Holiday Day 5 – Seals, Baboons and Penguins, oh my.

26 Sep

So.  Even though I was weak from 6 hours of tummy sickness and only had about 3 hours of sleep, I would be damned if I would let it ruin our vacation.  So, at 7 am Jacob and I hopped out of bed and headed out for our first activity: snorkeling with fur seals.

To get to Simonstown, which is where the dive shop was, from Hout Bay, we had to drive over Chapman’s Peak.  It’s an absolutely stunning drive, especially that early in the morning.  Think Highway 1 in Northern Callifornia, all cliffs and ocean and beautiful scenery.  The weather had turned around since the night before, and it was the perfect way to start off the day.  We met up with our instructor, Justin, who took us to the dive shop where we got fitted for wetsuits.  Let me tell you, getting into a wetsuit is not an easy feat.  It is, however, worth it when the water is absolutely freezing, as it apparently always is in Cape Town.  So, wetsuits donned, we headed south a bit to Miller’s Point which is where the boat launch was.  Seriously, everywhere that we went offered amazing vistas.  There is not a spot where you would not want to take a picture in this part of the country.

We were on the boat with about 7 or 8 scuba divers.  Jacob and I have never gone through the whole training, as it takes a long time and is expensive, so we decided to stick with our snorkels.  The boat took us on a 10 minute trip to “seal rock”, which is where a lot of the seals like to hang out.  When we told people what we were doing, they seemed to be pretty concerned about sharks, especially Great Whites, as they’re known to hang out around Cape Town in large numbers.  However, apparently the area we were in doesn’t really them, and I am happy to report we had absolutely no sightings.  When we got to the drop point, Jacob and I got all hooded up so that we ended up looking like seals as well.  Then we were into the water.

The seals were hanging out in small pods in the water, and you swim up to a certain point and then let them come to you.  After about 10 minutes of having you in the water they get used to you, and then become very playful.  They would swim right up to our face and then turn and dart away, swim circles around us and seemed to enjoy playing the following game.  I wish I had an waterproof camera so you could see how amazing they were while swimming.  It was outstanding to see these guys in the water, seeing there different personalities and getting up close with them.  The experience was definitely worth it, and I’m so glad I didn’t cancel despite my illness.

After an hour we got back in the boat and headed back in.  As we were getting changed and back into our car to move on, we had a run-in with a little more wildlife.  Baboons live in the hills and mountains down on the point there, and they definitely like to come down when there are cars and people around to see what they can get for themselves.  They are really smart and also really aggressive.  They know how to open car doors and get into things, so you have to make sure you and your belongings are quite secure.  While we were loading up the car we saw some people chasing a baboon away from their area, and we decided to get in the car to get a closer look.  The baboon came towards us and another car, and immediately jumped onto the windshield of the other car.  It then seemed to catch my eye and started to come towards us, and I decided that it was then appropriate for us to make a hasty exit.

Our next stop was Boulders Beach, which is home to South African penguins.  This little guys live on the beach and up in the low vegetation on the hills, and I think they’re pretty protected as there are lots of fences and what look to be breeding areas that have been set up by caretakers.  The funny thing about these penguins is the noise they make.  It kind of sounds like a donkey, so they’ve managed to get the nickname of jackass penguin.  At the beach there is a large boardwalk that we could walk along, and the penguins generally chill right behind the fences so that you can get a good look at them.  They’re pretty friendly, and are pretty used to people coming to stare at them all day.  The boardwalk itself was beautiful as well.  Cape Town is known for it’s wildflowers, and it is peak wildflower season at the moment, so all of the bushes were bursting with color and lovely smells.  Which helped to make up for the smell of the penguins.

After the penguins we headed north to Kalk Bay for fish and chips, as it is one of the specialties of the region.  Per the recommendation of our instructor, we went to a place called Lucky Fish, and it was perfect.  For about 10 dollars we got three huge fillets of hake, a huge bunch of chips and 2 beers.  They wrap it all in paper for you, and you just find a seat by the water, unfold it and tuck in.  The fish was super fresh, and it was a great way to end the first part of the day.  After that we went home to rest a bit before our dinner, which I’ll tell you about next time.

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Posted by on September 26, 2011 in Uncategorized


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