A Travellerspoint blog

The Mother City

Part 1: Cape Peninsula


After a long flight from New York and a good nights sleep we are off on a Cape Town city tour. Cape Town which is called the Mother City...why? I have not yet learned the official reason but the locals claim it is because it takes nine months to get anything done. Everything moves two paces slower than in other places but the good thing is that you are forced to slow down. Things still get done but in a much less rushed and harried way. Cape Town is gorgeous, a beautiful city with beaches, mountains, and sunshine...but don't be fooled! Cape Town looks and feels like a modern city with first class dining, modern hotels, shops and malls...but...it is still very much in a developing country. There are political issues and serious economic problems ( as are everywhere)...there are racial tensions. However, as foreign investment pours into South Africa the future looks optimistic and the locals appreciate the tourism.

This week is the famous bicycle race in Cape Town. On the way down to breakfast we meet 2 racers from Austrailia in the elevator (complete with cycle) heading out to practice. They told us there are over 35,000 cyclists from all over the world in this race and it covers 109 km. It takes place here every year. Cape Town is buzzing, no vacancies anywhere, reservations needed for everything. It's quite the event and adds some excitement to our trip as well.


We start out the day with a drive to Hout Bay. On the way we see groups of three to five men hanging around on the side of the road. It's 8:00 in the morning. These "men on the side of the road" are for hire! You can stop and choose how many men and which of them you need to help with things you need done. They are looking for work so you can hire them to help paint, garden, build, cut trees down, whatever your need may be. You negotiate the price. Hout Bay ("Wood Bay") is one of the busiest fishing harbors in the Western Cape. As soon as the fishing boats come in with their catch of snoek and tuna, buyers are at the ready to purchase the "catch of the day". The morning is overcast with a dense cloud of fog sitting above the Bay. We watch the fisherman and buyers doing business. Two men are entertaining a crowd of tourists by drawing in the seals and of course, there are vendors everywhere selling their wares.


We continue on to Chapmans Peak Drive...the views are stunning even with the fog. All along this winding road are cliffs of natural stone on one side, the bay on the other. Passing thru several small towns we see groups of cyclists training for their big day. We stop at the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve which boasts 17,300 acres of flora and fauna. Over 1,100 species of plants thrive in this area. It is known to have the highest plant concentration on planet earth. We see rheboks, ostriches and I even spot a baboon walking on the side of the road. This country is the leading Ostrich Farming area in the world. Some interesting facts regarding Ostriches : They can weigh up to 300 lbs, lay up to 50 eggs per year, can run up to 55 mph and they can live up to 70 years (who knew?). Heading further south we arrive at the Cape Point Lighthouse which is the farthest south you can travel on this continent and is the meeting point of the Indian and Atlantic oceans. A funicular takes us for a short ride from the base to the top of the mountain, then a few steps up to the lighthouse. From this vantage point the views are spectacular.


Continuing along the coastline of False Bay, we pass thru Simon's Town to Boulders Beach to see the penguin colonies. There are lots of babies and many eggs waiting to hatch. The adults are protecting them from the seagulls which are constantly hovering overhead trying to sweep down to steal the eggs.


On the way back to the hotel we stop at the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens at the foot of Table Mountain. Beautiful gardens and views.
Take a look....


Posted by Linda Fluckiger 05:19 Archived in South Africa Tagged gardens penguin beach mountain of town south africa national good botanical cape hope colony boulders muizenberg simons kirstennosch kirschenboch

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