The Cape Peninsula: penguins, baboons and spectacular scenery

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After my recent re-visit to Cape Town and the Cape Peninsula, I’ve a series of posts coming up. I’ll cover a cheetah, lion and rhino rescue project and Hout Bay – another self-declared micro-nation. I’ll talk about the infamous prison at Robben Island and a thought-provoking visit in a township. I might even say a word or two about Cecil Rhodes and his garden. But let’s start with the easy bit: stunning nature.

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Cape Town probably has one of the most beautiful settings of any city on earth, rivalled only by Rio de Janeiro. If you’re in town for more than a day or two, do get out on the Cape Peninsula to see it all from different angles.

The legendary Cape sits at the tip of the peninsula, making it Africa’s most southwesterly point. It’s not the southernmost point, that honour belongs to Cape Agulhas 150 km away. However, as is often the case, the geographic extreme isn’t always that dramatic. This is the case at Europe’s northernmost point (Kinnarodden in Norway) and also at Cape Agulhas. Thus, the more spectacular rocky headlands of North Cape and Cape Point get all the attention.

Cape Peninsula, South Africa

Cape Point


 
Somewhere between Cape Agulhas and Cape of Good Hope, the Indian and Atlantic oceans meet. Seas are rough here, and Portuguese sailor Bartolomeu Dias, the first to round the Cape, named it Cabo das Tormentas, Cape of Storms. His king would have none of that and renamed this headland Cape of Good Hope. Best to be optimistic…

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Cape of Good hope and Dias beach


 
At the top of Cape Point is a light house and a marker signifying just how far you are from home:

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Cape Peninsula flora and fauna

The Cape Peninsula is part of Table Mountain National Park and is one of eight areas which together form the UNESCO World Heritage site Cape Floral Region Protected Areas, one of the richest areas for plants in the world.

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Just as abundant is wildlife, notably the famous, or perhaps infamous, Chacma baboons. Last time I was here, it was early evening and the baboons had taken over the parking lot. They pulled at my clothes and climbed into the car and were generally a bit intimidating. Too much like humans, perhaps – humans without inhibitions.

This time I spotted signs everywhere warning of dangerous baboons, but most of the day they were nowhere to be seen. In fact, I felt lucky to finally spot a few along the road, not at all aggressive. According to the South African Parks Department, the baboons are critically endangered. Much can happen in 20 years…

Penguins at Boulders Beach

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A major highlight of the Cape Peninsula is another animal, the African penguin. Just the sight of these little creatures wobbling about on the beach is surely enough to make anyone happy.

I travelled with Ingrid from Norway, Mauricio from Brazil and Pip from Tassie. Between us, we represented three continents, meeting on a fourth. Such a small world. Pip was a bit blasé about the penguins – they’re everywhere in Tasmania, so no need to see these. The rest of us happily paid the 45 Rands entrance fee to enter the protected beach area.

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The African penguin was recently classified as endangered, as the population is decreasing due to the destruction of their habitat: oil spills, overfishing, irresponsible tourists, pets and other animals are all contributing factors. As I walk from the beach to the parking lot, this is aptly illustrated: most homes in South Africa seem to have tall gates, electric fences and barred windows. Watch dogs are equally common. Boulders Beach is no different. On one side of the street, ferocious dogs bark at anyone walking by; across the street, two penguins come out of the water pipes. It’s all too easy to picture these two little creatures as victim of the dogs – or a passing car. Best to see them before it’s too late.

