They only have seven days in a whole year like this one at the Cape of Good Hope,South Africa - Day 2 of the BBA V4

Published: May 26th 2019
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As we had hoped, the day has dawned fine and sunny again and as we have pre booked a coach trip to the Cape of Good Hope we have our day planned for us and Table Mountain will have to wait until tomorrow.

We could make our own breakfast but with meals out in a café half the price or less to what we would pay back home in NZ why bother buying in.

This morning we chose Bootlegger which has several cafes around town but two in close proximity to us at Green Point and the closest to us opened at 7.30am which suited us with a 9.30am start on the bus to the Cape.

Coffee was rich and hot to start with after I had decided against a red Cappuchino made from a local tea plant.

Then it was onto an omelette and rosti while Gretchen opted for soft poached eggs and bacon. Breakfast done and dusted at NZ23 including a 15% tip!We are going to have to be careful with all the tipping so far or the BBA may no longer be able to call itself 'budget'

We are still having problem with what in the past had been a very reliable roaming card for the mobile and although we made contact at an online chat we had to leave for the bus before the online chat had sorted the problem. It will have to wait for tonight and has to be fixed by Monday when we pick up a car and will probably want Google maps as we arrive into our destination each night.

We arrived at stop 1 for the Hop on and Hop off bus (except no one would be hopping on or off today) to the Cape of Good Hope and joined the line to secure a good seat when the bus rolled in. It seems like a full United Nations of passengers.

The bus loaded with about 40 odd passengers and a few more to pick up downtown and we were on our way with commentator Keith cracking a few jokes about the internet being available on the bus and most of wouldn’t be able to do this trip without it! Eric was the driver to keep us safe and Neesha was the assistant who kept us all in line.

As we drove away from the downtown area and headed around behind Table Mountain we noticed a family with small children living under a blue plastic tarpaulin in a park surrounded on 3 sides by some fine and elegant homes which were walled and with electric fence wire on top of the top. It all seemed rather surreal.Jacinda (NZ Prime Minister who has a target to reduce homelessness in NZ) would really have her work cut here in South Africa trying to help the poor and needy.

The drive to the Cape took us through several seaside towns as we worked our way down the peninsula driving from one side of the mountain range that starts with Table Mountain in Cape Town to the other.

The commentary from Keith kept going unabated and we were beginning to wonder if there was anything he didn’t know about the area, the geography and fauna as well as the history.

At one point we also passed by a settlement built in a rather desolate area with tenement type buildings which Keith described as a leftover from the days during the 1960’s of clearing Black and Coloured people from the city to outlying areas as part of apartheid which was practiced by the white administration of the time. He further explained that even today, some 25 plus years since apartheid ended, the authorities had still not found a way to reintegrate all the people of this country yet.

The last 30 minutes of the journey was through the National Park and we pulled into the bus park at the base of the Cape of Good Hope just after 11.30am giving us plenty of time to walk or ride the funicular to the lighthouse several hundred metres up the rocky hill before taking a walk to the true location of the most south western point of South Africa also known as the Cape of Storms!

Today though was one of the 7 days in a whole year when it was dead calm at the Cape. It is here where two oceans meet, the Atlantic and the Indian and it is notorious for strong winds, just not today.Man, are we so lucky with our sightseeing.

We decided on a walk to the top, not that we minded the Rand 8 fee to ride the funicular rather we just needed the exercise.

We were warned about the baboons that can be vicious if approached and in the hour we took to do the return journey we didn’t spot one.

With each phase of steps the view opened out even more and by taking some of the short paths off the main route you got different perspectives of the C ape. Even at the very top where the lighthouse was located there was not a breath of wind.

Even though there seemed to be lots of people off the several buses in the bus park and a car park all but filled there didn’t seem to be that many people there.

We explored here and there off the main track and took plenty of video and photos before it was time to head down to the restaurant and grab a bite to eat before it was time to join the voluntary walk to the true location of the Cape of Good Hope.

We were sitting in the shade enjoying a half, well filled baguette each when all of a sudden a black bird swooped out of nowhere and from behind Gretchen swiping a piece of her baguette as she held it in her hand ready to take another bite. And we thought it might have the baboons that we hadn’t seen at all since arriving that we had to watch out for! From thereon we guarded our lunchtime baguette as if our life depended on it.

