The Cape Peninsula

Picking up the rental we had reserved on our second day was a shock!

We might drive big trucks in Texas but not on the left side of the road. The agency had nothing else available and the morning was slipping away so we hoped for the best and took off.

Driving on the left side took some getting used to, specially trying to go in reverse as you have to look over your left shoulder instead of the right one but Fernando managed to get the hang of it rather quickly with only a couple of scares.

The drive south is very pleasant. We stopped at Kalk Bay for lunch.

It’s a touristy kind of place but that doesn’t take any of it’s charm away. Here, like in Croatia, they build swimming pools next to the rocky shores which then fill up when the tide rises. This being the Atlantic Ocean, the water is “refreshing”.

We then continued on to Simon’s Town and Boulders Beach

where one of the largest South African Penguin colonies, about 2000 pairs, has its home.

The penguins are extremely cute

and we were lucky to visit when their chicks were almost grown and thus out for us to gawk at.

South African Penguins are endangered and their population has decreased by 90%.

Although collecting eggs is now prohibited, humans remain the Penguins largest threat mainly due to oil spills and commercial fishing which has depleted the Penguins choice of food: sardines.

I could easily fill this blog with cute penguin pictures (we took hundreds) but let’s move on.

We continued our drive south and began seeing signs like this one every km or so.

The boys thought it the best sign of things to come. I wasn’t as enthused.

We finally got to the Cape of Good Hope which lies inside the Table Mountain National Park. Many people erroneously believe that this is the Southernmost tip of Africa and thus this place tends to be crowded with bus loads of tourists waiting to take this picture.

As usual, the boys clambered down  the rocks until the Atlantic Ocean stopped them.

Cape Fur Seals nest on the rocks just off the beach here. These same seals will gladly eat the cute penguins we saw earlier if given a chance.

On our way out of the park we literally ran into an ostrich on the road and had to wait for it to be ready to move to the shoulder before continuing our trip.

We then spotted a troop of baboons in the distance. They were far away enough for even I to feel comfortable stepping out of the car.

On our way back to CapeTown, we stopped to watch the sunset at Scarborough Beach where Ale found “Fifa ” to pet and give my cookies to.

We were finally able to exchange our van for a Corolla the following morning and now confidently drove up to the Table Mountain cable car base hoping to go up. Unfortunately it was a very windy day and the Cable Car was shut down as a precaution. This is a pretty common occurrence in South Africa. When you’re at the literal end of the world, weather dictates your plans. We were not too upset about this as the views from the base are impressive enough as they are.

Instead we headed downtown and toured the Slave Lodge.

When the Europeans colonized South Africa they did not enslave the indigenous population as they needed them as allies in establishing their colonies. Instead they brought slaves from India and Malaysia. These slaves are the ancestors of those later labeled “colored”. They call themselves Cape-Malay now. They are responsible for bringing spices into African food for which we’ve been grateful.

The Slave Lodge stands at the edge of the Company Gardens. Back when the Dutch first established themselves here, they planted a garden to provide fruits and vegetables to their colonists. This is now a pretty public park where beautiful ducks raise their young.

A few blocks away, the colorful stalls of the Green Market beckoned to us. The vendors are insistent but not grossly so and entertainment is top-notch. We sat and watched this street singer for over an hour, that’s how good he was.

We finished our day at the Waterfront and Nobel Square. South Africa has the distinction of being the homeland of four Nobel Peace Price Laureates: Albert Luthuli (prez of the ANC), archbishop Desmond Tutu, last prez of SA under apartheid FW de Klerk, and of course Nelson Mandela.

The Waterfront is a lively place full of shops and restaurants where locals and tourists alike come to hang out. CapeTown is a city of contrasts. Although its problems seem gigantic, its people are committed  to achieving a better and freer future for themselves. We couldn’t help falling in love with this beautiful city.

Categories: Africa, South Africa, UNESCO site | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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