Remember the names “Vasco Da Gama” and “Bartolomew Dias“? Apart from them being in our school books, what is the other thing that links me to them? Why, their association with the Cape of Good Hope, of course! While they passed it, and almost discovered the location for the world, on their way to India from faraway Portugal, I went straight there as a part of my most recent life adventure – CSC Deployment! Officially, I was in Cape Town for a month on work with 4 weekends to breeze through the most exotic locations ov this beautiful country. So, let me take you through a virtual Cape Peninsular Tour that actually took me to the South-Western most tip of the African Continent, often mistaken as the “Southern” most!
Although, it is not a part of the tour, we started with Bo-Kaap. While the name might not ring a bell, the pictures will definitely do that!
Yes, now it does, doesn’t it? Bo-Kaap is one of the oldest and most distinct neighbourhoods in Cape Town. The colourful homes once used to be white and were leased to slaves brought in from Malaysia, Indonesia and rest of Africa. Once the rule was lifted, people chose their own colours to brighten their houses, as an expression of freedom. Each colour symbolized the trade of the person living in it. The trades may have dissolved but the colours have remained, though specifically hurt by the gentrification that is gradually seeping in through this age old neighbourhood that houses the oldest mosque in the country.
The next stop on our route was Camps Bay. This posh upmarket locality earns its name from its beach of the same name. Fine white sand, row of palm trees, natural rock swimming pools, swanky and expensive restaurants marks this area as the back of the Table Mountains, known locally as the 12 Apostles stand guard in the background. Named by Governor Sir Rufane Donkin, there are different versions to the story on why they are called the 12 Apostles, when there are actually 18 distinct rock faces.
We then moved on towards Hout Bay. With it’s distinct location, the Mariner’s Wharf at Hout Bay is the oldest harbourfront emporium in Africa. And that is just the tip of the iceberg. Known locally as the Republic of Hout Bay, it covers a large section of the peninsula and was settled by the Dutch as a settlement for timber industry. The bay area now is a tourists’ and shoppers paradise for local stuff and memorabilia. You can also come accross groups of musicians of various age singing and dancing to local tunes.
Hout Bay is also the gateway to the Seal Island. A boat ride with one of the local charters can take you close to this island in about 20ish minutes, through rather choppy waters! Located about 5.7 kilometres off the beaches of the False Bay, this 5 acre landmass is home to close to 64,000 Cape fur seals, the most adorable looking creatures, who are to be found all over the little landmass. The landmass is also home to a large number of cormorants or other varieties of non-marine bird specied who come here for breeding.
A drive connecting Hout Bay to Noordhoek along the most dramatic 9 kilometres of marine routes, is the Chapman’s Peak Drive. This stretch with rocky mountains on one side and picturesque marine drive on the other, skirts 114 curves with the Chapman’s Peak standing imposingly halfway down the drive. The drive invites cyclist, bikers, and motorists alike and offers a wonderful panomaric view of the Hout Bay.
Our next stop was the Cape Point Ostrich Farm, located on Route M65 South about 400 meters north of the entrance to the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve. Set up in 1996 by Dr. and Mrs. Coelle, this 65 hectare farm is an ostrich breeding farm. It also houses a restaurant – The Hatchery that serves the most amazing food, an ostrich leather store selling the most exquisite goods made of ostrich leather, an ostrich egg store that is sure to mesmerize any visitor by its sheer diverse use of hatched or used ostrich eggs. The Farm houses about 40 ostriches in 40 camps and brings them together during the breeding season. Beautiful Dutch style buildings form the landscape of the farm now run by Catherina Coelle, the daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Coelle.
With our stomach full of Ostrich and Springbok meat, we headed for the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve that covers the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point. As mentioned at the very beggining of this post, Cape of Good Hope is one of the most beautiful looking tips of the continent. Rough waves, steeply rising rocky mountains and an abundance of flora and fauna makes this area a geologists and botanists delight. Originally named the Cape of Storms by Bartholomew Dias, it was later renamed as the Cape of Good Hope by King John II of Portugal due to its role in opening the trade route to India and the East.
Just over 1km east and about 20 minutes away is Cape Point with a peak slightly higher than the one at the Cape of Good Hope. Cape Point is often mistakenly claimed to be the place where the Atlantic Ocean and Indian Ocean meets. The meeting point lies another 150 kilometres (93 mi) to the east-southeast at Cape Agulhas and that is hardly a location you would like to miss.
The last stop for the day was the Boulders Beach off Simon’s Town, home to the super cute African Penguins, also known as Jackass Penguins, thanks to the strange braying noise they make. These awesomely cute creaturesm found only along the coastlines of Southern Africa are found to be roaming, walking, and looking after their children. The African penguins are currently on the verge of extinction and to save them from becoming history, they are directly under the protection of the Cape Nature Conservation.
The Cape Peninsular tour actually covers a few more spots, but we were running terribly late, largely owing to our huge group size (11 of us) and the rains started pouring rather hard, apart from it getting too dark to try any other locations. So after a quick cup of coffee from a roadside diner, we headed back. But the tour should also necessarily include Kalk Bay and the very sandy and beautiful Muizenberg beach with its instagram-esque multicoloured wooden beach huts.
As we headed back, tired and ready to crash, Cape Town and the world around it remained etched in our minds and will possibly be so, forever.