Friday, 29 April 2016

The Cape of Good Hope - Cape Point, Chapman's Peak Drive and African Penguins.

Cape Point, Cape of Good Hope
We can't say we weren't warned. There were signs everywhere and at least one local told us to lock the car even if we were standing next to it. 'They will open the doors and steal your food'. We have been the victims of car break-ins twice in recent years and it was not an experience we wished to repeat.

David, however, just sometimes won't take advice - and he was hungry. He opened the boot of our car to retrieve a couple of bread rolls from his backpack. Within seconds the thief had leapt from the bushes and dashed toward us. David threw the rolls back into the boot, slammed the lid closed and retreated, leaving me trapped in the front seat with the thief staring malevolently down at me from the roof of the car parked beside us. It was as if he was daring me to be foolish enough to open the door.

The thief was one of the infamous Cape of Good Hope baboons. They are large, agile and predatory. One sniff of food and they pounce. Fortunately, once the bread roll was out of sight, he soon lost interest and I was able to make my escape. However, on our short walk across the car park we saw a half a dozen more sinister looking simians hanging around searching for victims.

Baboon, Cape of Good Hope
The Cape Point baboon sitting on the roof of the car next to us.

Marauding baboons notwithstanding, and truth be told the whole baboon episode was a lot of fun, our drive around the Cape of Good Hope was a great day's excursion from Capetown.

The Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point


The Cape of Good Hope has a reputation as the southern most tip of Africa. It isn't! That honour belongs to the far lesser know Cape Agulhas about 200 kms to the east, but it is the Cape of Good Hope which has gone down in history and legend. This was where Portugese sailors fought the elements to open up a direct trade route to the Far East in the 15th Century, and where the Flying Dutchman refused to turn back in the face of a terrible gale, dooming his ship to sail on forever never making port or knowing peace.

A five minute trip on the Flying Dutchman Funicular took us up to Cape Point, Lighthouse where 11,642 km from Sydney, according to the sign, we stood in wind so strong it almost knocked us over. Cape Point may not quite be the southern tip of Africa but looking out across the sheer vertical cliffs it was easy to imagine that it was.

Cape Point Lighthouse, Cape of Good Hope
Cape Point Lighthouse - as it turned out the lighthouse was built so high up that it was often shrouded in fog. Today it has been decommissioned in favour of a modern lighthouse much further down the cliff.

Cape Point sign
Home


The sheer cliffs at Cape Point. You can just make out the modern lighthouse in the centre right of the photo.

Just in case you are wondering, David finally got to eat his bread roll. Ten minutes by car from Cape Point we stopped at another car park leading to a sign marking the actual Cape of Good Hope, as opposed to Cape Point where all the facilities are. This time there were no baboons, no lighthouses and no funiculars, just a few curious ostriches by the side of the road.


The Cape of  Good Hope
The Cape of  Good Hope - the language on the right is Afrikaans

Cape of Good Hope ostrich.
A cape ostrich.

African Penguins


Of all the animals I expected to see in South Africa, penguins was about last on the list. I thought South Africa was much closer to the northern hemisphere than it is - geography was never my strong subject. David says, and he is usually right on these things, not only is South Africa firmly anchored in the southern hemisphere but Cape Town is on the same latitude as Sydney. If Sydney can have penguins then South Africa can too. We found them at Boulders Beach, Simon's Town on the way back from the Cape and less than an hour by car from the centre of Cape Town.

Unlike our shy little Fairy Penguins in Australia, African Penguins are unafraid of being out in the daylight.  A small entrance fee gave us access to a boardwalk which wound through the sand dunes above their rookery and out to the beach where dozens of them stood enjoying the sunshine.


An African Penguin at Boulders Beach
An African Penguin at Boulders Beach
African Penguin and baby
We saw lots of baby animals in South Africa. This baby penguin was the first.

African Penguins at Boulders Beach
Dozens of African Penguins at Boulders Beach

In the north-west of the Cape of Good Hope Peninsula we found Chapman's Peak Drive,  The road is about 15 kilometres long and runs along the cliff-edge creating one of the world's great coastal drives. As a scenic route it rivals the best parts of Victoria's Great Ocean Road.