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Cape Peninsula Practicals:

  • Driving is the best way to explore this area and Cape Point is about 1 ½ hours from Cape Town. We drove via Hout Bay, then across to Fish Hoek and Simon’s Town, but there are several alternatives routes. The train from Cape Town stops in Simon’s Town and takes about 1 hour.
  • At parking lots, locals offer to look after your car. Sadly, this is a necessity. Remember to tip the guard when you pick up your car.
  • Entrance to the Cape is R90 (R40 for children 2-11)
  • If you don’t feel like walking up to the light house on Cape Point, you can take the Flying Dutchman Funicular up and maybe walk down. (Sgl/return R39/49 – R16/21 for children up to 16) 
    RETURN     SINGLE
    Child**    R21            R16

    Adult R49 R39

 
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The Cape Peninsula is part of the UNESCO World Heritage serial site Cape Floral Region Protected Areas.

Here are more UNESCO World Heritage sites around the world.

41 Responses to “The Cape Peninsula: penguins, baboons and spectacular scenery”

  1. Deise de Oliveira 18 February 2013 1702 #

    Wow! Great pictures. This place is on my wishlist!
    Deise de Oliveira recently posted..Onde ficar em Cartagena: Hotel Capilla del Mar

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 4 March 2013 0509 #

      Thanks. Easy to get great photos of such a beautiful spot.

  2. Italian Notes 18 February 2013 2035 #

    I keep hearing about the crime rates in South Africa, but the nature looks as if it beats all.
    Italian Notes recently posted..The romance of the isle of Capri Italy

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 4 March 2013 0510 #

      There is crime, no doubt about it. But nature does win out.

  3. Ana O 19 February 2013 0107 #

    How beautiful! I look froward to the rest of the posts :)
    Ana O recently posted..You ain’t from around here

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 4 March 2013 0511 #

      Thanks, Ana.

  4. Laurel 19 February 2013 0935 #

    I haven’t been to this part of South Africa yet, now I want to go back and explore it.
    Laurel recently posted..Laughter Yoga: The Universal Language

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 4 March 2013 0512 #

      Know what you mean. I’ve so much left to see of South Africa, even though I’ve been quite a few times.

  5. Michael 19 February 2013 2324 #

    Cape Town is on my list of must see places when I finally go traveling. Thanks for the beautiful pictures.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 4 March 2013 0527 #

      Thank you – and here’s hoping you’ll go soon :)

  6. Jennifer 20 February 2013 0332 #

    Great post! I’m really hoping to make it to South Africa this year and would love to see everything you covered in this post.
    Jennifer recently posted..Paradise Found at Anantara Kihavah Villas Maldives

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 4 March 2013 0528 #

      Thanks, Jennifer.

  7. Kim 20 February 2013 1216 #

    I’ve wanted to check out Cape Town for ages but have never heard of the peninsula… and they have penguins!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 4 March 2013 0528 #

      And baboons :)

  8. jade 21 February 2013 0552 #

    Oh, wow- this is beautiful. And of course I love the penguins, any time I get to see animals and beautiful scenery than I am all aboard!
    jade recently posted..Chicago Architecture Tours

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 4 March 2013 0529 #

      All you could want in the Cape Town area then :)

  9. Andrew Graeme Gould 21 February 2013 1429 #

    What a stunning location, Sophie. Beautifully illustrated in your post!
    Andrew Graeme Gould recently posted..La Serena, Chile: Children in a market

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 4 March 2013 0529 #

      Thank you, Andrew.

  10. Andrea 21 February 2013 1533 #

    Oh wow – haven’t seen photos of Capetown before – those views are stunning!
    Andrea recently posted..Beer In the USA: Land Of Opportunity (To Drink Great Beer) Part I

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 4 March 2013 0530 #

      Stunning country, indeed :)

  11. Stephanie - The Travel Chica 23 February 2013 0000 #

    High on my list of destinations.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 4 March 2013 0530 #

      and rightly so :)

  12. Freya 24 February 2013 1658 #

    Stunning photos and nature, this place is definitely on my list. Maybe for next year.
    Freya recently posted..Midwest National Parks Road Trip

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 4 March 2013 0531 #

      Hope you’ll make it next year :)

