27 July 2009

Boulders Beach and the Cape of Good Hope

The real reason why we came to Cape Town was to visit Boulders Beach in Simon's Town.
Although I'm a fine candidate for the naming of somewhere it is in fact named after Simon van der Stel the former governor of the Cape Colony from the 1680's.

Boulders beach is famous for the 3000 odd African penguins who nest there. It is one of the few land based penguin colonies anywhere in the World and a great opportunity to get up close to the little flipperd fellas.

Even without the penguins it's still a spectacular beach and coastline.

Simon's Town is also a naval base and was home to one of the navy's strangest recruits. Able Seaman Just Nuisance is the only dog to ever hold rank in the British Royal Navy. According to legend the great dane dog befriended and assisted intoxicated sailors during World War II. When he died he was buried with full military honors and a life size bronze statue erected in the town square.

His birthday is still celebrated every 1st April, Just Nuisance Day, with a dog parade through the town.

After the excitement of the penguins (and the dog) we left Simon's Town and headed down the coast to Cape Point, the meeting point of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans.

We had feared that Cape Point may have been turned into a horrible tacky theme park like at Lands End in the UK. Thankfully though that's not the case. All you get is the Flying Dutchman funicular railway, which takes you 238m up the cliff, and some spectacular scenery.

There's also some pretty mean looking chacma baboons who spend their time terrorising the diners at the cafe. Although this fella really should move somewhere else if he's after a bit of food.

We also made the short trip across to the Cape of Good Hope, the most Southwesterly point on the African mainland.

Finally we ended the day by heading all the way back up the peninsular to the town of Stellenbosch in the heart of the South African wine lands.

Once again we've found a really great guesthouse on-line called Magnolia Place which is just on the outskirts of Stellenbosch town centre. After two months of fairly ropey accommodation in the rest of Africa (or camping) it's been a real surprise that the last 3 places we've stayed in have been really nice. It's been great to stay somewhere that has furniture, hot water, is clean and doesn't cost you both arms and legs.

A lot of the vineyards in the surrounding countryside have really nice restaurants attached to them that as well as serving copious amounts of local wine do food sourced from the local farms. We headed out for dinner to a place called 96 Winery Road at Zandberg Farm in Helderberg. They served up the most tender steak I've ever eaten. When we were on the overland truck we struggled to eat our hippo steaks with butter knives, there would have been no such problems with this piece of meat.

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