IT'S LYNNY KANSAS
DON'T LET THE RUBY SLIPPERS,
OR THE DOROTHY INSPIRED NICKNAME
FOOL YOU., THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME,
BUT TRAVELING IS FUN.
My Hotel room curtains opened, and there it was, dawn in Cape Town. Finally I was on the great Continent of Africa. A Continent,that has eluded me in my travels thus far.
I was only in Cape Town for a few days, whilst attending a Conference with my hubby, but in that short time I saw quite a bit of this amazing "Town".
Fasten your seat belts, make a cup of tea or coffee and grab the biscuits. This post is fairly long!!
CITY BUS TOUR
The first afternoon in Cape Town was a lovely sunny one although slightly chilly in the high 50's low 60's degrees F, (around 14/15°C), it was their Winter after all. Despite that, I took a local open top bus tour of Cape Town (even braved the top deck lol!). A good way to see the sights and get some good perspective of the area.
One of the most poignant parts of the Bus Tour, was the drive through District 6. Most of this area is now just waste land, awaiting redevelopment. An area deemed "for whites only" in the 1960's, it saw forced evacuations of it's multicolored residents and the destruction of all but religious buildings. Surely a major "blight" for many reasons on the Capetonian landscape.
The bus tour I took on my first day also included a trip to Table Mountain, which as luck would have it was a good job. This was a perfect day to be on top of the Mountain as it was nice and sunny and we had a clear view over Cape Town with nice white fluffy clouds floating by over us when we were at the top. A few days later, on another group tour organized by the conference, it was a completely different story. This time the weather was pretty dismal. At one point we wondered if we would even be allowed to go up at all. The grey clouds hung low over the mountain more like a shroud than a tablecloth! I must say it was pretty erie up there under the clouds, but again; an experience I am glad I didn't miss.
A DAY IN THE CAR, LET'S GO TO CAPE POINT
Having a free day, hubby and I decided to rent a car so we could drive the 30 miles or so from Cape Town, down to Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope. I particularly was excited to be able to say I had stood at the Southernmost tip of the great Continent of Africa.
The weather had turned, and we woke up to a very wet and dreary day. We decided to go ahead anyway and were rewarded with a few breaks in the cloud and rain at points throughout the day.
Further round again and we came to Llandudno! Seeing as how my Aunt and Uncle live in Llandudo - in Wales that is - I had to stop and take a picture. This proved quite a challenge as the rain was hideous by this time. Very Welsh like!!!
Further round again came Hout Bay. We did not stop here as the rain was really bad, deciding instead to push on to Cape Point via Chapman's Peak Drive.
CHAPMAN'S PEAK DRIVE
Taking the drive from Cape Town to Cape Point, we opted for the scenic toll route via Chapman's Peak. As my maiden name was Chapman, it was a no brainer, we had to do it.
Chapman's Peak Drive is a lovely 9km coastal drive sporting 114 curves to it's road. Hubby was in heaven on this drive because he loves this type of road, even though it was slatting it down with rain whilst we were driving it.
There were places where we could pull in to take photos. It was raining so hard at some points though, it was pretty difficult to get any shots without getting ourselves, and more importantly, the camera, drenched.
History of Chapman’s Peak Drive
As I mentioned above, when we were driving on Chapman's Peak, the weather was just awful. Driving rain made for very poor visibility indeed. Still our gamely little Volkswagen Polo handled it well. Check out this very short You Tube video to see what I mean. ;-)
This is how the drive should look - on a lovely sunny day.
P-P-PICKUP A PENGUIN!
From Chapman's Peak, we went inland and crossed over to the other side of the Cape Penninsular, looking for penguins of the feathered, not McVities chocolate variety!
The African Penguin colony at Boulders Beach is just outside Simons Town where we made a stop for lunch. Quite a cute little town, though obviously very quiet in the winter months. We found a cafe overlooking the harbour. After lunch and a little stroll we jumped back in the car and headed for the Penguin colony.
From Simons Town and the Penguins, we headed South, down the East Coast towards Cape Point.
There was an Ostrich Farm, a very remote Ostrich Farm I might add, not far from the entrance to the Cape Point National Park. We stopped for a look, hoping for a guided tour, but unfortunately they had suspended the tours for the winter. The gift shop was extensive, with lots of good quality Ostrich related products, especially Ostrich leather purses and bags. A cafe too for refreshments. We did not linger too long as we needed to press on to make the most of the day. Long enough for a few photos of the Ostriches in the pens.
CAPE POINT AND THE CAPE OF GOOD HOPE
We finally made it to the entrance to Cape Point. Part of the Table Mountain National Park, the road meanders quite a way before finally reaching the parking lot from which to access the "Point".
