First up I have to say I kind of feel like Tippi Hedron. The gulls are incessant. They squawk all night long, they flock around the hotel for no apparent reason, and periodically they can be heard stalking across the rooftop. Thankfully none have dive-bombed through the windows and pecked our eyes out. Yet.
This morning when we woke the city was shrouded in sea mist. The effect was quite pretty as we wandered around the waterfront and if you hadn't seen Cape Town on a clear day you'd have no idea that Table Mountain was looming just overhead. We grabbed some tickets for tomorrow's excursion and then stumbled upon a group of four Cape Fur Seals, including a massive bull, lazing in the sun. Wonderful to see them so close.
Once again, we boarded the City Sightseeing bus, this time for the mini peninsula tour loop. Along the way on the slopes of Devil's Peak, I spotted an animal I was super keen to see and was sure I wouldn't. Wait for it... Quaggas! Now, this is the part where you all think I've gone bonkers, but hear me out. Yes, the quagga, an almost stripeless subspecies of Plains Zebra was hunted to extinction in the 1880's with the last known individual dying in an Amsterdam zoo in 1883. Back in 2011, Lil Sis and I visited Tring Natural History Museum where we saw several taxidermed specimens of these extinct animals, so seeing live quaggas was quite a thrill. The animals we saw today are part of the Quagga Project. A selective breeding program that was founded 1987, using the least stripy plains zebras to recreate the quagga. The quaggas we saw today had stripes on the front half of their bodies with stripeless rumps and hind legs. The project animals are kept on various farms and game reserves throughout Western Cape, and I knew I had no chance of getting to any of these places, so coming across them in the middle of Cape Town was a real treat. Check out quaggaproject.org if you want to see some pictures.
We disembarked the bus at the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens and for the next three hours we wandered around the world-renowned gardens, which are nestled at base of the eastern slopes of Table Mountain, checking out the native plants and spotting native animals. We saw plenty of Hadeda Ibis, Helmeted Guineafowl and Cape White-eyes. Amongst the proteas we saw some beautiful Southern Double-collared Sunbirds. They are stunning little nectar-feeders, iridescent green, with vivid red and blue stripes, and possibly my favourite African bird so far. Another bird I was really hoping to see were some Cape Spurfowl and we were lucky enough to find six.
Our new mammal sighting for the day was Small Grey Mongoose. It wandered out of one garden across the lawn and disappeared into another. A cute little addition to the mammal list.
Not only are the gardens themselves beautiful, but the location is stunning too. Every time you look up, it hits you again, just how magical a place this is, especially on a winter's day like today when the sun is shining and spilling over the mountain slopes in golden streams.
Back on the bus we continued to admire the scenery, passing the Constantia Valley wine region again, and heading down to Hout Bay.
We also passed the Imizamo Yethu township, a mass of tin shanties strewn up the hillside. Townships are remnants of the apartheid era. When black and coloured people were moved away from their land they were rehoused in rural areas where there was no work. They gradually drifted back towards the city to find jobs, setting up these slum towns. One thing about South Africa that it's hard to get your head around is the contrast. This township is situated right next to some of the most luxurious homes in Cape Town. Large houses with room to keep horses and the stables are better equipped and more comfortable than family homes in the townships. Even eating out at the restaurants, getting served huge portions of gourmet food when you know only a couple of kilometres away people are living in such poor conditions is an unsettling feeling. Considering this contrast though, the people seem to co-exist in relative harmony.
We then headed over the peninsula to the western side, revisiting some places we saw on Monday, though this time we got off the bus at Camp's Bay for a quick look at the white sand beach.
Completed the loop back to the waterfront and finished the day with room service dinner.
Well, just one more day in Cape Town before we head east.