A Sneak Peek into the Western Cape ~ Part 2
Updated: Oct 9, 2019
Have you read the first part of my travels to the Western Cape? Here you go!
We had planned for a whale watching tour at Simon’s Town at 10:30 and made a plan to leave at 8:30am. It’s actually just a 45 minute drive to Simon’s Town where we would be having our boat tour from Simon’s Town Boat Company, however in case of traffic and other delays we planned to head off early. Good thing too given that we got stuck in traffic for a good half hour over a hill because of a truck! Although it’s not the season to go whale watching, none of us had ever done it before barring 1 friend, and hence we thought, “Why not give it a shot?”
The drive down to Simon’s Town – just look at that view!
Well, we didn’t get lucky with the whales and one person felt a little seasick. Nothing a clear, sunny sky, adorable seals and penguins couldn’t cure though! A brisk ride through the ocean took us to Cape Point and back, where we spotted these beautiful animals along the way.
Seals cuddling up on the rocks
Nearing a cave…
Cape Point Lighthouse
Two hours later, hungry and mildly tanned we stepped into Bertha’s restaurant for a delightful lunch. Amidst the spread of seafood there were few vegetarian options (yes, I’m one of those people) – however the warm ocean view and strolling live musician was entertaining on it’s own. Post-lunch, we left the picturesque and quaint Simon’s Town, to move onwards to Boulder’s Beach.
Oh those blue waters…
I’ve been to Cape Town in 1998. Naturally at the age of 5 my memories are not very much, although the photographs that I do have of Boulder’s beach was quite a different picture from the view I got when I went. The memory based off the photograph is a crowded beach of penguins spreading across the beach. Unfortunately, it seems as though the population of penguins seems to have gone down.
These lovable animals, also known as Jackass Penguins (given the sound that they make is similar to a donkey) can be found as you enter the walkway. This is a fairly long stroll by the way – longer in the mid-afternoon heat, but you will spot the penguins right up till the viewpoint of the beach itself.
According to a little bit of research from South African National Parks, in the 1950’s there was about 150,000 breeding pairs of African penguins on a global scale. However now the colony of penguins are endangered and stand at approximately 26,000 breeding pairs across the entire world, out of which there are only 2,900 amongst the sandy shores of Boulder’s Beach. Commercial fishing, marine pollution, and domestic pets and other animals are a few of the many reasons for this rapid decrease.
Penguins at Boulder’s Beach
How adorable are these penguins?
A not so fun fact our guide told us during our boat tour: these penguins tend to wander from Boulder’s Beach to other areas; one being the roads of Simon’s Town. Unfortunately some domestic pets whom are let loose can unintentionally harm these penguins, or cars don’t see them and overrun them. How heartbreaking is this?
After we bid goodbye to our newfound friends, we traveled onwards in the golden light towards Cape of Good Hope, commonly misunderstood as the Southern tip of Africa (by yours truly included). The Southern most point of Africa is actually at Cape Agulhas; had I known that this was it I probably would have made a visit there time permitting.
All said and done, the drive towards this beautiful location was well worth it. Long roads, open skies – you’ve heard these words before. Imagine driving along the coastline though in the golden hour, with the balmy sun glowing across the landscapes. I can remember this drive vividly; the excitement and tiredness combined of reaching the much spoken about destination.
Our first sight of the Atlantic Ocean view..
After reaching the Cape of Good Hope and relishing in the beautiful scenery, we moved upwards on a small hike to view the expansive panorama of the Atlantic ocean. What a view it was! A brisk breeze made us grateful for the sweaters, and the hike took us about a half hour (we got a little lost on the way). The mild adrenaline of rock hopping had been an added excitement to the view.
On our way up!
Speck in the distance
Don’t mind me rock hopping 😉
Alas, all good things must come to an end. In order to make it back to Cape Town in good time, we had to set off. This time we decided to route through Chapman’s Peak Drive, a long and winding uphill road, with a gorgeous view of Camps Bay beneath it. We’d just missed the sunset as we’d gotten caught up on our hike, but the drive back with the fading colours of the post sunset was tranquil nonetheless. Hungry and exhausted, we stopped off at Raj, a typical Indian restaurant that lies on the main road of Camps Bay for a delicious dinner before making it back to our cozy apartment beneath Table Mountain.
Interested in going to Cape of Good Hope? Further details below.
Cape Town drought situation
As we all know, Cape Town is undergoing a drought at this point in time. It’s not to say that there is no water available at all, however in public places chances are the taps are turned off to save water and you will have to use waterless sanitizer.
We’d been warned before our travels and kept as safe as we could during our trip. Pickpocketing is common enough, and it’s recommended to stick to groups and popular places with crowds, particularly avoiding going to desolate areas during the daytime and late at night.
How to get to Cape of Good Hope
From Cape Town, you can drive/route through Simon’s Town and to the Cape of Good Hope, with a return loop around the iconic Chapman’s Peak Drive. Or vice-versa. If you’d like to make stop off points at Simon’s Town and Boulder’s Beach, I would recommend to get an early start on the day (between 8am-9am) so that you can get enough time at each point.
There is a wide variety of Rent-A-Car options at the airport itself. For 3 days, we paid about ZAR2600, which is about USD200 for the Toyota Sedan model showed in the previous blog post (excluding fuel costs). Split this in a group and it’s a fairly decent deal. 🙂
Alternate transport options
You can book for a Cape of Good Hope tour through travel agencies if you don’t have a car to get there.
The season to go whale-watching is June to November. In the Western Cape region you can go from False Bay, Hermanus or Cape Agulhus. We booked our whale watching tour through Simon’s Boat Town Company, who had been thoroughly hospitable and informative throughout our experience. The cost of the tour during off-peak season was about ZAR600 per person.
Have I missed out on any potential sights or things that could be done? Feel free to add to the blog in the comments section. 🙂 Also, there’s a part 1 to this blog! Check out the link here for my travel’s in Cape Town itself.
Hope you enjoyed the blog!