Dec 20, 2012


We spent a couple of days exploring the Cape Town area, with the city itself, the vast townships directly surrounding it, the wine region a little further out, and the Cape of Good Hope (see the earlier post Good Hope, and the picture below).

Cape Town lies on the north end of the cape. The city is mainly known for its scenic beauty, with glamorous palm-lined boulevards along bright white sandy beaches and a downtown financial district tucked in a natural bowl against Table Mountain to its south and Lion's Head to its north. It is also the seat of the national government, and the scene of heartbreaking forced deportations during the era of Apartheid. It is surprising to see how far the city has come 20 years after the end of that era, but at the same token it is sobering to see how the uneven distribution of wealth still is cutting through society, almost like a surgical incision along racial lines, laying bare a wound that is far from healing. There is a lot of social and labor unrest, where the poor laborers that work the mines or farmlands are protesting for raising minimum wages to a little bit more than close to nothing. 

Our next stop was Gansbaai ('Goose Bay' in Afrikaans and Dutch), about 150 miles to the East along the South Atlantic coast. The coastline is smashing, and known as one of the most beautiful seaside drives in the world.

We passed another famous penguin beach, this time with hundreds of African penguins dozing in the sun or playing in the water.

Gansbaai is located on the South end of Walker Bay. On the other end is its more famous neighbor, Hermanus, a.k.a. whale capital of the world. When booking our trip on the internet, many hotels in Hermanus were fully booked, and we didn't find anything to our liking among the ones that did have availability, so we opted for Gansbaai instead. Or actually De Kelders, a little neighborhood just outside of Gansbaai, where we found a beautiful contemporary guesthouse with glass all around and stunning views of Walker Bay. 

Little did we know that although Hermanus indeed has the title of whale capital, where southern right whales cruise along the coast, it's actually in De Kelders where they come and play. In plain view from land, so in plain view from our guesthouse.  No need to go through all the hassle of getting on a boat and get seasick. Just stand on your 'own' balcony, with a cappuccino in hand, and see 50 feet long whales breaching and jumping. That's pretty darn amazing, and a first true highlight of our trip. More to come.............

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