From Cape Town, with a rental car, a day should be devoted to driving the peninsula to Cape Point. This can be done as a circle, covering the eastern side of the peninsula in the morning and wester coast in the afternoon. Two sites, which we did on a different day, but I will include here, are the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, which are ideal to see in the morning light, and Camps Bay, which is they place to watch the sun set over the souther Atlantic Ocean. Pack a picnic lunch, buckle your seat belts and enjoy a day along the coast
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens were about a 20 minute drive around Table Mountain from our apartment in the city. Morning traffic was heading into town, so the road was clear going to the gardens. The gardens are like stepping into a flower and seed catalogue with the most amazing mountain scenery for a back drop. Just as flower catalogues in the middle of winter seem just too real to believe, so was stepping into the annual flower and fynbos setions of Kirstenbosch. If only some of these plants lived in our winter freeze zone! Mamma Suzanne will be pleased that I recognized several of the plants that she introduced me to as a child growing up in sunny California. A foreshadowing of our days of travel 40 years later. From the hundreds of photos that we took that morning, I have to select only a handful to show you!? Oh, drop on by some day and we can put the whole set on the computer slide show.
St. James is a picturesque seaside village with brightly colored beach bathhouses. When we strolled along the boardwalk, we met mostly local folks out for their morning swim in the “tidal pool”. This is a cement enclosed area which fills with sea water at high tide, then retains the water at low tide. How civilized.
Boulder Beach is along the village of Simon’s Town. It is knowns for its native penguin population. Linda sought out puffins years back when we visited Alaska. This was our time to see southern hemisphere penguins. While many where snoozing in the bushes, beach, and rocks, a few did take a dip in the surf. They are as funny to watch as all those cute penguin movies and shows.
Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve comprises the southern tip of the peninsula. The guide books report a variety of grazing animals, most of which must have been on holiday when we arrived (or maybe we just were missing our prior guide). We did catch glimpses of several brown and yellow birds in the fynbos. At the Cape Point, if you could ignore the busloads of homosapiens, you could marvel at the flight ability of the cormorants which glided into the cliff nests… usually appearing to head straight at the cliffs at 40 kph, then turning off millimeters for the rock surface. At the Cape of Good Hope, we bypassed the same line of Mega Buses, and watched a handful of ostriches scooping up seeds long the roadside. As a note of precaution, the baboons appear tame, and some idiots took this as reason to get out of their cars to sit among the baboons for photos. However, baboons love people food and some have learned to open car doors which are not locked and climb in open windows to get at the picnic cooler. Also, baboon are one animal that even lions will not try to hunt. Baboons have massive teeth that can rip skin and muscle to shreds. There are warning signs all over the drive warning about the dangers of baboons. Guess homosapiens cannot read.
Fortunately, by afternoon the Mega Buses are heading directly back to Cape Town for dinner reservations, and the western coast is left to locals and a few tourists. Chapman’s Peak Drive is the highlight of this drive. The road hugs the cliffs, and at times is literally carved out of the stone. As the driver, I left this for Linda & Emily to enjoy and photo, except at pulls-offs, where I caught my breath and stretched out my white knuckles.
Camps Bay is just a hop over the saddle between Table Mountain and Lion’s Head. However, you leave the world of the city with its vibrance and squalor, for a beach town resort atmosphere. We went over for dinner along the sea drive at the theatre (remember the production of Red that we attended earlier this year at Arena Stage? well, they were doing this with the local theatre). The staff at restaurants are quite friendly, but also somewhat the barkers trying to entice you into their establishment. At the first sea food restaurant we passed, the waiter chided us for passing by, and when we replied that we would back he claimed that we would not. Now, we did end up eating at another enthusiastically hosted sea food place with a little quieter atmosphere at the other end of the village. However, after the theatre, we went back to the first restaurant and taunted him that, yes, we had come back for dessert and tea. We ordered “one of each” and passed them around the table for a delicious sampling. A fiery sunset, filling meal, entertaining theatre, scrumptious dessert. Good way to end the day.