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CAPE PENINSULA, SOUTH AFRICA

African Penguins, ostriches, scenic coastline, Cape of Good Hope, lighthouse, and Table Mountain cable car! So much to do & see on the peninsula!

sunny 20 °C

I spent a few days in the Cape Peninsula (the area from Cape Town, south all the way to the Cape of Good Hope). One morning I took the train from Simonstown up to Cape Town. It took about an hour and cost $2 Canadian! Steal of a deal compared to a taxi which would've cost $46 Canadian. And very scenic as it follows the coastline for quite a ways before cutting inland. If you travel the way the locals do, you can save alot of money! From the train station in Cape Town I took a cab up to Table Mountain to take the cable car to the top.
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But it was too windy so the cable car was closed :( And here I thought I had picked a good day cuz it was sunny and clear, with barely a breeze, but at the top of the mountain that breeze was wind. I stuck around for 2hrs waiting for the wind to die down (no point in heading back to Simonstown just yet, I came all this way, I wanted to see something!). This was the view from the lower cable station.
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While waiting there were a few gift shops to look through, a place to grab a cheap lunch (chicken & mushroom pie for $2.25 Canadian), an ice cream booth, etc. After the 2hr wait I was in luck! The wind died down and they opened the gates. It cost $205 Rand ($26 Canadian). It only took 4min to ascend 1065m (3195ft)! It rotated 360 degrees as it rose, so no matter where u stand u get a good view, just make sure to grab a spot by a window ... unless your scared of heights, its really high!
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Follow the cables ... aaaaaaall the waaaaaay down! Thats how high 1065m is! If the cables look nearly vertical to you, thats because they are! By far the steepest cable car I've ever been on!
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Once at the top, it was FREEZING cold!! The sign at the lower cable station said it was +3C at the top, but with the windchill it was below freezing! Bring a jacket for sure! I had a hoodie & jacket, but could have also used a toque & gloves ... my fingers were freezing from taking photos. There were many trails to follow with signage explaining the flora, history, etc. I only stayed up there about 20min or so, cuz it was THAT cold & windy. Heres some photos I managed to get of the various views from the top.
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One brave little birdie in the cold!
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The next day I made the mistake of going on a Peninsula Tour. I should've just rented a car, or even a taxi for the day. The tour was a waste of time, especially if you're a photographer. They advertized a huge list of places to be visited on the tour, but what they didnt mention is that you dont actually stop at them, you just drive by at high speeds as your guide says "Oh and that was an ostrich farm", or "Oh that back there was Long Beach", etc. We made a few, very brief stops, but thats about it. So I didnt take too many photos, as there werent very many photo ops ... unless blurry pictures taken through the vehicle's window at high speeds is your kind of photography.

We made a 5min stop at Camps Bay Beach. Once we were back in the van and on the road again our guide decided to mention that the mountains in the background were the 12 Apostles. Would've been nice to know that while looking at them.
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Next up was Hout Bay. We actually stopped here for an hour ... for an optional boat cruise out to Seal Island. This was an extra cost. I chose not to, since Seal Island is where my shark boat anchored offshore from a few days prior. So I wasted an hour looking at the many souvenir stands, and had some toast & coffee at a nearby restaurant.
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Another 5min stop at a lookout point overlooking Hout Bay.
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Then we drove along the very scenic Chapman's Peak Drive. It was absolutely gorgeous ... but we didnt stop even once to take photos anywhere of it! Ugh! So this is a 'drive by shooting' of the twisty turny road that clung to the mountainside.
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We started to see some wildlife the closer we got to the tip of the peninsula. We actually stopped for 2 bontebok (a type of antelope I never knew existed), 7 ostriches, 5 eland, and an itty bitty tortoise on the road.

