Penguins and Points

The Americans next to me in the minivan were remarking how the landscape reminded them of Oregon. At the same time I was thinking how reminiscent it was of parts of Australia – hectares of scrub, rocky outcrops, eucalyptus (a weed in this country, threatening indigenous plants and ‘using lots of water’ according to our driver). We were on a day trip around Cape Peninsula.

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Black sea birds fly low past the Cape of Good Hope

Not far south from Cape Town we drove past a number of men and some women waiting for jobs. People come to Cape Town and surrounds from other African countries seeking a better life. This has contributed to huge unemployment.

me wait for work by the side of the road

This was my first sighting of native African animals in the wild. Ostriches roamed the coast – who would have thought? It was a strange juxtaposition; I expected their backdrop to be desert or savannah. I experienced, instead of just observing and thinking I understood, the delight visitors feel when they see kangaroos in Australia. Travel allows you to walk in the shoes of others, sometimes in small and unexpected ways.

ostriches by sea

Chacma baboons, classified as “least concern” or “critically endangered” depending where you look, played by the side of the road. The young ones frolicked, the older ones sat nonchalantly with bright pink penises extended.

baboons playing by roadsideChacma baboon on car

Two oceans meet beyond Cape Point – a line on a map– but the currents that truly define the ‘edges’ of an ocean arguably move between here and Cape Aghulas to the east.

Cape Point, South Africa

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Cape Point lighthouse

view from Cape Point, South Africa

Cape Point, South Africa

That bit sticking out is the Cape of Good Hope, the most south-westerly point in Africa, not the southern-most.

We saw two shark spotting venues with hired spotters. One was simply a vantage point in the scrub way above the ocean. This is the other above Muizenberg, considered the birthplace of surfing in South Africa.

shark spotting hut

Townships and residential areas, racially defined under apartheid, remain. Cape Town has a population of about five million. The Cape Flats, south of Table Mountain, house about two thirds of that. These are black and coloured townships. You’ll notice they are very vulnerable to sea level rise.

Muizenberg, Cosy Corner, Cape Town Flats

Muizenberg

Speaking of sea: African penguins in Simon’s Town. They live on the south-western coast of Africa and are the only penguins that breed in Africa. The species is endangered.

African peguin making nest

Can you hear the noise? These are also known as the “jackass” penguin for their donkey-like bray.

African peguin making nest

African peguin making nest

A busy little body:

African peguin making nestAfrican peguin making nest African peguin making nestAfrican peguin making nestSometimes they ignore the waste of humans: African peguin making nest

Sometimes they use it:

African peguin

The Cape Floristic Region is one of the six recognised floral kingdoms of the world. Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens are within that. They were the first botanic garden in the world to be devoted to a country’s indigenous flora.

Sutherlandia frutescens, Lessertia frutescens

Sutherlandia frurescens, also known as Cancer Bush although it is used to treat many physical and mental conditions

Cape Peninsula: a variety of sights and experiences.

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Cape Peninsula, South Africa

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7 responses to “Penguins and Points

  1. It’s great that you got to visit the Cape Floristic Region. By coincidence I became aware of it just last week on a television show about South Africa.

  2. I can see why South Africans who come to Melbourne are attracted to the Great Ocean Road! Gorgeous scenery :)

  3. Pingback: NORTH! | The World is My Cuttlefish

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