"In the end, it's not the years in your life that count, it's the life in your years." - Abraham Lincoln

Posted on March 7, 2018 by Sioux under General
2 Comments

 

Back on land, we headed to Cape Point Nature Reserve, a declared Natural World Heritage Site covering 7,750 hectares of unspoiled land, rich in a mix of extraordinarily diverse and unique fauna and flora. Home to buck, baboon, Cape mountain zebra and over 250 species of birds,

it’s a nature enthusiast’s paradise.

There are a couple of historical landmarks within the reserve, like the Da Gama and Diaz crosses, although the

main drawcards are the lighthouse. The Portuguese government erected the two navigational beacons,

Dias Cross and Da Gama Cross, to commemorate Vasco da Gama and Bartolomeu Dias, the first explorers to

sail past the Cape. When lined up, the crosses point to Whittle Rock, a large, permanently submerged shipping hazard

in False Bay. Two other beacons in Simonstown provide the intersection. The current padrao (a limestone pillar bearing the Portuguese coat-of-arms, and an inscription stating when and by whom it was raised) are not the originals, and what those looked like or where they were placed has never been resolved. The crosses, built in 1965, are monuments to the two intrepid explorers and also serve as beacons to assist sailors in avoiding the dangerous Whittle Rock. The crosses are painted black on the seaward side so as to be silhouetted against the sky for navigators.

 

Bartholomeu Dias sailed past the point in 1487, and due to almost being shipwrecked there, he named it

“The Cape of Storms”. He eventually made land near Mossel Bay. In 1497 Vasco da Gama sailed the

same route and headed further East, making land on 25 December in the area now known as Natal,

named in honour of the Christmas Day landings. 

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Close to the Buffelsfontein Visitors Centre, stands this house and a memorial to Sydney Harold Skaife. Born in Bath, England in 1889, he was an eminent South African entomologist and naturalist, who lived most of his life in Hout Bay. Of his many achievements, one of which was the fact that he was one of the first 

people to make a radio broadcast in South Africa in 1925, in which he talked on scorpions; his greatest was probably the leading role he played in creating the 

Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve stretching from Cape Town to Cape Point. 

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Not quite the southernmost tip of Africa,

Cape Point is a close 2nd! Named the

‘Cape of Storms’ in 1488 due to the

notoriously bad weather, which can blow up

quickly and unexpectedly; the ‘Point’ was treated with respect by sailors for centuries and was later renamed  the Cape of Good Hope due to the optimism engendered by the opening of a sea route to India and the East. In 1859 the first lighthouse was completed at Cape Point. Towering 238m above sea-level on the highest section of the peak, it is now used as the centralised monitoring point for all the lighthouses on the coast of South Africa.

Dias cross

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A newer lighthouse, built in 1914, almost at the very edge of the point, is the most powerful

on the South African coast. There’s a long and winding road along the edge of the cliffs for those that wish to walk to the

lighthouse. Access to the historical is by a 3-minute ride in the “Flying Dutchman” funicular, or by being brave and walking partway up a steep incline and then facing the stairs hewn out of the rock. Exhausted is the right word for those that take the stairs, but the views are spectacular and it’s well worth taking a slow walk and stopping to catch your breath at various intervals! The views are well worth the climb though!

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On the road back home again, Paul and my sister spotted a buzzard on the rocks. Paul brought the car to a halt so close to the edge of the road I thought we’d go over and he got his ear chewed off! Once I had calmed down, I grabbed my camera, and bolted out the car to follow the bird on foot. My sister in the meantime had opened her door to get out & get a better look but hadn’t seen her jacket fall out the door. It was quite a while before she realized it was gone, so Paul had to turn the car around and go back for the jacket and then come back for me. In the meantime, I managed to get a few reasonable photos before the bird took flight.

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The day was finished off with a fabulous dinner. A wonderful week away, and great to spend time with family & friends. 

 

2 responses to “Home again #8 – part 8 – to the far south!”

  1. Cheryl Wilkinson says:

    Wow you seem to have the luck fancy seeing that buzzard awesome pics, interesting facts thank you for sharing S!

  2. Pauline Smith says:

    You’ve still got a loooonnngggh way to go to catch up.
    Love the scenery.

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