When i was in Cape town between 1981-84, i was part of 3-5 official visits to the area near Capricorn, Khayelitsha, Grassy Park, Marina Da Gama, but i was Zeekoie Vlei on the map that drew my attention and a few subsequent visits with conservation groups to the area, always fascinated that once, Hippopotamus, Rhinos, wildebees, elephants and lions roamed the area. Scott Ramsey's blog 'A year in the Wild' , his quote sumrs up my feeling from some 3 decades back - (The last hippo in the area was shot at Zeekoeivlei in 1898 – Zeekoeivlei means Hippo Lake)
This morning, after a visit to the Handspring Puppet Company, because an article mentioned the Puppet horse of The War Horse play in London, Google Map's Street View t took me to a view of where the Horse was made and the neighbourhood, flash backs to my previous visits in the area.
Whilst i have to await my next in person visit to Cape town to post my own photos, this is after all the advantages of Virtual Travel and the WWW
The Slangkop lighthouse at Kommetjie is a delightful spot when it's calm and sunny - and absolutely vile when the weather turns foul!
Slangkop (meaning 'snake head' in Afrikaans) has been operating since 1919. At a height of over 30m, it has the distinction of being the highest cast iron tower located along the South African coastline, which of course begs the question, "How many of them can there be"?
It is possible to take tours of this lighthouse - use the contacts below for more details - and I have heard of people actually getting married here.
Even if you don't feel like taking the tour, strolling along the foreshore boardwalk from Kommetjie is very pleasant - so long as the weather is good!
Much is said about the stunning Chapman's Peak drive along the west coast of the Cape Peninsula, and it is undoubtedly one of the great coastal drives of the world. However, you hear much less about Boyes Drive on the eastern side of the peninsula, which is arguably more scenic and more interesting.
Boyes Drive is elevated above the coast along the section between Muizenberg and Kalk Bay. From this higher position, you can look out over False Bay to the mountains on the other side (for most of the length of the Chapman's Peak drive, you are just looking out over the Atlantic). You also get a really interesting perspective on the ribbon of development that hugs the coastline, and can look down on the railway line (see my other travel tip on this railway) and south towards Simon's Town and its naval harbour. If you're lucky (and in season), there may even be whales frolicking in the bay!
To your back, you can look up the mountain (where there has not yet been any development) and there are several footpaths that you can hike (can't comment on these as I have sadly not yet had time to explore them).
Along the northern section of Boyes Drive, you can marvel at the ingenuity of engineers in building houses and driveways that cling to the cliff. Further south, you can be nosey and peek into the tiny (but exclusive) old houses of Kalk Bay (including the stairways which are unique to Kalk Bay). Then why not finish your drive at one of the many Kalk Bay hostelries?
This route has even more virtue at present as the main road along this section of the coast is currently experiencing major roadworks, so Boyes Drive is a faster and less unpredictable route. You can also combine this drive with a circumnavigation of the peninsula: continue south past Simon's Town, cross over the peninsula (following the signs to the Cape Point nature reserve) and keep driving until you reach Scarborough on the other side. This will ultimately bring you up to Kommetjie and Noordhoek, from where you can do Chapman's Peak Drive (if it's open - often it's not) and ultimately end up in Hout Bay and back into Cape Town.
Update (April 2011): Our ever-reliable Cape Town based correspondent Gerald_D (who doesn't write tips but is amazingly informative in travel fora) informs me that Main Road Kalk Bay has been closed northbound for the next couple of years as they undertake major upgrading and repairs. This means that if you are doing the Peninsula Drive anticlockwise, you will be forced to take Boyes Drive as a detour: this is signposted
There are three options for driving down onto the Cape peninsula from Cape Town - along the Atlantic seaboard (including Chapman's Peak drive, if it's open), Boyes Drive or the coastal road along False Bay, and over Ou Kaapse Weg (the old Cape road which runs down the 'spine' of the northern section of the peninsula), which is usually the easiest and quickest.
On the face of it, choosing the inland route as opposed to driving two of the most spectacular coastal roads in the world sounds like a rather dull option. However, Ou Kaapseweg is spectacularly scenic in its own right, and gives you a whole different perspective on Table Mountain - so, not being someone with great regard for the virtues of moderation, I strongly suggest that you drive all three!
Ou Kaapseweg is a beautifully engineered steep and winding road for most of its length with a series of hairpin bends ('switchbacks' for you North Americans) on the northern end closest to Cape Town that facilitates the climb over the southern saddle of the Table Mountain massif. The landscape is what Europeans would probably describe as 'rugged moorland' and at times it reminds me strongly of parts of Yorkshire or Scotland. The steep sandstone outcrops are covered by fynbos (an ecosystem where trees are pretty well non existent and even the bushes seldom extend over head height), and the overall effect is one of wild remoteness. It's the sort of landscape that just makes me want to get out and hike - and fortunately there are myriad opportunities to do this (of which hiking at Silverminesis just one of many options). Because of the openness of the landscape, it is easy to get badly sunburned and/or dehydrate, so be sure to pack a hat and plenty of water and sunscreen if you decide to do this.