If you do a round trip of the Cape from Cape Town, Chapman's Peak Drive will either be at the beginning of your route or at the end. South Africans drive on the left (mostly - the road accident statistics are frightening) so if you want to position your car for the best view save it to the end of the day and drive from south to north. We drove it from north to south and found that we were still able to pull in at the scenic viewpoints notwithstanding that they were all on the ocean side.

There is a small toll - under US$3.00, at the time of writing, - and the road is occasionally closed as a result of rock falls so it is worth checking the website to ensure it is open before you set out.

Hout Bay, Cape of Good Hope
Hout Bay, looking back from Chapman's Peak Drive


Chapman's Peak Drive
Hugging the cliff on Chapman's Peak Drive

Twelve Apostles on Chapman's Peak Drive
Three of the Twelve Apostles on the drive



The topic of next week's post will be Stellenbosch and the beautiful Cape Winelands. Keep an eye out for it next Friday/Saturday.

For last week's posts click here.

For links to the full list of  my South African road trip posts click here.


50 comments:

  1. Wow. This place is so beautiful. Those cliffs!

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    1. They were truly spectacular and we got a great day for taking photos.

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  2. One of our best family vacations was to South Africa and seeing the penguins, ostriches and monkeys was such a fantastic sight.

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    1. I wish we had gone there when our boys were young. They are adults now and no longer travel with us but it would have been a great destination for children.

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  3. This looks like an amazing place, full of beautiful sights. And I never thought about penguins in Africa - I had no idea they'd live there!
    Won't you please come share your photos at http://image-in-ing.blogspot.com/2016/04/worlds-best-meatloaf-recipe-wordful.html? I'd love to have you join us each week!

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    1. Thanks Sue. I will be back to sharing with you this week. I had to cut down on a few things while we were on the road. South Africa is wonderful but it had slow and patchy internet almost everywhere we went.

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  4. amazing animal photos! that baboon stroke a pose better than a supermodel:) #weekend wanderlust

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    1. The baboons were a lot of fun. We continued to see them throughout the Western Cape. I had never seen one in the wild before.

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  5. Your post brings back lots of memories! The drive out to the Cape of Good Hope was such a great drive, and really loved the penguin colony. You captured some really great photos!

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    1. We got beautiful blue sky days which made taking good photos really easy.

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  6. That's fantastic - you don't read so much about that drive (I don't, anyway). Looks magnificent!!

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    1. I think Sth Africa is a very under-rated destination both here and in the US. We only met two other Australian couples while we were there and both of them had a family or work connection to Africa. I can't remember meeting any Americans at all. We did meet lots of Europeans though - Dutch, which was hardly surprising, Germans and British.

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  7. Beautiful photos! Looks like one hell of a spot.

    I had a cheeky olive monkey sneak into my car and steal my driver's candy when we were at Lake Nakuru in Kenya. Sneaky little bugger distracted us with cuteness and then struck haha

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    1. Being distracted by cuteness is a real hazard in Africa. At one of the game parks we visited we were told that the monkeys had figured out how to open the zippers on the tents. Tourists were waking up in the night finding they were sharing their rooms - lol.

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  8. I do not know what to comment about because the post got more and more impressive. But, I loved those penguins of the beach. They are so cute! Monkeys are mischievous, right? I experienced them in Costa Rica. People will leave their things unattended at the beach and they would stop by a check all the belongings (making a mess). They would take every food item encountered.

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    1. You can forgive monkeys a lot though just because they are so adorable.

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  9. What an amazing place, Lyn. You really made me want to go visit South Africa. I've never seen African penguins before. They are so cute! Those baboons can be very mean and mischievous. I'd be very reluctant to approach them.

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    1. Fortunately the baboons kept their distance, more or less, and yes the penguins were gorgeous.

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  10. Ooh that looks fantastic. I knew the scenery was stunning but was not aware of the fantastic wildlife. Africa is calling.. thanks for sharing #weekendwanderlust

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    1. We have been to two separate game reserves - quite different from each other. Watch out in a couple of weeks for my posts on them.

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  11. We are totally in love with Cape Town and the whole region of the Cape Peninsula. There are such stunning views and great weather mostly. The baboons are a nuisance - but who was first anyway ...? #TheWeeklyPostcard

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    1. Haha - the baboons were first I imagine. David thought they were a nuisance. I thought they were a lot of fun, but it does make a good story getting trapped in the car by one, don't you think.

