9/17/16

My Travel Book - Time-Out but Still in South Africa on Our Way to the Cape of Good Hope







I am sorry I left you behind on Boulders Beach for so long. Huge time gap. Time-out. There are times when life takes strange bends. For a long time, I was very busy negotiating a few of them but all is well that ends well. Here I am again, ready to take you along on my journeys to South Africa or elsewhere.

I hope you did not feel too stranded on Boulders Beach and that you had brought along earplugs. Penguins are hard to live with, aren’t they? Braying little jackasses!

Well, well, we were driving to the Cape of Good Hope and we were running late… in October 2014, two years ago. Two years to travel from Simon’s Town to Cape Point - a 15 minutes drive in practice!

“I am late! I am late!”… but seriously now…


One should only approach the Cape of Good Hope by sea. Unfortunately, it’s done by land most of the time. On second thought, I am pretty sure that I would hate to brave the foaming sea, the breakers and the reef where so many boats were ripped apart.

In November 2014, our flight back to Paris happened to be our captain’s very last flight. He was thus allowed to fly at a very low altitude over this amazing Cape of Good Hope, gliding over the whole area so slowly that all the passengers were speechless until the plane turned around and back towards its faraway destination, Paris. And then clapping broke out.

Going to the Cape by land is very spellbinding too.

Some days you may even be greeted by baboons at the main entrance. They look very sweet and funny but don’t be fooled. They are cunning. They are looking for food and they will literally jump at the opportunity to find some in your car if you are careless and open your window even for a few seconds. And they bite hard, very hard!



Once you pass the main gate, you are on your way to the Cape of Good Hope and its counterpart, Cape Point. The scenery is exceptional, unparalleled and magnificent.

Before you get to the entrance of the highly protected part which is called “Cape of Good Hope - Table Mountain National Park”, you will drive through some more barren scenery, some of it sometimes bearing the marks of wildfire. You may be lucky enough to spot ostriches, antelopes and baboons. We did. Not every time though but never forget that the Cape is not a zoo. It is a wildlife sanctuary. Animals move around.



There you are. The entrance to the National Park. Most of the time, not this empty. But worth waiting for a while… when there is a long line of stranded cars there.
The scenery changes drastically. The vegetation looks more abundant, luxuriant even. Of course the colours vary from Summer to Winter and in-between. This is what’s magical about the Cape. It never looks colourless nor bleak the way our European landscapes do, right after Fall or before Spring. I missed the full bloom though. One day maybe! 









Do not expect trees there. Not even bushes. Fierce sea winds sweep across the Cape area all year long and dwarf the vegetation.



On your way to the Cape, you may notice a huge white cross. It is the Gama cross, erected by the Portuguese government to commemorate Vasco da Gama who was the first explorer to make landfall on the African coast, on November 4, 1497. There is a second one called the Dias cross in honor of Bartolomeu Dias who discovered the Cape of Good Hope in May 1488 and the passage from Europe to India. Gama and Dias crosses are navigational beacons. When aligned, they indicate the position of a rock called the “White Rock”, a terrible shipping hazard in False Bay.



Incidentally, Dias encountered storms so violent there that he named the cape he was seeing from his boat, “The Cape of Storms” (Cabo das Tormentas). A little bit scary but very real in May, a wintery month in the Southern Hemisphere. Who would have liked to navigate around the “Cape of Storms”?
John II, king of Portugal, renamed it the “Cape of Good Hope” (“Cabo da Boa Esperan├ža”). Merely because navigating around this cape meant hope for opening a new trade route to India and the Far East.

Keep on driving and get ready to face and maybe brave the Cape of Good Hope… Because even on dry land, you’ll come up against raging winds as soon as you step out of your car.


 

There it is. Not very impressive though, at least from this view point. This is the most south-western point of the African continent. The southern tip being Cape Agulhas, 170 kms south-east of Cape Town, the real divide between the Atlantic and the Indian Oceans.


 
There is a footpath to trek up to Cape Point from the Cape of Good Hope. Next time probably…


This sign attracts tourists from all over the world. In March 2016, there were two buses there: one filled with French tourists and another one filled with Chinese, all of them competing to get their picture taken as close to the sign as they could and preferably by themselves…  
 

One of them won the whole sign for himself but not for long! And then they left. I did not really miss watching their absurd behaviour. We enjoyed the peacefulness… Thoroughly. Including the waves that were playing around a colony of seals… (Bad contre-jour shot, I know… You’ll have to believe me. There were a lot of seals enjoying the rollers while resting on the main rock.)









*Good Luck, and Good Night*






2 comments:

Myrna said...

Awesome photos! I loved visiting this beautiful place with my viola friends--that was probably 8 years ago! One day, I will go back! Thanks for sharing your pictures and experience.

LeRon and Colleen Torrie said...

Your photography is amazing, Marie!! And I love your descriptions too! Someday we will get there but for now we're enjoying Kenya. LOts of love, C.T.