Many people (myself included) will tell you that the best way to get the most out of Cape Town and its changeable weather is to only plan your day's itinerary that morning and to try and avoid whichever set of mountains shrouded by cloud. This is excellent advice in regard to going up Table Mountain, Signal Hill or Lion's Head (as you won't see a thing), but I would actually recommend driving Ou Kaapseweg in mist - it is eerily atmospheric, and reminds me of a set from a Conan Doyle novel (or maybe I've just seen 'The Hound of the Baskervilles' too often!). Having said that, it is even more impressive in good weather.
Once you've driven this road, spare a thought for the poor sods who have to cycle this as part of the Cape Argus route - admittedly they do it downhill into Cape Town, but the thought of having to control a bike down those hairpins after you've already cycled the best part of 100km is an intimidating prospect!
One of the wonderful things about Cape Town is the huge variety of hiking opportunities within a stone's throw of the city. One of my favourites is the Silvermines area, off Ou Kaapseweg (the main road which travels down the 'spine' of the peninsula), which is the southern extent of Table Mountain. There is ample parking, although you can't immediately see it from the main road.
The scenery is dominated by stark, rocky sandstone outcrops (which always remind me of the Yorkshire Moors), covered with fynbos vegetation. The area is often shrouded in mist as the 'tablecloth' descends from Table Mountain, which gives it an otherwordly air.
There are several potential routes: short walks around a couple of little lakes and other longer and more taxing routes up onto the top of the cliffs which provides stunning views down over Noordhoek, Chapman's Peak Drive and Hout Bay.
The hiking is well within the range of the moderately fit and children (provided that they're not toddlers). Fynbos is dominated by short bushes, so there are few - if any - trees, so as a result the paths are fairly exposed to the elements. Given the wind and the absence of much shade, it would be easy to dehydrate if the weather is hot, so be sure to bring plenty of water and sunscreen, and, as always, cater for the ever changeable Cape Town weather by bringing clothing for all seasons!
I understand that as it is a Nature Reserve (rather than a National Park), dogs are also allowed on leads, although you'd have to check this.
Well, u can observe and take photos from surface as u r in the boat, or another option is that u dive in a cage and shoot photos from a "REAL CLOSER" distance .... :)
Of course my option was to stay in the boat and just use my fingers on my cam instead of getting more closer w this amazing bites and theets ...
U can join in one of these organised tours as u r in Cape, powerfull motorised open sea boats, as they take u to watch the White Sharks and feed them in a much more closer angle ... Great and strong creatures as they jump, u can see them as "flying" after their target ...
Strongly adviced adventure as u r in Cape .. :)
Although known locally as "Cape fur seals," the marine animals that populate the coastal regions of South Africa are actually "sea lions," because they have both external ears and rear legs that allow them to move around on land quite readily. In deference to the local custom, however, they will be referred to here as "Cape fur seals" or just "seals."
As u r on the boat tour to observe those amazing animals, u can see them as "jumping" in the water just to pose u to shoot photos .... :)
This memorial is of course a tribute to the well known Cecil Rhodes. It is located at the base of Devil's Peak which is to the north of Table Mountain. The views from the memorial are spectacular as you can see most of Cape Town right out to the airport.
There is a restaurant located behind the memorial and I hear it is a popular place for students of the nearby University of Cape Town.
The anglican cathedral of St George is first of all the place of great historical significance. During the times of apartheid it was the shelter for demonstrators and it opened its doors to everybody, regardless of race. No wonder it has been called 'the people's cathedral'. St George's was also the seat of archbishop Desmond Tutu - the Nobel prize winner. It was Tutu who called the diverse population of South Africa 'the rainbow people'.
But St George's cathedral is also very interesting because of its architecture and interior design. When you enter this neo-gothic building, you notice at once its beautiful stained glass windows - the work of Gabriel Loire. In the courtyard there is a famous labirynth made of bricks and grey cobbles which mark the path. Here anyone, irrespective of religious or spiritual orientation, is invited to pray 'with their feet'.
The latest addition to the cathedral has been the crypt which house the Memory and Witness Centre and a cafe.
For more information on the past and present of the cathedral and for a virtual tour of this interesting place, please visit their website.
I have often had requests from friends and clients coming into South Africa, to go Deep Sea Fishing, and Cape Town is one such place where you can enjoy this activity.
You can try your luck at hooking a Yellow Fin Tuna, Cape Yellow Tail, Mako Shark's, Snoek or a chance to catch West Coast Lobsters.
