With all the excitement of the last two days done and dusted, today was always intended to be something of a “recovery” day. We had very few plans, but knew that we needed to leave Franschhoek in the morning and arrive at Cape Town some point later.
The Franschhoek Pass is a 13km stretch of winding road that takes you South through the mountains, around several hairpin bends, and eventually you join up with the main road, the N2.
At the point of this joining you essentially have two choices, left and away from Cape Town, or right and on to Cape Town.
We chose left.
We found our way to Hermanus, which is the “World’s greatest whale watching Town”, there’s even a man there whose soul existence is to spot whales and blow his horn to let you know there’s one nearby.
Being the world’s greatest anything will attract a certain amount of tourist attention, and Hermanus is no different. It’s like going to Minehead. Only with whales, and sunshine.
We did see three whales, frolicking and spouting water, but they were really too far away to photograph well (certainly with the kit I’ve brought with me this time). Still, whale watching in South Africa is another item to tick off on the list of lifetime achievements.
We picked up lunch whilst we were in Hermanus, but ate it several kilometres down the road at a much quieter part of the coast, at Kwaaiwater.
Having come this far, it would be crazy not to push on and visit the southernmost tip of Africa, right?
Right. And so we headed to Cape Algulhas (the Cape of the Needles), which is geographically the southernmost point of the whole continent.
The drive started off innocently enough, and although we knew it was going to be a long way, we had no idea what the drive was going to be like.
You know you’re not at home anymore when the main road is a dirt track. Or when you see wild ostriches poking their heads up from the scrubland to watch you drive by.
After something like 30km of driving on this stuff (and worse) we finally found our way to a tarmaced road and the final stretch to Cape Algulhas was upon us.
We parked up in a tiny, stoney car park and walked the final few hundred metres to the tip. There is a plaque there, letting you know you’ve reached your destination. It also lets you know that you’re standing exactly where the Indian and Atlantic oceans meet. Which is quite cool.
Our next stop, just back down the road from the tip of the continent was a small harbour, and it was here that I got to touch the Indian Ocean. It’s only small thing, and probably barely worth mentioning, but in putting my hand into the water, it means that in my lifetime I have now touched the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans (so, just the Arctic and Southern oceans to go and I’ve touched them all!)
The drive back from here to the N2 at Caledon (having chosen not to go back across the dirt road) was absolutely stunning, vast rolling fields of wheat and grass, and the ever present mountains in the distance – without doubt this stretch was the best we have seen of Africa so far.
We travelled hundreds of kilometres without really seeing another vehicle or human being, it was great.
As we approached Somerset West, a large town just before Cape Town, our idyllic travelling bubble burst as we suddenly found ourselves joining a constant queue of traffic.
This lasted all the way to Cape Town.
Thanks to some superb navigation, we made it around the city and to our hotel without incident.
We checked in, then headed out to eat – for those playing along at home, I had an ostrich steak.