After our extremely relaxing weekend on the West Coast, we returned to Cape Town, where I worked the following three days, pretty much from 6:30am until late afternoon daily, before going out somewhere delicious to eat each evening. (South Africa does a lot of things right, but at the very top of that list is fine dining.) On our final day there, however, SVV went on a Cape Malay cooking tour with our friends Brian and Layne, then the three of them rented a car for the afternoon and swung back by the ship to pick me up. Our destination: the Cape Peninsula.
When my mom, sister and I were exploring South Africa last year, we spent a day driving down to Cape Point, but we didn’t stop at too many of towns in between. My South African friend Alison said Kalk Bay is one of her very favorite places in the Western Cape—and Alison had definitely been right in recommending Langebaan—so we took her advice once again.
Once we got to Kalk Bay, we pulled over and parked—kudos to SVV for his skills in not only driving on the opposite side of the road, but parallel parking on the opposite of the road in major coastal traffic—and darted in and out of the cute boutiques that dotted the main road. But something else caught our attention on the horizon…whales!
It’s the height of whale season in South Africa, and people pay a lot of money in Hermanus to see these guys on a formal whale-watching tour, but we had our own private viewing of a right whale and her baby, barnacles and all, not 100 feet off the shore.
There’s also a pretty cool enclosed area of the ocean at Kalk Bay where swimmers can do laps. Though as strong as the surf was, I’m not sure I’d want to go in and risk my life, barriers or not!
We walked along the train tracks as the path to the beach was flooded, which might not have been the brightest idea as we narrowly escaped a train and had to hop onto a ledge to avoid being road (tracks?) kill. We didn’t even hear the train coming—luckily, a local yelled at us to get out of the way before it was too late! A cautionary tale for those of you visiting Kalk Bay in the future.
And can we just talk about how pretty Layne and Brian are? They are definitely one of the best-looking—and nicest—couples I know. I’m so happy they live “up the road” from us in Virginia, so we can stay friends long after Semester at Sea is over.
After a bit of time in Kalk Bay, we drove up the road to Simon’s Town as Layne, Brian and SVV had never seen the famous penguin colony at Boulders Beach.
It was well after closing time so I didn’t think we’d have any luck, but as we pulled into the parking lot, a penguin popped his head out of the bushes as if telling us we should venture further. (This sign was not made in vain. The penguins really do hang out dangerously close to the road and parking lot.)
While we went down to the main beach last time we were here, that part was indeed closed on this visit, but we found a wooden path that led down to a different part of the penguin sanctuary entirely.
Penguins waddled along atop the boulders—now do you see why its called Boulders Beach—being generally merry and so cute, you wanted to snatch one and take it home with you in your purse. Brian almost tried to do this very thing when the little girl (we assume) penguin at the entrance started batting her eyes in his direction.
As it happens, it was not only moulting season—we saw clusters of feathers everywhere—but also mating season, so we did indeed hear a bit of penguin adult time going on in the bushes.
As a result of the moulting, we also saw a lot of scantily-clad penguins!
They may be smelly, but they sure are adorable to watch from afar.
That night, we stopped at Alison’s favorite restaurant in the world, she claims, Olympia Cafe, and shared an excellent meal and a bottle of wine with great new friends before returning to the M/V Explorer for our final night in South Africa.