Travel Theme : Pathways

Ailsa’s Travel Theme this week on is Pathways.
The Table Mountain National Park has a myriad of pathways, from the roads providing access to the various areas within the Mountain range, to the walking and hiking paths within those areas. Here are some images taken in the Cape of Good Hope section of the park, with views of some of the most southwestern points of the African continent.
…………the journey continues……..


Chacma Baboons are found here too….

We continue with our little excursion to Cape Point, and while here, we’ve talked about the fynbos, we’ve talked about the lighthouses, we’ve talked about the thundering waves, but we havent really talked about the animals that are found here. 

We touched a bit on the birds, of which there are at least 250 species here. The wide variety of habitats, ranging from rocky mountain tops to beaches to open sea makes the area suitable for such a large variety. Birds that are normally found in the bush are scarce here because of the scrubby nature of the fynbos vegetation, however when flowering, Proteas and Ericas do attract sunbirds and other species on the lookout for nectar.

Large animals can be rarely seen, though they are definitely there. There are zebras, eland and other antelope. Smaller animals such as lizards, tortoises, snakes and insects appear in much larger numbers. There are also smaller mammals like dassies, striped mice, water mongoose and the cape clawless otter.

Another significant member of the animal population at Cape Point are the baboons. The Chacma baboon on the Cape Peninsula are the only protected population of the species in Africa. I know! couldn’t get away from the superlative 🙂 They subsist on fruits, roots, honey, bulbs, insects and scorpions. Rather unusually for primates, they are sometimes seen on the beaches feeding on sand hoppers and shellfish. Large troops of these baboons can be seen across the park, and it is not unusual for traffic to come to a complete standstill when a troop happen to be on the side of the road. A perfect photo opportunity. Sadly though, over the years humans have disregarded the age-old rule of not feeding wild animals. So, in certain areas like Cape Point baboons are beginning to see humans as a source for food. It is quite a large problem as the baboons are now attracted to the sight of food being consumed by humans and actually aggressively pursue it. There have been many incidents where food has been taken by baboons from vulnerable children, or from a momentarily not watched picnic table. Unfortunately, this aggressive behaviour has resulted in the possibility that baboons that have been accustomed to receiving food from humans being destroyed. Obviously a venue like Cape Point becomes problematic to manage as there are literally thousands of visitors and tourists passing through there every week, so there is bound to be an incident every so often. The Park has special Baboon minders that are actually there to ensure that the Public do not become victim to incidents, ironically to baboons who humans made accustomed to being fed. There are numerous attempts to create awareness around this and it is a very long uphill battle to overcome. There are organisations like baboon matters that are doing sterling work in creating awareness.

On a recent visit to Cape Point there was a troop of baboons hanging out in the parking area, the little ones were keeping themselves entertained playing with one another or doing acrobatics on the public telephone boxes, climbing up the stone wall or just having a quiet moment. Some of the adults seemed to be checking out the flavours of the rubber glazing beads on the cars or maybe it was the tree sap that may have gathered on the rubber. The journey continues……………………………………..

And so onto todays images, some of which are from the parking area………..


stairway to thundering waves……………

Cape Point has featured in the last few blogs, so we are just going with the flow and continuing the trend. The municipal road leading up to the nature Reserve is the outer perimeter of a circular route from the City, and forms the link between the two coastlines that are separated by the narrowing piece of land that tapers to become Cape Point. It is a popular route with tourists and locals alike as it has many scenic spots along the way, with beaches for swimming, areas for hiking, golf courses, little villages, you name it, a myriad of places that you can stop at and engage in some activity. It is a route that is especially favoured by cyclists, as it is the point where the infamous 109km Argus Cycle Tour starts making its way back to the city, so a sort of “halfway” point. It is also the point where if you happen to be cycling the route on a windy day, you get respite from the South Easter. So its the point where you can stop working so hard cycling into the wind, because it will now be behind you, hopefully pushing you along.

The private road into the Reserve beyond the Entrance gate winds through the landscape, and offers numerous opportunities for hiking, swimming, fishing, picnicking etc. on two coastlines. So depending on what the weather is doing, you can choose the more suitable option. All are adequately signposted and clearly indicated on the little map that you get at the Entrance hut. Of course if you are headed to the lighthouse, then you would just drive past all of these and head straight to the end of the road to the parking area.

My favourite spot is Dias Beach, which is located alongside the cliff on which the lighthouses are situated. Now, it just happens to be the southern most beach on the Cape peninsula within the Cape Point nature reserve. :-). Did you spot that superlative??  What can I say this is South Africa.  This beach is visible from the parking area, but once you start going up to the lighthouse you really get to see how magnificent it is. It is situated at the foot of the cliff on which the lighthouses are built, cliffs which extend from below the parking area to almost form a bay or enclave at the bottom of the cliff. It is incredibly spectacular, when viewed from above, and even more so when you are below.

The access is via a winding walking route from the parking area, sometimes on a boardwalk, sometimes on the ground, and sometimes even on the rocks. If you don’t know how, you would probably just look at the view and marvel at how amazing the beach looks from above. If you look carefully, you may notice people on the beach, but who are barely visible because of the distance. So continuing along the path you finally get to a long staircase, yep! a rather long one..(.I should count the stairs, next time I’m there :-),) not for the faint hearted :-). A rather simple timber stair just supported off the rock face that seems to go on forever…………until you get to the top of a sand dune….then theres a walk down the really soft sand to get to the beach…….So, here’s the bonus, it is not uncommon to arrive on this beach and have it all to yourself…its incredible, completely isolated on a piece of paradise.  Reaching the level of the beach you quickly realise the reason why there is a huge no swimming sign at the foot of the stair …these waves are thundering in, and the high cliff around the beach help amplify the sound as if to emphasise the warning.The undercurrent is very strong and even just standing in the water this becomes apparent. There are days when the sea is a bit calmer, though swimming there would be extremely risky and detrimental to life and limb.  

