Simonstown and Cape Point

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Our next day trip was from Cape Town to Cape Point, via Simonstown and Miller’s Point.  Simonstown is now the headquarters of the South African Navy and is a town of much naval history, both South African  and British.  We parked next to the Jubilee Square waterfront park above the  Simonstown harbour.  This was known as Market Square  until 1935 when it was renamed Jubilee Square to commemorate the Silver Jubilee of King George  and Queen Mary. If you visit this historic town make sure to see the bronze statue of Able Seaman Just Nuisance, a dog that famously adopted the British naval seamen  during WWII.

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He was the only dog to ever be officially enlisted in the Royal Navy.  This Great Dane served in the Royal Navy between 1939 and 1944 in Simonstown.

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We enjoyed a lunch of traditional Cape Malay bobotie at Quarters Restaurant overlooking Simonstown harbour.

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After an early lunch, we strolled around the waterfront park where many arts and crafts are on display.

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This is the Queen Victoria Jubilee Fountain in Simonstown’s Jubilee Square in the waterfront park.  This Fountain was imported from England to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1897.  It was used to provide drinking water in the square.

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This photo shows detail and the date on the Victoria Jubilee Fountain.

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One of South Africa ‘s worst military disasters occurred when the steamship SS  Mendi sank in the English Channel on 21 February 1917.  On 16 January  1917, during WWI,  the SS Mendi sailed from Cape Town en route to Le Havre in France to take part in the war against Germany. The ship was accidentally rammed by the SS Darro.   A total of 616 South Africans died, including 607 black troops serving in the South African Native Labour Contingent.

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We had to leave Simonstown to continue our trip to Cape Point,  but promised ourselves that we would set aside a whole day to explore this historic naval town.  We continued around the beautiful coast to our next stop, Miller’s Point,  well known fishing spot.  This photo shows the outlook back towards False Bay.

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Miller’s Point was a bustling hive of activity.

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Many small fishing boats were lining up at the slipway to come ashore with their catch.

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Fishermen were selling their  catches of snoek to buyers waiting to fill their bakkies  or small trucks. They were receiving around ZAR 60 per snoek.

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The gulls were flying around waiting for scraps of fish.  There was a buzz of excitement in the air.  It was wonderful to see these people  looking so happy with the bounty from the Indian Ocean.   Their families would be fed well for a good while from the proceeds of this day at sea.

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No sooner was one boat pulled up the slipway,  than the next would be cranked ashore. 

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The seagulls were screaming and whirling around the boats, diving down for titbits as the whirling propellers churned up scraps of fish.

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Reluctantly we left the excitement at Miller’s Point and continued on our way to the Nature Reserve at Cape Point.

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If you are a South African citizen in possession of a Wild Card, entrance into the South African reserves is free.

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On the way into the Nature Reserve we passed this small fisherman’s cottage.

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This turnoff led to wonderful views of False Bay.  The reserve is neat and clearly signposted.

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Many of the fynbos plants were flowering.   In the distance is the newer of the two lighthouses at Cape Point.   The older one at the Point is no longer used.

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The view site is at the edge of steep cliffs.  There were divers in the waters at the bottom of the cliffs.

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False Bay got its name about three hundred years ago as sailors confused it with Table Bay to the north.  It is on the warmer Indian Ocean side of Cape Point.

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Some tourists from Malaysia were having their photos taken at the Cape of Good Hope, the most south westerly point of Africa.   Many people think that this is the most southerly point of Africa, however that is incorrect.   Cape Agulhas,  170 km south east of Cape Town holds that record.

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Our next stop was to visit the Cape Point, where the waters of the Indian Ocean mingle with the colder waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

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You can ride up the steep point on a funicular or the more energetic can climb up. 

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Even if you go up with the funicular,  there is still a steep climb to the old historic lighthouse.

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Theoretically the warmer Indian Ocean is to the left of the point and the colder Atlantic Ocean is to the right.  There have been at least 28 shipwrecks near Cape Point.   There is a ‘shipwreck trail’ showing the many wrecks and places where ships were wrecked over the last centuries. These waters are wild and the rocks very dangerous.   The old lighthouse was often covered in mist and could not be seen by the sailors. For this reason it was taken out of service and a new one built lower down,  below the mist belt.

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This sign next to the historic lighthouse is very popular and often  photographed by visiting tourists.

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You can read on the Internet about the many shipwrecks at Cape Point.  If you have time the are 28 shipwreck sites to see around Cape Point.

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During  both World Wars, Cape Point was of great strategic importance to the British.

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The shop next to the funicular station has some lovely maritime momentos.

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Our travels now took us to Kommetjie as we were heading back to Cape Town via the famous Chapman’s Peak Drive.   The windsurfers were making the most of the steady breeze.

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While in Kommetjie we visited the Slangkop lighthouse which is situated inside this part of the Table Mountain Nature Reserve.

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Slangkop (meaning ‘snake head’) lighthouse is the tallest lighthouse in the southern hemisphere.   It is 34 metres tall and has been operating since 1919 (some references say since 1914).

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After leaving the village of Kommetjie we travelled towards Camps Bay via the famous Chapman’s Peak Drive. Beautiful cloud formations hung over The Twelve Apostles as these mountains are known.

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The world famous Twelve Apostles Hotel began as a hunting lodge in 1836. It is now an award winning Five Star Hotel over looking the Atlantic Ocean near Camps Bay. 

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