The Legendary Cape of Good Hope, South Africa
After visiting Boulder Beach on our day’s excursion from Cape Town, South Africa, it was decided to push on to the legendary Cape of Good Hope. Only known to me through history lessons in grade school, the Cape of Good Hope instilled a sense of wonder in me. I could hardly wait to see it!
The Cape of Good Hope is actually within the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve, which itself is situated in Table Mountain National Park. The topography of the Nature Reserve at first struck us as very harsh and bleak, but as we neared the coast, vibrant blossoms softened the forbidding landscape.
In particular, massive bushes of Protea caught our eye where they threatened to encroach on a lane of traffic. Owing to the large amounts of nectar that these species of plants produce, they are often referred to as Sugarbushes.
In fact, early settlers were resourceful and produced sugar and syrup by using parts of the plant.
It was necessary to poke along the roadway leading to the parking lot because a herd of Ostriches was commanding control of part of the asphalt.
With several recent fledglings intent on exploring their new world, the adults were keeping a close eye on them.
It was easy to see what a powerful kick could be administered if an adult felt threatened. The feet on an Ostrich are huge.
Everyone knows the myth about an Ostrich burying its head in the sand as it supposedly tries to hide. In fact, when an Ostrich pokes its head into the sand, it is actually sticking its head into its nest hole to rotate its eggs.
It makes sense that the Ostrich fledglings are a good size given that Ostriches lay the largest eggs of any living land animal.
Rocky precipices over 200 metres high were the prominent feature next to the parking lot at the Cape of Good Hope.
I was glad of a maintained trail allowing access to the top.
Before mounting the knoll, a sneak peak at the Indian Ocean was provided by a gap between the cliffs and monstrous boulders. In the distance, the Cape Point Lighthouse sat almost undetected where it perched along the rugged shore.
This new Cape Point Lighthouse was built in 1913-1915 to replace the original lighthouse which was often hidden from the view of passing ships by low-lying clouds or fog.
The S S Lusitania, a Portuguese passenger liner, sunk in 1911 when it struck Bellows Rock 3 kilometres south of Cape Point. Being at a higher elevation, the original beacon had been obscured by fog that fateful night.
Bob and I hiked up the rocky precipices and gazed down at the wild untamed ocean. Memories of history lessons about explorers Magellan and Bartolomeu Dias flooded my mind. It was with good reason that Dias named The Cape the Cape of Storms owing to the frequent storms and harsh tides.
This coastline is very dangerous with large waves breaking on numerous hidden reefs. I couldn’t imagine being the first to round the tip with no lighthouse to warn the captain of hidden dangers. It was only later that The Cape was renamed to Good Hope to attract more people to the Cape Sea Route.
The wind at the Cape was vicious, sweeping the peninsula from the southwest and driving the waves ferociously against the rocky shore.
From our lofty viewpoint, Bob and I observed other visitors more adventurous than us. Daring to venture to the brink of lower rocky promontories, they had me holding my breath for fear a giant wave might overtake them.
Sure enough, Bob decided that he would take a closer look for himself, but I thanked him for erring on the side of caution and stepping foot on a rocky point slightly more removed from the churning sea.
With my feet later planted safely a considerable distance from the splashing waves, I paused for a souvenir photo of the sign.
We made sure to take note of the coordinates, too.
Just as we left the parking lot at the Cape of Good Hope, we were surprised to see some Ostriches feeding on low-growing plants near the windswept shoreline.
Several adults with their young grazed at leisure as motorists paused to take pictures.
From an earlier hatch, these fledglings were considerably larger than those we had seen upon entering the Nature Reserve.
Glancing over my shoulder, I noticed one astute male Ostrich watching his family as they foraged in such close proximity to the cars and people.
When we were at the lookout, Bob had spotted in the distance a pristine expanse of glistening white sand a little further north along the coast. We could not resist the temptation to explore it, so off we motored in that direction. What we found was Platboom Beach, Cape Point’s most deserted beach. It is a gem!
Frame To Frame – Bob and Jean