The Western Cape is also excellent for Fly Fishing.
There is an operator called Hooked on Africa, that allows you this opportunity, and will take care of all you needs and requirements, and will even offer training and tips should you be a real novice.
One thing tourists easily miss is observing the life of an airport. Devote some time to stay (Even for 30 minutes) in Cape Town airport and you'll soon see its magic that you'll never forget.
THE MAGIC OF CAPE TOWN'S AIRPORT
When you see a plane that's arriving from London,
Go to the arrivals hall right away! Wait till the pasengers get out and prepare a video camera and the fortitude to hold your laughter. This is really funny and interesting I tell you! Because you're about to witness some of the most emotional people on earth.
Cape Town airport is quite different from the hectic airports like KL, Singapore or Paris. Instead of taxis, drivers, hotel commisioners that crowd the arrivals hall, it's mostly grannies, love ones, kids and just a few hotel people and hired taxi drivers! It feels very homey. That's how laid back Cape Town is! Even up to the airport!
And boy, the love ones are sure amusing to look at alright! It turns out, people coming from London here are like people coming back from war to be with their love ones.
Here, you'll see:
- Mothers, children, family relatives all waiting for their love ones.
- Boyfriends waiting for their girlfriends with roses! How cute. And if their girlfriend arrives late, they start to cry! And when they meet, they'll even start French kissing in public! Wow, how sweet. I think I'll do the same.
- And this is very cute: There was even a family that was holding a big "Welcome Home" sign for their son who arrived from London. I think I should do the same back home!
And you know what? When their love ones arrive, almost all of them end up crying in public! It's beautiful. They really go out their way to their love ones like they've never seen them before!
There was one 5 yr. old, I think he was the youngest of the family; he was waiting for his father. Then when his father came, he really ran to him and hugged him and cried! Wow! I was laughing. (I was happy too!) How cute, it's like in the movies! I bet that's what our dad wants us to do! (When our dad comes from abroad, we just say hello like it was no big deal.)
Then that's when I quickly realized it: London, for the locals of South Africa, is probably like America to the Filipino. All their loves ones who go there to work or study and they don't see them for a very long time. So that's why when they go back, it's like seeing them coming from war.
Wow! That's new! Back home in Bacolod, the Philippines, they do the same thing too. But they're much more reserved: I don't see 'Welcome Home' signs, and much crying at all in the airport. (They do that all inside their transportation or when they're home already.) Here in Cape Town, it's all emotions out!
And I found it very interesting. I should do the same back home!
In August and September each year, between the hours of about 10am to 4pm, the Postberg Nature Reserve - within the West Coast National Park - transforms into a carpet of white, yellow and orange madeliefies (daisys). Other flora found in this paradise includes papierblomme (paper-flower), strandrosies (statice), perdeblomme (dandelion), pink bokbaaivygies and gousblomme (marigold).
In addition to the colour spectacle, we were fortunate enought to see eland, the world's largest antelope.
This part of the park is only open in August and September, from 9am to 5pm, with bookings for a 2-day hike opening on June 1 each year.
The entrance to the West Coast National Park is about 100 km north of Cape Town, off the R27 highway. Most internal routes are tarred. The last section of the road to Postberg is compacted dirt.
The Breakwater Wall was part of the old port’s structures in Cape Town. It is now located behind Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, still protecting the Waterfront and the remaining port structures from waves and currents. While there was once a railway line (partly still visible), there is now industrial activity today. It’s just a point from which you can enjoy a view into the Atlantic Ocean and see Robben Island in the distance – something like a little brek from tourist-spoiled Waterfront.
At Quay 6 or at Table Bay Hotel, follow the yellow boat signs towards the Heliport. On the way, you’ll find the first signs indicating the direction of the Breakwater Wall.
Perhaps Cape Town is not the first place you would expect a piece of the Berlin Wall, but here it is. When you arrive by car or bus at the Victoria and Albert Waterfront,. You’ll see a BMW dealer. And just next to this building, there is it. Somewhat hidden and perhaps deserving more attention. This piece was a present to Nelson Mandela and the people of South Africa during a visit of Mandela to Germany in the late 1990s. Why don’t come and see it when you are going to the Waterfront anyway ?
Saturdays the townships come alive. There is music in the streets anywhere from gospel on the street with people trying to lift spirits by spreading the good news, to local upcomming rappers in the park, to butcher shops where most of the congregating goes on among locals, to jazz cafes. If you love good music like I do no matter what language it is sung in then don't be afraid get a tour guide like cape fusion -thutka or bonani our pride tours. Some others will take you to workshops where you can learn how to gum boot dance if you dare. You do not have to wait for the sun to go down to experience this. My tour took place at 2pm and ended around 8pm.
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