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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)

FALSE BAY, SOUTH AFRICA

Great White Sharks, Cape Fur Seals, 1000s of Spinner Dolphins, and Orca Whales!

overcast 18 °C

Heres my fave photo from this leg of my trip!!!!!
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After 3 nights in Swakopmund, Namibia, I flew back to South Africa. I landed in Cape Town at 7:30pm and took a prebooked shuttle (with Centurion Tours) 45 min south to Simonstown, where I stayed for 6 nights. I stayed at the Simonstown Quayside Hotel. It was located right on Jubilee Square (main area of the town with lots of shops & restaurants).
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My room looked over the harbor, main pier, and mountains.
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My first full day here rained. Actually it poured. Sideways. It was SO windy! But the next day was sunny/cloudy, albeit a tad chilly (only 10C). But the good news is, my shark diving tour with Apex Predators wasn't canceled! Woohoo! I prebooked my tour online, but if you'd rather book in person, the Apex Predators office is actually located in a 'mall' beside my hotel. Quite convenient. When choosing a shark diving operator, dont cheap out! The last thing you want when dealing with Great White Sharks, is a flimsy cage! I chose Apex Predators because the owner/operator & marine photographer extraordinaire, Chris Fallows, is known worldwide. Just google his name! If I remember correctly, it cost just under $200 Canadian (I was there in off-season though, it costs more in high season). My hotel was located at the pier where the dive boats departed, so I literally woke up, rolled outta bed, and walked to the end of the pier to meet the group of ppl who would be joining me :)
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The boat departed the Simonstown harbor at 7:45am. We left 1hr later than scheduled due to wind in the morning. This is the view from the boat looking back over Simonstown.
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We anchored just offshore from Seal Island ... basically a massive rock absolutely covered in Cape Fur Seals!
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Just look at all of them! Those arent rocks, those are ALL seals!!
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Then the cage went into the water, and the crew started chumming the water (throwing fish guts overboard to attract sharks).
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The chum, aka shark bait.
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Chumming the water.
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And then we waited. And waited. And waited & waited & waited. The entire time the crew kept chucking fish bits overboard trying to attract a shark. In movies they make it seem like if you put even one toe in the water you will get eaten by a shark. But in reality, it takes forever. Eventually one Great White came relatively close to the boat cuz there was a dead seal floating nearby. But just as it was about to raise its head & massive jaws out of the water to eat the seal, (and I was ready with my camera zoomed in & focused on that dead seal), someone else stepped in front of me to take their own photo and I completely missed seeing the shark!!!!! By the time the person moved, all I got to see was the side of the shark :( So disappointed I coulda pushed that person overboard, lol! This is the most I saw of a Great White. (If you want to see incredible photos of Great Whites breaching, google Chris Fallows' name!)
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Mr Chris Fallows doing what he does best! And yes, I was very jealous of his lens!
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So I didnt actually bother getting into the cage in the freezing cold water (only 8C). No point in getting hypothermia if theres no sharks to see :( After 6hrs of nothing, we headed back to the harbor ... and guess what we saw along the way?!!!! NINE Orca Whales (aka Killer Whales)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!large_IMG_0614-001.jpg
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They were hunting a pod of 1000 Spinner Dolphins! Chris was driving our boat as fast as it could go, and we could barely keep up with them! But eventually he got us into the middle of the pod of dolphins! It was unreal ... jumping dolphins and frothing water as far as I could see in every direction! This was definitely a major highlight of my entire trip to Africa!!! (And worth all the money I paid to see sharks).
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Adorable baby Orca & its mama :) Notice ALL the dolphins in the background!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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This one was no more than 1 meter from our boat when it surfaced!! I actually gasped cuz it was SO close to my face when it surfaced!
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So all in all, even though I didnt get to see Great Whites, the Orcas and ridiculous amount of dolphins totally made up for it :)

Posted by ChantelleS 14:16 Archived in South Africa Tagged boat penguin ocean south africa seal dolphin whale Comments (0)

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