Category Archives: Table Mountain National Park

Boulders Beach and Penguin Colony (Table Mountain National Park)

Boulders, a sheltered cove in the naval town of Simon’s Town, comprises a few small bays and beaches protected by enormous granite rocks, 540-million years old, from the pounding surf of the Atlantic Ocean in False Bay. It is one of the most popular attractions in the Table Mountain National Park.

In 1982, two pairs of African Penguins took the unusual step of settling and breeding on the mainland here at Boulders. Today, the colony has grown to number over 2,000 birds and offers probably the most accessible views of penguins to be had anywhere in the world. Visitors are urged not to get too close to the penguins and not to try and touch them, as they’ll not hesitate to nip a finger or nose with their razor sharp beaks if they feel threatened.

While pride of place obviously goes the the penguins, there’s a multitude of other wildlife – birds and mammals especially – that find a safe refuge at Boulders.

Wheelchair-friendly boardwalks erected at Foxy Beach allows visitors to get up close to the penguins, while swimming and sunbathing is popular at Boulders Beach. The two beaches are connected by a lovely walkway through indigenous bush known as Willis’ Walk. There is a curio shop at the visitor centre, and several restaurants, cafes and coffee shops nearby in Simon’s Town.

Boulders Beach and Penguin Colony is located in Simon’s Town, base of the South African navy south of Cape Town. Parking is available in Seaforth Road and Bellevue Road, both of which turn off the main Milner’s Point Road (M4) leading through town.

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Cape of Good Hope (Table Mountain National Park)

Archaeological investigations indicate that the Cape Peninsula, the mountainous promontory that stretches for over 50km from Table Mountain in the north to Cape Point in the south at Africa’s south-westernmost extremity, has been inhabited intermittently by humans since the Early Stone Age, roughly 600,000 years ago. First described as the “Cape of Storms” by Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias, the first known European to navigate around the southern tip of Africa in March 1488, and then given the moniker “Cape of Good Hope” by King João II of Portugal as Dias’s “discovery” opened the possibility of an oceanic trade route to India and the Far East, the most flattering description for this stretch of rugged coastline came from English Admiral Sir Francis Drake in 1580, when he referred to it as “a most stately thing and the fairest cape we saw in the whole circumference of the earth“. Today, two “padrãos” – replicas of the limestone pillars erected by Portuguese explorers on their voyages to signify Portuguese and Christian sovereignty and erected in 1965, commemorate two of those erstwhile explorers: Dias and Vasco da Gama, the first to reach India from Europe around the African coast.

In 1939, the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve was established on the southern tip of the Cape Peninsula. In 1998, the reserve’s 7,750ha was incorporated into the Cape Peninsula National Park, which was renamed the Table Mountain National Park in 2004. The land area of the Park covers a total of almost 300km², with a further 975km² of the ocean protected in a marine reserve. Managing this National Park with Cape Town and its suburbs, a city of 3,7-million people, right on the doorstep must be a daunting task and with over 4-million visitors annually, the Table Mountain National Park is one of South Africa’s top tourist attractions.

Cape Point consists of dramatic sea cliffs, among the highest in the world, jutting into the Atlantic Ocean at the tip of the Peninsula. On a clear day the view from the top is nothing short of spectacular. The “Flying Dutchman” Funicular (named for Captain Hendrick van der Decken’s ghost ship still plying these waters in stormy seas) is available to take visitors up to the old lighthouse and viewpoints and back down, though there’s always the option of hiking the 800m distance.

Commonly described as Fynbos, the natural vegetation of the Table MountaIn National Park is an integral component of the Cape Floral Kingdom, which, with an amazing 9,004 plant species is the smallest of only 6 plant kingdoms recognized in the world and a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site. There are over 2,285 indigenous flowering plant species on the Cape Peninsula – compare that to fewer than 1,500 species indigenous to the entire British Isles! Inside the Cape of Good Hope section of the Park alone, over 1,200 plant species have been identified.

The Cape Peninsula may be world renowned for its awesome scenery, but it is also home to a wide variety of birds (303 species on land and sea), mammals (58 terrestrial and 36 marine species) , reptiles (64 species), amphibians (17 species) and fish (including the Great White Shark), not to mention countless invertebrates.

Visitors may overnight inside the Cape of Good Hope section of the National Park at one of three cottages (Olifantsbos, Eland & Duiker) or on the Hoerikwaggo Cape of Good Hope Trail. An extensive network of tarred roads lead to several viewpoints and picnic sites, two of which have tidal pools as swimming in the sea at many of the beaches here is considered rather risky, while a restaurant and curio shops can be found at Cape Point.

We spent two nights at Eland Cottage at the Cape of Good Hope during our epic December holidays in eight of South Africa’s national parks.

The Cape of Good Hope section of the Table Mountain National Park lies to the south of the city of Cape Town, and can be approached either from the town of Kommetjie along the Atlantic seaboard (road M65), or through Simon’s Town on the False Bay coast (road M4 / M66).

What a trip it’s been!

Happy New Year to all our friends here at de Wets Wild! We hope that 2018 has lots of opportunities to explore the outdoors, for you as well as for us!

We have just arrived back home safely after another epic summer holiday in South Africa’s wild places. All in all we were away from home for 24 nights and traveled a total of 5,550km, exploring eight of this beautiful country’s National Parks.

The route for our epic December 2017 holidays

Of course we came back with literally thousands of photos, which we’ll be sharing here in the coming weeks. We tried to post a daily update as we went along – here’s a quick recap.

Our 2017 in pictures

Looking back at the places we stayed at during another year of enjoying South Africa’s beautiful wild places.

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We’ve entered the categories for “Best Travel Blog” and “Best Environmental Blog”, and you are allowed to vote for us in both. Clicking on the badge below will bring you to the voting site. After voting, you’ll receive an e-mail requiring you to click on a link to confirm your votes.

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Dashing in Black-and-White

This morning we visited the colony of African Penguins breeding at Boulders Beach in Simonstown, the historic naval town located south of Cape Town on the coast of False Bay.

Of course we’ll share more about Boulders, and the African Penguin, when we return from our holiday!

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If you enjoy de Wets Wild as much as we enjoy sharing our love for South Africa’s wild places and their denizens with you, please vote for us in the 2017 South African Blog Awards.

We’ve entered the categories for “Best Travel Blog” and “Best Environmental Blog”, and you are allowed to vote for us in both. Clicking on the badge below will bring you to the voting site. After voting, you’ll receive an e-mail requiring you to click on a link to confirm your votes.

Thank you very much for your support!

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The fairest Cape of all

According to Sir Francis Drake, a famous 16th century English admiral, the Cape of Good Hope “is a most stately thing and the fairest cape we saw in the whole circumference of the earth“.

We couldn’t agree more.

We’ve arrived at the next destination on our summer holidays: The Cape of Good Hope in the Table Mountain National Park.

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If you enjoy de Wets Wild as much as we enjoy sharing our love for South Africa’s wild places and their denizens with you, please vote for us in the 2017 South African Blog Awards.

We’ve entered the categories for “Best Travel Blog” and “Best Environmental Blog”, and you are allowed to vote for us in both. Clicking on the badge below will bring you to the voting site. After voting, you’ll receive an e-mail requiring you to click on a link to confirm your votes.

Thank you very much for your support!

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