Penguins, Baboons and Elands

Waking up early I wanted to make the most of the gym facilities in the hotel. As I was on the running machine an elderly couple from Johannesburg joined me. They weren’t sure how to use the cycling machine so I helped. It turned out the gentleman was very fit, using all the weights and putting me to shame. After some hula hooping I was ready to leave the gym and start the day. I bidded farewell to my new friends and went to our room for a shower.

We joined another Red Bus Sightseeing Company trip. This one took us south to Cape Point National Reserve. On the one and a half hour coach journey we passed Mystic beach, which has a pristine white sand shore. There were a few holiday homes situated on the sea front. If I return to Cape Town one day, I will be sure to spend time on this magical beach.

We also passed Muizenburg where taxes used to be collected for all the trading that took place in Cape Town.

On passing an ostrich farm our tour guide taught us how all of the animal would be used. The meat eaten as steak, eggs used as art and feathers sent to Río de Janeiro for their famous colour carnivals.

Dismounting the bus in the Cape of Good Hope National Park we got the chance to walk up to the Cape Point lighthouse built in 1860.

The lighthouse was largely unsuccessful as it was often covered by clouds and mist. Consequently, a second lighthouse was constructed lower down the cliff in 1911 straight after the Lusitana tradgey. This occurred when the Portuguese Liner steam boat crashed into the shore of Cape Town. The captain saw the lighthouse too late as it was covered by clouds. Most people managed to survive escaping in life boats. However, one of the life boats capsized and 8 people died.

Hiking up the steep slope from the car park the vast ocean looked impressive. We could see scenic sandy beaches. Brown kelp seaweed floated in the shallow waters hiding fish and providing them nutrients. Meanwhile, birds hovered above the sea searching for their prey. The region is home to over 250 species of bird.

For those who don’t want to hike up you can take a funicular (the lift filmed in the James Bond movies!)

Next, we walked west to Cape of Good Hope. Along the way we spotted Eland – a spiral horned antelope. They can weigh up to 1,000 kg. What’s more, the creatures are capable of sprinting up to 40km per hour and can jump up to 2.5 m high from a standing position.

At either side of the path we spotted a few of the 1,100 species of native flora present. Ranging from beautiful intricate pink flowers to green, spiky bulb plants. The region was rich in biodiversity.

On arrival at the Cape of Good Hope, we were at the most south-westerly point of the African continent.

The waves were ferocious. The meeting of ocean currents caused huge waves to break and smash against the cliff edge. White foam toppled over the crest of waves. The energy released was intense, I could see where they had caused a hole to be drilled through the cliff, creating an arch.

Waves washed over rocks poking out of the sea. One boulder that managed to keep its top dry due to being so tall served as a seat for a flock of birds drying their wings.

Believe it or not, South Africa is home to penguins. Found only on the South Western coast of Africa we were very lucky to see some. Our bus stopped at Boulders beach. To enter you pay 152 rand or 160 rand if you buy the ticket from the sightseeing company. When you pass the barriers it is possible to see flocks of Penguins bathing in the sun. A few were molting their feathers an event which happens annually during the summer.

African Penguins are an endangered species. In 1970 they were threatened by people collecting their eggs, which were considered a delicacy. Today vaious efforts are made at conserving them. Such as monitoring population trends.

After greeting our penguin friends it was time for an ice cream before boarding the bus back to Cape Town. I enjoyed a refreshing lychee sorbet with home made chocolate sauce.

A couple of hours later we reached our hotel. For dinner we went to Biesmiellah in the Bo-kaap region sampling Malaysian food. It was delicious. I had Bobotie which is a traditional dish of sweet mince meat, yellow rice and milk glazed egg. While tucking in we enjoyed watching locals return home from work and young children play on the street.

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