Bontebok ... crappy photo I know, but they were far away. I only bothered to take a photo cuz I've never heard of, nor seen them before.
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Ostrich on the road!
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Eland, the largest of all antelope.
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Then we stopped at the Cape of Good Hope ... The south-western most point of the African continent. There was really nothing there but a sign ... and at least 50 ppl lined up to take a photo with it. I tried uploading the photo, but it wont post :(

We then had lunch at the very expensive Two Oceans restaurant at the lighthouse at the tip of the peninsula. The menu was mostly seafood & meat, so I got a milkshake and headed to the snack shop next door for cheap pizza, lol! Thats a backpacker's budget for ya! I'm glad I did though, cuz while everyone else was wasting their time waiting for their expensive meals, I took the funicular (like a cable car on a train track) up to the lighthouse at Cape Point. Only $6 Canadian, or you can walk the whole way up for free. If I'd had more time I would've. By the time they were all done eating, they only had about 10min to look around, whereas I had a whole hour. This is the view from the restaurant.
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The funicular only takes you this far ... then you have no choice but to climb those steps to get to the very top.
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The sign at Cape Point, right before you start climbing the stairs. There were also 'Beware of Baboon' signs, but I didnt see any baboons.
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The lighthouse at the top
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View of the cliffs. This is where the Indian & Atlantic Oceans meet! Very turbulent waters!
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The last stop on the tour was my fave ... Boulders Beach, home of the African Penguin!! Again, we only had about 10min here, which is most definitely not enough, so the following day, the last day of my whole trip, I walked 20min from my hotel in Simonstown to this beach, and spent the WHOLE day with the penguins :)
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It cost 45 Rand ($5.60 Canadian) to access Boulders Beach. They give you a ticket which also gets you into Foxy Beach, so be sure to hold onto it. Boulders Beach is where 99% of the penguins are. They can be founding nesting, swimming, sleeping, suntanning, etc. The African Penguin is a protected species so you have to stick to the boardwalks. Theres penguins all along the walk, but if you just walk straight to the very end of the boardwalk, thats where the majority of them will be!
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Beautiful Boulders Beach!
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Two penguins in love :)
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Braying penguins ... the sound they make sounds like a honking donkey, lol!
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Nesting area on the beach
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I absolutely loved watching them waddle around! Its seriously the cutest thing in the world!!!!
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Waddle, waddle, waddle :)
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Mama and baby penguins
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Babies huddled together for warmth.
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A young penguin shaking himself off after a swim in the chilly water.
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Young penguin losing his fluff.
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Suntanning penguins!
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Weeeeeeee! Bodysurfing right onto shore!
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Kissy kissy!
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There were also a few Rock Hyraxes, aka Dassies, to be found.
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Black Crakes at the beach
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Well thats it, that all! I'm finally done my Africa blog, yay me :) Only took 8mths, lol!
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Posted by ChantelleS 19:50 Archived in South Africa Tagged penguin wildlife car bird south coastline africa cable scenic cliff lighthouse ostrich peninsula Comments (0)

ISLA CUBAGUA, VENEZUELA

Isla Cubagua - Jan 13, 2013

sunny 32 °C

We booked a catamaran tour through Nolitours at our resort, to Isla Cubagua. We were picked up by a bus and taken 40min to Punta Piedra where we boarded a catamaran. It was approximately an hour ride. Along the way we passed a lighthouse, shipwreck, and sailed along the island's coastline before docking at the main beach.
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Our catamaran
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Upon arrival everyone was given a mask & snorkel, but no flippers, and no life jacket (a floatie noodle instead). I didnt snorkel (I hate water), but most of the people that did, complained that they didnt see anything. I dont think there is actually a reef here. So dont book this tour for the snorkeling. While everyone was snorkeling I explored the paths, cliffs, cacti desert, lookout points, etc. After snorkeling we were served a delicious lunch on the beach. After lunch our guide took us on a walking tour of the cliffs backing the beach (pretty much exactly where I had wandered on my own, lol).
The view from atop the cliff looking down at the beach
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There was a desert full of cacti ... up on a cliff!
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This one looks like Mickey Mouse :)
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Yikes! I wouldnt want to fall on one of those!
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There were little lizards scurrying everywhere!
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The lookout point
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I found this fossilized conch shell ... up on a cliff ... in the desert!
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After the walk, we were lead down the beach to a river for a mudbath. Apparently the mud is good for your skin. So everyone smothered themselves with mud head to toe, and then rolled in the sand 'Shake n' Bake' style, laid out in the sun until the mud was dry, and then washed it off in the ocean.
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Then we had some free time to relax, swim, etc before heading back to our resort in time for supper.

