I hope to one day have the opportunity tick off all the lighthouses on the South African coast on my list of places visited. A lighthouse is just such a powerful symbol and the fact that each one is unique means that when you visit one its not a case of saying "just another lighthouse". In January I had the opportunity to tick the Slangkop Lighthouse in Kommetjie on the Cape Peninsula off my constantly growing list of places to visit.
The 33 meters high (41 metres above sea level) Slangkop - translated into English as Snake Head - is the tallest cast-iron tower on the South African coast. It was opened in 1919 and looks out over the village of Kommetjie with its surfers, fishermen and divers. Its main purpose is to steer ships heading either towards Cape Point or Table Bay around the dangerous rocks and hidden reefs of this coastline.
The lighthouse has a 5 000 000 candle power light that flashes four times every 30 seconds and can be seen up to 33 sea miles out to sea. As with all the lighthouses on the South African coast it has been automated. On our visit there was a sign up stating that they are busy with restoration work on the lighthouse so it wasn't open to the public at the time. Pity though cause I would have loved to climb up to the top.
Like these rain drops I haven't been hanging around much lately. Not because I've been lazy but because I've been away for about a week and didn't have time to prepost anything. But I'm back. Hope you missed me.
Taking a walk along Noordhoek Beach in the Cape I stumbled on a dead sunfish. This was only a baby, but still something very unusual to see washed up. Sunfishes are so called because of their habit of drifting at the surface as if basking in the sun. There are two species of sunfishes found in the waters surrounding Cape Town, the Ocean Sunfish (Mola mola) and the Sharptail Sunfish (Masturus lanceolatus). Now I'm no sunfish expert so I'm not going to guess which one this was. Looking at its tail though it could possibly be a Sharptail Sunfish. Sharptail sunfishes are found only in warmer waters though, thus extremely rare in local waters. So I'm not guessing. Sunfish can grow up to 3m in length and a weight of 2 000 kilograms.
Cape Town, the second largest city in South Africa, has a rural backyard. "Huh?" you ask. The Noordhoek area on the Cape Peninsula is about 30 minutes from the city centre, yet it has a country town feeling to it with farms, small holdings, charming little shops, restaurants and bars as well as lots of open spaces. The showcase of Noordhoek is the 8 km long unspoiled strip of sandy beach stretching from the foot of Chapmans Peak all the way to Kommetjie. Unlike most of the other beaches around the Peninsula the Noordhoek beach isn't bordered by massive expensive developments and rather by wetlands and coastal fynbos.
Noordhoek beach starts on the northern side just below the world famous Chapmans Peak Drive and stretches away towards Kommetjie and the Slangkop Lighthouse in the distance. If there ever was a beach where you can just go and walk and walk and walk then this is it. Ideal for those looooong romantic walks. Just don't choose to go on a windy way like we did cause I can guarantee you will turn around very quickly. Although it was windy on our visit the sun was baking down, but any thoughts of going for a swim was fast forgotten when I walked into the water. C-c-c-old. But its the Atlantic ocean after all and the Atlantic Seaboard of the Cape Peninsula is famous for its cold water.
The one thing you will just about always see on the beach at Noordhoek are horses. Because the area are surrounded by a number of farms and small holdings with most of them having stables, the beach has become a popular spot for rides.
Spending 10 days in Noordhoek on the Cape Peninsula one would have thought that I got a couple of nice sunset pics around the area. But alas I didn't. Don't ask me why. One of the afternoons I did go out I headed onto the first part of Chapmans Peak Drive from the Noordhoek side to get a nice sunset with the Noordhoek beach in the foreground. My position turned out to be wrong and the sun didn't even go down anywhere close to the beach. I didn't get to expand my barb wire picture collection at sunset though.
The last couple of posts featured visiting Table Mountain and going up by cable car as well as the fabulous panoramic views and view sites on top of the mountain. But all the pictures was taken from the mountain itself, so for today's post I wanted to show the view of the actual mountain as seen from the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront.
The view from the top of Table Mountain is magnificent, awesome, stunning, breathtaking, beautiful, blêrrie mooi, unbeatable, c'est magnifique... and so I can go on. How do you enhance that view even more? You get a couple of people to sit right on the edge - or just use an angle to make it look like they do - and take a picture of them enjoying that (all the above adjectives all over again) view. In this case they were just a couple of random people I photographed, but ...
... having Drama Princess on hand I could try my own version as well.
Our visit up Table Mountain was made possible courtesy of Table Mountain Aerial Cableway
Perhaps it's only me, but this angle of the cable car approaching the Upper Cable Station on Table Mountain is probably one of the most iconic and recognisable Table Mountain photo opportunities not showing the actual mountain. I especially like this angle when the low clouds push in from the sea and you only see the top of Lions Head sticking out above it. Now if I can just get the opportunity to photograph it which isn't the easiest thing to do if you don't actually live in Cape Town.
One of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. Situated within an Unesco World Heritage Site. Part of a National Park. Not just one of Cape Towns most iconic landmarks, but also one of South Africa's. Who I am? Sound like a question from a game show with the obvious answer being Table Mountain. Now I hope nobody got it wrong though. Table Mountain was on the top of our list of places to visit while in Cape Town just like it is on the list of every international visitor to the Mother City.
The family was excited, the weather perfect with no clouds in sight and the queue was long. Mind you, the week between Christmas and New Year is peak holiday season and the busiest tourism time in the city so perhaps not the the easiest time to visit Table Mountain. BUT, the wait is absolutely worth it. After inching along waiting for our turn we boarded the cable car that takes visitors from the Lower Cable Station (363m above sea level) to the top (1067m above sea level). Each cable car has a capacity of 65 people and in the five minutes it takes to get to the top the floor of the cable car rotates 360° so that everybody can have a view in all directions. This also eliminates a lot of pushing and shoving for the best spot when boarding.
Chaos Boy leading the way on one of the wheelchair friendly walkways
Once you get to the top of the mountain the best way to take in the mountain itself as well as the fabulous views that are on offer is to take one of the various trails. We, like most people, did the shorter Dassie Walk while there is also the thirty-minute Agama Walk and the longer Klipspringer Walk to choose from. The short walk is very easy for both young and old visiting the mountain and to top that its also wheelchair friendly.
Drama Princess admiring the view over Clifton and Camps Bay
The Table Mountain range is home to 1 460 different species of plants (mostly Fynbos) as well as little animals like Rock Hyrax (commonly known as dassies), mongooses, lizards, snakes (although chances are slim that you will see them on top of the mountain with all the people about) and butterflies. Birders may be able to spot several indigenous bird species like Redwinged Starlings, Cape Verreaux’s Eagles, Rock Kestrels and Sunbirds. But most visitors go for the view and what an magnificent view it is!
One a clear day from the right spot one can see just about all the way down to Cape Point, but in general you have spectacular vistas over the city, Clifton, Sea Point, the V&A Waterfront, Table Bay, Robben Island, the Cape Flats and the Cape Peninsula. You will also see Lion’s Head, Signal Hill and Devil’s Peak mountains while on the western side there is a great view of the Twelve Apostles.
Whenever I visit Cape Town I just can't take my eyes off Table Mountain. She's like that sexy lady in the bikini lying on the towel just in front of you on the beach, you just can't help but to look. Even though I have never lived in Cape Town, I get home sick when I see "my" mountain and getting the chance to visit the top of the mountain again and being able to share it with the kidz for the first time was wonderful.
Our visit up Table Mountain was made possible by the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway. You can find them on Facebook as well as Twitter for regular updates about what is happening at the mountain, weather conditions and wether the mountain is open.