After seeing the penguins at Boulder’s Beach, we get back on the coach to The Cape of Good Hope. Again, it is still early so we beat the crowds. But, Rob our tour guide, would have been willing to fight the crowds for our photo opportunity. (Any people in the picture are from our own tour group!)
We are there! At the most south-western point of Africa where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans collide.
Some wild weather comes in rather quickly. It went from sunny to stormy.
It is windy, too. But, another chance for a photo before it rains, briefly.
We then take a short drive to Cape Point. This is a little further south. But wait, The Cape of Good Hope boasts that it is the most south-western point of the African continent. What, then is Cape Point? Although it is further south, I guess it is not further west!
We manage to get one photo of an ostrich sitting by the side of the road.
It’s a long climb to the top of Cape Point.
We are warned about the baboons, but we don’t see any. The only wildlife is a small gecko.
Our next stop is Simon’s Town on the eastern side of the Cape Peninsula. We take a short boat ride out to Seal Island. The island is aptly named because it is home to hundreds of Cape Fur Seals.
Our tour with Cape Convey Tours was the best! Rob, our tour guide, lived during his school years in Essex and he had a strong British/Essex accent. He was an absolute hoot! Knowledgeable, too and very concerned that we have the absolutely best day.
We leave the hotel at 7:30am. Early, but the purpose is to miss the crowds, which we did.
Our coach ride begins by giving us a view of Table Mountain. That view, with the clouds surrounding it is becoming familiar.
We drive through the beautiful Camps Bay. A quick photo from the coach.
It’s then back on the coach and excitement rises, as our next stop is to see the African penguins, also called Jackass Penguins because the noise they make is like a donkey braying, at Boulder Beach. However, today they are silent. Probably too early in the morning!
We watch as a gull tries to disturb the penguins, taunting them, trying to get them to leave the nest. A second gull circles overhead, ready to dive and take the egg. The penguins roll their necks to frighten off the gull. Eventually, the gull gives up and flies away.
We start our day passing the most vibrantly coloured houses I have ever seen. This is the Cape Malay area of Cape Town. Its occupants are the descendants of slaves from Malaysia, Indonesia as well as other areas of Asia and Eastern Africa. Our guide tells us that his ancestors came from Malaysia.
Then we begin our journey to the Stellenbosch Winelands east of Cape Town. This takes us past an unfinished highway that hangs in mid-air. Construction of the highway halted because a shop owner whose establishment stood in the way of the bridge would not give permission for the construction to continue. The shop and owner have long since gone but, the highway still remains unfinished.
Our first stop is the Simonsig Estate. The founder of Simonsig, was the first producer of Méthode Champenoise in South Africa when he made a sparkling wine named Kaapse Vonkel. It has a great taste and is at a great price, too.
Our next stop is the luxurious Delaire Graff Estate. It is surrounded by a high electric wire fence and gated entrance with guards. The views from the Estate are stunning.
The food in the restaurant is equally stunning.
After lunch we return to Cape Town to take a boat and tour of Robbens Island–one of the places where Nelson Mandela was held prisoner. However, by now we are running on South African time and we are late in arriving. We miss the boat!
Instead, two of us decide to visit the District 6 museum we had passed the other day while on our city bus sightseeing tour. We arrive with only a few minutes to look around before the museum closes.
Street signs from the destroyed District 6:
From the Mount Nelson Hotel we are able to take the Cape Town Sightseeing hop-on hop-off bus. We take the Red City Tour. The day begins with rain. But, the tour is great. Our tickets comes with headphones so we can listen to the commentary giving information about Cape Town.
The tour takes us past the South African Parliament building.
We travel through District 6 – an area that was once a vibrant multi-racial community in the early 20th century but then was deliberately razed and it’s people removed. Control and racial segregation were part of apartheid town planning. District 6 was deemed for whites. Approximately 60,000 residents were removed to townships but today the area still remains barren except for the original churches and mosques that were not destroyed. It’s a very sobering sight. I plan to come back later to visit the District 6 Museum.
We pass the Castle of Good Hope – the oldest surviving colonial building in South Africa – built in the 17th century by the Dutch East India Company.
We wind our way up Table Mountain to the cable car station. This is closed due to the poor weather. Nevertheless, we had a wonderful view of Cape Town and the coast.
Then we drive through the beautiful and wealthy area of Camps Bay.
In the afternoon we visit the Slave Museum located in the original Slave Lodge built by the Dutch East India Company in the 17th century. It housed slaves in appalling conditions. These people were imported to provide labour. The slaves were shipped from East Africa but I learned that many came from Madagascar, India, Indonesia and other parts of South East Asia. This is a very sad part of South Africa’s history.
Our day ends with a meal of langoustine at Baia Seafood Restaurant on the V&A Waterfront but, with thoughts and conversation about what are the evils in our world today that we need to work to eradicate.
The final photo of the day – sunset over Table Mountain.
A photo before we leave on our eleven hour flight to Cape Town. I wish I could say that I was well rested by the time we landed, but turbulence all the way down Africa does not make for good sleeping.
Landing at Cape Town International Airport is a dream compared with arriving in the USA. We expect passport control to be tough because this is what we’re used to when entering the USA but the immigration officer is very friendly and apologizes for the weather–cool and cloudy. And whoopee our bags are waiting for us.
My first impressions of South Africa is that the people are very friendly. First the immigration officer and then our cab driver is very welcoming. It’s about 18km from the airport to our hotel–the Mount Nelson. The cab turns to pass through a grand white archway, stops for a guard to raise the barrier and then we proceed up a long driveway flanked by tall palm trees.
We have a view of Table Mountain from our hotel room. I can’t wait for the cloud to lift!
The hotel is a beautiful pink old colonial building. A glimpse of former times.
A cup of tea on the terrace before we head up to our room to freshen up from our 40 hour door-to-door journey from Massachusetts.
Then it’s down to the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town for lunch.
One could choose from Ostrich, Wildebeest, Kudu (a type of antelope), Springbok and many other types of game.
But I decide to have a local fish called Kingklip. It reminds me of Mai Mai. Not my favourite type of fish but still enjoyable.
At the Waterfront there are four larger bronzed statues of characters central to South Africa’s move from apartheid to democracy: Albert Luthuli, Desmond Tutu, FW de Klerk and Nelson Mandela. This is in Nobel Square. I did not know this, but all four won the nobel peace prize. You can read more about these men here.
Our overnight flight from Boston, Logan Airport to London, Heathrow is only five and a half hours, although we’re in a holding pattern for a while before landing. Enough time to get a few hours sleep. This was a “no service” flight so we ate before we boarded. However, I did get served a rather delicious slice of blueberry cheesecake on board!
NB. You see that little place on the screen beginning with “N” and ending with “u”? This will be a stopping point on my next trip beginning January 20th!! I am totally spoiled this month.
Sunrise as we prepare to land at Heathrow.
We land at 8:30am local time (3:30 EST).
All we’ve seen today is the inside of the airport and a very busy British Airways lounge. I know one person, no names mentioned, who is very interested in our airport shopping habits. However, today we are just too tired to shop. That will have to keep for the return flight.
Next flight: Heathrow to Cape Town leaves at 5:35pm local time (12:35pm EST). Eleven hours flying time.