First heatwave of summer

Where is the best place to be when the mercury is soaring, the palm trees are motionless and even the sea doesn’t have the energy to push a swell? Inside your air-conditioned car! Rather than drive aimlessly around the Peninsula (a favourite occupation for many Capetonians on a Sunday), we set off purposefully for Cape Point Nature Reserve, the one place where the wind blows more consistently than anywhere else in South Africa. As we had no intention of walking anywhere, being on the recovery side of Covid, we became true tourists and took it easy, taking all the side roads to left and right, stopping to enjoy the lush vegetation currently carpeting the Reserve and even casting our jaded eyes upon a troop of playful baboons with more appreciation than usual.

The first pleasant surprise was the short queue – only three cars ahead of us at 09h00 on a sweltering Saturday! We passed lots of hikers and didn’t envy them at all, simply turning the aircon up a notch to allay any fears of perspiring at the thought of attempting a trail. On the road down to Olifantsbos, the fynbos had lost its bright freshness of spring growth and settled into a summer hue – the intense white glare of the Cape Snow had softened to the papery cream of its everlasting state, the golden restios waving as wheat fields in the fresh breeze now a gentler bronze. The striking sunshine yellow of the conebushes were now a warm orange as the growth matured on the lengthening branches. The Reserve is looking healthy, thriving after good rains and no wildfires yet this season. The buck are shiny and muscled, grazing along the roadside in their favourite spot near the river that flows into the Atlantic at Olifantsbos. A pair of sub-adult male ostriches, not yet sporting their full complement of magnificent plumage, sat nearby, their necks not quite as long as the parents’ and still a little wary of us being too close, as they lurched to their feet and trotted into the undergrowth after allowing for a few mugshots.

Next stop was Black Rocks at Bordjiesrif, a place our hiking group is familiar with as we traverse the coastline when doing the Kanonkop and Venus Pool trails, but the parking area was jam packed on this perfect day and we enjoyed the view briefly before setting off for Platboom, a more secluded site because of the icy waters, no lawns for picnics and a general wildness that is fortunately shunned by most. The sea was an intense turquoise, the sand a glaring white, and a handful of kite-surfers were testing their skills in the small bay. No birds or buck appeared, and so it was off to the Cape of Good Hope, where seals and cormorants share a rocky island a stone’s throw from the shore and the swells shoot up impressive curtains of white spray that never quite seem to dampen their spirits. A little sparring occurred between the seals, but otherwise all was peaceful on an ebbing tide.

Colourful windsurfers plied back and forth at this ideal spot, and we spent a good half hour enjoying the speed and skill of these sportsmen, as we continued to enjoy our airconditioned car. By then our thoughts were turning to lunch, and it was time to hit the road, albeit well within the speed limit as we continued our leisurely trip into tourism. A stop at the Smitswinkelvlakte view site gave us a clear view across the plateau to a favourite hiking destination, Sirkelsvlei, which appeared to be full to the brim. After allowing for the wind to blow our hair back, it was back into the comfort of the car and a pleasant drive back along the coast to Kommetjie, stopping on Plateau Road to improve on our photos of the rarity currently in residence on the wires, a European Roller, which was most obliging on this hottest of days. A surprisingly short trip of 90km.

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