Our tour ended with a massive hangover (from a night camped at a vineyard), a township tour and everyone shuffling off to various hostels around Cape Town. We had planned to stay about a week in the city, resting, doing laundry, sightseeing and catching up with a few people. The first thing you notice about Cape Town is the looming great mountain behind it.
Table Mountain (now named one of the new 7 natural wonders of the world) is pretty amazing. On a clear day it is a huge flat topped rock stretching the length of the city centre, on a clouding day it is a huge column of rock shrouded in white mist. The entire thing is flood lit at night creating an amazing but slightly eerie spectacle. We had ambitions to climb (up or down) but the first day we went up it was getting late and we had to pick up our laundry (hooray for serviced washing) so we took the cable car up and down.
The cable car was actually quite scary. It is a circular rotating capsule with glass walls with two open windows. It hurdles up the mountain at alarming speed, and near the top, where the wind is howling through the open windows and the sheer rock cliff is right next to you, it leaves you with a feeling that you are about to fly in to the mountain side. But do not worry we made it up on a clear day where we had stunning views of the city, the beaches, and the rest of Table Mountain National park. We had a quick wander around the top, before noticing the queue to get town was getting quite long. We jumped in it just before it doubled in length and they closed the top of the mountain due to wind. We had planned to climb it properly later in the week but alas weather hampered these plans and the mountain remained closed for most of the rest of the week we were there. It really is true, if you have a nice day, just climb it because you don’t know what tomorrow will bring.
On a rainy, misty day in Cape Town we ventured out with a few people from our tour to Cape Point, Simons Town and the western beaches tour. The weather improved as we drove towards Simon’s town and the little colony of penguins there. You now have to pay to get in to the beach to see the penguins but there’s a nice (free) boardwalk you can walk along and see them nesting right next to it. Cape point was further along the main road and is also the most south westerly point in Africa. The stormy Atlantic waters crash on the jagged rocks, ostriches oddly sit on the beach and the entire park is wind swept. We did the 40 min walk from the Cape of Good Hope to Cape Point, on a very windy track. It was actually quite nice until the rain started 5 min before we got to the end.
From there we stopped just outside the park to look at a family of baboons. A few of the little ones tried to run out in front of our van while we were stopped but failed to notice the oncoming truck in the other lane. We watched in horror as the little baboon spun around with the wheel then landed on the pavement. Once blood started coming from its mouth we knew it hadn’t made it, as did the giant male baboon who blamed one of the other baboons for the baby’s death and took to attacking it. We quickly got away from that situation. Baboons are scary when they are in a pleasant mood, terrifying when they are angry like that.
The day deteriorated as we drove on and along Chapman’s Peak Drive, a mountain road that connects Hout Bay with Noordhoek. We learned from our driver that the pass had been closed for two years because of rock falls where a few people died. We continued on to Hout bay for some famous fish and chips (well the rest of the group ate) and back in to Cape Town. The next day we read in the paper that Chapman’s Peak had been closed later that afternoon due to more rock falls. Whew, we lucked out missing that.
We spent the day watching Australia vs South Africa in the first Cricket Test, at Newlands stadium. A day that started out rainy, but eventually brightened up, much like the stadium which started out empty but eventually filled in a bit. The highlight for Kelly was seeing one of the aussie players get hit in the nuts with a 141km/hr bowl (pitch).
Cape Town is a fabulous city with its fantastic boutiques (which we spent an afternoon browsing in), lovely cafes and cool patio bars. Like all the cities which people tend to rave about (Melbourne and San Francisco pop to mind) its weather is fickle but from that blooms a fantastic arts scene. Live music spills out of a lot of the pubs and bars along Long St. Even on a Sunday night when we went for a nice sushi dinner with some of the group, the restaurant was packed with locals. It’s a place you can easily spend a week or two, just shopping, exploring and soaking in the scene.