s/y Nine of Cups
South Africa
December 2006 - February 2007
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Republic of South Africa

Capital Cities:
  Cape Town (Legislative), Pretoria (Administrative),
Bloemfontein (Judicial)
Land area:       432,000 sq miles...about 3x California
Population:         ~48,000 (est. 2006)
Language:           There are 11 official languages. Afrikaans,         
English, Ndebele, Sepedi, Sotho, Swazi, Tsonga, Tswana,
Tshivenda, Xhosa and Zulu.
Currency:           Rand (~R7 = $1 US)
Highest Point:     Champagne (Njesothi) 11,076'
Government:       Parliamentary republic headed by a President
Political Units:   9 Provinces
Chief products:    Gold, diamonds, platinum, citrus, wine

In 1994 when South Africa's new non-racial constitution was
inaugurated, its colorful flag was hoisted for the first time. The multi
colors represent the diversity of the country's people.
We began our exploration in Cape Town proper without delay.
Our first excursion was to the Castle of Good Hope, reputedly the
oldest building in South Africa built by the VOC (Dutch East India
Company) between 1666-1679. During the course of our stay, we
visited lots of the many museums the city has to offer.
We walked past the stately Parliament buildings
on our way to the Company's Gardens.
Table Mountain seems to be the dominant backdrop of the city. Above
the colorful V&A (Victoria & Alfred) Waterfront...a restored port area
and a busy working harbor in Table Bay. It boasts boutiques and shops
of all sorts, hotels, restaurants, bars and every imaginable tourist service.
We took the cable car up to the top of Table Mountain for the
glorious view of the bay and Lions Head below. Once up, we
decided we'd hike down. Mistake...our knees, ankles and feet
took a week to recover. Next time, we'll walk up and take the
car down.
We rented a car and drove along the picturesque Chapman's
Peak Drive and stopped to visit Hout Bay and Simons Town
(shown above). The scenery is phenomenal. It took us awhile to
remember to drive on the left side of the road, but otherwise we
posed no major threats.
The Cape of Good Hope was exciting, but crowded.
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Above, a Chacma baboon directs traffic at the
roundabout.
The drive from Cape Town
down the peninsula to Cape
Point Nature Reserve part of
Table Mountain National Park
is stunning. The scenery again
was awesome along the
rugged Atlantic coast
culminating in Cape Point and
the historic Cape of Good
Hope. But quite honestly we
are always most taken by the
animals and the baboons,
though considered quite
pesky, were quite the novelty
for us and were a highlight of
the day. We saw lots of them
and were fascinated watching
them in groups interact with
humans and each other.
Of the  two lighthouses at Cape Point, the one shown is the
more picturesque and is sometimes accessible, but the trail
was closed when we were there.
That's OUR rental car the baboon is sitting
upon. We waited patiently for him to leave then
wiped his footprints off the windshield.
We saw them in all phases it
seems from the courting
process and the mating
process as well as eggs and
newly hatched chicks.
Despite the crowds on the
beach, the penguins seemed
quite content to go on with
life as usual on "their beach"
swimming and intermingling
with the locals. The
award-winning film
"City
Slickers" documents the
life and habits of these
interesting aquatic birds.
Penguin couples stay together for many years, producing
one to two eggs per year.
On a separate trip, we ventured along the southern coast of the Western
Cape province and inland for a week. Far too short a period to see
everything, but it gave us a taste for more of  South Africa. Above, a Cape
Fur seal sleeps on the beach at Cape Agulhas.
We arrived at the Royal Cape Yacht Club (RCYC) early on the
morning of 21 December 2006...just in time for Christmas. Sailing
into the Table Bay was stunning. The RCYC is a lovely club...very
friendly with lots of amenities we hadn't enjoyed in a long time...
like REALLY clean, nice, hot showers and free email/internet.Not
to mention the view above!!!
On the same trip, we visited Boulders Beach near Simons Town to
view the African (aka jackass penguins because of their distinctive
"bray") penguin colony. Hundreds (maybe thousands) of penguins
were in residence. A relatively new colony, there have only been
penguins here since the mid-1980s.
At Stony Point near Betty's Bay, a rock hyrax or
"dassie" is quite aggravated by our intrusion.
Cape Agulhas is most southern point of the African continent
and the point at which the Atlantic and Indian Oceans converge.
We visited both Bontebok National Park and the Karoo Nature
Reserve and couldn't get enough of the animals. Above, a group of
meerkats check us out as we check them out.
From the coast, we headed north into the Karoo. Dry and
reminiscent of the U.S. southwest terrain, the temperature rose
to an astounding 47C (almost 117F)!!!We visited Oudtshorn
(Oats-horn, we were helped with the pronunciation), the ostrich
capital of the world.
We saw colorful guinea fowl in great numbers and though
quite articulate, they were shy and constantly scurrying away
from the camera.
We had every intention of heading back to Cape Town after
Oudtshorn, but the Addo Elephant National Park beckoned us
further into the Eastern Cape. The elephants were incredible. These
photos do little justice to the enormity of the animals and the thrill of
seeing them in such numbers and up so close.
The second of the Big 5, the Cape Buffalo, was also spotted at
Addo. The waterhole was a big draw on such hot days.
At Bontebok NP, we saw lots of "boks" including steenboks
(above), springboks and gemsboks (oryx). At left, a kudu
stops for a drink.
Above, an example of Dutch colonial architecture which is prevalent
throughout the Western Cape.
Even thirsty warthogs can be cute and photogenic.
Head on look at a red hartebeest.
Though we saw vervet monkeys in the parks, we
were just as likely to see them on the side of the
road, playing in trees.
The variety and quantity of bird life was
fantastic.Check out our
Birds of Africa
for a more complete look of birds we
saw and photographed.
We saw so little of South Africa and we saw so very much.
We would have liked to venture into the other provinces
and national parks on the east coast and further north which
our schedule didn't allow...this time around. This is a "must
return" country.  Apart from the flora and fauna, we feel we
missed out on the cultural diversity the country has to offer
and this is an area we would like to explore further on the
next trip. We took hundreds and hundreds of photos and
choosing the ones most representative of what we saw was
difficult to say the least. We hope you enjoy sharing some
of what we saw and it whets your interest for a visit here
yourself. It's incredible!

We also enjoyed some time in
Namibia. Come along with
us and explore.
Birds of South Africa
Cape Town, South Africa - 33S54 / 18E26
One of the 5 great capes of the world, the Cape of Good Hope was
originally named the Cape of Storms by Bartholomew Dias in 1488, the
first European to round the cape. It was later renamed Cape of Good Hope
because of the prospect of opening a trade route to India and the east.
There are 17 penguin species in the world...all of
which live in the Southern Hemisphere.
Acres and acres of ostrich farms, bred
and grown for their eggs, meat, feathers,
etc. We did not have an omelette, but
we had ostrich meat regularly while in
South Africa and it was excellent.
With all the fauna, we barely mentioned
the flora which was abundant. Fynbos
(fine bush) are a major vegetation type
found specifically within the Cape Floral
Kingdom. There are more than 7,700
different plant species that fall within the
fynbos category and though it wasn't
the season for full bloom, we were
delighted with what we saw.
Flowers of South Africa