Today we woke up at 5:30 to leave by 6:30 to get to the Cape of Good Hope. Our eight-hour excursion hugged the coastal road south past Bantry Bay, Clifton (the most expensive neighborhood), Camps Bay, and Haut Bay through Scarborough to the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve. This is all part of the Table Mountain National Park, although it is broken up into sections. The coastal road provided beautiful mountain and ocean views from the bus. Mac took lots of pictures, but he wasn’t sure if they would be blurry from the motion. We stopped at a view point on the way down (also a bathroom break) and continued to the Cape of Good Hope. A sign marked the location and there were fur seals on the rocks in the waters here. We passed an ostrich farm where there were wild baboons trying to steal ostrich food. The baboons can be a nuisance, but they are protected and have to co-exist with humans. There are also special road signs warning motorists of baboons.
Our next stop was at Cape Point, where we travelled up the funicular (car on a track) to the top of the mountain. We hiked from here up a trail and over many steps to the former lighthouse used from 1864-1919. This is at the top of a 200 + meter mountain. Fog and mist roll in constantly, so natives realized that when this occurred, the light at the top of the hill could not be seen, and many boats crashed into the rocks. A lighthouse at a lower height and more prominent promontory was built after 1919 and has been much more effective. We had a brief excitement on the way up the funicular; it stopped halfway for about ten minutes and one the conductors pried open the door, jumped down, and ran up to the top for some help, he had to restart it.
We had lunch at the very nice Seaforth Restaurant (there were 33 of us) in Boulder. Salad, fish, vegetables, beer, wine, and dessert were provided.
Afterward, we walked to the African penguin colony that made its home nearby. We were on a boardwalk area for viewing, so that we were close without actually disturbing the birds. It was mating season, so we saw many penguins already on nests, some digging holes to make nests, some chicks, and some still courting. We had almost an hour here, but it really went by rapidly because the penguins were so entertaining. They are only 12-18 inches high as adults.
South Africa is in the midst of a terrible drought and are trying desperately to conserve water. Water is shut off in all restrooms so that antibacterial soap cleans one’s hands. Locals must only take a 90 second shower and water is rationed and very precious indeed. It is not offered in restaurants either. We hope they get their desired rainfall soon, this coming winter.
Our final stop was back at the foot of Table Mountain in the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. Our guide, Nicolette, led us through a few key areas showcasing the protea, South Africa’s National flower, and the yellow wood tree, the national tree. We only had a bit over a half hour here because our drive to the tip of Africa was so winding and slow. We had to be back for a meeting with immigration before we could leave South Africa. We have more stamps in our passports now.
We met some of the new arrivals today on our excursion and around the ship. There are only about 390 of us in total. This is not a very exciting segment with about 10 days crossing the Atlantic. The sail-away deck cocktail time was lightly attended because we were not sailing away yet. Some kind of maintenance was taking a little longer than planned, so our departure was delayed two hours. We are now on our way to Namibia and will be in Luderitz on Tuesday.
Yours in travel,
Pat & Mac