Brother and I quickly realized that each day in Africa would start early in the morning. We were up at 7am for our first day of adventures and, of course, headed straight to the Table Bay Hotel’s breakfast. It was quite an impressive spread. I had no idea what sort of food to expect while staying in Africa, but this was beyond anything I imagined. They had a huge selection of fresh fruits and an array of international foods- from sushi rolls to ham with poached egg.
By 8am Brother and I were in the van setting out on our Peninsula Tour. Our driver Donny drove the eight other tourists and us down the western coast of Africa to the very southernmost tip and then up the eastern coast while Mark, our guide, narrated everything we saw and answered all of our questions.
Our first stop on the tour was Hout Bay. Not too far from the Bay lies Seal Island (aka a small island of rocks jutting out of the water where seals like to sleep and take refuge from the sharks). For 60 rand (the equivalence of $7.75) tourists can take a 45-minute boat ride out to see Seal Island. Brother and I, of course, refused to pass up this opportunity until we realized that neither of us had any rand and the boat did not accept credit cards. (Tip: Always travel with at least a little bit of local currency.) Not to be deterred, Brother and I borrowed rand from Mark and clamored aboard the boat to Seal Island.
Riding away from Hout Bay offered a colorful view of South Africa’s cozy towns and working ports.
Unfortunately, Seal Island was not nearly as interesting as we expected. Don’t get me wrong; it was nice to see the seals in their natural habitat…for the first ten minutes. But after taking 30+ pictures of the seals sleeping (and no sign of any shark attacks), I was ready to head back. Twenty minutes later, we finally did.
Looking back I’m glad we got to see Seal Island, but it would have been better if it was shorter.
Our next stop was the Cape of Good Hope, the most southwestern point of Africa. Brother and I walked up the path to the lighthouse at the top of the cliff to see the view. The water was bright blue and very calm, except for one spot. Out in the mostly calm water is a spot where with constant white water due to the current breaking over shallow rocks. A Portuguese liner, the Lusitania, met her end on those rocks, prompting the lighthouse to be relocated higher up on the cliff.
On the opposite side of the lighthouse you can see inland. For miles all you can see is green grasses. I looked straight down and just a couple yards below me was a little mouse bathing in the sunlight on the rocks. Suddenly, he scurried into a little crack in the rocks. His nimble movements reminded me of that scene from the Lion King when Scar is playing with a little mouse he intended to eat.
At this point our journey turned north as we made our way up the eastern coast of Africa. We stopped at a seaport called Simonstown for lunch. We ate at a local restaurant adequately named Seaforth. Everyone on the tour sat together and we enjoyed meeting our fellow tourists. Most of them were from the UK, although one woman was visiting from Bangalore. For lunch I had a bowl of vegetable soup and spring rolls along with a class of the local white wine.
After lunch we walked down to the beach to see the African penguins nesting there. Not to sound like a typical girl, but they were so cute! The baby penguins were just losing their down and were absolutely precious. I loved watching them and contemplated smuggling one of them back to the US. In the end, I decided the outlook was not good (Tip: Don’t bother trying to steal animals from foreign countries… it does not end well).