After our first night in South Africa we set off from the hotel with a full and varied day ahead; we will enjoy some wonderful experiences. As we leave Hout Bay and start the drive southwest around the coast, with cliffs on our landward side, we can look back into Hout Bay.
We follow the headland round until we are below Chapman’s Peak and have a clear view of a long stretch of pale sands on the west coast of the Cape Peninsula. This is Noordhoek which means ‘north corner’. Noordhoek itself is a small scattered community of nice houses, often with sea views and has a large horse population as riding on the long sandy beach is a great attraction. Many artists live in Noordhoek. We stop here and walk across the sands to the shoreline. Ted finds a wide shallow pool at midtide level. The breakers are beautiful as they roll onto the fine sands to dissipate, sweep clean and level the pristine surface of the beach. And we are the only people on this beach to enjoy the expansive sunlit sands. Ted and I find random ‘detritus’: small bleached bones, a bird beak, large mussel shell clackers.
We bundle ourselves into the car and continue our route to Kalk Bay. Here the Perrymans will refind a previous haunt, The Brass Bell, a lively restaurant with a sea frontage in this quirky, arty harbour village. There is a plunge pool and a roof restaurant. We install ourselves where we can look down into the transparent waters of the intertidal and have a good view of the trains as they roll past. We have a drink and a lunchtime bite then CJ, Ted and I leave the men to start up a conversation with adjacent diners whilst we do a quick tour of certain art shops to scout for pictures. The Perrymans have some wall space to fill and they like to buy African. We do see a very beautiful canvas of a rocky, kelpy seascape close to Hout Bay but it is possibly just too large to go on the chimney breast which CJ has in mind. I buy a few cards and a bracelet with bone pieces which I will go on to wear during the holiday.
We return to find the men being thoroughly chatted up, extract them and then take the car to a place called Simon’s Town where, at Boulders Beach, there is a wild penguin colony. It is a sheltered beach made up of inlets between granite boulders (540 million years old), from which the name originated. The penguins settled there in 1982. You can observe these birds (Spheniscus demersus) at close range, as they wander freely. From just two breeding pairs in 1982, the penguin colony has grown to about 3,000 birds in recent years. The penguins are best viewed from Foxy Beach, where newly constructed boardwalks take visitors to within a few meters of the birds.
At a small beach adjacent to the main penguin colony site we swam and were joined by a few penguins in the water! What an experience.