ON THIS PAGE
1.PLATTEKLIP GORGE DAY HIKE
2.DRIVING AROUND THE CAPE PENINSULA
3. THE PENGUINS AT BOULDERS BEACH
Boulders Beach Penguin Colony (see them on the way to Cape Point)
There are few places in the world where you can get this close to a breeding colony of penguins, swim close to them in the sea and enjoy their private sandy beach.
Boulders Beach is situated near Simon’s Town in False Bay between Fish Hoek and Cape Point. It’s about 2km from the Simon’s Town train station, which is the last stop on the scenic Southern Line railway route. The sea here is good for swimming and the big, round boulders on the sandy beach provide some shade and shelter. Since it forms part of the Table Mountain National Park, there is an entrance fee, which goes towards paying for conservation of the endangered African penguins that live here.
A good way to see the 3 000 African penguins (Sphenisus demersus) is from the wheelchair-friendly wooden boardwalk at Foxy Beach, accessible via the information centre on Kleintuin Road.
These flightless birds roam freely around the area, so you can get close to them, but please don’t disturb them. They can bite – a warning sign is when they move their heads from side to side.
The Boulders colony was set up in 1983 and is one of very few mainland penguin colonies.
These fast-swimming, deep-diving, braying birds have thrived in their protected home. Their nesting season is from February to August – they nest in simple burrows in the sand or under plants – and the birds moult in November and December.
Table Mountain Aerial Cableway : the easiest and safest way up the mountain is to buy a ticket and use the cableway. We advise our guests to buy a ticket online (it’s valid for two weeks and there is no set time for you to travel – also you save some money R205 per adult at the ticket office and R185 online). Go to this website to book: http://www.webtickets.co.za/event.aspx?itemid=681080 )
Hiking on Table Mountain is a great summer experience for those with a little walking experience. There are many routes but only one which is recommended for newcomers to the mountain: Platteklip Gorge (literally ‘flat stone’ gorge). It is anything by ‘flat’ however. It starts about a kilometre from the cableway along Tafelberg Road which is around 300m above sea level so you start about one third of the way from the bottom of the mountain.
The African Villa staff will gladly advise you and give you a map, also help you book a Cableway ticket online – these are valid for 2 weeks from date of purchase and can be refunded in this period, if unused.
We recommend that our guests start early in the day (to avoid the sun) or in the mid-afternoon. Take a cab to the start or park halfway between the lower cable-way station and the start of the gorge – this means that there is less of a walk back to your car after a decent by cable car. Hike up takes about an hour and a half and the only slightly confusing spot is once you reach ‘The Contour Path’ after about 20 minutes of light uphill walking, you need to take a left turn for about 100m meters along the contour path itself before the bath up Platteklip proper begins. From here on the path is clear and really amounts to a winding stone staircase to the top. Take time to stop and look back at the vista unfolding below you as the city gradually reveals itself.
A few cautionary tips: only walk in perfect weather; don’t climb alone, if you injure yourself you could be in big trouble; Take a mobile phone (African Villa can lend you one); let someone know where you are going; take warm clothing, even in summer (because the wind may come up and the temperatures could drop unexpectedly); take plenty of water – there is NO water once you leave the contour path; take along a sandwich and some fruit to enjoy as a picnic halfway up.
You can buy a one-way ticket online or at the cableway station at the top of the mountain for R100 (its R185 return if you decide not to hike). Enjoy our iconic mountain – now voted one of the modern seven wonders of the world!
There are also guides who will escort you on this and several other routes. Ask the African Villa staff to put you in touch with a reputable person.
2. DRIVING AROUND THE CAPE PENINSULA (Full day trip – start 09h00 back at 17h50)
Set off along the M3 taking care to stay in the Right Hand Lane when you reach the intersection with the N2 at Hospital Bend (otherwise you will end up heading for the airport!) Look out for Muizenburg signs (pass University of Cape Town campus on the right and then a turnoff to Rhodes Memorial – a very pleasant diversion adding 30 minutes to your trip.) At the next traffic light (Rhodes Ave.) you need to make the decision whether or not to turn right and spend an hour or so wandering about Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens (www.sanbi.org/kirstenbosch) or take another half day trip to do this amazing garden justice). If you do go to the gardens then simply return to this intersection (Paradise Rd) and turn right towards Muizenburg again.
