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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A busy little body:
Sometimes they use it:
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.
Cape Peninsula: a variety of sights and experiences.