Nan and Walt's 1999 - 2000 Sabbatical
Report #9 - Part V, March 23, 2000
Cape Town and Vicinity

As was mentioned, our trip to Cape Town was quite unexpected, but when problems arose with our trip to Durban, we decided to go to Cape Town instead. Many people had told us that the trip to Cape Town was prettier than the trip to Durban and the temperatures would be more comfortable, i.e., cooler.

It's about a nine hour drive to Cape Town which we decided to break up into two days. The first day we drove as far as Mossels Bay and stayed in the Protea Hotel near the beach. The next we stopped to visit the Drotsy Museum in Swellendam. (See Part IV for our photos.)

Here is a photo of the Victoria and Albert Waterfront area of Cape Town. In the background is the famous Table Mountain. Often a tablecloth of clouds is draped over it's top.

We took a harbor tour aboard a little steamship that is about the size of the one featured in "The African Queen", which Walt and I had just finished reading. It is almost visible at the near dock in the middle of the photo above.

The old harbor master's house is a prominent feature on the waterfront.

       

Besides seeing lots of ships and docks, there were porpoise and seals throughout the harbor area. Above we can see "seals on wheels".

We had a wonderful meal and did a little shopping before heading back to our B&B to meet Peter and Louisa who were in town for a wedding. All this and we were only 6131 kilometers from the South Pole! :-)

One of the reasons that we wanted to go to Cape Town was its proximity to Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope! How could we come to South Africa without visiting the location that was so critical in the early maritime explorations of the fifteenth century when everyone was trying to find a route to India? It was especially interesting to us given our recent visit to Lisbon, which is where Vasco DaGama set sail from!

So, we set out the next morning to make our pilgrimage to the point. It was a gorgeous day and we passed many gorgeous beaches on our journey along the coast, finally stopping at one that advertised a tidal pool. Nan was immediately struck by these "flowers"; we'd never seen anything like them before. (Per M. Kriek: "The red flowers in the Cape of Good Hope reserve are in the Amaryllidaceae family, but I cannot narrow it down. The nearby small red flower could be the succulent Crassula coccinea.")

Just an aside: We have been amazed by the big sand dunes all along the coast. We're on top of one here.

One of the things we'd never realized was how mountainous the area around the cape is. This should give you a little idea of what we mean. Cape Point is visible in the distance.

The tidal pool was a bit of a surprise. They are quite common at beached in South We think they are built to swim in because of the rip tides that are prevalent in the area.

Here the view from the other direction.

       

Outside the entrance to the Cape Peninsula National Park we found stands of native goods, much like those of the Native Americans found outside the Grand Canyon. We stopped. Nan shopped. (The goods shown above were actually at other stands on the cape and outside of Knysna, where the lighting was better.) The carvings were marvelous! Some of those giraffes are 12 feet tall and more!

We entered the park and drove to the Point. You can either hike or ride a tram to the visitor's center below the old lighthouse. We took the tram up. Here's a view of the Cape of Good Hope from the visitor's center area.

Then we hiked as far out the point as they would let us. Here's another view of the Cape of Good Hope from that hike.

And, here's the view at the end of the hike. You can get some idea of the kind of terrain facing the early explorers where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet - maybe. Maybe, because the Point is NOT the southernmost point in South Africa. That is at Cape Agulas, about 200 kilometers east (and out of our way) by road. Although the Point says it's where the two oceans meet, we've read elsewhere that it's at Cape Agulas. Oh, well, this is still a key location in the history of maritime exploration!

       

We also drove out to the Cape of Good Hope itself and ran into all sorts of wildlife!

Our trip to the point had followed its eastern coast and it was our plan to follow the western coast back to Cape Town, stopping in Hout Bay, pictured above, for dinner. Alas, Chapman's Peak Road was closed so we were spared that cliff hanger. We did find another route to the Bay and ate at the Mariner Wharf Grill.

We started back to Grahamstown on Monday, visiting the Maritime Museum in Mossels Bay which has a full size replica of Vasco DaGama's ship and staying in Wilderness at the Holiday Inn on the beach Monday night.

We enjoyed our brief stay in the Cape Town area and would recommend a visit to anyone who comes to South Africa.

Go back to Part I - Report #9

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Nan C. Schaller
Rochester Institute of Technology
Computer Science Department
102 Lomb Memorial Dr.
Rochester, NY 14623-5608
telephone: +1.585.475.2139
fax: +1.585.475.7100
e-mail: ncs@cs.rit.edu

23 March 2000