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  12. I wonder if those Cape of Good Hope baboons are related to the Rock of Gibraltar Barbary Apes. They sure seem to have the same modus operandi! I loved reading your post and reminiscing about South Africa!

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    1. I had forgotten about the baboons in Gibraltar. Now that you mention it I remember they were just as mischievous.

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  13. Lyn, it looks like you are having a fabulous trip! You definitely saw some amazing scenery and animals and had perfect weather for your day out.

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    1. We arrived home a few days ago. As usual my blog is a little behind reality, but yes, we had a fantastic time.

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  14. Lyn, that is a fabulous drive and I would love to do it myself. What a trip you've had! Not to detract from the beauty of the landscape of course, but seeing those animals so close-up would be the highlight for me.

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    1. David and I had completely different hopes for Sth Africa. He was in it for the scenery and I went for the animals and we both came home happy. If you are interested in animals, we went to a couple of game parks and they were just fantastic. The blog posts are scheduled in the next few weeks.

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  15. Hout Bay is beautiful. The penguins are really cute too. Cape of Good Hope baboons--- not so much! OK, he was kind of cute and you were very fortunate to get a picture of him. I can't believe how aggressive he was in going after a bun! As someone else previously mentioned, those baboons reminded me too right away of Gibraltar. But they weren't aggressive!

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    1. To be fair - we were warned and there were lots of signs. David's empty stomach just got the better of him. Had he not produced food I don't think the baboon would have come out of the bushes. It was kind of fun though.

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  16. We did this exact tour a few years ago. I'm reading and smiling and thinking, OMG, we did that, we did that, we did that too! We only saw the baboons in the distance - we listened to our tour guide - LOL! Couldn't believe how much the penguins sound like jackasses. SA is such a beautiful country. Your post brought back some lovely memories. Thank you!

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    1. My absolute pleasure. I'm glad I brought back happy memories. We continued along the Garden Route and saw lots more baboons but this guy was the closest.

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  17. Oh, those sneaky baboons! Glad you were able to have fun with the whole experience. What amazing wildlife and natural beauty in South Africa. Interesting about Cape Agulhas being the southern most point --- didn't know that. Hope to get there someday. Thanks for the inspiration.

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    1. If you like the baboons wait till you see my safari photos.

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  18. Wow, I never would have thought there'd be penguins, either! It would really be something to be able to say you've stood on the Cape of Good Hope as you did. Love the baboon photo. I'm sure he would have given you a good fight had you been unaware.

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    1. Africa and penguins just doesn't go together somehow.

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  19. South Africa is a beautiful country - I loved the landscape and the wildlife. But I never got as far as the Cape of Good Hope - perhaps another time...

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    1. I can highly recommend it. It is a great day out from Cape Town.

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  20. Lyn I literally squealed out loud at this post. The baboon story is fabulous unto itself. When you got to the penguins and your image of the crowd of them....well be still my beating heart. That would be a dream come true for me. Your shy little fellows in Australia definitely left me wanting more. I have serious South Africa wanderlust on my mind now!

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    1. I know you love penguins and I was about to say 'but it is a long, long way from Canada', then I remembered that the world is not flat and you can just go the other way.

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  21. So glad you joined us again at http://image-in-ing.blogspot.com/2016/05/snorkeling-on-saint-thomas.html - I hope to see you each week!

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    1. Thanks Sue. I have some great photos of animals taken at a couple of safari parks which I am looking forward to sharing.

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  22. This brought back fun memories of when my sister and I went to the Cape of Good Hope. A baboon ran over to a man bringing out some takeaway food from the cafe at the park. He snatched the man's bag of food and ran up and sat beside a sign saying that baboons will steal your food and he sat and ate it there. It gave me a great photo opp but probably wasn't so enjoyable for the man who most likely had to go buy his lunch for a second time!

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    1. Haha - great story. I'm sure the man saw the funny side of it even if he did go hungry.

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  23. What an abundance of wildlife---and obviously very hungry baboons! :-)

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    1. I love seeing wildlife so even the baboons were great fun.

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  24. Wow what a terrific post Lyn.... I have never seen African Penguins, very cool. I had a nice chuckle over your hubby's encounter with your thief. Glad you got to stop down the road for a snack. :-D I am really enjoying your posts Lyn, and am so thrilled to have you as a part of the Life Thru the Lens community.

    Lisa @ Life Thru the Lens

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    1. Hi Lisa, thank you for your kind words.

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