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Published: August 29th 2015
Generally the City of Cape Town wants people to think it occupies the Southern-most point of Africa and that the Indian and Atlantic oceans meet there. The thing is, that's not actually true. Instead, not far from the suburbs of Fish Hoek and Simon's Town, there is Cape Point National Park. This park includes a location known as the Cape of Good Hope. It's confusing because the peninsular Cape Town sits on is often given this name too. Anyway, the Cape of Good Hope boasts the title of the "most South-westerly point on the African continent". To be honest it feels like this is an accolade the area just made up to get noticed. Though it's beauty means it merits being noticed.
As Cape Point is not far from the city and Lindsey has a friend, Anneke, who lives in nearby Kommetjie (pronounced "Comicky"), we took a day trip to see it. We woke to find a strong wind was blowing from the west. We were worried it might be unpleasant in the wind but we didn't let it deter us.
We drove over "Ou Kaapse Weg", the Old Cape Road, which is a spectacular mountain pass connecting the
Western suburbs with the rest of the city. The views across the city are magnificent. Ou Kaapse was the scene of significant veld fires earlier in the year, the result of a careless cigarette and bone dry landscape. This is a normal part of the natural ecosystem, indeed the Fynbos, local wild flowers, thrive on it. The landscape is scarred but there are signs of a quick recovery.
We picked Anneke up and drove to the national park. The fee was R110 (£5.50) each, which seemed expensive by South African standards. The park itself was mainly a long road through the veld. The mountains were an impressive back-drop and the vegetation was very pretty. Oddly we came to a couple of "roundabouts" but they only had one road leading in and one out: I wasn't sure what the point was. After a few miles the road split, going to either Cape Point or the Cape of Good Hope. We chose Cape Point and soon came to the end of the road. We had been climbing and by now the view of the cliffs in the distance was impressive. There was a car park with baboons foraging for food. All
around were signs warning that they should not be fed. They have adapted to their environment and can now open car doors as well as raiding rubbish bins.
As we left the car we went towards the lighthouse on the headland. We had the option of a steep walk or the funicular railway. We chose the walk and I enjoyed it. As we climbed, the views got better and better. The view from the lighthouse over the expanse of the Atlantic was impressive. The cliffs dropped sheer below us. Below we could see a path (the Lighthouse Keeper's Path) that led further out to sea, across a particularly narrow and vertiginous strip of land. Seeing this, I just had to stand at the end.
We had a picnic and then went down to start our walk on the path. The path was really fun to walk along. We passed the relics of British WW2 bunkers; this strip of land had been used as a lookout post - not a comfortable posting at all. We got to the end and could look back towards the lighthouse and see the cliff it stood on. The cliff was home to colonies
of seabirds; we couldn't see them against the cliff face but we did see them flying in and out. We could also see back towards Cape Town, the huge expanse of False Bay gleaming in the sunlight. Below us we were surprised to find another lighthouse, this one smaller than the first. It looked like a difficult scramble down to it.
We walked back feeling quite hot and a little tired. It was time for a drink, which a very fishy smelling cafe in the car park provided for us. We then drove to the Cape of Good Hope. This was the very rocky beach far below the headland the lighthouse sits on. The waves crashing on the beach were impressive. There was a large sign announcing that we were at the most South-Westerly point of Africa. The whole of the beach appeared to be swarming with Chinese tourists. Actually there was only a family of three people but wherever I looked and whenever I tried to take a picture they were there. I got very annoyed as they were continually in the way.
It was cold and very windy so we didn't spend long there. We drove
Anneke back to Kommetjie and said goodbye.
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