Cape of Good Hope Visit


The original plan for today was to go diving with the sharks, but once we started heading that way, we got a call saying that the wind is expected to pick up and result in larger waves, so they were calling it off for today. Luckily, while I was waiting for the pickup in the morning, I have asked around about the ways to get down to Cape Point without using the Buz Bus Cape Point tour (and paying 540 rand/$64 for it). Turned out it is possible to get to Simon's Town using a Metro train and then rent a bike for leisurely 25 kilometer stroll to the cape.

Train From Cape Town To Simon's Town

So, upon the cancellation of our plans for the day, me and another girl decided to do just that - risk our lives and take a train to go to the cape. Our driver kept mentioning how unsafe it is during the day since the security is stepped down during non-rush hours. She also heard the same stories from her friend - never ever take the train. Oh well, we had the driver drop us off at the train station and got the round trip tickets to Simon's Town for just 25 rand/$3 each taking us about an hour and twenty minutes to get there. The train was dirty, shaky, and noisy, but I did not feel unsafe at all. I am starting to think that the folks involved with tourism industry here are just trying to scare off the tourists to use their shuttle services instead of public transit.

[Lack of] Bike Rental In Simon's Town

Once in Simon's Town, we set out to find a bike rental place and/or a tourist info center. Hearing about renting a bike at Simon's from many different people, I was actually trying to figure out how we are going to pick which place to get the bikes from. Surprisingly, we did not see any bike rentals on the way to the tourist center where we were looked at like we were talking about something completely foreign. Turned out there were no bike rental outfits in town at all, the only option was to wait an hour for someone to come down and bring the bikes for us for 150 rand/$18 each, and there would be no guarantee that I would even fit on one.

We left the office disappointed since we were so close, yet so far away (20 km/12.5mi) from our destination. We did see a sign for bike hire at one of the hostels, but it turned out that all their bikes were broken. They suggested that we get a cab for about 350 rand/$41 instead. We decided to walk down to the Boulders beach and checkout the African penguin colony there before going back to the tourist office for a cab. I also had a glimmer of hope that we may run into someone going to the cape with a couple spare seats in the car.

Boulders Beach Penguin Colony

From what I have heard about Boulders beach, it sounded like we could pay an entry fee and walk out onto the beach with the penguins. So, we gladly paid 40 rand/$4.70 each for the privilege, but all that gave us was the board walk to the beach with no actual beach access. So much for happy feeting with the penguins… The birds themselves were not nearly as numerous as the 'beach filled with penguins' made it sound. There were probably a few dozen of them, with half laying down on a rock pretty far away from the visitors and the other half hiding under the boardwalk with just a few running around on the beach.

Simon's Town To The Cape Point

Unimpressed with the penguins, we walked back to the tourist office. But first, I tried to ask a couple tour bus drivers if they had any empty seats we could fill. As expected, they said 'no' and we ended up back at the unhelpful tourist office. They  called a tour company for us for a driver to pick us up and take us to the Cape Point for 150 rand/$18 each. Even with the 80 rand/$9.40 entry fee, we still made it out for half the price of the Buz Bus tour so it all worked out well at the end.

At the entrance to the natural preserve we encountered our first baboons. There were about a dozen of them sitting along side of the road, walking around, and even climbing on top of a parked car and trying to get into it. Once inside (the park, not the car), we made a quick stop at a museum and then went along the drive to the cape with amazing views to all sides, first of Indian ocean coast and later the Atlantic coast.

Cape of Good Hope

Finally, the road came to a stop and we had two options to proceed - walk up the passageway to the top or take the funicular. We opted for the earlier and it took us about 15-20 minutes to get up to the lighthouse at the top of the hill. It was pretty windy there (it is also called the Cape of Storms for a good reason) and the views were spectacular. I could image the tallships cruising around the cape just a few hundred years ago with Vasco da Gama, Bartolomeu Dias, Amerigo Vespucci, and other famous captains looking at it from the sea, maybe even anchoring somewhere nearby and sending a boat or two to one of its beaches…

After spending some time at the top (and literally getting assaulted by some Chinese women to take their pictures), we walked back down and went onto another drive that took us along the Atlantic coast to the sign that stated it was the south-west most point of Africa (since another cape claims the title of southern-most point). On the way there we saw a half a dozen ostriches walking around and some crossing the road. We really got close to one of them, no more than three feet away from our window - awesomeness!

That was it for the day - we returned back to Simon's Town train station where a train to Cape Town was already waiting. The ride back was just as uneventful as the ride out. It was already after 6pm when we got to Cape Town and by the time I walked my new friend to the Civic Center to catch a bus to Tableview, it was already almost 7pm. With the sunset coming (and all the horrors that supposedly come after dark), I briskly walked back to my hostel stopping by to grab some food on the way and once again defied all the promised dangers.

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TraveldimaAfrica, South Africa