Trip Report – Cape of Good Hope and Cape Peninsula Tour, Part 2

Trip Report – Cape of Good Hope and Cape Peninsula Tour, Part 1

Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point

After Simon’s Town we arrived at the real prize of this tour – the Cape of Good Hope.

I recall from grammar school days my sense of wonder reading about the famous sailors and navigators of the Age of Exploration.  What a thrill it would be rounding the Cape of Good Hope at the tip of the African continent going boldly where no one or nearly no one in recorded history had gone before.

Romantic myth, of course, usually has little to do with reality.  The early explorers endured severe hardships often sacrificing their lives.  The name “Cape of Good Hope” elicits confidence and cheerfulness.  Early explorers, however, called this location “Cape of Storms” which has precisely the opposite connotation.  To top it off, the Cape of Good Hope is not even the southernmost point of Africa!

Childhood romantic notions shattered, it was still thrilling to reach this spot and knock off another bucket list item.  The Cape of Good Hope lies in Table Mountain National Park, which includes large sections of the Cape Peninsula as well as Table Mountain in Cape Town.

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Adult admission is R135 or just over $10.

There are two rocky prominences extending into the waters here.  The Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point.  The Cape of Good Hope is the most southwestern point on the African continent.  It extends into the South Atlantic.

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The Cape of Good Hope as seen from Cape Point.
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Another bucket list item bites the dust.

Although the Cape of Good Hope is not the most southern point of Africa (that distinction belongs to Cape Agulhas about 90 miles to the east), it was noteworthy to early explorers because it marks the point where ships travelling down the west coast of Africa began sailing more easterly than southerly.

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Looking south from the Cape of Good Hope. Nothing between here and Antarctica except nearly 4,000 miles of the frigid waters of the South Atlantic and Southern Oceans.
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Windy and cold. This was a good day for June.
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The Cape of Good Hope as seen from Cape Point.

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All of the services and buildings are located on Cape Point.  Its height and size are impressive.  The lighthouse on Cape Point is 750 feet above the water.  You can take a short hike to the top or ride the Flying Dutchman.  Cape Point has a fantastic restaurant overlooking False Bay and several gift shops.

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The Flying dutchman is a funicular that transports visitors from the parking area to the lighthouse.
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Cape Point lighthouse
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View of False Bay and the South Atlantic from the Cape Point lighthouse. Acrophobia was kicking in big time when I peered over the edge to see the 75-story drop to the ocean.  Yikes!

Even with the presence of the lighthouse, the shores around Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point are littered with wrecks.  Hiking trails make some of them accessible.

The nearby waters are teeming with sealife thanks to the confluence of the cold Benguela current of the South Atlantic and the warm Agulhas current of the Indian Oceans.  The Indian and Atlantic Oceans officially meet at Cape Agulhas, but the meeting point of the Agulhas and Benguela currents fluctuates between Cape of Good Hope and Cape Agulhas.20170603_191744_resized

Cape Point is a good place for spotting whales that come to False Bay in the winter.  The Southern Right whale is the most common.  Other species include Humpbacks and Orcas.

Wildlife

The Cape of  Good Hope is also a nature reserve.  Here is some of the wildlife I saw roaming around.

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Young ostrich
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Chacma baboons

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I should know this varmit

Some of the other large mammals in the reserve are zebra and eland.

Tour Guide

I had a great guide for this all-day adventure.  For a tour like this I believe a private guide is worth the extra expense, especially if you get a knowledgeable one as I did.

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My guide

Having a private guide means setting your own schedule and itinerary.  It makes for a much more relaxed and informative experience.  One of the things I hate most about group tours is often every other stop on the “tour” is some jewelry or local craft factory where I have to stand around for 20 or 30 minutes trying to look like I might be interested in buying something.   There is none of that with a private guide.

Overall Impression

Taking in all of the sights on a Cape Peninsula tour makes for a long but thoroughly enjoyable day.  Everything on the tour was interesting.  And driving from place to place afforded time to admire the spectacular scenery.  The Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point were the highlights of course.  I also found the African penguin colony at Simon’s Town was fascinating since I had never seen penguins before.  One cautionary note.  Save the winery tour for last unless you are accustomed to downing four or five glasses of wine in 30 minutes.

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