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A jagged outcrop cuts into the foaming Atlantic. With its sheer cliff faces, surging sea, and incredible array of flora and fauna, journeying along the Cape Peninsula, towards the famed Cape of Good Hope, is – quite undeniably – a drive of a lifetime.
Originally nicknamed “Cabo Tormentoso”, or the “Cape of Storms”, by Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias back in 1488, its most long-standing moniker – “The Cape of Good Hope” – was given to it just a little later by his slightly more optimistic ruler, King John II. But as you watch the waves crash with an unforgiving ferocity against the rugged rocks that line this coastline, it’s likely that you’ll be more inclined to agree with the Dias’ naming of Africa’s most southwestern point. Out here, no matter how blue the sky is, there’s a sense in the air that a storm could descend at any second. Or, perhaps the drama of the beautifully wild scene has just rubbed off on us – after all, who doesn’t love a bit of drama?
But the “Cape of Good Hope” – despite what the sign says – isn’t actually the most south-western point of Africa. In fact, it’s the rocky headland of Cape Point, just a five minute drive further along the coast, that holds this claim to fame.
The fun begins before you even arrive at this landmark. Think miles of untouched coastline, protected by the all encompassing Table Mountain National Park, which also means – wait for it – wildlife. In fact, this western point of the peninsula is the only part of the national park that is fenced, specifically to protect the wildlife that can be found here. This is no safari, but you will catch bontebok, eland, red hartebeest and zebra – to name but a few – roaming the wilds of the shrubland that lines the coast.
Oh, and the Baboon troops here are the only protected kind of their species in the whole of Africa. Perhaps this status has gone to their heads, but either way, they certainly seem to think that they own the place – remember to keep your car doors closed because you most definitely don’t want any uninvited, baboon-shaped passengers.
Once you’ve made it to the Cape of Good Hope a photo at the sign is a must. There will be plenty of other tourists on hand to snap the shot for you if you promise to return the favour.
And although Cape of Good Hope is impressive, it’s likely that the highlight of your drive will be making it to Cape Point. Here, a Lighthouse dating back to the 19th century will see you climb to what feels like the edge of the world – but of course is just, quite literally, the edge of Africa. Depending on how fit you’re feeling, make the steep but short hike, or opt to hitch a ride on the Flying Dutchman Funicular. At 250 m above sea level, this light house was actually fairly useless as it was often obscured by fog. After causing a devastating shipwreck, a new, lower lighthouse was built in its place in 1911.
If you’ve got time to kill, the two-three hour ‘shipwreck’ trail will take you away from the throng of tourists that flock to the picture hotspots, giving more of a serene perspective on this stunning peninsula.
A visit to Africa’s most south-western point is bucket-list stuff, so a trip down the picturesque Cape Peninsula is worth dedicating one of your four days to when in Cape Town on either of our Classic or Garden Route base itinerary. Head over to the itinerary builder now to find out how else you could be spending your time in the wonderful wilds of South Africa.
The very southwesterly tip of Africa, about an hours drive from central Cape Town, along the impossibly pretty Cape Peninsula.
As this part of Table Mountain National Park is fenced, there are specific opening times that you’ll have to adhere to. These run alongside daylight hours which are, typically, 6am-6pm in summer and 7am-5pm in winter – but it’s best to check the times on the gate upon entrance as you don’t want to be fined for leaving late.
Entrance to the park is priced at R147 and if you want to ride the Flying Dutchman Funicular, you’ll have to part with another R70 for a return trip.
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