After our adventure in shark diving in Gansbaai, we continued our trek to Cape Town, where we would spend out last day. The drive took only two hours and we arrived at the President Protea hotel, which had been opened by Mandela.
It was a glorious night of room service, and relaxing, while we sorted our massive amounts of dirty clothes and our souvenirs. The next morning, we decided to go to Table Mountain and ride the cable car up to the top, since the massive, unique cloud cover that hovers on top of the mountain was not scheduled to be present! We arrived early, in hopes to beat the crowd. The sunrise was glorious at the mountain, shroud in Cape Town in a warm, red glow.
The panorama was breathtaking. We stood in line, having arrived 30 minutes early, as in winter the hours differ from the summer-go figure. As we stood in line, two men talked in front of us. They had arrived before us with backpacks and as it turned out they were climbers. Every weekend they abseiled/rappelled down Table Mountain and then climbed back up. Woah. That was incredible!! We took the first cable car up, with a floor that spins, so that everyone could get a view of the panorama as you rode up.
It was dizzying to me, as I had awoke feeling badly this morning. My body was tired and my adrenaline burst yesterday had left me less than gunning for another adventure.
Admittedly, I am afraid of heights.
This has not kept me from hang-gliding, rappelling, climbing, hiking on ridiculous cliffs and zip lining over Peruvian gorges. However, this time, I could not shake my fear. This also happened in Peru, after days and days of clinging to the side of a mountain and hiking, I could not do the last hike-a perilous edge crawl around the outside of Machu Picchu. Today, I was feeling the same. Chad, however, was thrilled. Once we reached the top, photos were taken-here is a view of beautiful Camps Bay from the top!
We spent a few minutes at the top and declared we would hike down. We left and started our two hour trek down rock stairs. It was literally just that! We stepped down giant steps for two hours. Two hours! Did I mention giant stairs? Most of the people we passed were going up, but we chose down. Let me tell you, our legs turned into shakey Jell-O molds as we descended. It was truly one insane hike.
And…three days later, our thighs are still recovering! To quote a word I have used immensely on this teip: Unbelievable. The views of Cape Town, a city I now love came gleaming into view around every zig zag turn.
Hiking is such a wonderful thing. I grew up hiking with my parents and still find so much joy and release in a hike. Nature is the perfect cure for whatever ails, and reminds us how very small we are; a good reminder.
Upon reaching the bottom, our legs would not work on flat concrete! We laughed and waddled to the car. After a shower and packing up officially, we left the Protea President Hotel and it’s gorgeous views.
Our flight was in the evening on this last day, at 11:00. We had ALL DAY. Next on our agenda was a trip to Boulder’s Beach, part of the Table Mountain section of the SAN Park system. It was time to meet the African Penguin, officially. As we drove along the beautiful coastline, I thought about penguins. They are such a funny bird! Dressed in a tux, waddling about. Truly, however, I had not paid much attention to these animals before. I have always been a big game person-fond of the big cats, giraffe, elephants. I was quite curious to see and hang with the penguins. When we areived, we were serenaded by a group of a Cappella African singers, I was thrilled! We walked towards the entrance of Boukder’s Beach, and past onto the boardwalk. It was here, on this winding boardwalk, that I met the first African Penguin.
He was standing right at the fence. His babies were in a nest behind him and he was, I am pretty sure, more curious about me than I was about him. Or, perhaps it was mutual. He stared at me, as I spoke softly to him. His beak slid through the cage and close to my face. He was completely intrigued. I was completely intrigued. We became instantly respectful of each other. I was hooked. Onward we walked, checking out all the nesting, mating and birthing of these incredible birds.
The endangered animals came as a pair to this beach in the mid 1980s and have been coming to breed ever since. Thankfully, strict laws have been enacted to protect these animals and the colony has grown to about 2-3 thousand birds!
They stay here, breed, and are viewed and kept safe from humans. They come here because of the supply of cape anchovy and fish migrating along this path. An intensive article on the penguins was written here.
After a long time of viewing and falling in love with the African Penguin, we purchased a baby stuffed animal for our very kind and loving dog-sitter who is about to have her first baby! I painted a picture of a penguin for her new daughter and have decided I will teach her about these very sweet endangered animals in South Africa.
Next stop in our very long wait, last hurrah in the Cape area: CAPE OF GOOD HOPE!
intro music: “…it’s the end of the world as we know it…and I feel fine! “
This REM song ran theough my head the entire drive to the Cape of Good Hope, and still does when thinking about it.
We were literally driving to the end of this side of the world. We were essentially closer to Antarctica than to our home in the States!
I have to interject here and throw in a sign we saw frequently while traveling. Yes, baboons are all over the roadways and these hysterical signs mark where you just might happen to run into one..or more! There are warnings everywhere about not feeding them. It reminded us of home, at the Great Smoky Mountains, where humans feed the back bear constantly. What an adverse effect this has on the population of any animal that humans interact with by feeding them. The baboons we saw were usually running in a family unit, and always, there was a baby clinging to a protective mother’s back!
The drive to the the end of the world as we know it was alongside more breathtaking coastal roads, and the entrance to the Cape Point and Cape of Good Hope requires a fee and is also part of the Table Mountain SAN Park system. We paid and drove 15 minutes to the end. Here, you can hike or ride up to the lighthouse at the Cape Point, or drive to the Cape of Good Hope. We decided the later, since our legs were crushed and wobbly from our Table Mountain descent earlier. The crowds were gathered at the famous sign marking the CoGH, so we hiked upward a bit and took some photos of the ocean crashing the furthermore rocks.
You felt like an explorer here. You could feel the historical accounts of arriving at this destination culminate at this very spot. The James Michener book I chose to thread while on the trip, The Covenant remarks about the Cape. I can see and feel what they meant. It truly was a place of heightened awareness at the smallness of mankind when compared with the vastness of history and the greatness of the planet we inhabit.
We had our photos taken, took the photos for other tourists and met another traveler on his second day in South Africa from China.
It was a stunning completion to a stunning trip. I think this photo specifically captures up our new generations marveling at the vastness and greatness mentioned above. We recognize the glory of travelling to such a spot. We honor the adventure.
As the sun set, we drive north to the airport to start our grueling, but safe and successful 24 hour journey home. There were and continue to remain a billion thoughts on this trip. Our honeymoon. South Africa. I am sure that I am not done writing about this country. Chad mentioned we would return. A part of my heart is and will remain Africa.