Keep following the ‘Blue Route’ as it is called until you reach a T-Junction with Steenberg Rd where you should turn Left at the light and at the next T-Junction (Main Rd/ M4) turn Right. Look out for a right hand intersection about 500m on from the turnoff and follow the road to Boyes’ Drive (lovely elevated views of False Bay where whiles are often visible between July and November. At the end of this drive you reach another T-Junction where you should stop and park (there is a small parking area but you can park on Boyes’ Drive near the traffic light as well.)
This is the fishing village of Kalk Bay with its picturesque working harbour and many Dickensian second hand book shops, bric-a-brac emporia and a lovely restaurant called The Olympia Café which we highly recommend (if only for a visit to their loo!) Please do not miss a stroll along the pavement here and also a little further to St James where the multi-coloured Victorian changing booths are always seen on postcards.
If stopping off for an early lunch at The Olympia Café then relax here for a moment. You will need to get into a patient mindset for the next leg of your trip because there has been annoying road-works underway for a year now (though we are promised that it will stop over the Festive Season.)
But at the end of the frustrations of having to wait for oncoming traffic you can look forward to a dip in the ocean if you feel that way inclined because Fish Hoek Beach is a gloriously relaxed and safe beach (there have been isolated shark attacks here in the past but they have now installed nets and if you stay between the beacons there promises to be no problem.)
Once through Fish Hoek, continue on the M4 through Glen Cairn and Simon’s Town which is worth a short stop, on your way to Boulders famous in these parts for its penguin colony (there is a small entrance fee to be paid here – Adults R35 Children R10). Then onwards to the Cape Point Nature Reserve (www.capepoint.co.za/ – 06h00-18h00 in summer) where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet. The Two Oceans Restaurant is a possible lunch stop. There is a short side trip to find the Cape of Good Hope (where there is a sign to prove that you have arrived there).
Be warned to lock your car and to leave windows shut. Baboons and known to open car doors and climb in to rifle your stuff looking for food – very messy!
On leaving the National Park, turn left on the M65 and head towards Scarborough a favoured surfing beach. Pass through the little town of Kommetjie (‘little bowl’) and on to a largish intersection where you must turn Left towards on Kaapseweg/ Noordhoek (M6). Follow signs to Chapman’s Peak Drive (there is a lovely ‘Farm Village’ with excellent restaurants just on the right before entering ‘C happies’. Once you are on Chapman’s Peak Drive you will find yourself winding along an amazing road, cut into the side of the mountains with precipitous drops into the ocean on your left. This is a glorious drive at sunset in the summer! In Winter there can be rock falls and the road is sometimes closed – need to check ahead of time. There is a small toll to pay on leaving the Drive (R33.00 can be paid by credit card).
You will now be driving through the village of Hout Bay. The first hotel (known by locals as ‘Chappies’ on your left on leaving Chapman’s Peak Drive is a popular watering hole for locals where the calamari and Portuguese steak cubes are renowned. Take time out for an early dinner or a drink if you can. The view is brilliant! The Harbour i Houtbay is worth a second visit because there is a fun market there and the Marriners’ Warf centre is popular for lunches as well.
Then, make your way back following signs to Cape Town or Camps Bay. You will lass above Llundudno – a gorgeous beach to which you should return for an afternoon – this is also the start of the well-known nudist beach ‘Sandy Bay’. After a breathtaking drive along the coast you will reach trendy Camps Bay. My own feelnig is that you should turn right onto the M62 (Houghton Rd) towards the city BEFORE reaching the beach area in the summer because this can be VERY congested. Rather take this route and
head up Camps Bay Drive towards the city (you can always return to the bustling beach area on another day or have dinner at The Grand Café one evening to watch the sun go down.
After a winding but beautiful drive, you will end up at the intersection with Table Mountain Rd which leads (at a roundabout) to the cable car. Drive straight through the traffic circle and on down Kloof Nek Rd. At the bottom of this road is a traffic light (intersection with Burnside). Drive across the light and take the second road left into Carstens Street where the Villa is at #19. WELCOME HOME.
Did you ask us to reserve a a table for you for dinner?