When I got out of the car at the entrance of Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve to get a ticket, I noticed a very strong wind. The weather was good, a friendly sun was trying to warm up the earth, even though it was winter here in the southern hemisphere. As I was driving towards the southern tip of this peninsula, clouds were sailing in across the sky. When I eventually walked up from the parking lot to the old lighthouse, the sky was getting always darker. It was only when I reached the lighthouse, that I realized the full force of the wind blowing in full force around me. The views were breathtaking - the sky and the horizon merged into each other in a peculiar way, and I could see several patches of rain showers coming down into the Atlantic. Sunlight was seeping through some openings in the threatening sky, and the filtered light falling on the wild waves far below only added to the magnificence of the scene.
There are actually two capes close to each other: Cape Point which is the southernmost tip of the peninsula, and the Cape of Good Hope, which is the westernmost and probably better known tip. Contrary to what is widely believed, these capes are neither the southernmost point of Africa, nor the division between the Indian and Atlantic Ocean; Cape of Good Hope is the southwestern most point of Africa. Even so, nature here is wildly spectacular, and the views awesome. I walked down to the viewpoint of the new lighthouse, opened in 1919 at Dias Point on the rocks right off Cape Point itself after it was realized that the old lighthouse, established on top Cape Maclear in 1860, was not visible in the dense fogs that can obsure sight at these points. In fact, quite many ships were shipwrecked on these shores over the last centuries - one of the most famous the Flying Dutchman, which is supposed to still sail around these areas and whom some have claimed to have seen. The Capes were first rounded by Portuguese explorer Bartholomeu Dias in 1488 - he called it Cape of Storms, but the king later optimistically renamed it Cape of Good Hope for the prospects of having found a new route to India. The walk to Dias Point is certainly worth the effort, and brings you close to the new lighthouse and the merciless waves crushing the rocky shores. While I walked to Cape of Good Hope, though, the sluices of the sky finally opened and I got completely soaked in a matter of minutes. The view from the top of the Cape was awful under these conditions, with a very strong wind sending streaming cold rain over me from all directions at once - or so it seemed. The weather would not recover for the rest of the day.
The next day, unexpectedly and fortunately, the weather had changed for the better, and I decided on a renewed effort to see more of the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve. Taking the nice drive through Hout Bay, where the road to Noordhoek was unfortunately blocked, I explored some of the parts of the park, seeing lots of wildlife on the way, before reaching Cape of Good Hope again. On the way south, I saw a bright rainbow over the sea in a distance, contrasting against an almost black sky, and fantasized about the possibility of seeing one right over Cape Point. But before going there, I stopped at the Cape of Good Hope, where enormous waves were battering the rocks on the coast with their relentless power. As a human being, one feels totally powerless and small compared to this force of nature, and I thoroughly enjoyed the spectacular play of crushing waves, a strong wind blowing the tops of the waves into the sky, and the explosive eruption-like effect whenever a wave met with one of the huge rocks right off the coast. But I still had my rainbow fantasy, left the Cape of Good Hope behind and drove the last stretch to Cape Point. While other people were running down, escaping the rain that had started to pour down now, and on their way to make it to the exit of the park in time, I was frantically running up - wondering what I would see from the top. When I finally looked over the edge, I screamed in awe at what I saw. A perfectly round rainbow formed a perfect viewing window of Cape Point in its middle. This scene was so magical - I somehow hoped it would last forever. As I continued looking down, the rainbow grew even more intense in colours, and a secondary rainbow appeared around it. The rainbow stretched from one side of the cape to the other. Gradually, as the showers receded, the rainbow slowly dissolved into the cloudy skies, still giving a mysterious touch to this mythical place. When I eventually walked down to make it out of the nature reserve on time, I was totally elated by the beautiful natural phenomenon I had just seen.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Cape Point (South Africa). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Cape Point. Read more about this site.