Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Mystery Photo 26: Cape of Good Hope.

     Yes, indeed, these photos are of the Cape of Good Hope at the southwestern most point of Africa. One would think that the Cape would be at the southern most point but it is not. The southern most point of Africa is called Cape Agulhas. It is further east. But when sailors rounded the Cape of Good Hope which was just known as The Cape, they no longer kept sailing just south. They began to sail more east than south. Apparently that is why the Cape of Good Hope became more famous than Cape Agulhas. Cape Agulhas means "The Cape of Needles" due to the rock formations on its gradual incline. Currents in the area produce huge waves and the prevailing winds of the "Roaring 40s" (latitude) which we heard about with the recent disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 into that area of the globe, make shipping hazardous. Therefore that southern tip of Africa is more similar to Cape Horn, than is the Cape of Good Hope.

      Some geographers define a Cape as a point of land where one ocean meets another. In the vicinity of the Cape of Good Hope it would be the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian Ocean. But it turns out that that exact point of the meeting of these two bodies of water can be figured out and it vacillates between the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Agulhas depending on ocean currents, temperatures, seasons, and other unknown factors.

Aerial photo of Cape Town in the foreground, Signal Mountain right foreground stretching into Lion's Head; Table Mountain in the middle ground, Devil's Peak to the left of Table Mountain, and the Cape Peninsula stretching toward the top and left of the photo ending in the far distance.
      Below is a map that shows the lay of the land at the southern tip of Africa. Variously they show the location of these two points of land (Cape Point and Cape Agulhas) and various jutting points in between.

Cape Peninsula on left with Cape Town north on the coast. False Bay to the right of the Cape of Good Hope. Cape Hangklip on the eastern side of False Bay. Then comes Danger Point, Quoin Point, and finally in the center of the map, Cape Agulhas.
The Cape of Good Hope National Park in South Africa, encompassing almost the entire Cape Peninsula,has several interesting stops to be enjoyed.

     First we drove to Cape Point. This is a jutting rocky promontory on the east side of the tip of the Cape Peninsula. There is a high large lighthouse and then further down the promontory, difficult to reach by foot, is a smaller white lighthouse that was visible in one of my original photos in the previous post. A parking lot is located below the promontory and we took a narrow gauge railway to the large lighthouse. The following photos are taken from around that large lighthouse.

Looking up from the parking lot to the lighthouse on top of Cape Point.

Railway to the top.

View of  Cape Point parking lot, and the road back up peninsula to Cape Town.

Some of the walkways around Cape Point offering wonderful views.

Large lighthouse on the Cape Point.

Signpost offering various distances.

Looking to the tip of Cape Point.

Small lighthouse on the tip of Cape Point.
Looking to the west across Diaz Beach to a lower ridge on the Cape of Good Hope.
Looking east across False Bay to Cape Hangklip, Danger Point, Quoin Point, and in the far distance perhaps Cape Agulhas.

An aerial view of the end of the Cape Peninsula, Cape Point in the center, and the Cape of Good Hope jutting to the left. It is possible to visit the Cape of Good Hope by driving back towards Cape Town and then taking another road down behind that ridge jutting to the left in the photo.
     Our next stop is at the actual Cape of Good Hope which is at sea level. We are on the west side of the ridge of rock that is the Cape of Good Hope. This viewpoint can not be seen from Cape Point because it is behind the Cape ridge of rock.

Looking from Cape of Good Hope, west and north up the peninsula coast.

Same as above, just a close up of the little unnamed bay here.

     There are several interesting inhabitants of Cape of Good Hope National Park and they are readily seen along the roads. In the following photos you will see several of those inhabitants.

Ostrich at Cape of Good Hope

The sign portends our next sighting.

A baboon troop along the road.

      Driving back up the Cape Peninsula, we stopped at Boulders Beach because another ubiquitous resident of the area can usually be seen there.

You can see why this is called Boulders Beach. These birds are cormorants.
But Boulders Beach is protected primarily for this inhabitant: the African penguin.
     Boulders Penguin Colony was established and protected in 1983. An estimate count of African penguins in the world in 1956 was 150,000 breeding pairs. By 2009, the estimate had fallen to 26,000 breeding pairs. This is an 80% drop in 50 years. This colony had 3100 breeding birds in 2005 but that number had fallen to 2500 breeding birds by 2011. Habitat loss, human activity, and probably many other unknown causes have led this bird to be extremely endangered. These birds do seem to be tolerant of human activity. But there are boardwalks to keep people from getting too close, and signs everywhere warn people about coming any closer to the birds. These are little penguins but as you can see, they are quite cute.

Another common African bird is the guinea fowl.

We have driven back to Cape Town. This is the northern end of Signal
Mountain which is called Lion's Head.
View north from Table Mountain, with the Lesser Swartberg Mountains in the distance.

Lion's Head from top of Table Mountain.

The Fynbos on top of Table Mountain.

       Well, I hope you have enjoyed my photos. My husband is my cameraman (except for the aerial views for which I credit Wikepedia.) I think you should have an idea of the lay of the land in the Cape in Africa. If you have a hankering to see some of Africa but not a lot of time, fly to Cape Town. See the environs of these photos. Enjoy the vegetation of the Cape area called the Fynbos (fine or little forest). Table Mountain alone has 2200 species of plants on and around it, (the UK has only 1200 species.) Then take a driving trip north out of Cape Town. You will be able to visit wineries, caves (Congo Caves), beautiful hills and countryside. Depending on how far inland you would like to drive, you can make it as far as the Great Karoo, an arid area created by the rain shadow of the southern African coastal mountains. This desert area has many succulents in its southern portion where ostrich are raised. In its northern portion there are sheep and goat farms. Again the flora is quite distinct and unusual. And if you would like to see some of the Big Five (lion, leopard, rhinoceros, hippopotamus, and Cape buffalo) without having to take malaria prophylaxis, arrange to stay at Buffelsdrift Game Lodge in Oudtshoorn on the so-called Garden Route. There are elephants, hippos, rhinoceros, giraffe and Cape Buffalo and over 200 bird species. The lodging is in luxury permanent tents along a lovely lagoon. The food is marvelous. It is about a 5 hour drive from Cape Town through the areas I have just described. The land owned and operated by the Game Lodge is large enough to offer several hours of game drive safaris twice a day, and you will feel like you are almost in the Kalahari, even though it is in the lower inhabited Klein Karoo. Have I stimulated your travel itch?
A beautiful view of Cape Town from the top of Signal Mountain. Our hotel was right at the base of Signal Mountain. Lovely!

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