Cape Point: Peninsula, Penguins & Protea

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Flag of South Africa  , Western Cape,
Wednesday, October 12, 2011

There are many day trips you can take from Cape Town, one of the of the best being a drive down the Cape Point Peninsula to it's tip.  The day will provide you with beautiful scenery, wonderful beaches, small harbor towns, dramatic cliffs, a lighthouse, ostriches, and brilliantly colorful protea. Perhaps the greatest fun of the day is to visit the colony of African penguins that live on the Peninsula.

From Cape Town there's a winding road of good quality that hugs the coast and takes you mostly through the wilderness preserve of Table Mountain Nature preserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Our first stop was at Hout Bay, a small town nestled between the mountains and a beautiful bay.  We stopped at the harbor and enjoyed the view and did a little shopping at a nice handicraft market.  It was a scenic spot with mountain views, many boats at harbor and a even a few seals for entertainment.  It would be a charming place to spend a few relaxing days. 

The route south took us to Chapman's Peak Drive, a windy cliff-hugging road that is very scenic and somewhat reminiscent of the Pacific Coast Highway.  There's a hefty toll to drive this 10 km stretch of road but you have little choice if you want to continue down towards the tip of the peninsula.  After this stretch the road opens up as it continues through the wilderness area.   We stopped for a latte at a cafe and also briefly at the nearby Cape Point Ostrich Farm

The southern most part of the peninsula is Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve, a pristine region not only featuring great sites but also baboons and many protea. We enjoyed a leisurely drive as we headed south straight for Cape Point.  Here we stopped for a hike up to the lighthouse, hiked around trails and enjoyed the cliff views.  It was very breezy but it was interesting to see this point where ships made sharp turns, heading back to Europe from Asia or in the reverse direction.  There's a great gift shop and nice eating area.

From the nature reserve, it's a relatively straightforward and beautiful drive back to town.  Our next stop was at  Boulders Beach where we had a chance to see up close and personal a large breeding colony of jackass (African) penguins that settled here in the early 1980s.  The colony has thrived and with them hoards of tourists have come to this charming small town.  We really enjoyed our time studying these fun and photogenic birds. 

After a few hours at Boulder's beach, we headed back to Cape Town for anther great meal and a good end to a nice day.

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