Visit South Africa's Cape Peninsula in style

by Cyril Barr

We were collected from our hotel at 9.30am - that was the beauty of being on a private tour, it meant we could be collected at a time which suited us.

First stop was Signal Hill. The number one place to start our tour, as we had just arrived and right away we could get an overall view of the town. Wow, was my initial impression. What a fabulous place to live. I could see the sea on one side, and Table Mountain on the other, and I began to go insane with my camera. We also had a full view of Robben Island and I was happy we had tickets for one or two days time.

Our guide drove us towards Cape Point along the Indian Ocean side. We passed through Muizenberg and did a quick photo stop at St James as I wanted a picture of the brightly coloured beach changing huts. The ocean pool was empty as this was a school day but can imagine it being busy with children on the weekends.

I had been anticipating visiting the penguin colony all year and the experience was above my expectancies. Loads of penguins were scattered in couples all over the beach and fynbos. At the base of the ramp 'the pregnancy wing' kept us entertained with their new chicks. How fortunate that a breeding pair made a decision to make Boulders beach their home and today there's a colony of almost three thousand penguins living in their environment. It was tough to tear myself away but after taking enough pictures to fill 1 or 2 albums we set off to the Cape of Good Hope.

Standing by the sign indicating the most South-Westerly part of Africa, we began to take in the sheer scale of the first journey around Cape Point by the Portuguese explorer Diaz. Our guide escorted us on some short walks in the nature reserve so we could make the best of our visit. By this point we were prepared for a break and our guide took us to a tiny cafe found just outside of the reserve.

The food in the deli was mouth-watering and we were the sole holiday makers eating. The deli was filled with locals, always a signal that the food will be wonderful. Our guide did debate with us all of the lunch options available, but we went for the mouth watering, lighter option as we would have liked to get the most from our day and had special dinner arrangements for the evening. Though we were now heading back to Cape City I did not realize that some of the finest views was still to come.

Chapman's Peak Drive takes your breath away and it was great that we could stop along the road as and when we pleased to take photos. Opened in 1922, this road was carved in the peninsula cliff and must have been an incredible engineering project at that time. Today we could see all the netting designed to capture any falling rocks.

As we still had masses of energy we made a fast stop at the Groot Constantia wine estate prior to going back to the hotel. I was so satisfied that we were able to get here as the estate house reflected the ideal example of Cape Dutch design : thatched roofs and gables. We made a fast stop at the wine sampling centre which was the best way to finish the day.

We found two advantages to having our own guide. Firstly she was able to share anecdotes about the history of the Cape and secondly she managed to avoid the crowds as we travelled in reverse to the coaches and were able to enjoy some of the special locations with minimal people around.

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