Once at the parking lot, there are the usual array of buildings housing the cafe, restrooms and gift shops. From the parking lot, it is quite a steep climb up to the Point and Lighthouse, or a nice short ride in the Flying Dutchman Funicular. Before doing any of that though, we had to negotiate the Baboons!!! At the top Cape Point there are some great paths with awesome viewing stations. You can then climb even higher up to the Lighthouse.
After visiting Cape Point, we headed back down the road to exit the park. We took a side trip down a road to the left half way out of the park and came to the Cape of Good Hope which is the most South Westerly point of the Continent of Africa.
By the time we left Cape Point it was late afternoon so we headed straight back to Cape Town. It was a great day, despite the weather. We were so glad we made the trip.
A DAY TRIP TO A GAME RESERVE
Another trip organized by the Conference was a full day trip to Aquila Game Reserve. Approximately 2 hours drive from Cape Town by coach, I was looking forward to seeing not only the Reserve, but the countryside along the way.
Once we arrived at the Aquila Game Reserve, we were shown to the Lodge restaurant where we had a lovely buffet lunch. After lunch we got ready for our safari in an open sided truck. At this point a lot of people headed to the gift shop to buy gloves, hats and fleece jackets, me included. It was going to be C-O-L-D!! Thankfully, we were all given blankets to use on the truck. I must say it was very welcome and they came in very handy because we were freezing. Not exactly what I had in my minds eye when thinking of a safari in Africa!
We set out in our trucks in search of animals.
The first animal we saw was this Buffalo. Apparently they are quite temperamental. We witnessed this first hand when we saw him again at the end of the tour. He was on the path as we were trying to turn back into the compound through the gate. Our guide, (sensing his mood thank goodness) gunned the truck just in time as he decided to charge us! He came within inches of ramming the back of our truck and guess who was sitting on the back seat?! It was a bit scary I have got to say.
Loved the Zebra's! So cool to see them wandering in the brush.
We saw a couple of Rhinos, the only two now left on the reserve. The guide told us that they have to protect/guard these animals almost 24/7 against poachers, who continually attempt extract the horn. It was very sad to learn that they had lost a number of animals in recent years to poachers in a very brutal manner. Poachers tranquilize the animals, then saw off the horn using chain saws or machetes, leaving the animal to die. In 2011, Aquila lost two of it's Rhino this way. To learn more click here. This You Tube video explains more, watching and sharing it can raise funds for the Saving Private Rhino campaign. If the poachers are not stopped, the Rhino will be extinct in a very short period of time. So sad.
This 7,500 hectare Game Reserve was interesting. Open vistas with rough dirt truck tracks; gave us a lot of bounce in the truck! We were all very grateful for the blankets because it was mighty cold. The only fences we saw were when we got to the Lions. That said, if the Lion's were enclosed, it must have been in a mighty big area and with some kind of invisible fence, because the only bit of fence we could see was a line of fence with a gate near this water hole The guide unlocked the gate, and we drove right in to where the lions were. They were literally right there, pacing around our truck. Amazing! It was a small "pride", with a beautiful big male; and as you can see in the photo, a younger "up-start" male.
The guide obviously knew where all the animals were, driving us to each of the areas, one after the other. Again, not sure how or if these animals were contained in their own separate areas. We saw Springbok, (which is widely available to eat we noticed in many of the Cape Town restaurants), as well as the inevitable Ostriches roaming around. We saw a cute family of Hippos, lazily dozing by their wallowing hole. There were also a couple of Elephants which we saw just before entering back into the main compound. It seemed that the elephants had an enclosure within the compound which they were returned to each night.
It was a great day out at the Game Reserve. The 2 hour journey back to Cape Town saw a lot of tired, lolling, but warm heads ha ha!!
For lots more animal photos, please visit my Cape Town Page.
Not normally known for being a big shopper, I do however, quite like to find something that I can bring back from a trip. Having a little free time I headed down to the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront area to take a look around. (For more on the V & A Waterfront area, visit my Cape Town page.)
There was an awful lot of Ostrich leather products to be had. Purses, bags, wallets of all kinds along with the usual souvenirs you find in most places. Then I spied something that took my interest - Monkey Balls!!
These beautifully painted, decorative balls are in fact made from the dried fruit of the Monkey Apple Tree. I took a photo of the poster describing the process.
I picked out five to bring home, and I really love them. They are very shiny so apologies for the refection on the photos.
So there you have it, my whirlwind trip to Cape Town from a purely tourist point of view. Obviously there is so much more to see, do, and about Cape Town and South Africa in general; than I could ever hope to see in a mere 5 days! Hopefully I will get the chance to visit again sometime, in which case get ready to put the kettle back on and open up another packet of biscuits!
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