Day Trip to Cape Point & the Cape of Good Hope
On our second full day in Cape Town, I decided to rent a car for the day with two other Resident Directors, Jess and Donald, in order to make a trip to visit Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope. Jess and Donald are two of Chika’s coworkers, and they were in for having an adventure.
Car rentals in South Africa are very affordable. I made the car rental reservation with Thrifty, and we paid about $28 for a 2016ish Nissan 4-door. We arrived at 8AM to pick up the car, and, after some complications with the reservation being booked just 12 hours before, we were on our way around 9AM. In South Africa, like in England and Australia, cars drive on the left side of the road. The last time I had done this was in Australia in 2009, but I was ready for the challenge.
Our plan for the day was to drive down south to Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope, two famous points along the southwest part of South Africa. These are important because they would’ve been the first points that merchants and sailors would have rounded as they came down from Europe and worked their way towards India. They are not quite the most southern points of Africa, but they aren’t far from it.
Immediately leaving Cape Town, the gorgeous scenery had already started. Beachside villages just over the hill from Cape Town led to smaller fishing villages further south. The scenic road along the coast gave us fantastic views of blue bays and white sandy beaches. It was surprisingly stunning.
We eventually cut across the peninsula to the east side to visit Boulder Beach, home to the only African penguins. In the early 1980s, there were just two mating couples at this beach. Today, there are over 2,000 penguins that inhabit this colony. As you can imagine, it has become a large tourist attraction as visitors want to see these unique penguins. There is a newly constructed boardwalk that takes visitors from the parking lot down to the penguins’ beach. The penguins were smaller, probably just two feet in height. It’s always fun to watch penguins act. Because they don’t have any predators outside of the water, they never evolved to be mobile on land. This makes them extreme awkward to watch. In water, they are great swimmers and propel themselves out of the water at times. We watched the penguins for a bit, snapping a few pictures, and then we continued heading south.
We arrived to the entrance of the national park of Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope, and we met a long line of cars waiting to get in. From then on, it was about 5 miles to get down to the cape, where it was pretty barren land all the way there. We arrived at the parking lot, squeezed our car into a small space, and then started our hike. Immediately, we saw baboons walking around. These little animals are frightening to be around. We heard they can be aggressive, stealing food and even opening car doors by using the door handle. The first one we saw actually jumped up on top of a parked car and just sat there with its legs dangling over the side of the car.
It took about 45 minutes to make it to the top of Cape Point, where the old lighthouse is located. The view from this point is incredibly beautiful, with 360 degree views where you can see the peninsula we drove down, the Indian Ocean, the Pacific Ocean, the Cape of Good Hope (which is just down to the side of Cape Point), and many species of birds searching for food. We realized that down below, jutting out just a bit further to the south, was another walking area with some people exploring. We found the back way to get there and walked just a bit further out, where we saw the new light house. The new light house was built in 1911. While the old light house is on top of Cape Point, the new one is much lower. The old light house posed two problems: when it was foggy, it would be covered up, and its higher location caused sailors to think they could round the cape sooner, causing crashes. The new lower light house solved those issues for the most part.
In total, we spent a few hours at Cape Point, admiring the views at the almost furthest south point of Africa. We then started back towards Cape Point with one stop in mind, Kalky’s at Kalky Bay. I had been recommended Kalky’s by several people, including a local tour guide, for its fish and chip, supposedly the best in Cape Town. It was not a disappointment. The place is located right on the pier, just steps to where the fishing boats bring in their catch for the day. It has that nitty gritty feel that you would expect a hole-in-the-wall seafood place to have. Fried Hake was the type of fish they had for the day, so I had that with fries and calamari. I couldn’t have imagined a better meal to end our day exploring the peninsula!