor had a truckload of pieces for sale.

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!

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After we took a funicular most of the way up, there were still a few stairs to climb.

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The other version of this sign says, “Baboons are wild animals and they BITE!”
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I took this photo on a previous visit to the Cape. I watched this baboon run up to a startled kid and snatch the ice cream from his hand.

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!

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Eland Antelope in the protected fynbos (fine bush) that it eats.

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!

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Have you ever seen a dassie? It’s a rodent/rabbity little thing, but the info center sign said it’s closely related to the elephant!

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Boulders Beach

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.

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It’s easy to see how the beach got its name.

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Twins!
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African penguins have a distinctive pink marking around their eyes.

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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!

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