Published: September 17th 2010September 6th 2010
Arriving in Capetown was like arriving in another country a complete contrast to what we had seen so far. As Rovos had pre-arranged our transport to our accomodation we were still living in a somewhat rarified existence.
Our apartment for the next 4 days - Leisure Bay - was 15 minutes north right on the coast. Gee it was good to see water, clear clean Atlantic Ocean. A bowl of soup for dinner and a twelve hour sleep and then a morning walk and we were well back into reality. Grocery shopping and Emails and phoned NZ to Aunty Iz and Uncle G to see how they had faired in the Earthquake and Emailed all Relos and friends linked to Christchurch before a nice simple chicken sandwich for lunch enjoying waves and the sand from the balcony and Table Mountain calling us from the backdrop of the city.
Called up Jean, our taxi driver from the Congo and headed to Victoria and Albert waterfront shopping precinct. A similar but look alike to Darling Harbour/King St wharf.
Spent a few hours mooching and ran into Stan and Jan and Emily and Christian who had been diving with the sharks and booked
our tickets for next day to Robben Island and back to apartment, a bowl of 'Spagg' and another early night.
Woke to a clear sunny calm sea day for our boat ride to Robben Island -the now museum but once the maximum security prison for Political prisoners which housed Nelson Mandella for 18 of his 27 years incarceration. The tour was mainly by bus around the island, and then on foot we got to visit 'B' section where NM and many other Political prisoners were kept. The tour was taken by an ex political z prisoner who as well as giving you the tour shared his stories of life as a prisoner. Robben is now a National and World Heritage site and is a 518 hectare rocky outcrop in the Capetown harbour environs with 190 residents who manage the site. It was originally a leper colony before a prison.
On return to the waterfront we visited the NM era museum which told an interesting story about the prison's own football association and league which was created to keep the prisoners fit and sane. It followed FIFA rules but never had any contact with FIFA or any other league during its
existence. After this in the afternoon we made our way up the cable car to the plateau on top of Table Mountain. A beautiful clear outlook and very unique mountain.
Next morning during our beach walk we met a man walking his PIG and thought of you Tim and he said you must get them as young as possible!! The Pig sniffed our feet and then tasted them!
Then Hopping into town on our last trip with Jean - we picked up our rental car and then Stan and Jan and drove down the west coast of the Cape of Good Hope - stopping off to view Whales, spectacular vistas of Hout Bay and the surf beaches and on to the Cape Of Good Hope nature reserve and the meeting point of the two oceans - Indian and Atlantic.
A beautiful sunny day again and the breathtaking views rate up there as finest in the world and we were constantly rewarded with wild flowers dotted everywhere including many varities of wild yellow and pink Protea. Right at the Cape Point we enjoyed a lovely lunch drinking Two Oceans Sav. Blanc and after lunch we enjoyed a steep 120 step walk
up to Cape lookout and lighthouse - most people catch the funicular railway but Ian insisted on walking! Up here the view and wind did take your breath away as we stood on the southern most point of Africa breathing in the tail winds from the Roaring 40ies and watched the sea birds dive and glide from their cliff face nests - spectacular.
Our farewell to this treacherous sea route and graveyard of many ships was greeted by a couple of troops of Baboons and Stan, the avid photographer immediately jumped out of the car to get the best shots - a little risky we thought but we recovered him and returned Stan and Jan to Capetown via the East Coast of the Cape, said our farewells until Sydney and returned to Leisure Bay and pack for our departure towards the Eastern Cape.
We were sad to be leaving Capetown and realized we could have spent more time here, so one day maybe we will return.
Our destination this day was a little NP on the Western Cape at the beginning of the Garden Route but our route took us via the Capeland wine growing towns and areas of
Stellenbosch, and Franschhoek founded in 1679. Both examples of the Dutch settlement towns in these areas since the 17th century. They are reminicent of small towns in Europe and the vinyards we passed on route are beautifully manicured and many of them housing a restaurant, gift shop, stall selling local specialties or having accomodation which looked inviting if we had the time.
Weaving our way down deep gorges to the seaside town of Hermanus, known widely for the Southern Right Whales that enter the Bay each year between June and November to calve and then mate, which they were doing as we arrived, before returning to the Antartic.. Amazing sight of sea nature the closest we had ever been to such a large Mammal and we're only sorry the 6pm NP gate closure was calling us, and we could not linger longer.
Eastward bound to Bontebok NP and a homely wood cabin by the river. This is the smallest of SA NPs and the home of the once endangered Bontebok Antelope of which we saw many healthy examples with their young - good conservation in practice.
Two days later we pulled out and made tracks towards Tsitikamma NP and here we
apent 4 days and blogged our way up-to-date while watching whales out the window. It was a great time to reflect on the last 12 weeks, catch up on the mail and recharge the batteries for the next 5 weeks before home.
Since the other side we have realized that this end of Africa is very different and literally and figuratively closer to home - don't know if that is all good as it does make us feel nostalgic and homesick, and as we both love the ocean, nature and long walks it has made us realize this is a spot we may need to come back to one day.
Next stop was Addo Elephant NP for more Elephants and a search for steaming defacations and the flightless Dung Beetle which make up a link in the food chain - they have right of way in this park and giveway signs continuously remind you of this - unfortunately plenty of dung but no beetle - but some really great Elephant and Kudu sightings, we even had a close up,with a mum and her calves,about to stampede us at one stop , Ian did a quick two point turn,and off we
raced,it was quite nerve wracking !!!
And so it is now the day we fly back up to 'Jossie' for rearranging gear and prep for 4x4 pickup and rendevous with our famous Australian author and his wife - Tony and Nicola Park - and departure for Botswana, Zimbabwe and the Game count in Hwange NP at next full moon.
We leave SA now feeling that it is a very complex country and the "Long walk to freedom that Nelson Mandella and others of his kind started in their youth, still has many hills to cross.
As always we send our love to all and hope this finds you in good spirits and beginning to enjoy Spring after your long cold winter - miss you all - USxxoo
There are more photos below