Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Cape Town part two: Table Mountains, Penguins, Seals, Kirstenbosch Gardens, Cape Point

With only 4 nights in the South African capital, it was a tough game fitting everything in. One of the trips that we decided to do combined the penguins, seals, gardens and cape point. Not normally a fan of tours, this was actually great - small group of 10 and plenty of time to see the attractions plus none of the hassle of navigating our way round!

We went with Ilios who were actually really good at this tour guiding malarkey!

Kirstenbosch gardens

Penguins, seals, Kirstenbosch Gardens and Cape Point

Penguins are one of my favourite animals (along with the slow lorris, ducks and sausage dogs FYI) so no trip to Cape Town was going to be complete without seeing the African penguins at Boulders Bay. We decided to book a tour for this, which turned out to be an all day thing and not just admiring the penguins.

enjoying the boat ride to the seals

Taking the scenic route across the coast, first up was a trip to Seal Island, which as the name suggests, is your chance to see the seals chillaxing on the rocks. I don’t think I have really ever seen a seal close up like that, so really didn’t appreciate what weird animals they are – they’re fat, walk with wobble and a bobble of the head! Glad we got to see them though because on our first day, we were convinced the black things we could see bobbing by the rocks in the sea below were definitely seals. 

After climbing rocks and trekking over sand, turns out it was just seaweed. On our city tour though we did find out that these are the famous “kelp forests” – proving protection for small marine life and providing us with more oxygen than the Amazon rainforest, these are an important fixture in the eco system.

hundreds of seals on the rocks.
Real ones too, not kelp forests!!!

Next up was the beautiful Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens. We only had an hour there but if you have a week or so in Cape Town, please spend the day with a picnic there! It was so green and scenic with the mountainous backdrop. There seemed to be quite a lot to view too, with various gardens, such as the ‘medicinal gardens’ and caf├ęs.

glorious sun at Kirstenbosch

tree lined pathways at Kirstenbosch

The stop at Boulders is what I had booked this trip for, cos this was penguin time. I’ve only ever seen penguins at London Zoo,  but this was a chance to see them, up close, in their natural home  environment! And home environment this was too – we saw them poo, keep some eggs warm and a pair going at it! 

The Boy told me that I would be able to swim with the penguins. Just in case you are planning to go, you can’t  by the way. Apparently they have a nasty peck too. Was pointless packing my bikini.

the beach is littered with these little penguins 

you can get really up  close and personal with the penguins 

Post lunch, we stopped off at Cape Point, the point where the two ocean currents (I think the Atlantic and Indian) meet. It does offer a great photo opportunity but it was also bloody windy! Esp up the lighthouse top!

Along the way, we stopped at the various viewing points and passed the usual weird things such as an ostrich farm. Or so I am told -  I can’t seem to stay awake when a passenger in moving transport!!! (road  trips gonna be fun?!)

Table Mountain

On our last day in Cape Town, after a leisurely breakfast of pancakes and accidentally doing a spot of dolphin watching, we got our hire car for our twelve day road  trip. Before we headed off though, we had to see Table Mountain. You can get a bus  or taxi up to the cable car station, but if you do have a car, you can park for free around  the base, its just a matter of luck in finding a space close by. We got there some time after 1pm and found a spot quite easily. We also had a limited queue for tickets, no wait for the cable car but this is off peak. 

Devils  Peak at Table Mountain 

left: Lion's Head and view of Cape Town

On the hour, every hour (last one at 3pm) there is a free guided tour along the top of the table mountain. If you can make it, go on it. Our chap was like a human google, and showed us so much about table mountain, making the experience so much better. If you are  going up there, look out for the hamster like creatures called a 'darsi'.

at the top of Table Mountain 

Once we were up there, basking in the sun and enjoying the view, we thought ‘sod it’, we’ll walk back down! I had borrowed walking boots from my friend Sophie but seeing as we had planned on getting a cable car up there, had left them behind, so I had a two hour scramble back down in my low-heeled cowboy boots that are one size too big! Zero on the practicality scale but a Dutch lady did tell me that I was the most stylish girl on the mountain. I’ll take that.

If you only have half a day, squeeze in Table Mountain. Its so worth it. Getting the cable car up there and walking down actually works well. You’ll get spectacular photos so brave the sweat and skip the cable car one way. And if you are walking down, whilst you're near to the very top, a fun game we wanted to play was to tell people "keep going, you're about half way now", just to curb their happiness lol. 

X x X

read part one here

read about our  amazing  hotel here

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