While in Cape Town, the 40km (24.8 miles) drive or tour to Cape Point should be included in your itinerary. To arrive at Cape Point, travelers pass through the 7750-hectare plant rich expanse of the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve.
Cape Point Nature Reservation
In the springtime, the nature reserve transforms into blankets of wild flowers which vibrantly colour the landscape inviting visitors to the spectacular views at the peninsula's edge.
The air at Cape Point tested as the freshest and cleanest in the world due to the South Easter, which brings in air from the Arctic. A test station at Cape Point tests the ozone and the air around the point. In addition to the cleanest air in the world, the warm Mozambique current of the Indian Ocean, which meets the cold Bengula current of the Atlantic, creates the cleanest water in the world.
The clean air and water make a significant impact on the forms of marine life in the vicinity and on the flora and fauna of the peninsula. 1200 indigenous species of flowering plants and ferns have been recorded in the reserve, 40% of those found on the Cape Peninsula. Fifteen of these species are endemic to the reserve, and 52 listed as rare or endangered.
Cape of Good Hope Nature reserve
The Cape of Good Hope Nature reserve is home to a variety of indigenous wildlife species including the Cape Mountain Zebra, Cape Fox, Red Lynx, Caracal and a variety of Antelope, including the once threatened but now flourishing Bontebok. In addition, about 5 troops of Chacma Baboons frequent the area.
Interestingly, the Baboons of the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve are thought to be the only primates in the world, other than man, who derive their diets almost exclusively from the sea. The Baboons forage from the rock pools and beaches at low tide having biologically adapted to a subsistence base primarily of seafood. There are over 250 species of marine birds and other species documented within the reserve's habitat. The tiny Sunbird, Black Eagle, Albatross, Cormorant and Ostrich all inhabit the nature reserve.
The many walking trails offer nature lovers the opportunity to enjoy the natural beauty and wildlife. There are trails leading to the picnic areas with BBQ sites (or for South Africans, braai sites), beach coves and scenic viewpoints. While the reserve itself is stellar for its natural beauty, clearly the trip to the peninsula is not complete without a visit to the massive and spectacular headland, the southwestern most tip of the African continent.
Cape Point's trademark turbulent waters and 300m (984.2 feet) sheer cliffs encompass viewers who may be lucky enough to spot Seals, Dolphins and Southern Right Whales. From the base of the old lighthouse, vistas stretch from False Bay in the west ranging all the way to Danger Point in the east.
Facilities at Cape Point include the Two Oceans restaurant, an information centre with email capabilities, 2 curio shops and a funicular for those not ambitious enough for the 15 minute hike to the point. For diving enthusiasts, Cape Point is also known for its stunning dive and snorkel spots due to the colourful and fascinating marine life inhabiting these waters. On calm days the visibility is good for both snorkeling and diving.
Hout Bay is located on the Atlantic side of the Cape Peninsula and forms part of the recently proclaimed Cape Peninsula National Park. The bay is encapsulated by the dramatic Sentinal Mountain on one side, and by scenic Chapman's Peak Drive looming 200m (656.1 feet) above the bay on the other side. Until its reopening, a portion of Chapman's Peak Drive is still accessible from Hout Bay and well worth the captivating view.
There is plenty of year-round activity in the working harbour, which was built in the 1930's and further extended in 1967. Fishing boats land their seasonal catches on the quayside and bystanders can buy Snoek, Crayfish and other fresh fish at bargain prices. The marina is home to an array of private boats and yachts as well as licensed craft that offer charters and cruises. Trips to Duiker Island to view Seals and Seabirds, deep sea fishing charters, diving expeditions and sunset cruises are just a few of the many choices on offer.
While in Hout Bay, a visit to the famous Mariner's Wharf is a must. Modeled after the famous Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco, Mariner's Wharf was the first development of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere. No visitor to the Cape can consider the trip complete without a journey to this wonderful harbourfront development. The Mariner's Wharf maritime emporium includes the Wharfside Grill, where superb cuisine complements the magnificent views.
There's an authentic nautical interior with private dining cabins and a deck overlooking the beach. Visit the Fish Market for fresh fish, the Shipwreck Shop for nautical antiques and artifacts, the Pearl Factory for Oysters each with its own Pearl and the Mariner's Chest for thousands of shells and seaside gifts.
Hout Bay beach is safe for swimming. Dogs and Horses are welcome, making it ideal for family outings. The protected bay is suitable for a range of water sports such as windsurfing, paddle skiing, surfing, fishing, scuba diving and sea kayaking.
Hout Bay lies in a verdant valley surrounded by dunes, mountains and shoreline. There are many hiking trails for casual walks or strenuous hikes and a number of great trails for Horse riding. Hire a Horse from one of the riding schools for a ride into the mountains or over the dunes down to Sandy Bay. Another attraction not to be missed while in Hout Bay is the World of Birds, located on Valley Road. The World of Birds is the largest birdpark in Africa housing over 3000 species of birds and small animals with many walk-through aviaries for close up viewing.