  13. InsideJourneys 25 February 2013 0132 #

    I agree: Cape Town is definitely one of the most beautiful cities I’ve seen. It’s breathtaking! You touched all the spots we did when we were there.
    Great shots of Cape Point and the African penguins. Even after I saw them, their braying sound made me think of donkeys. Incidentally, I was watching a travel show yesterday that did a segment on the African penguins and the work of an organization that takes care of them. Can’t recall its name now.
    We also took Hout Bay and Simon’s Town and the funicular to the top. South Africa in general was such an amazing experience, I can’t wait to go back!
    Before we left, everyone warned us about security but we never had any problems.
    Can’t wait to hear more about your trip.
    InsideJourneys recently posted..Reach Falls Jamaica

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 4 March 2013 0533 #

      Thanks. And same here, one does hear a lot about security, but nothing even remotely threatening has ever happened to me in South Africa. Common sense goes a long way. As everywhere.

  14. Marisol@TravelingSolemates 25 February 2013 1808 #

    I loved Cape Town and the whole Cape Peninsula; they were simply stunning. Your images brought back very fond memories of my trip. Aren’t those penguins in Boulder adorable. I remember those baboons. We were driving to Cape Point and we had to stop because they were in the middle of the road and wouldn’t move! Such divas! But they were adorable, too. Looking forward to your next series.
    Marisol@TravelingSolemates recently posted..Vietnam: Trekking in the Off-The-Beaten-Path Hilltribe Villages – Day 1

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 4 March 2013 0427 #

      Thanks. So adorable the Cape wildlife.

  15. sojourner 26 February 2013 0521 #

    Your photos are stunning! Cape Town looks so beautiful. I wasn’t able to make it past Jo’burg during my last trip to South Africa. I have to return to experience Cape Town.

    I’m just curious, did you bring your child with you when you visited Cape Town? I have a two year old, and I’m wondering if you could provide a bit of insight regarding the safety of traveling to Cape Town with a toddler.

    Best :)
    sojourner recently posted..10 Excellent Travel Tour Companies to Book Your Next Trip With

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 4 March 2013 0426 #

      Thanks :)
      I didn’t bring my kids this time, but I will next time. Will probably hire a car and travel along the Garden Route then, stopping to see animals along the way. With the usual precautions (incl. listening to local advice), I would have no qualms about bringing a toddler.

  16. Abby 28 February 2013 0156 #

    I was going to say, “I love that baboon,” but then I got to the penguins… Love all the animals!!
    Abby recently posted..Sony Hidden Project: a day in my life as an editor

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 4 March 2013 0416 #

      My 11-year-old is upset she didn’t come along this time because of all the animals.

  17. Yes, that`s it. Capetown and its surrounding is one of the most extraordinary places of the world.
    Udo Weisner, Jo Igele Reiseblog recently posted..One Day in Cape Town (English Version)

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 4 March 2013 0414 #

      It really is. Thanks for stopping by.

  18. Ursula 4 March 2013 1953 #

    Oh my god those penguins look adorable! Do they live in those tubes? I can see one of them climbing inside that pipeline. Your shots are awesome, did you use a telephoto lens for shooting them?
    Ursula recently posted..Ich bin noch hier

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 5 March 2013 1400 #

      Some of the more curious ones walk from the beach up in the street through the pipes. No telephoto lens, they were that close, close enough to touch some of them.

  19. Sensibletraveler 9 March 2013 1518 #

    Cape Point gives the impression that you are at the end of the earth!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 12 March 2013 0957 #

      Not that far from it … :)

  20. Mzuri @ Amani Afrika 2 March 2014 0938 #

    Hi Anne-Sophie, beautiful photos! The penguins are so cute. Thank you for sharing. We enjoyed the fish and chips at Hout Bay and wine tasting at the Cape Winelands.
    Mzuri @ Amani Afrika recently posted..8 Most Amazing, Unique, Beautiful Accommodations in East Africa

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 3 March 2014 1103 #

      So much to like in South Africa.

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