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Jackass Penguins at Boulders Beach, South Africa
 
 
 
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
February 17, 2007

Just a Nuisance



Simon's Town is about an hour south of Cape Town and is the last town on the Cape of Good Hope. For all you geography buffs out there, no, this is not the southern most point of South Africa, nor is it the meeting place of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, that would be the next cape eastwards (Cape Agulhas).

Simon's Town is actually home to the South African Navy as well as a colony of Jack Ass Penguins (now renamed to African Penguins). We had originally planned on staying a full week to unwind, however after five days we were ready to move on.

Warning, Pleae look under your vehicles for penguins

Our first few of days on the Cape of Good Hope were relatively laid back. We rose late in the morning for breakfast on the balcony over looking the bay. Then we would stroll around town before walking about 3km out to the various beaches around the town. We managed to get down to Boulders Beach on a number of occasions where the little penguins could be found.

SA National Parks Authority have done a great job of preserving the natural habitat of the penguins. One beach is fully fenced off except for some wooden walkways that take you out amongst the penguins. Maybe 3,000 penguins crammed onto this little beach where, for two months of the year they come and lay eggs.

Boulders beach, separated from the penguins only by a number of large boulders is a short walk along the same pathways, separated from the nearby residential area by natural vegetation. This beach is open to people, yet the penguins happily swim in amongst the bathers (it's a bit stinky though).

Jackass Penguins (African Penguins)

Boulder's Beach is famous for being home to one of the few land based penquin colonies in the world. The African Penquin was previously known as the Jackass Penquin for their donkey like braying.

We climbed up amongst the biggest of these boulders for lunch, This gave excellent views and the cool breeze blowing across the rock was very refreshing in the 35 odd degree day. After chowing down on some quiches for lunch we walked back the hostel, and after one 750 ml castle lager it was my turn again to kip out for the afternoon.

Donna was startled mid morning during one of our days in Simon's Town by the sound of Machine Gun fire echoing through the mountains, broken up by the occasional cannon blast. It turns out the Navy ran a full day of excesses and this was only part of the norm.

One of the key activities we want to achieve on this trip is to climb mount Kilimanjaro. That’s partially why we have stepped up our physical activity as we travel. Walking each day should slowly build up our natural fitness, that and lugging around 20kgs of gear each.

There was a two day hike out to the point which we considered taking. It was 10km on the first day, and 20kms on the second. We plan on doing these sort of hikes to further increase our fitness levels. We mulled this trip over for a couple of days before deciding not to do it, after the previous few days walks I didn’t think I was up to something like that, and yesterday it rained most of the afternoon, thanks to my genius decision we don’t have any wet weather gear.

So instead of taking the two day hike we decided instead to walk up the mountain behind simons town to see the grave of Just Nuisance, a dog who in the 1800’s befriended all the local sailors. The grave was situated at the top of the mountain, part of the swartkopberge range. We set off early in the morning, the important thing to note here is its not a long hike, maybe an hour each way, however it was very very vertical. After leaving the main street you immediate begin climbing steep steep steps and roads, after maybe 10mins we reached the edge of the town and the highest point from which they are able to build before the mountain rises steeply.

In the old days they had a cable car running to the top of the hill, this is now dilapidated and out of use other than to run electricity up to the signal school at the top.

Swartkopberge mountain range

We began climbing the steep section of the mountain, basically stone steps cut into the mountain side zig zagging up the side, and the thighs and calves immediately began burning. After maybe half an hour we reach the summit where the grave and other memorials were to be found.

After chilling out and having a drink, taking a few scenic photos we came back down the same way we came up and after a few minutes the legs turned to jelly. Luckily it was a bit cooler than previous days out and we reached the bottom no problems. Before heading back down into town we took another hike around the mountain to a nearby waterfall. It was hidden between a fold in the range and little rock wombatty type animals scampered through the surrounds. We reached the waterfall in good time where we kicked back in its shade and ate lunch to the gentle tricking of the waterfall.

The walk back into town really turned the legs to jelly, walking down a really steep road for 20 minutes really gets to you, especially after the hike we had just completed. Lets just say we both slept very well that night.

Basically that was Simon's Town, a quaint little sea side village at the bottom of South Africa, at the end of our stay we both commented that it didn't really feel like Africa at all, it could have been anywhere in Australia.

Actually our stay so far has been very very easy, which has perpetuated a couple of personal fears in me. One of my biggest being the self doubt that we can actually achieve what we have set out to do. And while Simon's Town was so laid back, safe and comfortable, I really had to push my self out of the comfort zone to continue on with the trip. Tomorrow we take the train into Cape Town which should be interesting.

Probably the biggest shock to the system so far has been the dramatic change of lifestyle from what I am used to in Dubai. Previously, although we were saving we could buy what we wanted, whenever we wanted. We never really had to watch our money. Now we've resorted back to our days of student living, staying in backpackers, walking instead of taking cabs, constantly looking for bargains and freebies, Baked Beans, 2 minute noodles and tins of spaghetti.

We're not yet up to living in a dorm, though after Donna and I had a discussion last night on budgets (yep, it got a little heated) we have started taking about twin rooms instead of the double rooms we’ve been in so far.

Oh, and I've started learning how to walk in thongs again - who knows, I might even get a tan in the next 6 months of so.

     
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  Matthew we wish you a very happy birthday for today. I am imagining after seeing your penguin photo's that you are seeing and enjoying some beautiful sights. Have a wonderful day with Donna and may the coming year be a year of happy times with many shared experiences that you will both look back on with much happiness.

Bernadette & Peter - March 10, 2007
 
     
     
 

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