Posted by ChantelleS 23:05 Archived in Venezuela Tagged ocean beach blue island south dock america shipwreck lighthouse venezuela pelican Comments (0)

MARGARITA ISLAND, VENEZUELA

Margarita Island, Venezuela Playa Dunes, Macanao Peninsula & Laguna Restinga January 8th - 17th, 2013

overcast 33 °C

Once again my best friend Jo & I set off on an adventure ... this time to Venezuela! We flew from Saskatoon to Toronto where we had a 16hr layover in Toronto ... but we were prepared to spend the night sleeping in the airport Amazing Race style. We brought yoga matts, neck pillows, light blankets, alarm clock and ipad for entertainment. The next day we had a direct flight from Toronto to Porlamar on Margarita Island.

We spent 7 all-inclusive nights at the Dunes Hotel & Beach Resort for only $379! The hotel was a tad run down, but the beach more then made up for it!! Ours was the only resort on the beach, so there werent too many tourists, nor beach vendors. It was long, clean, and had loud crashing waves! The end of the beach nearest the resort had a cliff covered in cactus, with a lighthouse on top. The far end of the beach provided views of the lush green mountains! Very scenic :)
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You can climb up to the lighthouse, but its at your own risk. There was a landslide a few years prior so the path isnt the safest. We were also told 'bandidos' hide out in the bushes and will steal your cameras, jewelry, sunglasses, watch, etc, and so not to bring any of those items with you if you choose to climb. I climbed about 1/3 of the way up for this photo.
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Jo at the beach.
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Me running from the crashing waves!
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Photography is hard work!
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BFFs
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"As I travel through the adventures of life, I will look back at the photographs I have taken, and see my footprints across this great place we call Earth." - Etienne Oosthuizen
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One afternoon we walked to the far end of the beach, and came upon a stream that connected to the ocean, creating very steep sandbanks!
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One of the many pools at our resort.
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The colorful beachfront restaurant
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Gorgeous flowers everywhere!!
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One night we saw some wild capybara in the resort!! My first time seeing some! They are South America's largest rodent. The biggest 1 in the photo is about the size of a medium dog! To me they look like a cross between a giant hamster and a tail-less rat.
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We also saw a HUGE locust!
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A few days into our trip we went on a jeep tour of the Macanao Peninsula. I never knew Margarita Island was so mountainous! Our first stop was Juangriego.
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Next we stopped at Laguna Restinga, and took a boat tour through the mangroves. Our guide scooped up a little red starfish!
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Pelicans in the lagoon
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Blue crab
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Venezuelan Eagle
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View of the lagoon from the boat
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Iguana at the entrance to the lagoon ... someone had fed him scrambled eggs.
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Then we hit the road again. Heres a few 'drive by shootings', aka 'the driver wouldnt stop for a decent photo so I just had to crank up the shutter speed on my camera and hope for the best'.
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Wild flamingos!!! I really would've liked to have stopped and gotten closer for better photos of these beautiful birds!
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Red mountains :)
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We stopped for lunch at Punta Arenas on the tip of the Macanao Peninsula. This is our jeep. The wagon behind the other jeep was the 'bar' that followed us to every pitstop.
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My vegetarian lunch ... giant carrots, tomato, rice, plantain, boiled egg & potato
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The beach at Punta Arenas. It was quite cloudy and raining on & off during lunch, so no suntanning or swimming :(
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After lunch we hit the road again and did a bit of off-roading to a lookout point.
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Our last stop on the way back to our resort was a little souvenir shop ... but I was more interested in the beautiful cactus, resident parrot and adorable dog with 1 floppy ear & 1 uppity ear!
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Thats it for Margarita Island ... stayed tunes for posts in Isla Cubagua & Canaima National Park!

Posted by ChantelleS 17:39 Archived in Venezuela Tagged wildlife beach cactus south america lighthouse venezuela Comments (0)

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