Day Trippers Tour
December 23, 2005
We had a tour today with Day Trippers (http://www.daytrippers.co.za/) so we had to start out early. They were coming for us at 8:15 am. Louise was our tour guide, but arrived late. However, there were only three of us on the tour, so Louise was able to give us lots of flexibility. Normally, they only take a limit of up to 9 people in a comfortable van. She offered to stop wherever we wanted to so that we could take pictures. We covered so much territory; the names are all a blur now. We went to beaches we had not been to before, coves, and bays. Our first scheduled stop was seal island, but this was an additional side trip for 35 Rand for the boat ride, so none of the three of us wanted to do it. This would have been 45 minutes, so we made up the time for Louise being late. After having a coffee, we moved on.
We went around a bay and a cliff with boulder holders. Louise told us a story about five guys who were drunk and went over the cliff in a Mercedes. They came out unscathed, so Mercedes decided to use this for a commercial.
The next stop was Simon Town. There was reputedly a great dane who hopped the train in Cape Town and rode to Simon Town where there was a naval base. He would run around the base and then hop the train back to Cape Town. When there were complaints, the navy made him an official navy dog, so he could ride for free and without complaints. He was given a military burial on the navy base when he died. Someone verified this story was true and there is a book about it.
Boulder Bay was the next stop to see the Jackass penguins. They were initially named this since they have a bray that sounds just like a donkey. Later they found that there is another breed that makes the same sound, so these were renamed “African” penguins. They used to be allowed free range throughout the area, but as it became more populated, the dogs and people were killing them. There are still penguin crossing signs on the streets. Now they are barricaded and are on the endangered species list. There is a large boardwalk viewing area where people can walk to see them. They are not intimidated by humans. It was strange to see penguins in a sandy, hot climate, but they have adapted to it. The viewing area is called Foxy Beach.
On our way to Cape Point, we drive by Buffalo’s Bay. We had the option of doing a bike ride to our picnic spot. I started to attempt it, but the bikes had those narrow pointy seats. The first bike had a seat that was too high and Louise did not have the tool to adjust it. The second bike’s seat was cutting into my personal space and was smaller than my hand. By the time I had gotten to the picnic area, I would have been a soprano, so I bowed out and rode in the van with Louise.
We went to the beach where she set up the picnic in the back of the van. There are Chacoma baboons in the area and they are a protected species, the only protected species of baboons in South Africa. It is unlawful to harm them in any way, but they will come up to people and steal whatever they can get their hands on. Besides fruits, nuts, roots, and insects, this species is known to eat sandhoppers and shellfish. At first, I thought it was a joke, so I took off down to the beach. The sand had an array of seashells unlike any beach I had been to in recent memory. It was possible to stand in one spot and pick up at least 20 shells. If I had known, I would have brought a bag with me, but I used my jacket pocket. It is nylon and easily washable. I added some great new varieties to my collection. However, once when looking up, I witnessed a couple of baboons stealing things from someone’s blanket while they were in the water. The tour guides keep a sling shot and charcoal briquettes to intimidate them, but it is only a short term solution.
We were waiting for Ron and the other woman to complete their bike journey. It should have taken about 35 minutes. The woman returned, but after 50 minutes, Ron had not. When an hour passed, Louise started getting nervous and took the van to go look for him. She did not return for 20 minutes, but she had Ron in tow. He had missed the turn off, which was difficult to recognize and had continued on down the road. When he was rescued, we had lunch of lunch meats, cheeses, lettuce, tomato, macaroni salad, dips, and cookies.
The next stop was Cape Point, the most southern point on the continent on the western side. There is a more southerly point on the eastern part of the continent. At the top of a high cliff is an old lighthouse that is no longer used. The hike up is approximately 40 minutes long if you are a good uphill walker. It is steep at parts, but there is a paved walkway. The other option is to take a funicular, but Ron decided we should walk. Not being an outdoorsy person, I was not overly enthused with this option, but I have to admit that the view was spectacular. It would have been missed or gravely shortened in the funicular.
Louise met us at the bottom, suggesting we should hike out to Point of Cape of Good Hope, which would be another 45 minutes. She would meet us at the bottom with the van. From where she pointed, it looked like a boardwalk along the mountain. Okay, this is very doable and off we went. Again, the views of the water were never done justice with a camera. It was amazing how many colors water can be side by side.
After 15 minutes of walking, the boardwalk stopped. For the rest of the way, it was climbing over rocks, gravel, and more rocks. In some areas there were steps cut into the rocks, but other places you were on your own. It took the three of us over an hour and a half to reach the summit where we could look down and see the car park. All long the way, we spotted geckos in various stages of shedding their skins. At the summit is where we saw the animals that look like guinea pigs, but they are called Rock hyrax. Strangely, their closest relative is the elephant. Go figure. Their gestation period is 248 days and pre-evolution, they had tusks. Their endocrine system is identical to the elephant.
From the summit, it looked like a sheer drop down to the car park. I thought I would spend the rest of my life there, since I am petrified of heights and though I am a Capricorn, I am not a rock climber. I stood there for a good ten minutes weighing my options: die of humiliation if I refuse to go down or die of falling off of a sheer cliff. What to do? What to do? Something to my right caught my eye and then I realized that there were ‘steps’ and I use the word euphemistically, going down the side. It was more like the illusion of steps going down a winding path, but was enough to give my courage a stronghold for descending. Mentally, I kissed the car park pavement once there. My heart was beating faster than a whirling dervish on speed. The tour was fantastic and highly recommended.
The day was done and we had asked Louise to drop us off at the Company Gardens so we could try to find Gilbert. We had missed him again by 15 minutes and went back to the hostel disappointed yet again. We knew he was only here for a limited number of days.
We took our trek off to Checkers to shop for dinner. I had to get my fill of pumpkin, sweet potatoes, mangos, and papaya.