Monday, October 3, 2011

South Africa Day 4: Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope

Blog Entry #25: South Africa Day 4: Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope

Monday, September 26, 2011

Cape Peninsula from beach dunes along False Bay
Boulder Beach near Simon's Town

Taking advantage of having our rental car until the evening, we decided to detour to Cape Point, legendary meeting point of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans.     

                                                                                         Colorful coastal communities dot False Bay as the road turns south, including Simon’s Town, home to a second African Penguin colony and the South African Naval Museum.

The Atlantic and Indian oceans meet at the point where the warm-water Agulhas current coming from the Indian Ocean meets the cold water Benguela current coming north from the southern Atlantic and turns back on itself – a point that fluctuates between Cape Agulhas and Cape Point, the southernmost point of the Cape Peninsula.  While Cape Alguhas, some 150 km to the east is the true southernmost point of Africa, the Cape of Good Hope marks the southwesternmost point of the African continent.

Pat waiting patiently in rental car while Dan takes more photos

As Wikipedia notes, “When following the western side of the African coastline from the equator, however, the Cape of Good Hope marks the point where a ship begins to travel more eastward than southward. Thus the first rounding of the cape in 1488 by Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias was a milestone in the attempts by the Portuguese to establish direct trade relations with the Far East. Dias called the cape Cabo das Tormentas. "Cape of Tempests" was the original name of the "Cape of Good Hope".  It has been home to over 650 shipwrecks in the past 400 years as ships hugged the coastline to try to avoid the “Roaring 40s Latitude” winds that churned the ocean to the south.

Pat and I arrived at the Cape a little before sunset and after the customary dodging of baboons at the park entrance, we made a quick ascent to the Lighthouse from where we could peer down to the rocky point below.  From that point one can look out to the site of the 1911 wreck of the Portuguese SS Lusitania that ran aground on the rocks while in thick fog.
Cape Point
Pat & Dan on Cape Point

Cape Mountain Zebra and Foal, Cape Point
On our way back to Capetown we were lucky to see four Cape Mountain Zebras, one of two mountain zebra species, and smaller than its better known cousin, the plains zebra.  We have been lucky to see so much wildlife during our short visit here: zebras, Chacma Baboons, African penguins, Southern Right Whales, dassies, a Water Mongoose, ostriches, and dozens of bird species.  Added to the many flowering plants of the fynbos and it has been a rich naturalist experience!

Cape Mountain Zebra

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