Saturday, June 15, 2013

Cape Town

Cape Town is the second-most populated city in South Africa after Johannesburg, and the provincial capital andprimate city of the Western Cape. It is also the legislative capital of the country. It forms part of the City of Cape Town metropolitan municipality. The city is famous for its harbour as well as its natural setting in the Cape floral kingdom, as well as for such well-known landmarks as Table Mountain and Cape Point. Cape Town is also Africa's most popular tourist destination.

Located on the shore of Table Bay, Cape Town was originally developed by the Dutch East India Company as a supply station for Dutch ships sailing to Eastern Africa, India, and the Far East. Cape Town quickly outgrew its original purpose as the first European outpost at the Castle of Good Hope, becoming the economic and cultural hub of the Cape Colony. Until the Witwatersrand Gold Rush and the development of Johannesburg, Cape Town was the largest city in South Africa. Today it is one of the most multicultural cities in the world, reflecting its role as a major destination for immigrants and expatriates to South Africa. As of 2011 the metropolitan region had an estimated population of 3.74 million.

The city was named the World Design Capital for 2014 by the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design.

We arrived in Cape Town along with Cassie and her sister with any drama! The weather a little cooler than Johannesburg but still in low twenties - considering it is winter here the weather is not too bad. Cassie has booked the accommodation which was 90 km outside of Cape Town (not what we expected but not much we could do), in a lovely seaside town of Hermanus. We spent three nights at this location and unfortunately it entailed a lot of driving back and for to Cape Town.

On our second day we drove along the shore and visit the African penguins at Betty's Bay. For the first time since our arrival in Africa, the weather is overcast, cool and rain is expected later in the day.

Mamma and two babies

The African Penguin, also known as the Black-footed Penguin is a species of penguin, confined to southern African waters. It is also widely known as the "Jackass" Penguin for its donkey-like bray, although several related species of South American penguins produce the same sound. Like all penguins it is flightless, with a streamlined body, and wings stiffened and flattened into flippers for a marine habitat. Adults weigh on average 2.2–3.5 kg (4.9–7.7 lb) and are 60–70 cm (24–28 in) tall. It has distinctive pink patches of skin above the eyes and a black facial mask; the body upperparts are black and sharply delineated from the white underparts, which are spotted and marked with a black band.

The African Penguin is a pursuit diver and feeds primarily on fish and squid. Once extremely numerous, the African Penguin is declining due to a combination of threats and is classified as endangered. It is a charismatic species and is popular with tourists in the region.

When you are around rocky areas in South Africa, you will most likely see a few dassies running around. I myself find them too cute with their pointy nose and those button ears.

Dassies live in groups of 10 – 80 animals, they are generally most active in the mornings and evenings and their most striking behaviour is the use of sentries. One or more animals take up position on a vantage point and issue alarm calls on the approach of predators, making it hard to get close to them to take attractive dassie portrait shots.

As so many other animals though, dassies are quite used to being around humans in touristy areas, which has the advantage of making it easier to take a dassie photograph ; )

Would you have guessed that the closest living relatives to the dassie are the elephant and the manatee?

Off to Cape Town and the waterfront area with many restaurants, bars and shopping to explore.

We decided to take a half hour boat cruise but the weather took a drastic turn with wind and rain so this was not the most comfortable boat ride.
South African ice breaker that goes to Antarctic.
The waterfront is a happening place in the summer especially in the evenings. We had a wonderful lunch in one of the restaurants. The food in South Africa is generally very good - lots of seafood, steaks, butternut squash soup, salads, homemade pizzas and delicious breads!
Also do not fear about using a washroom in South Africa - whether in a mall, gas station or restaurant they are all extremely clean - much cleaner than public washrooms in North America.
Cape Town is very clean, has a larger white population and feels safe compared to Johannesburg. It is very hilly as it is surrounded by mountains.
Some lovely homes on the side of the mountain.
Some views on the coast of Cape Town.
We actually were driving under this as I took the picture.
Of course there are still town ships - this one is very close to the airport. A lot of the townships have great seaviews and a number of these homes have satellite dishes.
Last day in Cape Town area it was a beautiful sunny, warm day and we were off to Table Mountain.