A wonderfully, serene spot to have a picnic, just contemplate as you observe the waves crashing onto the shore. A look around makes you feel like you’re being observed, the cliffs are just full of birds, just hanging out, they probably figured that it’s a pretty cool spot to hang out too, so just sit out on the rocks and get on with their bird poo graffiti 🙂 :-). The rocks are covered with the stuff!! Time just seems to slip away when you’re down there and at some stage you probably have to face reality and muster up enough courage to face the long climb back up……………first up the slippery sand slope and then tackle the huge number of steps….Well, if ever you get there, here’s a tip from a seasoned visitor to this beach, don’t look up, just look ahead of you and climb away, sooner or later…..perhaps much later you’ll get to the top 🙂 🙂 looking up just makes it feel a whole lot further!!   ….the journey continues …………………………………….. 

That brings us to todays images of the beach from above and below, not to mention ……that staircase ..:-) 


Most powerful lighthouse on South African coastline

Yesterdays blog was about Cape Point, and today we continue at the same venue. Those of you that have read some of my previous blogs, probably had a little smile on your face when you read the title of todays blog, and it would be perfectly understandable, Yep! The most powerful lighthouse in South Africa. Well, what can I say? another superlative :-), it’s as South African as rugby and boerewors :-), and there’s no getting away from it. But I suppose, in our defence, if it is the most powerful lighthouse on the South African coastline, then that’s what it is :-):-). That’s ok! you don’t have to take my word for it, just to prove that I’m not just making it up, I actually took a picture of the plaque that identifies it as such. So? is that good enough? 🙂

Now I’m not sure if this is the only place where there are two operational lighthouses at one location, but my guess would be probably one of the few in the world. The only one in South Africa, I have absolutely no idea, so I’m not going to push the superlatives any further in this post :-):-)

The first lighthouse was completed in 1860, located 238 metres above sea level.  It was a significant landmark until the invention of radar. This lighthouse served for 50 years, though due to its height above sea level it was often enveloped in mist and cloud, rendering it useless to the mariners that it served. So a new lighthouse was commissioned and was completed in 1919. Only the base of the original tower remains, and is currently being used as the central monitoring point for all the lighthouses in South Africa. The area around the old lighthouse is a viewing platform that is accessible by a gentle walk or funicular ride to an intermediate level, wherefrom, there are is a series of steps, errr…maybe a few more than a series of steps 🙂 that take you up to the platform. There is a signpost that indicates distances to popular destinations around the world, and constantly, tourists and locals can be seen being photographed at the sign with the incredible view as a backdrop  

The second lighthouse, the most powerful on the South African coastline, (this is true :-)), is substantially lower at 87 metres above sea level, and comprises a square masonry tower onto which is mounted the revolving light, that emits 3 flashes every 30 seconds with a candlepower of approximately 10 000 000 DC. This lighthouse was electrified in 1936. This new lighthouse is not visible from the viewing platform, however it can be viewed from another platform much lower down. This platform is easily accessed along a scenic route which follows a descending narrow path with some steps cut into a steep cliff with waves crashing at the bottom. The journey continues……………………………………

Todays images are of the two lighthouses and the area around them

Cape Point – the other southernmost point of Africa………

Yesterdays blog was about Fynbos and its significance in the Floral Kingdom of the Cape, and how the Cape Floral Kingdom is one of the six in the world. Remember all the superlatives that described this incredible plant and how it is only found in the Cape Province. Considering the last few blogs had been in Cape Agulhas, and I mentioned the fact that it was officially the southernmost point of Africa. Until recently, this was not a very widely publicised fact. Not in a way that it was not published or disputed or concealed or anything along those lines, it kinda never seemed to default to being the place that was referred to as the southernmost point of Africa. But, this has changed and slowly Cape Agulhas is starting to enjoy more publicity regarding the fact that it is indeed the southernmost point.

Cape Point, which is at the tip of the Cape Peninsula, is a mere 60km from the City Centre, that can be accessed via wonderfully scenic routes, that offer one the option of driving along the coastline on either side of the mountain. These routes converge at the  gates of the Cape Point Precinct, which is within the Table Mountain National park, you quickly discover that you are travelling along a thin sliver of land which in certain spots allows you to see ocean on both sides. The road continues until it gets to the parking area of what is referred to as Cape Point. Once again the flora is an abundance of fynbos, which was so prevalent at Agulhas, 7 750 hectares in this case. The area is also home to buck, baboon, cape mountain zebra and 250 species of birds.

The thin sliver of land terminates in 200m high sheer cliffs, with rugged rocks that look like works of art with bird droppings. There is a walking route up a steep ramp which takes you to a viewing point at the lighthouse. Those that are too weary from the 60km drive, can take a ride to the top in a funicular.

As mentioned in a previous blog, Cape Point is the most Southwestern point in Africa, though for a long time it was casually referred to as the southernmost point. The access from the City along scenic routes, with numerous touristic stopovers along the way, make it a convenient day trip for tourists. It is extremely popular for this reason, and there is even a plaque declaring “Cape of Good Hope” as the most southwestern point of the southern Hemisphere, a compulsory “kodak” moment for the numerous visitors the park receives. The area where the plaque is located is continually populated with cars and buses ferrying the eager visitors who queue for an opportunity to have a souvenir picture taken at the spot. The journey continues…………………………………………….

Today’s images are from within the Nature reserve