An early checkout from Cape View Clifton was always going to be difficult, but we had arranged a day trip to the Cape peninsula to make the transition a little easier. Jarat Tours, a local tour company offering a number of great excursions both in Cape Town and the surrounding areas of South Africa, were picking us up soon after breakfast, so it was a speedy exit from Clifton.
Our amazing tour guide, Richard, greeted us at the front door and helped pack our suitcases into the very comfortable C-Class Mercedes. Our first stop was to be on Chapmans Peak Drive, a toll road that snakes around the coast and is the main artery connecting the heart of Cape Town to the extremities of the peninsula. After paying the fare, we quickly pulled over to the side of the road for an impressive view of Hout Bay and Lions Head behind us in the distance. It was impossible not to appreciate the geography of Cape Town and the surrounding area; hills and mountains as far as the eye could see.
We then descended back down onto the flats of the peninsula. In the distance, a horse rider on the beach gave a point of reference to the vastness of the landscape. The cape is deceptively huge. As we headed inland, our next stop was to be an ostrich farm. It was quite amusing to be so close to these slightly comical creatures. Not so amusing, however, when one of them proceeded to try and digest my finger rather than the bird feed that was on offer. Ostrich 1, Me 0. Giving in, we poured the remainder of the feed into the pen and quickly made our escape, back to the safety of a very comfortable car.
The Cape of Good Hope was a place I had visited a decade before on a rugby tour to South Africa, but it was still obligatory to get a photo behind the sign that marked the most southernly point on the continent. After waiting patiently behind a group of tourists (but thankfully not the coach-load of visitors that arrived directly after us), we had our shot. The roar of the ocean in the distance was slightly muted by the sounds of foreign languages, car engines, and the most raucous cacophony of sound from all the birds drying themselves on the rocks. Tranquility would have to be found elsewhere.
Our next stop at Cape Point provided some relief; the half-decent walk up the path probably convinced a few of the tourists to take the funicular and so was comparatively quiet. At the end of the path, a view down to the cliffs below made for excellent birdwatching. Cormorants as far as the eye could see were darting in and out of the cliffside, arrowing down to the fish below. Along with the resident baboons attempting to steal pack lunches, we were quickly reminded of just how hungry we were. Luckily, the Two Oceans restaurant was just a stone’s throw away and provided…you guessed it: a delicious meal of red wine and steak. A combination guaranteed to revive any weary traveller. The view over False Bay, 30km at it’s widest point, provided yet more open-jaw moments as we attempted to finish our meals.
The day was getting late, and with the coastal weather threatening to turn and the mercury dropping, it was time for our last stop on the trip; Simonstown. Along with the huge naval base that dominates the area, it was the local wildlife that interested us; African penguins coming back from a day at sea to roost at Boulders Beach. There were literally hundreds of them, of all ages, shapes and sizes and characters. It was like entering a penguin village with conversations, confrontations and the feeding of chicks providing too many photo opportunities to include in this post. Richard, the tour guide, even managed to sneak us onto an adjacent beach after closing time to get up close to the three-foot animals, although we couldn’t quite get that elusive selfie.
With the clock nearing six and a good few kilometres under our belt, it was time to head back to Cape Town to be dropped off at our hotel. On the way, Richard gave us an informal lesson on Cape Town’s diverse geography and it was great to see the city from a local’s perspective. I should give a special mention to Richard at this point; he made the day such an unforgettable experience with his knowledge and passion when it came to speaking about his homeland. We were so relaxed throughout the whole day but felt like we were really learning so much about peninsula and surrounding area. If you ever want to get out of Cape Town, Jarat Tours is a great way to explore the area and it comes highly recommended from me. If you’re lucky, and get Richard as a guide, be sure to say hello from Ben.