Like Julius Caesar’s observation that “all Gaul is divided into three parts”, the visitor to Cape Town finds that the southern part of South Africa, bounded on the west by the Atlantic Ocean and to the southeast by so called “False Bay” (and more of the Atlantic Ocean), is divided into three parts. Cape Town, Table Bay, and Table Mountain comprise the major geographic highlights of the city area by the bay fronting the Atlantic Ocean. Stretching south from Table Mountain to the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point (and its lighthouse) is the Cape Peninsula. Finally, stretching to the east are the world famous wine growing regions of Stellenbosch, Franschoek, and Paarl, the so called “wine lands”.
After morning hiking on Table Mountain (see our previous post), we spent the rest of the day touring the Cape Peninsula. Our guide drove us down the west side of the peninsula, initially going through the Clifton Beaches and the charming beach resort town of Camps Bay. The main highway, M6, then heads diagonally inland to the southwest, emerging at Hout Bay and its harbour full of sailboats (see photograph, above).
It’s not until you drive further south on M6, here called Chapman’s Peak Drive, that you can appreciate the spectacular geography that you’ve just visited. The photograph, above, was made from across Hout Bay on Chapman’s Peak Drive. Sadly, just a few weeks prior to our visit, an uncontrolled fire spread throughout the Chapman’s Peak area — from Muizenberg to Hout’s Bay — closing the roads (and shutting down a section of the annual bike race there). Where we stopped we stood amidst badly charred tree trunks — very eerie, as some fellow ship passengers had been precluded from bike racing there just the week before.
A little further south the vista opens up to encompass the breadth of the Cape Peninsula. Pictured above is a view of homes in Noordhoek, looking to the southwest and the low mountains abutting False Bay. Below is the view to the southeast with the wide, sandy Noordhoek Beach in the foreground and a lighthouse in the distance on the peninsula.
The highway (M6) comes across the Peninsula at Fish Hoek and then becomes M4 as it heads south along False Bay to Simon’s Town, a South African beach town very much resembling a vintage British beach town (note, below, there is an eponymous “British Hotel” in the center of Simon’s Town).
My grandchildren would have an easy time identifying the homes, Here’s the “blue house”:
The harbour was crowded with sailboats.
The hotel is located on Main Street in the center of town.
Another easy house name for the grandchildren, the “red roof house”. Following a delicious lunch at a restaurant overlooking the bay (I had the Cape Malay “bobotie” beef pie, first sampled in Bo-Kaap in Cape Town), we headed further south to continue our explorations. More to follow…