Strong of a picnic, four cameras, a SANParks family pass, some time to kill and much freedom to spend, they left the plush Constantia neighborhood under hesitant weather, steering away from Cape Town and towards the Cape of Good Hope.

It was wintertime in South Africa and a rainy May had vetoed shorts and t-shirts in favor of jackets and layers.

The valiant Landcruiser purred as it stretched its legs and leaped in search of infinite openness. It would not reach a dirt road nirvana on that EVA*, but Cape Point was in its sights and wide open space, forthcoming.

Conscientious surfers

They drove south, reaching the ocean near Muizenberg and cruising through Kalk Bay in foggy spray, the toy-like train tracks shiny wet and the nearby harbor surface stiller than oil. Would-be surfers were flattening the sea dispassionately and dolphins spun across the bay in a school that would soon be over.

As a remote section of Table Mountain National Park, Cape Point is perfectly positioned from the city. Not so far as to cost travel time and force refueling, not so close as to incur the wrath of tour buses by the million. It is reached within an hour, without the need to stop, at full velocity, energy and guts up. Point blank range.

By the time they had flashed their pass at a gated ranger and entered the park, clouds had lifted and with them, spirits. Civilization was locked out to the north and they ventured onto one of Africa’s southernmost tips—as there are actually two famous capes, Good Hope for the optimists and Agulhas (needles in Portuguese) for the pessimists.

A sharp right upon reaching the inner plateau lead them towards Olifantsbos on the Atlantic. Ritualistically, they stopped here and there at the side of the deserted road, jumping out of the car to go check out a flower patch, a strange plant, a lichen-covered stone.

Cloudy Cape

A few drops fell, erratic, like tears of uncertainty in a moment of doubt. At the end of the road, the two resident families were spread out in the fynbos bordering a calm beach, baboons and bokkies. A southwesterly wind decapitated barrel waves further out and a solitary Cape fur seal swam among the kelp strands of a shallow bay, a salty game of catch and no release.

Chilled to the bone, they sat back in the Landcruiser and devoured sandwiches, washed down by a small gin and tonic that has become synonymous of being adventure-bound.

That afternoon was waning and while there remained plenty of light, they decided to skip the south end of the park—relatively busier—and instead crossed over to the Peninsula’s eastern flank, finding a more sheltered coastline and pure white sand against turquoise frigid waters. Apart from the lighthouse area, there is rarely a need to avoid crowds, in Cape Point. Space is open and often exclusive. One never gets tired of the place.

We should come back this summer, they thought. They would.


• ♦ •

* EVA: Extra Valley Activity, from Sun Valley Avenue home base – adjusted NASA term.

[This is part 1 of 2]