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Nov 2004 #issue 09


Summer Days

Escaped Hippopotamus Update

Cape Town – A Look at Africa’s Most Beautiful City - By Andrew Muigai

Hi <> I trust that you are well and I hope you enjoy my latest eBulletin. Remember to tell me what you'd like to see or not see in this newsletter. I've tried to present interesting issues in an informative way. I'm open to praise or criticism. That being said – read and enjoy!

I look forward to giving you a regular insight into the Cape lifestyle.


Ed Berry

Cape Town Travel Adviser

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Summer Days

Cape Town is definitely the place to be at this time of the year. The summer season has yet to get into full swing and we Capetonians are bracing ouselves for the usual influx of upcountry visitors and overseas tourists.

Of course those that benefit the most from the tourist boom are our accommodation and entertainment establishments. They will certainly be cashing in as Cape Town lives up to it's increasing popularity as a holiday destination.

The tour companies are busy, happily filling seats and the popular beaches around our Peninsula are already packed with oiled bodies enjoying the sun and surf.

Not forgetting our special Table Mountain. Our timeless mountain has become one of the most well known natural attractions in Africa. In the summer season the cableway operates well into the evening and hundreds queue daily to take this popular ride to the summit. Recent developments have upgraded the cableway and made the summit what is perceived as more tourist friendly to the ever increasing masses.

More tourists means more erosion and more risk of accidents so lots of concrete has been laid and 'user friendly' walkways have been been built in the vicinity of the upper cable station to help direct people and their cameras to viewing points and refreshments.

Be that as it may, we do need to make our mountain attractive and safe for visitors. It is a pity however that the concrete development near the upper cable station is visible from some distance away. In fact from my office window in the city centre. It detracts from the natural view of the mountain which is regrettable.

Table Mountain with its attendant peaks - Devils Peak and Lions Head is well walked and climbed of course, but these mountains should never be underestimated. A hike to the table top is often found by many visitors and locals to be a lot more strenuous than anticipated. Many park their cars near the lower cable station and start the climb with limited, or no knowledge of the correct route, unfit, and ill prepared for heat or cold.

I've seen families with small children attempting to hike up dangerous routes. A surprising number of novice hikers ignore signposting and attempt difficult pathways whereapon they eventually find themselves in precarious situations and in need of rescue.

As I write this in fact, the news has mentioned that an American tourist has apparently fallen on a precipitous section of Devil's Peak. She has had to be airlifted to hospital.

Our local search and rescue services - Wilderness Search and Rescue, has become an essential part of the Western Cape outdoor environment. WSAR is comprised of various organisations ranging from the Mountain Club and Sea Rescue, to cave explorers. Members are called out regularly to search for lost hikers or fallen climbers, and a helicopters is often used to good effect.

Some of us who have to work can only dream about lazing our summer days away in the sun. But there's a distinct difference between living here and visiting on vacation. I suppose it's the same in any coastal resort around the world. The residents work to support their families, the scenery and attractions become second nature, whereas the tourists are taking their leave in what is for them an exotic location.

Is Cape Town exotic? Well not strange.. Rare perhaps. If you're used to living in a concrete jungle or an environment lacking the natural benefit of mountains or ocean, then Cape Town with its cultural diversity, wild Cape Peninsula mountain scenery, and adjacent Winelands is an exotic destination indeed.

Why not visit Cape Town and see for yourself?

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Escaped Hippopotamus Update

The young 800kg hippo which escaped from the Rondvlei Nature Reserve 10 months ago is still at large in the adjacent Zeekoevlei wetlands and has grabbed the attention of the media, and the hearts of the residents. He spends his days in the water and emerges after dark to feed on grass on the islands.

Some excellent photographs in a recent edition of the Cape Argus depicted the hippo in a playful mood with a cheeky look in his eye. He has certainly given a professional team of wildlife capturers the runaround. Attempts to dart or net him have been fruitless. Desperate efforts to corner him have also failed. When out of the water he has somehow managed to elude his pursuers in heavily overgrown areas of reeds and bushes. When submerged he is unpredictable and simply disappears.

A helicopter was recently brought in to search low over the water and islands. Not a good idea, I thought, since the noise would terrify the hippo and drive him under water.

During his freedom our happy hippo has acquired various affectionate names ranging from 'Tanne Manne' to 'Rhino' and 'Houdini', which is now felt to be the most appropriate under the circumstances. The name that struck me however was apparently dreamed up by a small child who has named the playful fellow 'Harry Pottamus'

The hippo's freedom cannot be allowed to continue for his own safety. He is a wild animal and his accessibility to humans on and around the vlei means that either he could be injured or killed by amateur 'hunters' or he could himself cause injury.

The sooner the authorities manage to capture him and place him back where he belongs the better it would be for him and all concerned. We all hope that he will be recovered safely without harm.

Cape Town – A Look at Africa’s Most Beautiful City/b>

By Andrew Muigai

As winter approaches in the northern hemisphere, summer beckons in the south. This is the time to take a few days off and follow the sun! The best place to catch the sun in the end of year holiday season is without doubt Cape Town. Cape Town’s claim to being the most beautiful city in South Africa is undisputed. And seasoned travel writers readily accept the merit of Cape Town’s claim that is indeed one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

The city is blessed with unrivalled gifts of nature. The mighty kilometer high flat top Table Mountain dwarfs even the most ambitious skyscrapers in the business district. The city is surrounded by glorious landscapes, stunning beaches and a bounty of unique vegetation. Where else do you have a choice of the cool Atlantic Ocean and the warmer Indian Ocean?

