Edge of Africa

Cape Town – Cape Agulhas 01- 10/04

The first men who ventured into the southern seas were spellbound by the wild beauty of the peninsula: flowers, herbs, woods, elephants, hippos. Since the advent of pastoralists, the original peninsular Khoi vanished, the wild herds were wiped out and much of the endemic vegetation has been uprooted to make place for industrial and residential developments. But the city, one of the world’s few, like Rio and Hong Kong, that enjoy an exceptional geography, has kept its charm. We almost grew roots in Cape Town. For many over-landers, it represents the glorious finale of a arduous journey down. For us southern hemisphere’s most important container port meant more business than pleasure, a much needed logistic base camp to sort our stuff out. We tried to organize as best as we could our journey ahead, couldn’t get any temp jobs though, not could we find sponsors, fix our leaking tent or patch the aluminum pannier turned harmonica in the Congo. But southern winter, with rain and cold winds, was an extra incentive to suck it up and get moving. Which we did, not before enjoying with James a final wine and cheese at the Fairview Estate, one of the many Old World-like vineyards in Stellenbosch.

A rich soil, a gentle climate and a permissive law, that allows mixing grape varieties and techniques means that even the cheap supermarket wines are seldom not very good in South Africa. After the gourmet hour, we took a fair well ride in the crisp sunset through Bainskloof Pass.

We took our last breakfast in Cape Town with Charl, who was keeping another ace in his sleeve: the best eggs Benedict in town.

When we were shopping for a shared room to rent in Cape Town, a guy had mentioned Clarence Drive as being more stunning than Chapman’s Peak. From Gordon Bay to Hermanus and up Gansbaai we finally had the chance to see that for ourselves. The Indian waters are strikingly blue, the shores gently curved into successive gulfs, while the perfectly smooth tar keeps the adrenaline pumping.

Now and then we stopped to listen to the ocean and count clouds. Epicurean surfers were hanging out in the frothy surf and life seemed beautiful.

We continued on the R44 to Gansbaai, where we lunched on fish & chips. We were bored of tarmac and running out of time, so we cut it straight to our destination, across the Agulhas National Park. One would expect a dramatic view in such a landmark spot, but the shores of Cape Agulhas are flat and a simple wooden path leads to the famous sign.

We have been marching to this point for months, and once there, we felt joy, but also butterflies in our stomachs. Where the traveller imagines an extraordinary scene, the earth is flat, modestly dotted with juicy flowers, and the waves rhythmically pound into the indifferent shore.

We obliged for the mandatory photo at the Cape Agulhas, but gravitation is kind of weird around here…

The end of a chapter, so many faces, places and stories that have become memories we miss. From now on, our journey will took us only north… at least for a while.