I love Cape Town. Let me just reiterate that. We had SUCH a fantastic time, and we can’t wait to return. A highlight of the trip was our day trip around Cape Point. Cape Point is a promontory at the southeast corner of the Cape Peninsula. Table Mountain and the city of Cape Town are on the north end of the same peninsula. We actually had some bad luck with weather. While the view out the window in the morning was beautiful, there were some ominous clouds out there. Check out the gratuitous panorama shot from our hotel room (click the pic for the full-size image).
I also made a video of our day trip.
The day we chose to drive around the peninsula was STORMY. In hindsight, the stormy weather made it even more of an adventure! We rented a car from Dollar Thrifty, conveniently situated in the parking garage of our hotel, the Hilton Hotel City Centre Cape Town. The adventure began there. While it wasn’t my first time driving on the left side of the road, it WAS my first time driving on the left side of the road AND having the steering wheel on the right. As long as I didn’t crash it, what fun!
After we got in, we started driving, and I think it only took a couple turns before I got honked at for the first time and my wife gave me instructions about how I was driving completely incorrectly ;-). After a while, I got the hang of things, but it started to rain.
Our first stop was a winery in the Constantia region outside of Cape Town. There are a few renowned wine countries in South Africa, but the most famous is probably Stellenbosch, which made a separate day trip of the next day. We were recommended the Buitenverwachting winery, pronounced beet-en-fair-vock-tin, or so we were told. We tried a bit of wine, ended up buying a couple bottles, and continued south down the Cape Point peninsula.
Our plan was to go down the east coast and come back up around the west. As we headed south, our first stop was Simon’s Town. The views of the landscape were totally beautiful, and I can only imagine how much prettier it looks when the sun is shining! We found a restaurant called The Meeting Place, and we got some really great food at reasonable prices with a view of the harbor. I had a seafood variety plate, and Katy got the bacon cheeseburger.
Just south of Simon’s Town is a famous beach called Boulder Beach. Boulder Beach is famous because of its huge population of penguins. These African Penguins, officially called Jackass Penguins, inhabit Boulder Beach and many other parts of South Africa. There’s a boardwalk that you can use to walk along the beach and observe the wild penguins. That was our next stop. It’s only about a mile south of where we were eating, and if it weren’t pouring rain at this point, we definitely would have walked down there. We got in the car and drove down to a closer spot to park near Boulder Beach, and we took our umbrella and braved a walk in the storm on the boardwalk. We saw lots of penguins!
While we would have loved to stay longer and make friends with all the penguins, it was pouring rain. Oh yeah and also… the penguins are STINKY. Thus, after a short stint with the penguins, we headed further south down the peninsula.
As we were driving, we saw plenty of signs to warn us of the baboons, indicating that they should not be fed… Sadly, we didn’t see any baboons on this day trip. Apparently they don’t like being out in the pouring rain anymore than we do. We did get to see some baboons along the road later in our trip.
From here, we drove straightaway to Cape Point. Make sure to bring a little bit of cash. It’s a national park so you must pay a few bucks (in South African Rand, of course) to get into the park. We drove up to the top, and then there’s a funicular that takes you up to the very top. The views from up there are some of the most amazing I have ever seen, and as I’ve repeatedly mentioned, the stormy weather really added to the ambience. The ocean just looked alive – huge waves were crashing. I felt like I was in a fantasy land, perhaps on the top of a medieval castle surrounded by stormy seas. Pictures really don’t do it justice, but here are a variety of pictures. These four are clickable to see their full-size counterparts.
After spending an hour or so at the tip of Cape Point, we started on the route back to Cape Town, but instead of going up the eastern coastline, we took the western coast. One of the first interesting things we saw on the way back was a huge outdoor store of sculptures. We took a walk through the shop, and some of the sculptures in there were not only pretty amazing, but also pretty reasonably priced. Unfortunately, we live in an apartment in the city with no yard… so we have no place to put them. And even if we did, we didn’t relish the idea of filling up our suitcases with stones.
This ended up being our last stop, as we went straight from here all the way back to our hotel in Cape Town. Driving up the western side of the peninsula has similarly spectacular views.
By the time we got back to our hotel, it was after 8PM, and we were happy to be back. We had a long day of driving on the wrong side of the road with inclement weather in a place we had never been before. We decided to get some room service and RELAX! We loved our first day in Cape Town, and we couldn’t wait to explore the place even more!