Back on Bikes on the Tavern of the Seas, Cape of Good Hope

“This cape is the most stately thing and the fairest cape we saw in the whole circumference of the earth.” – From the journal of Sir Francis Drake, on seeing the Cape for the first time, 1580.

The Cape is a place of stunning beauty, scenery and history.  Today, we were treated to one stunning view after another biking from Camps Bay to Cape Point (otherwise known as Cape of Good Hope) with Bike and Saddle.  We were joined with a rider from Holland and another from Johannesburg.

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The biking began with a climb and it seemed like the climbing did not end.   Looking at the topography of area that surround Cape Town, it is pretty hard to cycle without some good climbs, but they reward you with some spectacular views. 

We started off with a small climb out of Camps Bay and then biking down to Hout Bay before cycling up Chapman’s Peak (otherwise referred to at Chappies).  



The world’s largest individually timed cycle race takes places in the Cape Town area every year with about 35,000 cyclists, and Chappies is part of the route.  Chapman’s Peak Drive hugs the near-vertical face of the mountain from Hout Bay. Hacked out of the face of the mountain between 1915 and 1922, the road was at the time regarded as a major engineering feat.



Complements of the Interwebs

The climb up Chappies starts at 15 meters, and the summit is around 166 meters. Total distance of the cycle along Chappies is about 11 kms.  Chappies is a stunning bike or drive, and a must do when in Cape Town.

Shortly after Chappies, we cycled another gorgeous coastline road to a small town called Scarborough.  Yet another climb before reaching the town of Scarborough, and a brief stop for some coffee and a delicious Green Genie Smoothie at a cool, newly opened spot, Hub Cafe and Greenshop.




From Scarborough, we cycled Red Hill Road to lunch which was the last of the climbs for the day.    Rising in altitude from 108m to 263m and is 7.6 km in length with about roughly a 4 km climb and 3 km descent down some hairpin turns to beautiful Simon’s Town. Along the way, there were countless signs warning of wild baboons. Many cautioned drivers to keep their windows and doors closed. Luckily, we were on bikes so did not have to worry about that.


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Simon’s Town is also home to the African Penguin Reserve which is another must do and is a very interesting location because it is one of the only spots in the world that you can observe the penguins at very close range without disturbing them.  The penguins were introduced in 1982 with just two pairs and have grown to about 2,200 colony.




After lunch and the trip to see the penguins, we headed out to Cape Point.   Cape Point is mistakenly thought to be where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet but in fact, the Indian and Atlantic oceans meet about 300 kms from Cape Point at Cape Agulhas National Park. Another stunning and beautiful day on the Cape!


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Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

Table Stakes in Cape Town

Table Mountain, the mountainous gem of South Africa, has to be one of the most photographed peaks and certainly one of the biggest attractions in Cape Town. It is actually one of three major peaks that dominate the Cape Town skyline, the other two being Lion’s Head and Devil’s Peak.  Table Mountain towers above the city and a cable car only a few kilometers away takes hundreds, if not thousands of visitors, to the top every day. It is a stunning site from the city and from the water and the view from the top is as stunning.

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There are tens of hiking routes and hundreds of climbing routes.  Given the multitude of options, safety concerns on and around some of the routes, we chose to find a guide and go with their recommendation.  Our route did not disappoint.  We chose the Porcupine Ridge route along the 12 Apostles ridge which climbs the back side (out of the sun and away from the crowds).  It was a four hour climb with some solid elevation gain and more than a few good scrambling or bouldering moves.

Straight up that grassy spot below Porcupine

We left early with Mike from Hike Table Mountain.  Mike has climbed this route more than a hundred times and was extremely knowledgeable about the flora, fauna and key handholds.  The mountain and the trail’s proximity to the town is incredible.  Our hike started in the tony suburb of Camp’s Bay where we simply parked in front of some nice homes and headed up on an old pipeline route.

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After  30 minutes of rough fire road, the climbing and scrambling began, and we continue for a couple hours straight up through the ravine.  As we climbed, the sun progressed around the mountain, illuminating Camp’s bay and the beachs below.

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Up up and away

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The climb was serene- quiet, shaded, and peaceful.  The orange-breasted sunbirds, redwing starlings, and the ridgeway ramblers were out in numbers, and their calls got louder as we approached their nests.  Traces of porcupines digging for bugs scattered the trails in spots.  Flowers were blooming everywhere, including the national flower – the stunning protea.

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As we approached the Table, the terrain flattened out.  On top of the ridge, you can see remnants of the old reservoir that supplied fresh water to Cape Town in the 1800’s.  Now, it is an unofficial beach for backpackers.

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We finally topped out on the summit of the Table where there were astonishing views of the city and surrounding bays.

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Finally, a 10 minute cable ride brought us back to the lowlands.

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One down, two to go.  Devil’s Peak and Lion’s Head up next.



Long Walk to Freedom- South Africa

During our early planning for our trip, we both decided that Capetown, South AfricaLong-Walk-to-Freedom-Mandela-Nelson-9780316548182-md should be on our spots to visit. It has long been on our bucket list; however, given its location, it was scratched off lists for shorter trips. So we booked a flat and look forward to visiting in the December/ January time frame

To get a bit more educated on the area, I downloaded a copy of Long Walk to Freedom, the incredible story of Nelson Mandela which begins with Nelson Mandela’s early childhood growing up in Transkei, South Africa. Incarcerated for twenty-seven years for his actions against the National Party, Nelson Mandela becomes the first democratically elected President in South Africa.

As a leader, freedom fighter, friend, he applied diligence and discipline to everything he did. There are many great quotes in the book, but one in particular, “It is what we make out of what we have, not what we are given, that separates one person from another”. Under the most adverse and brutal situations, Nelson Mandela never waivered from his core values and convictions.  His character was tested time and time again, and yet, he consistently chose the higher, moral ground including peaceful protests, wherever possible. Nonviolence was a moral principle and strategy Nelson and his colleagues subscribed to, for the most part, and they took great risks to achieve a democratic South Africa to provide equality to all in a country with prejudice and fear deeply rooted in the land.

The book is as much about the history on South Africa as it is about leadership, character, strength and overcoming fear.  This is a must read for all.  There is much one can learn from a truly remarkable man