I set out early yesterday morning to drive along the coast road northwards to the town of Hermanus. Everything is further than it looks in South Africa. What looks like a hop step and jump on the map, seems to take much longer than one would expect. So I drove out past Gordon Bay and onto a road which nestles into the mountain beside the coast, with views across Cape Town Harbour – a haven, which I am sure has been a very welcome sight for many sailors over the centuries
The first noticeable feature of this drive (apart from the scintillating view across the Harbour is the fynbos growing alongside the road.
Fynbos is the heathlike vegetation, peculiar to the Western Cape and Cape Town areas. They are an astonishingly diverse group of plants with often colourful flowers with often very small differences between the various types. They don’t provide a carpet of colour – more like a pointillistic tapestry like this roadside vista. Below are some of the flowers that I saw in my various stops along the way along the coast road.
I stopped at Rooi Els, almost at the mouth of the harbour looking across at the other side of the harbour entrance from Table Mountain and Cape Town Central- through a rather misty morning. This is a small settlement with several restaurants and very expensive looking houses among the red clay road, with a view out over the Cape Town harbour and the South Atlantic ocean.
After this, I had a fairly short drive into Hermanus, the whale spotting capital of South Africa. Once there I made my way to Sievers Point, which was one of the lookout points that appealed to me. Once there I made my way down to the edge of the rocks – seeing a whale spume as I was on my way down the path to the lookout. I swallowed my dislike of heights and settled down right at the very edge, overlooking a long drop to rocks and stormy waters below. This was to be a long stint
Whale watching is some akin to watching underwater submarine races (with the right company, submarine races could be said to be more exciting!). However after about 40 minutes of sitting, the siren at Hermanus sounded, letting people know that whales were in the bay and sure enough, they settled about 300 metres off-shore from where I was sitting. Great to watch, but just a little too far for good photography. However there was a small pod of about three whales, who frolicked happily together. One of them appeared to be small and the other two quite large.
After about an hour of watching them – and hoping they might come closer – I went for a walk along the Cliff Path. If you stop and listen, you hear a multitude of sounds of the animals around, that remain hidden from sight
However I saw several small animals and birds on this walk. I couldn’t recognise the bird, but it had a tuneful call… Below is a lizard basking in the sun, a blue dragonfly that stopped long enough for me to catch it in my camera and a small rock rabbit, that scuttled away (almost soundlessly) and hid behind the branches of a bush – no doubt moving after I lost patience and walked onwards. I was told that Rock rabbits – though they may be small – are the nearest relative to the elephant……. true or false, it sounded true out of the mouths of the couple that told me this. You have to look carefully to see it in this photo.
On my return to Cape Town, this time driving on the main highway, I stopped at Sir Lowry’s Point to take a photo overlooking Cape Town. Lowry’s Point is in the Hottentot mountains, that dominate much of Somerset West – where I am staying presently. I move more into the city centre next weekend for the remainder of my time here.
And as a corollary, here is a photo taken from above Somerset (today) looking back over Somerset, Strand and Gordon’s Bay towards the Hottentots and up the coast – much clearer today.
This was a stunning adventure for me, where I was fortunate to see all manner of creatures great and small.