South Africa - Round The World Tour 2003 Day 32
Monday 14th April
Enough of this slow-paced, relaxation nonsense already! Today we leapt back into tourist mode again and started to explore the area a little. Since we are close to the Southern most point in Africa, it seemed fitting that we see what it was like down at the Cape of Good Hope at the very end of the peninsula. Along the way, at a place called Boulder on the West coast, there is a permanent colony of African Penguins. Having never seen penguins of any kind in their natural habitat, this was as opportunity that we simply couldn’t pass up. I wasn’t too sure what to expect but I was reluctant to believe that we would get anything other than a distant glance at a few of the flightless birds. Unbelievably, nothing could have been farther from the truth. Not only could we get right up close to them but also there were lots of them to boot. In fact, if it were not for their sharp beaks pecking at anything that came within striking distance, we would probably have been able to pet and stroke them. The colony houses about five thousand penguins altogether and at this time of the year, many of them had dug shallow holes in the sand and were sitting on eggs. They were everywhere - on the rocks, on the beach, in the water and even dotted around in the sand dunes. The local municipality has built a series of wooden deck walkways along the edge of the colony to keep the visiting tourists from interfering with them. Accordingly, we were relieved of R10 each for the privilege – someone had to make money off the little guys sooner or later. Now fully revived from their forty-eight hour slumber, both our cameras were in overdrive again and we must have ended up with well over three hundred photos between us.
Content that we had fully exploited the opportunity to visit the Penguins, we left Boulder after about an hour or so and headed further down the coast to Cape Point. Once again, the scenery along the coastline here in South Africa is something to behold and no words that I can conjure will do justice to the sheer beauty that towered down on us from all directions. The sea breeze rushes in from the ocean and is forced up the mountain ranges where it condenses and forms clouds just below the level of the peaks. Watching the mist form is quite extraordinary. It’s like you are watching clouds being born.
You can only go so far down the peninsular before being relieved of another R25 ($3.50) per person to enter the last tip of landmass, which is a nature reserve that includes a variety of antelope and other game. We saw some kind of Bok in the distance and a small group of Ostriches roaming back and forth over the road as well as some rather amusing Baboons, one of which had climbed into one of the cars up ahead of us. Other than that, however, the scenery was what caught our eye and there was plenty of it to go around.
Just outside of the national park boundary, we stopped at a row of curio stalls. We’ve done this several before and have yet to actually buy something. Today, however, we rectified this and actually bought a few things to send home as mementoes of our time here in South Africa. After walking up and down the row a few times, dodging the continuous onslaught of attempts from the traders to ‘offer us a good price’ we narrowed in on what it was that we were interested in and set about to pretend not to be interested as we picked things up to look at them more closely. You have to ‘play the game’ with the traders as it’s all part of the fun. We ultimately walked away with a set of coasters with animals etched into them in a carved coaster holder, a carved, wooden mask, a carved, wooden Africa map with the big five group of animals forming the inner landmass and a set of three Africa stick figures. All of these things are made of Ebony and will add a taste of Africa to our décor wherever we end up living after our trip. Tomorrow we must figure out how to get these things home, as we simply cannot take them with us on the journey.
The Cape of Good Hope today marked another geographical milestone on our fledgling journey and we turned north to head back to the city after absorbing the salty atmosphere for an hour or so. By this time the shadows were starting to lengthen so we stopped of in one of the sleepy little seaside towns for some fish and chips. We also seized another opportunity to withdraw our daily R4000 cash limit from the ATM network to add to the pile that we are going to use to pay for our overland tour and to buy additional US Dollars.
Once back at Oak Lodge, we reviewed the five hundred or so photos that we’d taken between us over the course of the day and somewhat half-heartedly filtered them out a bit. It’s very difficult to choose which photos not to keep when both our cameras take such good shots that you don’t want to get rid of any at all.