Cape Town really is a wonderful place. A most for anyone who considers themselves a seasoned traveller. Table Mountain, wine country all rise to the top of the list of things to do, but what about what goes on the dark side of the mountain?
This is what I set out to discover on my first weekend in Africa, desperately trying to avoid seeing a TV screen and replays of the abysmal England Performance.
So my friends and I drove down and around Table Mountain (which lies to the South of Cape Town) towards Cape Point (often mistakenly touted as the most Southernly point of Afrika.)
The scenery was stunning. Huge cliffs of towering rock, mostly undisturbed by man, hunched over the Atlantic crashing into the rocks below. One of the mountains has just been bought for R60M, with the rights to build one house on it. That will be some view.
Intertwined in the valleys between these giant rock formations (known as the twelve Apostles) lay the prestigious location of Camps Bay (Think the Marina in SF, or Brighton in England) except posher and nicer.
Then as you continued your drive you pass Mt Rhodes, eventually reaching Tierboskloof, A township created by the ANC solely to introduce black voters into this mostly white part of the Cape.
After a quick drive through the townships, you begin to understand the poverty these people live in, but also the desperately unfair way in which they are portrayed. As we drove around, they weren’t interested in car jacking us, only curious about who we were and why we were passing through. My friend is involved in designing a school paid for by Americans in this township, so hopefully things will begin to improve.
Two things struck me as we passed through the township. These were the people I encountered everyday in Cape town, working in the service industry, and how it must cost them a fortune to simply get to work.
The second thing was how everyone was on their mobile phone. I’m told that cell phones are really the only form of telecommunications people in the townships can have regular access too. This, in conjunction with the high cost of cell phones means many of them spend over 50% of their wages simply chatting on the phone.
We continued round the coast and encountered many beautiful beaches, which were gloriously lit up by the setting afternoon sun (it’s the middle of Winter remember, so it actually goes dark around 530).
After frolicking on the beach, we attended a Braai at a friend’s house. This traditional South Afrikan meal, often takes place, as was the case here, to celebrate important events like house movings, birthdays or graduations. the guests bring meats (and alcohol) they are all cooked together on an open wood fire, and the food is shared amongst all the guests once everything has been cooked.
Sunday we returned to the far side of the mountain, rented Sea Kayaks and took to the open water.
There we entered sea taxis, seals, penguins and one of the most remarkable things I will ever sea.
We spotted large amounts of spray near the horizon, which my friends recognised as dolphins so we rushed to our kayaks and swam out to see them.
I had always assumed that dolphins travelled in small groups or in large submarines like in SeaQuest DSV. But this group numbered in the hundreds and they weren’t half flying along.
It was an amazing sight, made all the more unbelievable by the noise they were creating bouncing in and out of the water in there stampede. We weren’t sure what had created this panic, until 200 ft behind them, 2 huge killer whales somersaulted out of the water, tail and fins flapping for all to see.
Breathless and amazed, all I could say to my fellow kayakers was;
‘f*ck table mountain, and wine country, that was amazing.’