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Cape of Good Hope

Today was probably the first time in well over a century that anyone in my family has been in the vicinity of the Cape of Good Hope. I presume that my ancestors all successfully rounded the Cape, but that nobody’s been back since.

To get there, we hired a car and drove ourselves down the Cape Peninsula from Cape Town. The coastal road is very scenic. The train ride to Simon’s Town would be too, if we were brave enough to get on board.

 

The weather gradually lifted as we headed south, and before too long we entered the national park at the very bottom of the peninsula. There were lots of signs warning about interacting with baboons – they are apparently voracious marauding creatures that will open your car doors and come inside to steal all your food. But the troupe we found by the side of the road seemed unperturbed by us, and let us leave them alone.
The end of the road is just below the Cape Point lighthouse. There’s a small funicular railway to take tourists up to the lighthouse, from where there are all round views and the obligatory signpost showing the direction of the nearest major city to your home and how far it is. Sydney 11,642km. Duly noted. No Japanese city signposted, but Beijing is? Only a few Japanese tourists make it here – also duly noted by Yuki.
A walking track heads along a the top of a spectacular narrow cliff line to Cape Point. There is another lighthouse at the bottom, built into the rocks that rise dramatically straight out of the wild ocean. At first, I thought this was the Cape of Good Hope – it fits the preconception of being rugged, wild and probably dangerous.

But the actual Cape of Good Hope is a little more mundane. It’s back to the car park and around the corner from Cape Point. It’s still very windswept and rocky, but is accessible and not as fitting the image as Cape Point. It’s on the left of the below photo. (Contrary to common thought, it’s not even the most southerly point in Africa.)

The walking track out to the Cape of Good Hope followed the cliff tops and looked down on a white sandy beach.
There were no more marauding baboons, but we came across a few harmless “dassie” (more properly known as rock hyrax – not that I’d ever heard of these creatures before), going about their herbivorous ways. Not scared of us, they continued to munch on the local flora. (From a distance, we also saw a wild ostrich and some sort of antelope.)
Here I am, on the Cape of Good Hope, looking across to Cape Point.
On the drive back to Cape Town, we stopped at Boulders Beach, where a colony of African Penguins established itself as recently as the mid 1980s. This was the photography highlight of the day, and afforded a bit of animal practice before our safari begins tomorrow. This was much better than the Phillip Island penguin parade – we can get close, and the penguins waddle about putting on a show during the day.
The penguins’ beach is in Simon’s Town, a seaside town on the Cape Peninsula with charming old buildings and a still working naval base.
Still, we haven’t been able to see Table Mountain – the cloud hasn’t lifted for our entire visit. But the clouds lifted from the hills around Simon’s Town, giving us this view before coming back to Cape Town.

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