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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Cape Town – Simonstown and Fish Hoek

We awoke to find the temperature had dropped overnight and that a fine mist had settled . Cape Town has a Mediterranean climate.  It rains in winter and the summers are dry, warm and sunny.   The weather is influenced by the cold Benguella current in the Atlantic Ocean.  This current brings plankton and thus fish, to its west coast.  The warmer Indian Ocean washes its southern coast.

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This is a photo of Table Mountain, taken from the V&A Waterfront.  The famous landmark was completely covered by mist.

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We enjoyed breakfast at one of the many venues at the Waterfront.

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The seagulls were resting, waiting for scraps of fish from the many fishing boats that continually move in and out of the harbour.

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After breakfast we travelled by car to Hout Bay, where we started our trip around the beautiful Chapman ‘s Peak Drive.  This spectacular drive takes one from Hout Bay,  around the Peninsula to Noordhoek.

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We stopped to take some photos of Hout Bay.  To the left of the photo is the famous surfing spot known as The Dungeons. The surf here is very dangerous as the waves are very large. 

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The tops of the mountain were still shrouded in mist.

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We were impressed with the engineering required to build this famous drive along the coast.

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This drive is as beautiful as the one along the Amalphi coast in Italy.

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We arrived at the historic naval base of Simonstown.

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Today Simonstown town is well known amongst tourists for its penguin colony at Boulders Beach.

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On our way to Boulders Beach we stopped to enjoy the view of False Bay.

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After going along the raised boardwalk, we reached Boulders Beach, which is famous for its colony of African penguins.

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One can swim or sunbathe with the penguins. 

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We left the penguins and drove to the fishing village of Fish Hoek.  There we had lunch at a small restaurant on the beachfront .  We enjoyed yellowtail which was freshly caught that day.

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After lunch we strolled along Fish Hoek beach to where the local fishermen were pulling in their catch.  This traditional fishing method is called ‘trek’ fishing.  ‘Trek’ is Dutch for pull and refers to the way that the fishermen pull in the nets.

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The fishermen were getting ready to take the nets out into the bay. 

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None of the boats have motors.  The fishermen row out with the heavy nets and lay them down in a big loop.

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In the 19th century Fish Hoek used to be one of the many places in the Cape  where whales were hunted for their blubber.  Fortunately this practice was banned.  In winter whales can be seen in this bay.

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The nets are then very slowly and gently pulled to shore.   The fishermen told us that they had caught about two to three hundred yellowtail that day.   They sometimes catch ‘harder’,  another popular eating fish.

We left the fishermen tidying their nets and travelled back to the Mother City of Cape Town.