Cape of Good Hope
Very few places in the world have such a romantic name and such beautiful shades of sea water. If you are planning to propose to your partner, this might just be the best place to demonstrate your faith in a future together!
Do not make the mistake though… The Cape of Good Hope is not Africa’s southern tip, it is the one that historically marked the passage to the New World from the East. The continent’s southernmost tip is at 150km east, the Cape Agulhas.
The Cape of Good Hope is a rocky promontory of the Cape Peninsula in the Western province, first discovered by the famous Portuguese sailor Bartolomeu Dias in 1488. Cape Doctor is the local name given to it, due to the purity of its sea-spray which is so invigorating. It now forms part of the Table Mountain National Park.
Once to the Cape of Good Hope, people cannot wait to ride the cable cars and walk to the high magnificent stretching to click pictures of the panoramic view of the mirror-like ocean!
The Point’s Double Role (Cape of Storms & Cape of Good Hope)
This natural scenic beauty has enchanted the hearts of many throughout years—it is an internationally acclaimed site of great historical interest. The Portuguese seafarer, Bartolomeu Dias, was the first to have sailed around the Cape in 1488. He named it the ‘Cape of Storms’ or ‘Cabo Tormentoso’, seemingly because he faced extreme stormy weather that drifted him to stop at the peninsula’s tip, which was dangerous due to the rocky landscape.
Realizing that this discovery of Bartholomeu could potentially open an important route to greater wealth and riches of the world’s undiscovered areas, King John II of Portugal renamed it was the ‘Cape of Good Hope’ or ‘Cabo da Boa Esperança’.
This cape was looked at by sailors with great awe for centuries, namely for its double role.
During the day, it was a landmark at sea (for the Cape sea route) while in the fog, it was a menace for sailors due to the dangerous rocks there, especially when violent storms are nearby. Rugged rocks and sheer cliffs rise up as high as 200 metres above the sea level.
Traces of the shipwrecks which occurred over the centuries can be still found littering around the coastline; they are testimonies of the challenges represented by this historic sea route. The successful expedition of Vasco da Gama, the first European who sailed to India, ultimately brought justice to the name, Cape of Good Hope.
Fauna and Flora
The Cape of Good Hope has geographic conditions that can easily cater for a wide range of species of plants and animals. As part of the Cape Floristic Kingdom, it is home to some 1100 species of indigenous plants, some of which are unique to the region such as the Peninsula Sandstone Fynbos.
There are more than 250 species of birds in the cape—as well as one of the two main colonies of African penguins on land. Throughout the year, you can expect to see the smaller birds near the coastal shrubs and bushes. During the flowering season, the sunbirds and the sugarbirds will be most common.
Many species of antelope are also frequently seen, among which are the eland, bontebok and red hartebeest. The Cape Mountain Zebra, snakes, lizards, tortoises, water mongooses, white deer can also be spotted. To the sea views, there are ideal spots from which you can watch the southern right whales or the dolphins swimming around.
Also, do not miss the chacma baboons, one of the largest of all monkeys. It is a popular tourist attraction in the area. Attention, the canines are strong!
Where the Ship Changes Direction…
Ships sailing from the equator and rounding the western African coast tend to change direction when they reach the Cape of Good Hope. It denotes the point where a ship starts travelling more to the eastern than to the southern direction.
The Flying Dutchman’s Legend
Over the past 3 and a half centuries, there are claims of strange sightings of ghosts in the galleon known as the Flying Dutchman. A ghostly sailing ship which glows red in the night and controlled by a mad bald captain has been sighted by many mariners. According to narrations, ghostly men approach you and plead you to take their letters back home, where they haven’t been for more than 300 years … But your help here might bring you doom.
Legend has it that the Dutchman captain, Hendrik van der Decken, was adamant to round the Cape Point (even if it took him until Doomsday) despite the many wicked weather conditions he and his crew encountered there. Eventually, he did charge into the dreadful Cape Point Sea. One version says that the furious captain shot an angel which appeared on the deck, and he and his crew were cursed to sail these waters for ever.