But Cape Town offers much more. It is reputed to be the most open-minded and relaxed city in South Africa and is one of the safest cities in Africa for visitors. Action hero Jean-Claude Van Damme visited the city in 2003 to shoot an action thriller and declared: "I love waking up in this city with the sea around me and the fresh air. The people are young with fresh and warm personalities and are friendly and it's a country full of hope."

The movie was shot in the city and around the harbour and some local funs got to see Van Damme at the waterfront. This is the same country that has produced some of the most inspiring people of our times. Desmond Tutu - the Nobel Peace Prize winner and past leader of the Anglican flock in Cape Town, for example. And of course Nelson Mandela.

Take a boat trip to Robben Island, one of the hottest destinations for overseas visitors. This is where Nelson Mandela nearly lost his sight quarrying lime during his long imprisonment. Make sure to get to the summit of Table Mountain by cable where you will enjoy some unforgettable views.

Northwards of the city center is the Victoria and Albert waterfront- a trendy shopping and entertainment complex. It is packed with art galleries, art and craft shops, restaurants, taverns, cinemas, theatres and an aquarium. It is easy to see why many beautiful people converge here. It is when in Cape Town that you will understand why Desmond Tutu named the country as the “Rainbow Nation”. The peoples here have roots in the four corners of the planet and together give the city its vivid colours.

Cape Town is well connected to one of the most popular travel destinations in South Africa: the Garden Route. The Garden Route is the southern coastal area starting west of Cape Town at Swellendam and ending at Humansdorp just before Port Elizabeth. The Garden Route is probably the most scenic journey you will ever make. You encounter soaring cliffs, wide beaches, semi desert, rocky coves, rain forests, tranquil lakes and rugged mountains.

The area is good for watersports and the weather allows this year round. A visit to the wine producing regions can also be staged from Cape Town. If you are short of time, head for picturesque Stellenbosch just a 45-minute drive away.

The Garden Route tour usually starts from Cape Town with a stop at Mossel Bay. This otherwise uninspiring town is famous for its Post Office Tree, where sailors would leave letters hanging in a boot to be picked up by those headed towards the country where the letters were addressed. Then to Oudtshoorn and George, a transport hub for the area.

Afterwards, Wilderness National Park a good place for birding and canoeing on your way to the artist colony of Knysna and Plettenberg Bay. Plettenberg Bay, the “millionaires' playground" is South Africa’s trendiest resort. Then to Tsitsikamma National Park known for its nature trails, giant trees and caves. A little ahead of Humansdorp is Jeffrey's Bay, reputed to have one of the world's best surfing beaches.

Water sports are big in South Africa. Whale watching and shark-cage diving (with great white sharks) is possible in the Cape area. The best time to spot these sea giants is from June to September. In the last week of September the annual Whale Festival is held at Walker Bay. Diving facilities are good in the area and wreck diving in particular is widespread around the Cape. For fishing enthusiasts, the Cape of Good Hope has one the world’s richest fishing grounds.

At the confluence of the Atlantic and Indian Ocean currents is to be found large shoals of tuna and swordfish. For those brave souls seeking hair-raising adventure, there is an excellent opportunity for bungee jumping at the bridge over Blaukrans River. This has one of the world’s highest drops.

There are also many beautiful golf courses in the Cape Town and Garden Route area. The best time to play is the cooler months of May to September. The President's Cup of 2003 was held at the Fancourt Hotel and Country Club at George right on the Garden Route. This event is a match play competition with the world's best international players.

The best period to visit the Cape region is over the summer months November-February. The rest of the year is usually cool, rainy and windy. Most people then find it quite challenging to engage in swimming and water sports. There is a wide range of hotels in Cape Town and the Garden Route area Top range 5 star hotels and other rated hotels are found throughout the region. Top range 5 star hotels and other rated hotels are found throughout the region.

Other accommodation options include motels, guesthouses, bed and breakfasts, farm holidays, beach cottages, holiday flats and bungalows. The Cape region is now a much sought after destination and advance booking is necessary during the summer season (October-April). With prior planning it is possible to get good value and affordable holiday stay.


Copyright © Africa Point

Author: Andrew Muigai is editor of AfricaPoint Insider online newsletter. It is part of the Africa travel website that has helped thousands of travelers discover Africa. You can view more info on South Africa safari and tours at the website.

Disclaimer: Africa Point has done its utmost to ensure that the information on this web site is as accurate and current as possible. The information is provided 'as is' and Africa Point will not accept responsibility for any loss, injury or inconvenience sustained by anyone resulting from the information on this website. Please verify crucial information like visas, health and safety, customs and transportation with the relevant authorities before you travel.

Here are some useful pages on my Cape Town Travel Adviser website for you to check out.

Accommodation in Cape Town

Property in Cape Town

Affordable Cape Town Tours

That's all from me for now <>. Speak to you in the next issue.

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