Table Mountain is a flat-topped mountain forming a prominent landmark overlooking the city of Cape Town in South Africa, and is featured in the Flag of Cape Town and other local government insignia. It is a significant tourist attraction, with many visitors using the cableway or hiking to the top. The mountain forms part of the Table Mountain National Park. The view from the top of Table Mountain has been described as one of the most epic views in Africa and this is no exaggeration.

The main feature of Table Mountain is the level plateau approximately 3 kilometres (2 mi) from side to side, edged by impressive cliffs. The plateau, flanked by Devil's Peak to the east and by Lion's Head to the west, forms a dramatic backdrop to Cape Town. This broad sweep of mountainous heights, together with Signal Hill, forms the natural amphitheatreof the City Bowl and Table Bay harbour. The highest point is 1,086 metres (3,563 ft) above sea level, about 19 metres (62 ft) higher than the cable station at the western end of the plateau.

The Table Mountain Aerial Cableway Company has been providing visitors with a world-class experience since October 4, 1929. The company operates in a National Park and World Heritage site.

Other recent awards include:

Another view from the top. Photo courtesy <a href=''>ignatius</a>Another view from the top.

Some astonishingly impressive stuff about the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway:

  • The Cableway has transported over 20-million people to the summit of Table Mountain.
  • Each of the two cable cars can carry 65 people.
  • More than 800 people can enjoy the trip every hour.
  • The floor of the circular cabin rotates to allow travellers 360° views.
  • The cable cars’ circular shape ensures excellent aerodynamics and stability.
  • Approximately 800 000 visitors from all over the world use the Cableway annually.
  • The cable cars travel at a maximum speed of 10m per second.
  • The cable cars take four to five minutes to reach the top of the mountain.
  • Each of the Cableway’s cables is 1200m in length.
  • The cables weigh 18 tonnes and are attached to counter-weights weighing 134 tonnes each.
  • The cable car base is a water tank with a 4000l capacity. This provides fresh water for visitors, and is used as ballast in windy conditions.
  • The cable cars can carry up to 5 200kg each.
  • There are only two other such cable cars in the world; one in Titlis in Switzerland, and the other in Palm Springs in the United States.
  • The cable cars take visitors 704m, from the lower station at 363m above sea level, to the upper station, at 1067m above sea level.

It costs 205 rand (approx $25) to go up in the cable car or in my case it was 255 rand. I had just got 15 one Hundred rand notes from the bank machine and gave the cashier 3 one hundred notes for my fare but she only gave me change for 250 rand saying I gave her two one hundreds and a 50 ( even though Mag also assured her she saw me give the 3 one hundred notes). I spoke with a supervisor and they said they would count her cash - of course her cash was correct and I was wrong. When I asked for someone to look at the security camera I was told this could not happen as there was no management available but I could put in a comment card and they would look into the situation. There is little to no customer service in South Africa and you must always check your change - but since table mountain cable car company as advertises they are a world class tourist attraction I would have expected more! I know it is only $5 but this was not my first encounter of this sort and I guess I am becoming a bit frustrated!

On to nicer things - what a fabulous view!

Top of mountain next to table mountain

Robben Island is an island in Table Bay, 6.9 km west of the coast of Bloubergstrand, Cape Town, South Africa. The name is Dutch for "seal island". Robben Island is roughly oval in shape, 3.3 km long north-south, and 1.9 km wide. It is flat and only a few metres above sea level, as a result of an ancient erosion event. Nelson Mandela was imprisoned on Robben Island for 18 of the 27 years he served behind bars before the fall of apartheid. Kgalema Motlanthe, who also served as President of South Africa, spent 10 years on Robben Island as a political prisoner, as did current president Jacob Zuma.

Robben island
Sitting on edge - holding on to Mag - if I go she goes!
I would like to say this is us but it is not!
There is a walking trail and if we had more time I would have ventured to walk down the side of the mountain.



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