The Ancient Waves Around Cape Town

There are few moments and places in life that haunt you as they have stood as sentinels in time and looked over monumental events and incidents that changed history and the course of humanity forever. Cape Point is one such point on earth which changed maritime history and played an important role in colonialism and brought together the west and the east in a tumultuous relationship. The crashing waves around the rocks of Cape Point are a perfect simile for this.

The Cliff at Cape Point
The Cliff at Cape Point

The ships that meandered past these rocks as they tried to pass the horn of Africa in the hope of spices from the west must have rejoiced at the sight of these rocks and the lands end of a vast and beautiful continent. In most colonial history narratives the journey to Asia or India is portrayed as land and maritime routes that were discovered by the white man but in reality the east beyond the horn of Africa had a very rich trading and maritime past.

Ancient Light House
Ancient Light House

Ships sashayed across the Indian Ocean and China connecting the Arabs, Indians, Malays, Africans and Chinese with great regularity and if any ship had reached Europe from Asia it is not known in popular historical narratives. Vasco Da Gama is mentioned on a board at Cape Point as having been the first European ship to have rounded the horn of Africa and reach India. Unfortunately in the Euro centric history that we read there is no mention of the first ship (which could have been eons ago) to have sailed from Africa to Asia or vice versa.

Cape Point Light House
Cape Point Light House

To say that the drive to Cape point from Cape Town is picturesque is an understatement. South Africa is one of the leading countries is bio diversity and conservation and it is quite apparent in the fynbos (short shrubs and grassland) one finds around Cape Point. Trees are rare in this region and hence the horizon is unbroken and is surreal in its vastness. The few acacia trees that are found in the region are a result of having been planted by colonial farmers. Cape Point Nature Reserve now protects this land and is instrumental is having retained its original diversity and beauty.

Fynbos found at Cape Point
Fynbos found at Cape Point

The sparkling blue sea around Cape Point is also known for whale sightings and seals that hug the boulders around the cliff. There is a light house and a really good restaurant called Two Oceans restaurant at Cape Point which overlook a dramatic cliff. A funicular can take you up to the light house for a better view or on a fair day it is a good climb on stone steps. The climb is a great way to get further acquainted with the fauna and flora which is nothing like anything else.

Cape Of Good Hope. The tip of Mainland Africa
Cape Of Good Hope. The tip of Mainland Africa
the intricate web of rock and kelp
the intricate web of rock and kelp

Cape of Good Hope is a climb down and there are trails that go across this region. Cape of Good Hope is also known as the meeting of the two oceans Indian and Atlantic ocean which can be imagined by the two points where the sea comes crashing down on the rocks. Cape of Good Hope is a rocky beach with kelp drying on the rocks which give it a characteristic smell. A little further from the Cape of Good Hope is a white sand beach which merges with the white mist giving it a eerie endless canvas where the beach extends into the sky.

The white misty endless beach
The white misty endless beach

This ancient land is one place where you get the feeling that this is the place when history was defined and the beauty of the place is that it has been preserved in its pristine natural essence. Cape Point is one place that is one my forever places.

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Cape Town on The Big Red Bus

I love the Big Red Bus. It has been a sure shot way to explore a new city and understand the lay of the land for me. Cities where I have thoroughly enjoyed the Big Red Bus tour have been Philadelphia, Shanghai and most recently Cape Town. We stayed at the Protea Hotel North Wharf Waterfront and had the Table Mountain and the bay defining Cape Town for us. It was only after looking at the routes on the Big Red Bus we got a better definition of Cape Town and its expanse.

Since the Red Bus has multiple stops you can start your journey from any point on the route. The Red Bus in Cape Town and Jo’burg is called City Sightseeing Hop On Hop Off. The bus has three routes to choose from but I always prefer to choose the city route first and then if we have time to continue on the other routes. The tickets can be bought online as well as at their various offices, counters and ticket sellers.

IMG_2948The Defining Table Mountain

The buses typically have open tops and riding on the top is great fun on a good sunny day. Cape Town is known to experience all four seasons in one day and is also known as the windy city. As a tourist the weather did throw me off a bit as I did not know how best to dress on a given day, we found ourselves cold on the first day as our jacket was not thick enough and hot the next day as we ended up wearing stockings and thermals.

Some of the must see points on the Red bus route are Table Mountain Cableway, Two Oceans Aquarium and Camps Bay. If you are riding the bus in the evening it would be a great idea to hop off near Camps Bay and have dinner at the cafes or enjoy the sun and surf during the day. Usually we cover the entire route on the bus during the first half of the day and decide on the places we would want to explore and the schedule the rest of the trip accordingly.

The commentary on the bus which is coordinated according to the stops can be very entertaining, it ranges from historical, to folk lore to celebrity gossip such as Johnny Deep’s favorite hangout place in Cape Town. The commentary is available in various languages for the tourists from across the world. The City Sightseeing office is also a great place to purchase souvenirs. Some of the places like Cape Point, Robben Island, etc are not part of the tour and need advance planning to reach there.

The Hop on Hop off tour in any city I have found to be very useful especially if we are new to the city and need a proper perspective on the city and need insights on places we want to explore. Next time you travel to a city do consider the Hop on Hop off buses which seem to ply in all major cities in the world.

Featured Image credit City Sightseeing Hop On Hop Off and Razor Rasu.