Lunch over we joined the walk to the actual position of the most south-western tip of Africa. It was mostly to be a downhill walk and the bus would be there to pick us up to start the return journey to the city.

Almost all the bus passengers joined Keith, who was at the lead and Neesha, who bought up the rear to ensure we all got there safely and didn’t disappear off the well marked track across the open ground. We were warned again that there might be baboons nearby and not to encourage them to come closer for a photo. They can be vicious and if one was to bite a human then they apparently have a bounty out on them and they would be killed by a ranger and no one wants that with wildlife who are living in their own territory and it is humans who are visiting.

From the lighthouse we had climbed to earlier we had had great views of a sandy white beach in the distant and now the walk took us towards that beach and then along the very tall cliff at the top of it.

At one point we could make out the figure of a man close to the water’s edge with what looked like a tripod stuck in the sand apparently taking photos of the waves. To get down to the beach there was a path of steps spilling down a break in the cliff. It looked a challenge just to walk down them and an impossibility to climb back up! We carried on our way taking in the flora on the virtually level path until we reached a point where we had to cross a headland which required some uphill scrambling as the defined path was no longer there. Now our party of walkers really spread out.

A couple of young women had stopped just ahead of me pointing their cameras towards what they were sure was a lone baboon watching us from a distance. If there was a baboon there amongst the low growing plants he/she was hidden from me!

Then the notice proclaiming the most south-western point of Africa came into view below us and from here it was downhill picking a path carefully to ensure you didn’t turn an ankle or take a fall.

At the outset of the walk Keith praised the party of walkers that we all had sensible shoes on for the 45 minute stroll. It was on this last leg that one man revealed himself as ill equipped with sandals and socks for footwear. He somehow struggled down the twisting ‘path’ and made it finally to the bottom in one piece.

The landmark is just a sign and a view of large amounts of kelp sloshing in the tide with black cormorants in their hundreds perched on low rocks. Gretchen spied a seal on a distant rock but everything was dark grey out of the water and I couldn’t make out the figure she could see.

Back on the bus it was a short 45 minutes to our next stop at Simonstown to take in a colony of African penguins in a protected area of a beach with large boulders.

At the bus park a group of a dozen or so young girls performed a traditional African dance to the solid rhythm of a drum. They all wore what looked like aluminium jar lids numbering a dozen or so around their ankles tied together with string which made a rhythmical noise. In twos they took turn to come forward from the group to dance a more frenetic pace. It was quite an impressionable introduction to native dance in the country it came from for us to see and we rewarded them with some rand.

Along the path were locals selling their wares and Gretchen had spied a trader she was going to approach on the way back to the bus to buy a sun hat for me to replace the floppy Aussie towelling hat that had fitted better into the suitcase when we left home.

Although the penguins were in a nature reserve there were predators also on the loose and Keith had noted this to us as the bus arrived into the bus park. And sure enough early in our stroll along the boardwalk above where the penguins were nesting we spotted a rat and what looked like a mongoose. If this had been in New Zealnd, DOC would have the place predator free.

Nevertheless it was an interesting walk and there were examples of penguins on nests with babies of varying sizes plus groups of them sunning themselves and waddling to and from the gentle waves coming ashore at a beach.

The African penguin is an endangered species and their numbers generally are in decline although at least here they had some protection to establish nests either in the open or amongst the undergrowth alongside the boardwalk free from man was doing to their other nesting grounds at other parts of the coastline.

As Keith had also mentioned before we started our walk that it had been proven that humans had a fascination with penguins this variety didn’t have quite the pull on us that the yellow eyed variety at Oamaru in New Zealand had.

Gretchen did buy me the hat on our walk back to the bus and negotiated a price downward that seemed fair and certainly cheaper than one she had also tried on me at a shop at the V&A yesterday. I was now looking more like a gentleman than an Aussie surfer!

The drive back to the city took a little over an hour and we were already ‘tasting ‘the first of two cold beers that we had with half price burgers for dinner at the café we visited for breakfast this morning.

The sun had gone down and mindful of our daughters telling us we were not to be out after dark we walked the short distance home to the apartment before we got ourselves into any trouble with locals wanting to steal the watches we were still wearing or the video camera I was carrying.

We sat back in comfort in the apartment with tired legs and revived ourselves with a gin and tonic and a splash of freshly squeezed orange juice recapping and reflecting on what had a very memorable day been out and a trip that will live with us in years to come.

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