We woke up "on time" this morning, without any assistance necessary from alarm clocks, so apparently Justin's regimen worked well. We went down to breakfast and it was "crowded" – at least as crowded as a hotel the size of the Cape Grace can be. There was a large group of people on a group tour about to check out, and they were all getting their last meal in at the last minute. After breakfast we headed over to a grocery store at the Waterfront. Crystal needed some hair clips to keep the wind from blowing her hair to shreds, and at the same time we thought it might be a good idea to get some snacks for our day trip, since it seemed like we might be having a late lunch.
Our day trip was a tour of the Cape Peninsula. The Peninsula juts out, south of Cape Town, separating the "main" Atlantic Ocean on the west from False Bay, which is also part of the Atlantic Ocean but considered a separate body of water, on the east. The Cape does not actually separate the Atlantic Ocean from the Indian Ocean – that happens a little to the east at Cape Agulhas, which also is the southernmost point in Africa. The Cape of Good Hope, at the tip of the Cape Peninsula, is the most southwestern point in Africa, for whatever that is worth.
We left the hotel around 9am and headed north and then west, up and over the point in Table Bay, and then down the Atlantic seaboard. We passed a lot of high rent neighborhoods, such as Sea Point and Clifton, before making our first stop at Camps Bay. The view was great, as was the backdrop, several peaks in the local mountain range known as the Twelve Apostles. There were also a group of puppies playing, which grabbed our attention just as much as the ocean and the mountains, if not more so.
We drove down the coast some more, then stopped again in Hout Bay. From the dock we could see a castle on the hillside, which now is a guest house but at one time was infamous for housing a bunch of Satanists. We took a boat out to "seal island", which was confusing to us because the actual seal island is in False Bay. This is the island around which the Great White Sharks breach when hunting seals. Footage of this was caught in HD for the "Planet Earth" show, but you can view it on YouTube as well.
This is the seal island we were hoping to go to, but the one we actually went to was nice in its own right, and the boat ride was certainly much shorter. There were seals everywhere, all huddled together. The boat was calm right up until we got to the island, when the waves started to pick up.
From this point, ordinarily we would have driven down to Noordhoek, going past Chapman's Peak, but the road was out due to rock and mud slides from recent rain. At least we had brilliant sunshine and very little rain. So instead of going past Chapman's Peak, we drove east into Constantia, which was a very picturesque valley, full of trees and distant panoramic views. Then we headed southwest to get back to the Atlantic coast, going through Scarborough , until we reached the Table Mountain National Park .
Due to all the twists and turns, it was a little disorienting, because we were surrounded by water (the peninsula is only 4-5 miles wide), and it wasn't clear to us whether at any given moment we were looking at the Atlantic Ocean or False Bay. We found out we were not the only people to be confused. Sumaya told us that False Bay is called False Bay because back in the 1500 and 1600s mariners would inadvertently maneuver into it, thinking they had already rounded the Cape, only to realize they still had to go around the Cape of Good Hope. We stopped at a nice vantage point on the False Bay side with panoramic view out towards Gordon's Bay, which lies on the coast between the ocean and the Hottentot Holland Mountains . Crystal found a nice bench that she said would make a good spot to work from every day. Sumaya told us that when we drove out to the wine country and Hermanus the next two days, we might be able to look back to the west and see the peninsula – basically the opposite of the vantage point we had now.
We headed farther down the Cape, to the Cape of Good Hope, the most southwesterly point in South Africa. We saw a couple of ostriches there, some females and a large male. There was also a large group of cormorants on the rocks right at the coast. On our way back to the main road we saw a lone whale, and stopped to watch it for awhile before heading down to the tip of the peninsula.
Cape Point was much higher up than the Cape of Good Hope, and was extremely picturesque. To get to the top, we had to board a funicular. From the top, there were all sorts of photogenic locations, such as looking back at the Cape of Good Hope, the cliffs of Cape Point, steep cliffs below us, False Bay and the Hottentots, nearby coves, and two different lighthouses (1 and 2). Also, from the very top, we could look down and see some whales below. The weather was great, but the lack of wind allowed some haze to build up, impeding the view a bit of the mountains across False Bay. We spotted a lizard taking in the view as well.
On our way out of the National Park, we stopped when Sumaya saw some Bontebok. These antelope live only in the Cape Region, and feed on the local fynbos vegetation. We read up on them a bit, and at one point they were considered pests and hunted down to 17 in the wild, but they have now recovered to a healthy population.
After leaving Table Mountain National Park, we headed up the peninsula, this time on the east ( False Bay ) side, before stopping in Simon's Town for lunch. Simon's Town has a big harbor and seems to be the southernmost town on the False Bay side. We ate at Bertha's, right on the water, looking out towards the Hottentots. There were a ton of options, including several specials that were freshly caught, so no one knew exactly what to get. Justin settled on the Tandoori chicken and Crystal got a seafood curry.
After finishing lunch we walked a couple hundred feet to the memorial for "Able Seaman Just Nuisance," a Great Dane that was part of the Royal Navy around the time of World War II. His full story can be read here, but the short story is that all of the sailors loved the dog, he followed them around everywhere, and they made him an honorary sailor. When he died, he had a full military funeral. Now there is a statue of him overlooking False Bay and the Harbor.
We left Simon's Town and backtracked about a kilometer to Boulders Beach, the main home of the African penguins. The penguins, which used to be called Jackass penguins, used to coexist with people on the beach (there was a show on the Discovery Channel entitled "City Slickers" about them), but with more and more tourists coming to see them, the beach got too crowded and so the penguins are now separated out. Well, actually, the people are separated out. So there is a raised wooden walkway, with penguins all around. Some were in the bushes, others were headed towards the beach, and there was a big group hanging around on the beach. Others were nesting, checking us out, or getting a little shut-eye. Some were fighting at the beach, and either because of fighting or sharks or something else, there was one penguin missing one of his flippers.
From Boulders, we drove back to the Cape Grace, and we both fell asleep on the way back, as did Justin's dad, leaving only Justin's mom to converse with Sumaya. At least we had an excuse. When we woke up, we were almost at the hotel, and there was a ton of traffic leaving the city, but fortunately we were coming back. We unloaded all of our gear, caught up on the diary, and then went down to the bar. The bar was down at water level, right near a harbor, and had one of the best views from a bar we had seen. We went from there to dinner. We ate at the Africa Café, a restaurant that offers different dishes from all over Africa, in 4 or 5 course fashion. There are a total of 16 dishes, all in family style, which was a ton of food. Some of the dishes we remember are Malawi chicken, a salad, a tomato/onion/cucumber dish, some Casava bread, Mozambique sardines, a couple different kinds of game, basmati rice, and some Moroccan desserts. It was all good. The décor of the restaurant was nice as well.