Sunning ourselves at the Cape of Good Hope

Finally in March we escaped from frozen England and travelled to South Africa, thanks to Claire’s staff travel. We landed in Cape Town, and spent the first three days based in the downtown area.  Cape Town is not unlike many European cities, although with an African flavour.  We saw many global companies (McDonald’s, KFC etc) and also brand names familiar to us from Ghana: ShopRite, Game, DSTV and Savanna Dry (Ian’s favourite cider).

The first day we explored the city centre, including the Castle of Good Hope, where we watched the ‘ceremony of the keys’. The next day it rained, so we spent time in museums, including ones relating to slavery and the forced relocation of people during apartheid. When the sun shone briefly we looked round the Bo Kaap region, with its brightly coloured houses and large number of mosques.  In the evening we enjoyed an ‘African Dance’ production, with a very enthusiastic cast of dancers and musicians.

The Castle of Good Hope, with Table Mountain behind

The Castle of Good Hope, with Table Mountain behind

The ceremony of the keys, at the Castle of Good Hope

The ceremony of the keys, at the Castle of Good Hope

Colourful houses in the Bo Kaap district

Colourful houses in the Bo Kaap district

African dance show

African dance show

On Saturday the sun came out bright and strong, and we went to the redeveloped Victoria and Alfred Waterfront area. On the way we encountered the Cape Town Naked Bike Ride, alternatively clad cyclists (some wearing only helmets) protesting about cars, renewable energy, etc. From the Waterfront we caught a boat out to Robben Island and had a tour which included the prison and the cell where Nelson Mandela lived for 18 years.

Cape Town Naked Bike Ride

Cape Town Naked Bike Ride

The Clocktower at the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront

The Clocktower at the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront

Looking across the bay from Robben Island

Looking across the bay from Robben Island

Mandela's cell

Mandela’s cell

Back at the Waterfront, we went on the Big Wheel, with magnificent views of Table Mountain and the bay, and explored the shopping malls, bars and restaurants which have been built as a magnet for tourists.

The Big Wheel at the V&A Waterfront

The Big Wheel at the V&A Waterfront

On Sunday we picked up a hire car and drove to the foot of Table Mountain, and took the cablecar to the top. This rotates 360° during the trip so everyone gets a panoramic view. The weather was glorious, with clear skies, bright sun and little wind, and we walked right across the top as far as McClear’s Beacon, with amazing views all round.

The Table Mountain cablecar

The Table Mountain cablecar

The ascent of Table Mountain

The ascent of Table Mountain

The view of Cape Town from the top

The view of Cape Town from the top

A protea, South Africa's national flower

A protea, South Africa’s national flower

Landscape with proteas

Landscape with proteas

A friendly bird on Table Mountain

A friendly bird on Table Mountain

That night, and the two following, we stayed in a spacious apartment on False Bay, near Simon’s Town.  One day we drove down to Cape Point, and took the funicular up to the old lighthouse. It was extremely windy there at the tip of Africa, but the scenery was spectacular. We walked across the peninsula to the Cape of Good Hope, with a side-trip down to Dias Beach where we saw large numbers of ‘dassies’ (rock hyrax).

Cape Point funicular

Cape Point funicular

The footpath to the old lighthouse

The footpath to the old lighthouse

Just to prove where we are...

Just to prove where we are…

An eland in the bush near the car park

An eland in the bush near the car park

Dias Beach and the Cape of Good Hope

Dias Beach and the Cape of Good Hope

A dassie keeps his eye on us

A dassie keeps his eye on us

Another wildlife experience was seeing all the penguins that throng Boulders Beach, near Simon’s Town. They are oblivious to the human visitors, and some even share a beach with swimmers and sunbathers.

Boulders Beach penguin colony

Boulders Beach penguin colony

African penguins

African penguins

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