Cape Town, South Africa - Day 1

Cape of Good Hope (Table Mountain National Park) viewed from Cape Point

We first visited Cape Town in 2010, and were happy to return, as we had good memories from our prior visit.  Today was one of the best excursions we have ever had.  It was titled "Cape of Good Hope".  But it was much more than just seeing the Cape.  It was an 8.5 hour adventure.  It is a bit of a drive to the Cape of Good Hope.  The first part of the day was a long bus ride.  But the scenery was spectacular.  One reason it took several hours to get there is the nature of the road.  Chapman’s Peak Road runs along the side of a mountain and is somewhat of a switchback road.  It is narrow enough that buses are only allowed to go in the north to south direction.    Think very winding road (if you know Scenic Drive in El Paso or the Amalfi Coast in southern Italy or the road up to the ski lodge in Ruidoso, NM…)!  Now put a tour bus on that road.  They warned in the travel brochure that if you were afraid of heights you might not want to do this tour.  But the scenery was spectacular!!!  We stopped about half-way to the Cape for a photo op and potty break.  Along the way we did have brief sightings of baboons and elands.  When we got to Cape Point we took the funicular up toward the top of the peak, and then climbed a bunch of stairs to get up to the old lighthouse.  There is a new lighthouse down lower, directly on the point, which was built because the original one was not visible through the frequent clouds.

After the Cape we headed up the eastern side of the peninsula (we had come south on the western side).  We stopped at a place called The Boulders for lunch and penguins.  This is the site of one of two African Penguin colonies on the continent.  After a good lunch at the Seaforth Restaurant we walked to the penguin area.  These are the second smallest variety of penguins and they are really cute.  They are also amazingly unafraid.  The colony is pretty close to human habitation and to a Naval Facility from which we heard substantial gunfire (firing range for pretty loud automatic weapons of some type).  They just go about their business without any apparent concern for either distraction.  There were penguins of all ages in the colony.

Our final stop for the day was at the Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden.  What we saw was gorgeous, and we were only able to see a small part of it, because again we had just 45 minutes there.  We were able to see enough that we figured we could easily spend a week there.  The garden was designed to showcase plants that are indigenous to South Africa.  It is located on the back side of the famous Table Mountain.

South Africa is very rich in flora.  In fact it is the richest in floral diversity, has the most plant species,  of all areas of the world.   Photo album pictures….

                                                                          African Penguin

© Susan L. Stone 2015