As a new Capetonian and former East Londoner (that little dorp on the Eastern Cape coast near the newly famed Port Elizabeth), you can imagine how much fun I’m having in theMother City. The number of beautiful places to visit and exciting things to do is never-ending and assures Cape Town residents that they need not ever step out of their own city. However, as an aspiring world traveller, I decided that a day trip to Cape Agulhas, the Southernmost tip of Africa, had to be done. So, together with two friends, we organised a rough plan of action, got in a car, and off we went early one morning.
Our first port of call was Hermanus, South Africa’s whale watching centre. Tea in hand, we settled down on one of the many sea-facing benches and waited. This didn’t last very long. My sidekicks soon decided that ten minutes in the wind with no sight of back-flipping whales was enough for them and they returned to the confines of the warm car. Disappointed by a lack of whale watching camaraderie but eager to continue our adventure, we drove on.
The sights seen during the drive soon cheered me up. Even with some clouds and a chilly wind, the scenery was unbelievable. At one point I thought my sunglasses must be more powerful than I thought and were perhaps coated with some sort of laser dye because the colours were so bright. Then I reminded myself that I had bought them for R20 from the side of the street, took them off, and realised that the grass really was that green and the flowers that yellow. Our chauffeur (i.e. friend delegated to drive) mentioned that he felt like we were in Scotland. I murmured in agreement even though neither of us have ever been to Scotland. I guess that was the best comparison we could come up with to describe how beautiful our surroundings were.
After about three hours from our departure, which included the many times I asked that we stop in order to take advantage some of the amazing photographic opportunities (our chauffeur soon learnt that a raised hand meant “stop, I must play photographer”), we arrived at our destination.
Driving along Cape Agulhas’s curving coastal road, the attention-grabbing red and white striped lighthouse was in our sights. After parking the car underneath the towering lighthouse, we stepped inside, paid a small fee with a woman whom my friend began to refer to as the “friendly lady” and cautiously climbed our way up. There, we realised that this lighthouse enjoyed a fantastic view. The Indian and Atlantic Oceans stretched out before us, sending white waves crashing against the rocky beach. Spotting our ultimate destination (the southernmost point of Africa), we made our descent and browsed around the little museum, trying to ignore the mouth-watering aroma of home-cooked meals being prepared in the cafe next door. After deciding that we could tick off “learn about the history of lighthouses” on our non-existent travel check list, we followed the dirt road closer to the sea. A few minutes later, we arrived at the monument that pointed to the Indian Ocean in one direction and the Atlantic Ocean in the other.
At this point, I imagined looking at a map of Africa filled with little black dots representing all of its inhabitants. Feeling rather special about my location, I indulged my inner child by climbing in rocks and exploring transparent rock pools. Our grumbling tummies had soon had enough, however, and we made our way back towards civilisation, the smell of fish and chips leading us by our noses.
Following the advice of the “friendly lady”, we chose a casual seafood restaurant and satisfied our stomachs with fresh fish and calamari. Spotting a quaint thatch-roofed house directly opposite advertising “wine tasting”, we decided this was a sign and participated in some Cape Agulhas wine tasting.
Shortly after, it was time to head back so we sadly said goodbye to this quaint little seaside village but were excited for what the drive home had in store for us.
About half an hour after passing Hermanus, we reached Kleinmond. We stopped near this little town at some impressive rock faces. Whipping out our gear, we began a short hike towards these intimidating rock masses and geared up for attack. Scaling that natural wall, the sound of smooth-running engines propelling cars along the highway below, the powerful yet calm sea taking over the scenery on one side and quiet streams meandering through magnificent mountains on the other, has got to be one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had. Although I could have gladly stayed in that exact spot for hours (on the mountain, not against the rock face – that could have resulted in a fair amount of pain the next day), it was getting late and we had to drag ourselves away from this spectacular position and move on.
Continuing on the R44 past Betty’s Bay, we enjoyed another breathtaking drive, this time along the coast. Although hand was inching to raise itself many a time, I resisted the amateur photographer inside me, and the chauffeur finally stopped the car at a fantastic viewpoint near Gordon’s Bay. We watched in awe as the sun began lowering towards the expanse of sparkling blue water. Needing to get home before dark, we had to pull ourselves away from this gorgeous view and set our sights on the city ahead of us. Fortunately, no matter where you are when the sun sets in Cape Town, you’re going to be treated to a beautiful spectacle. For us, we got to see yellows, oranges and pinks streak the sky as the sun, now a round orange ball, sunk in a gap between Lion’s Head and Table Mountain.
Silence filled the car as we neared home. Sitting back in the seat and enjoying the last glimmer of light, I could only smile.
So this is why I moved to the Western Cape.
Attractions in Cape Agulhas
- Cape Agulhas wine route
- Agulhas National Park
- Red Corridor Art Gallery
- Cape Agulhas lighthouse (second oldest lighthouse in South Africa)
- Other popular destinations around Cape Agulhas include Bredasdorp, Napier and Arniston