Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve
The sheer cliffs at Cape Point
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A visit to Cape Point, one of Cape Town's premier tourist attractions is a must. Cape Point forms part of the Table Mountain National Park and is a harsh wild and windy peninsula with seas on two sides. Most people will tell you that the Atlantic is to the west and the Indian Ocean is to the east but it is in fact not so. The two oceans meet at Cape Agulhas which is a 160 kilometres to the east.
The most south western point of Africa
During the summer months when the south east trade winds blow it is sometimes difficult to stand at the Cape of Good Hope lookout point. The winds sweeping in off the sea are freah and full of salt and sometimes pretty cold as well. Anybody visiting Cape Point will do well to take a warm top with them.
What is there to see in the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve. There are a number of wild animals roaming the park, some have been reintroduced of late and other have been in the park for years.
There are unfortunately no big cats in the park, maybe a blessing as you can get out of your vehicle and walk in the veld, something that would be restricted were there cats.
The Eland, Africa's largest antelope is the largest animal in the Reserve and they are normally found grazing in the valley between the Cape of Good Hope and the car park at Cape Point. Sometimes they come close to the road where you can get some nice photos of them. Other antelope in the park are the Bontebok which is an antelope that is endemic to the Cape. You can find them roaming all over the nature reserve but mainly near the information centre. There are also a number of red hartebeest which look like they are walking up hill as their front legs are longer than their back legs.
The zebra are reasonably shy so spotting them is a matter of pure luck. I have seen them at two places, one near the entrance to the Cape of Good Hope Reserve and then at a waterhole close to the road about 3 kilometres from the entrance to the Reserve.
Ostriches roam wild near and on the beach at the Cape of Good Hope.
Male chacma baboon getting up to mischief in the car park at Cape Point
There are a number of chacma baboon troops roaming around the Cape Point Reserve. They are the only baboons in the world which are protected as their numbers are dwindling. Over the past few years Cape Town has had a number of large fires in the nature reserve and in the mountains which has destroyed the veld and forced the baboons out of the mountains and down into the villages found around the Cape Peninsula. When they arrive in your garden they turn over bins pull out edible plants and if you leave a window open break into your house and steal whatever looks like food leaving a terrible mess behind. This puts them at odds with residents who find ways and means of destroying them.
The Cape of Good Hope is well known for its fynbos, a local vegetation made up of ericas, reeds and proteas. This is a hardy vegetation which stands up to the rigours placed upon it by the wind and salt blowing in from the sea. The proteas normally flower during the winter months and in Spring. The wild pelargoniumsflower in early spring and turn the reserve and mountains into purple patches of colour which is most beautiful.
There are more than 250 species of birds, mainly the sunbird variety living in the area. Near the restaurant at Cape Point you will find many red winged starlings that are very cheeky. If you are eating hot chips they will think nothing of stealing a chip on the way to your mouth out of your hand. I have even had a sandwich stolen out of my hand.
Tortoises can be found all over the Cape Point Nature Reserve, often walking along the side of the road or even crossing it ahead of you. The main variety is the Cape Angulate tortoise which is a reasonably small tortoise. I have spotted a large tortoise at times at the top of the road leading down to the Cape of Good Hope.
Cape Point with its sheer cliffs and outstanding scenery is the main attraction at Cape Point. The old lighthouse at the top of the hill is the focal point where most people head for when visiting the point.
From July to November one can watch the southern right whales swimming and cavorting around the point and into the various bays around the Cape Peninsula. They come in so close that its feels like you can talk to them and touch them. Its quite an experience seeing them so close to shore and even more exciting when one of these magnificent creatures takes off out of the ocean and flys like a bird for a second or two before crashing back into the sea with an enormous splash.
At Cape Point there are a number of walks visitors can take. You just need to check with your tour guide that you have enough time to do them. That guide could be me.
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Page updated 4.7.2012