Hustling onto our bus, I saw Mambo’s Plastics Warehouse across the street. I was quite interested to read that they had a Widget Range of products. Imagine my disappointment to find it was “widest range”. I still determined to visit, if I had a chance.
Our guide, Stuart MacMillan, just 3 generations out of Scotland, was to be much admired. We were ignorant of Cape Town our first morning, but he knew enough to get us up to Table Mountain right away, as there were no clouds. We had less than an hour wait [which to be indelicate, I spent in the restroom, reading about how they have to haul water to the top of the mountain via the cableway].
Water up the Cableway
We learned that the Cape of Good Hope is one of the 6 Plant Kingdoms in the world, just a spot on the map, really. So I took lots of plant pictures, none of which I can now identify. But the Protea, in many forms, is king here. And I didn’t get one photo of it anywhere. Just Google it. But I did identify Rock Hyrax. They are about the size of a large cat, and like cats, love toasting in the sun
Rising 3,558 ft. from sea level Cape Town, Table Mountain was a landmark long before Dutch settlers started the colony. Ships out of Europe bound for India and the Indies used it to distinguish Cape Bay from False Bay, where many foundered thinking they had rounded the cape. Of course, as we learned, Table Mountain plays hide and seek.
Ron with Table Mountain one day
Ron without Table Mountain the next day
Thus [dis-]oriented, we descended, boarded the bus and began our tour of the Cape Peninsula. Cape Town itself actually faces north, protected by the peninsula ending in the Cape of Good Hope. Our tour took us all the way to the Cape itself and back. Passing Hout’s Bay, we saw 2 pods of orcas frolicking, followed by a twisting Chapman’s Peak Drive, with sheer cliffs dropping to the ocean. Then we crossed the peninsula to Simon’s Town for a fabulous lunch of seabass with lemon butter. I went for a wade in the tiny bay and found the water shockingly cold. Stuart had told us that the water comes straight up from Antarctica, which is why there is a colony of African penguins on Boulder Beach. We humans had to stay on a boardwalk, while the penguins got the run of the beach. They are the size of a large cat and not intimidated by people at all. They must think that people have weird faces, since we all were holding cameras to our eyes.
Do you ever have a moment that is so perfect that you could die right then and not regret it? Seeing wild penguins was such a moment for me. [This is not to say that I wasn’t amazed spitless as this trip progressed]. In fact, as we resumed our tour, we saw more animals I never thought I’d see in the wild. And this was our first day!
The Cape of Good Hope is not the southern-most point of Africa; nor does is mark the border between the Atlantic and the Indian Oceans. That honor goes to Cape Agulhas, much to the east. Nonetheless, we were excited to be there. Nearly blown away, in fact, as the winds were gusting to 60 mph.
Then we made our way up to the headland above the cape. Many folks were going up to the lighthouse, but we sat down for a latte in a café overlooking Buffalo Bay, watching the winds, waves and clouds. Ron also saw a breaching whale. He had the look on his face of “I really did just see that!” The local birds were employed in bussing the tables.
Bird with French fry.
Heading to the bus, we were entertained by baboons wandering around the parking lot. Baboons [pronounced b’boons] are nasty people as a rule, so we watched from a polite distance. One unlucky tourist however, had a camera lens swiped by a young baboon.
Stunned by all this in our first day, we bussed back to town, for a lovely dinner together at Beluga, just a short walk from our hotel. I had Mushroom Gnocchi, with a Truffle Emulsion. It sounds like a chemistry experiment but it was delicious.