Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope

What is it about seeing the ultimate – highest, longest, deepest, farthest, etc. – that makes some people giddy?

When we decided to add Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope to our list, I was excited. In fact, I was more excited about that than anything else. Well, almost. I was really, very excited about having a drink in the highest pub in Africa – but that’s for a later post.

So after lunch at Simon’s Town and penguin watching at Boulders Beach, we were on our way to the Cape of Good Hope, the most south western point of the continent. Why is it called Good Hope anyway? That’s not a very common expression. Hope equals good, right? There isn’t such a thing as bad hope.

Did a drunken sailor come up with that name? As it turns out, a king, John II of Portugal did when he changed the name from Cape of Storms.

And why was a Portuguese king naming territory in South Africa?  Well, it was simple really. The Portuguese were interested in establishing trade relations with countries in the Far East and the Cape offered an easier way for them to get there.

I’d been hearing about the Cape of Good Hope since high school and always wondered what it was like for sailors who had to sail around it (and Cape Horn – the southern tip of South America). How did they survive days at sea without hallucinating about land? Driving around Hwange National Park looking for game, there were many times when I was sure I saw buildings in the distance – but they were only in my mind.

Finally, we arrived at the park. We made it just before the funicular left for the last trip of the day. The ride to the the summit and the lighthouse took less than 15 minutes but what a view awaited us!

The landscape looked rugged, desolate, unspoilt and amazingly beautiful. We stood for a while, taking photos and drinking in the colors of the azure blue ocean. Our eyes followed the sweeping views of the land and the sea that stretched for miles in front of us.

Not far away, a group of teenagers took turns jumping from the retaining wall on to the edge of the cliffs – more than 200 feet above sea level. One misstep and they’d be  – god, I didn’t even want to contemplate it. We decided to walk back down.

Cape Point Funicular
View from near the Cape Point Lighthouse
Don’t look down!

Walking down the mountain
We walked down
Cape Point Map
Cape Point
Return walk
Ostriches at Cape of Good Hope
Finally at the Cape of Good Hope
Ahh, sunset!

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2 comments on “Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope

  1. Hi Marcia
    I totally get what you’re saying about feeling giddy about seeing the ultimate.

    We went to Lands End, in Cornwall, last year, the southern most point in England. I was well excited, much to Devon’s amusement! And when I got there, I wasn’t disappointed, the views were amazing. (Another topic to post on, who needs WordPress’s topic of the day?).

    The only downside was, and this will resonate with you, some of the land had been developed and had too many man-made tourist attractions. The natural views should be enough, so why spoil it?

  2. I so agree, Tony. I don’t understand our need to build and build everywhere. I prefer enjoying the natural beauty of the land, without too much interference from man (or woman – hahaha!). I might be visiting London sometime this year. Will see if I can add Lands End to my itinerary. Would be great to say I saw the southern most point in England. Yes, it’s pretty cool to say that.

    You should write something about that on your blog. I’d love to see photos and get your impressions.
    Thanks, Tony!

    BTW, Devon sounds like a real trooper and a lot of fun. Seems like you’ve got a pretty cool relationship.

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