Sunday, June 26 was the day for us to start our ventures away from the B&B. Botswana and Zimbabwe were not the best places to go for a run. Therefore, I decided to run from our B&B to Green Point Stadium and back early in the morning. There is a wonderful series of pathways and promenades that connect each individual bay until you reach the waterfront in downtown Cape Town. What a glorious run. The weather was perfect and running at sea level is always a treat ( a nice legal form of doping).
As the weather was looking more promising, we decided to book a cruise to Robben Island to tour the decommissioned maximum-security prison where Nelson Mandela spent a good portion of his imprisonment as well as so many others. The visit consisted of an initial bus tour explaining the history of the island. We had no idea it was also a leper colony and animal quarantine station prior to its more infamous transformation as prison during the apartheid era. Our guide was very knowledgeable and told us that each historian who guides on the island is responsible for detailing the historical information accurately but with no predetermined script for visitors. I found this interesting. The remainder of the tour of the actual prison was then carried out by an actual ex-political prisoner who told his tale and also those of many others. This was a very humbling and troublesome experience but worthwhile as their stories are integral to the complex tapestry that makes up South Africa. We were allowed to see the actual cell that Nelson Mandela spent so many years in. It is hard to believe one could maintain their sense of optimism and humanity with the conditions that these prisoners lived under. During our subsequent explorations we were also able to view the two other prisons that Nelson Mandela also spent time in prior to his release. It is very worthwhile to visit Robben Island as it is meant to stand as a historical site and reminder of the policies that continue to shape the ongoing formation of this country.
The next day we undertook the Cape Point Tour. This was a relatively formal minivan tour with approximately 10 participants in total. It took the entire day. We decided this was much preferable to renting our own vehicle. The driver and tour leader again was very knowledgeable and added to our experience. We visited Hout Bay and boarded a small glass bottomed boat to visit a small seal island ( which lived up to its promise and contained seals). It was a great photo opportunity. We then proceeded to drive up through Chapmans Peak which is a spectacular drive and gives stunning views of Hout Bay. Further on we passed Cape Point Nature Preserve, the Cape of Good Hope, the penguin colony at Boulder, Fish Hoek, Simons Town, Constantia and finally the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. We spent quite a bit of time at the Cape of Good Hope and climbing up to the lighthouse at Cape Point. It was a great way to see a good portion of the famous Garden Route. This area of South Africa is gorgeous. If I come back I think I would be braver and rent a vehicle and spend several days further exploring this gem of an area.
Tuesday morning found me running from Camps Bay to Hout Bay and back again. I really enjoyed the early morning runs. However, I did discover that this stretch of highway is particularly busy and the shoulders are often filled with enthusiastic cyclists who travel in packs and cycle in to Cape Town for work. It was nice to see how many South Africans exercised regularly. I was feeling particularly energetic this day so I also climbed Lions Head which gives spectacular views of Camps Bay as well as towards downtown Cape Town. You are more likely to have good visibility and no cloud on Lions Head as opposed to Table Mountain. The vast majority of people take the cable car up to Table Mountain but I feel they are really missing out on a great experience by not doing this hike. I started from Camps Bay so I had a healthy elevation gain. The climb did include a section of ladders and hand holds and a few steep sections. I certainly expended some calories that day.
Most evenings found us back enjoying the restaurants of Camps Bay followed by a leisurely stroll on its promenade enjoying the cool evenings. Sleep often came easily afterwards. Many people were surprised that I was going to spend an entire 10 days in Cape Town. I can certainly tell you it is very easy to fill up your days with all of the activities that one is provided with in this area. I have come to realize that it is often better to spend more time in one particular area than running around to multiple ones. You seem to get a better sense of the place you are in and I find it less stressful. Soon our Cape Town experience was coming to an end but we still had a few more adventures to get under our belts. At this point we were quite fearful that we would not get up to Table Mountain as it is often covered with a very particular and stubborn cloud formation known as the “Table Cloth”. One could always venture up but the visibility would be quite poor. We remained hopeful however. Read on to the next post to see if we were able to finally experience Table Mountain unobstructed.