Good Hope and Point - Day 386
Good Hope and Point? If you know Cape Town, then I am sure you know where we are today.
The Cape Point and Cape of Good Hope just miss out to Cape Agulhas for being the most southerly point of South Africa, however as they lie at the very end of the Cape Peninsular, it does seem like this area is at the tip. And this is where we visited today.
We queued at the ticket gate only for a couple of minutes, unlike Angela and Patrick who visited here at the weekend. The cost per international person was a hefty R303. Interestingly, we noticed that cyclists had to pay R308. How strange? Why does a cyclist have to pay R5 more? We thought it would have been cheaper.
Our ticket vendor opened her window a tiny amount, she was cold. Tim passed our debit card to her, she then squeezed the credit card machine through the gap, without our card, which seemed strange. Tim punched the numbers in, then leant forward to keep an eye on our card. She noticed this and cheekily said when eventually returning the card “Have a nice day, and I have taken a few Rand off for myself if that’s ok?” I’ll check our bank balance, better to be safe than sorry. One of the things to consider when travelling is to have multiple ways of paying for things and getting cash out. We have had a few hiccups along the way. Let’s hope this is not another one.
We arrived at the car park for Cape Point, passing a massive collection of low white bushes that look, at first, like small boulders until we realised they were flowers. Also large shrubs of Green tree pincushions, a type of Proteas, with many stunning yellow flowers (not sure why it’s named “green”).
The Flying Dutchman Funicular took people up to the Old Lighthouse, but we wanted to get some steps in, so walked up the steep path, amazed at the spectacular views with the sea looking like a sheet of turquoise glass rolling over Diaz beach with its sparkling white sand and towering cliffs rising above.
The Old Lighthouse is 238m above sea level and, no matter where I stood around the building, the wind still found me. There were a group of lads playing the Titanic theme tune taking selfies with much laughter. We walked down to find the start of the Lighthouse Keepers trail, taking us to the Cape Point. Via the App Maps.me, we thought it would take us about 1.5 hours round trip, but when we reached the sign, it said 5 hours! We then saw that the 1 and the dot had been rubbed out!
The walk was relatively easy, with the False Bay to one side, renowned for whale spotting. Every white foam I scoured to check if it was one of these big creatures. No such luck. We reached the end of the path and Tim wanted to climb over the wall to stand on a rock for a great photo opportunity. No way José. It looked far too precarious, and if it broke, and these things do happen, well, I don’t like to think of the consequence. Just as he returned from a safer place to stand, a lady in a bright orange jacket had the same idea, and stood on this precipice, slowly shuffling back towards the sheer drop. Mad or what!
We returned to the carpark and noticed the path to the Cape of Good Hope, the southern tip of the Cape Peninsula, another 1.5 hours return walk. It was high on the cliff top on a boardwalk or across the most beautiful coloured rock, layers of deep red to pure white. Far below was the white beach we saw earlier. The Cape of Good Hope is a crucial point for sailors, where ships turn eastward after travelling south for some time. The Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias was first to sail around the cape in 1488, and he called it the Cape of Storms. I’m not surprised, it was extremely windy. As we reached one of the cliff tops, a Dassie was boldly going right up to a young lady and eating the flowers at her feet. This creature, (apparently, the forerunner to the elephant, don’t ask me how) must be so used to humans, there was no fear at all. We eventually reached the end of the path with a few other visitors huddled against the wind taking selfies of this significant place.
Back in the car, we drove around so that we could see The Cape of Good Hope from a different perspective. By this time, it was raining, so I stayed in the car, watching the waves crashing on the rocks, counting to see if they really do travel in groups of seven, with the seventh being the biggest. Nah, sometimes the 7th, sometimes the 10th. This must be one of those old sailor’s yarns. Meanwhile, Tim climbed to the top of the cliff lookout. We popped into the Information centre, which has some great material, including two cabinets of stuffed indigenous birds, drawers of shells and insects, posters showing the geology of the Cape pointing out that Table Mountain was covered by a Glacier. Fascinating stuff. Outside was a large family of Chacma Baboons, different to many as they feed on shellfish. We stopped and watched the young playing and squabbling, the mums' grooming their young, the males sleeping or fornicating…mmm does this remind you of any other mammals?
We got back for a nice cuppa and met our host, Rosemary. She had been away to visit her siblings for a few days. A delightful lady who loves to create, and I could see from her home that she is a collector, with many egg cups in the window and tiny plates displayed on the wall. We had a lovely chat and then needed to get going as we were booked in at The Lighthouse Café for dinner. The reviews we had read were all accurate. My Mauritian bouillabaisse, which was described in the Lonely Planet’s Guide as “delicious and filling”, was also correct and Tim thoroughly enjoyed his Sole. The place had a wonderful, friendly feel about it and especially nice that Brett, the owner, came and chatted to us. He reminded us of our friend Andrew, charming to me and rude to Tim (in a delightfully funny way!) Brett and his wife created the café six years ago, and it quickly got an excellent reputation. He received an Award for Excellence soon after from TripAdvisor and, being a philistine with computers (his words), didn’t even know the café was mentioned there! A lovely end to a lovely day.