Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Cape

Thanks to the wine tour in Stellenbosch, Sarah and I were feeling a little rough around the edges when we reached Capetown. As a result, we checked into our hostel, and spent a good portion of the day lying low and regrouping (and rehydrating). Later in the day, we were able to explore a little in our neighborhood. Then, later on, we met Marcia (one of the people from our safari, who had also made her way to Capetown) for a nice traditional style dinner, and to find out about her adventures since the last time we'd see each other.

The next day was our last day with Chico, so we decided to make the most of it. First up, we drove up to the base of Table Mountain, and then took the gondola to the top. The gondola ride was, as Sarah noted, "cool but discombobulating" - In addition taking its passengers up the mountain, the whole gondola also slowly rotates 360 degrees, giving everyone a full view of Table Mountain and Capetown spread out below it.

Arriving at the top, we took several moments to take in the fatastic views from the top. Capetown is one of the most scenicly beautiful cities we've ever seen. In many ways, I feel it compares to cities like Seattle or San Fransico, where everywhere you look is georgous blue bays and rising green mountains.

EDIT: Sarah's brother, Tim, was so kind as to stitch together the three photos I'd originally posted here. I've decided to replace those photos this this one. It more accurately reflects the stunning view (click on it!). Thanks Tim!

After soaking in the scenery for a bit, we took off on an impromptu hike. Initially, we'd planned on just staying up on the top of the mountain for a short bit, and then riding the gondola back down. But, after seeing their was an hour and a half hike our to McLean's Beacon on the top, we decided a short hike would do us some good. The hike also allowed us to take in all the views from different parts of table mountain. The top of the mountain is surprisingly boggy at times, but the hike was brisk and relaxing.

Me on the hike to McLean's Beacon, with a view off the other side of Table Mountain.

After finishing the hike, and riding the gondola back down, we hoped in Chico and headed for the Cape itself. After a little driving, we stopped at a small part to eat sandwiches and take in another stunning bay view.

Our lunch break view... really, Capetown is just silly with stunning views and quaint neighborhoods.

After a short bit, we arrived at the Cape Point National Park. The Cape itself is desolate and windy in all the right ways. And, as you stand on its rocky shores and stare out at its breakwaters, you can't help but imagine all the hundreds of shipwreckes that sit off the coast.

Sarah embraces the breeze at the Cape of Good Hope. Those same breezes helped create many of the 650 odd shipwreckes off the coast.

The Cape of Good Hope juts defiantly into the ocean. To the east is the Indian Ocean, to the west is the Atlantic.

First, we took in the Cape of Good Hope, which is the more famous Cape before moving on the the lighthouse covered Cape Point itself. In reality, neither cape is the southern most point of Africa, but historically they were considered to be the tip of Africa so who are we to argue, right?

Tyler and Sarah reach the most south-western point in Africa.

A Dassie. These large rodents (which are like marmets, or short-eared rabbits) scurried across the rocks around the Cape. There was also a number of savage looking baboons here, but we didn't take an photos of them, because they were scary.

Where am I again?

This photo is a little backlit, but on the left you can see the Cape of Good Hope, while on the right you have the original lighthouse perched high up on the Cape Point. Sarah took this picture from the lower, newer lighthouse.

We could have lingered at the Cape all day, enjoying its windswept beauty, but the sun was disappearing fast... and we had penguins to see!

A short drive northeast of the Cape is Boulder Beach which is famous for its colony of African Penguins. The African Penguin is also called the "Jackass Penguin," but not because they're a bunch of jerks, nor because of their fondness for performing live-endangering stunts in front of MTV camera crews. Instead, they are called Jackass Penguins because the sound they make sounds almost exactly like a donkey braying.

Braying Jackass Penguins. They were surprisingly loud, and when they made their noise, you could see their entire chest compress and expand.

This braying surprised us as we parked Chico and stepped out to find a nearby bush screaming "heehaw" at us. The park was set to close soon, but Sarah and I were still able to slip in and see the penguins. Penguins are amazingly entertaining to watch (if a bit stinky). In addition, we must have caught the tail end of breeding seasons, because their were penguins guarding nest, baby penguins and "teenage" penguins in the process of loosing their downy baby-feathers.

We were actually quite suprised by the number of penguins in the colony; especially when we looked up to see several dozen of them come flying out of the water and spilling onto the sandy beach in unison.

The main portion of the colony, though there were hundreds more in the bushes around it.
Several dozen penguins spilling onto the beach together.

"Warning, please looking under your vehicles for penguins." Note the little diagram on the lower left part of the sign.

Having enjoyed the penguins, and with the sun setting, Sarah and I made our way back to the guesthouse. It had proven to be a great (if busy) day, and the perfect send off for Chico.

1 comment:

Betsy Wasser said...

I am so jealous that you saw penguins.