If you’ve never been to Africa, you probably have a specific representation of what the continent looks like. In your mind, it probably looks a lot like many of my past posts – usually out in the bush, in places like Kenya, Tanzania, Botswana, or even portions of South Africa. However, what you probably don’t picture is what the southern coastline of Africa looks like, so, let this be a bit of an introduction to this incredible place.
Welcome to Cape Town:
Having been to Cape Town previously, I was pretty excited to get back. It’s one of my favorite cities in the world (along with Sydney and Paris – for those curious), and with work in Johannesburg on both Friday and Monday, I had just enough time to catch the short flight down to the Western Cape to enjoy the weekend.
I booked pretty last minute for the hotel piece (as in, about 4 hours before I landed), but I managed to get a steal on a place overlooking the ocean – which included an awesome looking pool with a view.
Which…makes up for the lack of view my room had – since my room (not the view above) faced a concrete wall and stairwell. Not that it mattered too much, I spent virtually every bit of daylight outside.
Early Saturday morning just after sunrise the bike rental place dropped off my ride (well, my two-wheeled ride anyway). While I’ve brought my bike on past journey’s, I know African commercial aviation and airports well enough to know that the 7 airport journey encompassing this work trip would have resulted in portions of my bike being no longer present or functional…so, I opted for a rental instead. It was cheap and they even delivered to and picked up from my hotel. Can’t beat that! I simply told them which pedals I wanted, and brought my own shoes. They even had both carbon and aluminum frames.
With my bike with me I drove a few miles down the road where I unloaded and began my ride. On Saturday I ended up riding slightly over two hours – but I covered some incredible territory. My route started along the beach, but quickly climbed along the occasionally perilous roads that dropped upwards of a thousand feet down to the sea. Ledge to the sea below:
Luckily, I didn’t have to take my hands off the handlebars to get most of these clips. I had setup the GoPro HD camera to record the route (results on video btw…are…questionable) – which allowed me to grab a few screen clips:
I should point out the runner above. He’s hardcore. The route he’s running is mind-bogglingly steep (average grade 8-11%), and the direction he’s going mean’s he’s likely doing at least 5-8 miles one way. And he was flying.
Speaking of hardcore – the peeps of Cape Town are hardcore into cycling. When I went out to pick up my bike on Saturday morning within minutes I saw hundreds of cyclists and runners flying along the road in front of me. That trend would continue all weekend long. I’d wager on a Saturday/Sunday morning this popular coastal route probably sees a few thousand cyclists…on a slow day. Really incredible.
After I was done with my early morning Saturday ride, I went out and explored a bit of the Western Cape. Given I’d been here before, I was able to cherry pick where I wanted to go back and see. So, here’s a bit of a photo-stream of the weekend.
Beaches – so.many.beaches! You’ve got a never ending supply of sand and turquois water at your disposal:
And then there’s the rocks…or rather, the boulders. Really big ones – pretty much everywhere.
But in one place – aptly called Boulder Beach – you’ve got both boulders and penguins.
Though, these penguins better stay close to shore. Just a few miles away directly out from them is the infamous Seal Island…and a touch bit further Dyer Island – home to one of the greatest congregation of Great White Sharks around (and the majority of Discovery Channel Shark Week Shows). While you can indeed go cage diving here, and see them fly through the air like Air Jaws, I opted this time for just checking out the warning sign on the beach:
One of my favorite things down here has been the sunsets. Or rather, just how long sunset lasts. It’s really a multi-hour process, where the light slowly fades until the point when the sun actually goes below the horizon – then you’ve got yet another 45 minutes or so before it’s actually dark. During this whole slow dance, the opportunity for photos is abound:
Finally, we should get to Sunday’s ride. For today’s cycling journey I drove out towards the national park that ends up with the Cape of Good Hope. This national park area offers plenty of coves and routes to explore – with some nice strong winds to top it off.
Once in the national park the roads aren’t quite as perfectly smooth as outside – but still fine for riding. Just not great for handlebar mounted video. But, I was able to get a few shots off to the side later on.
My ride would ultimately take me across some pretty amazing territory. Just outside the park were these Ostriches.
And just inside the park, I nearly ran into a flock of them on my bike. There were hanging out just off the side of the road – thankfully content were they were.
Ultimately, I made it down to the “Most South-Western point in Africa”.
I tried to get a shot without the people, but between the boatloads of German Tourists and the Japanese Tourists…nobody would give me a second to take a picture.
So, I just put my bike off to the side and took a better picture:
And with that, I wrapped up my weekend in Cape Town and flew back to Johannesburg. You’ll get the world tour of Africa wrap-up post later in the week covering some of the other countries along the way. I think I’ve spent more time in airports or airplanes, than actually on the ground in any of these places.
Oh, and just as a final reminder kids – Baboon’s are dangerous:
And yes, Mr. French Surfer Guy with the Rental Car, that means you too:
Have a great week all!