21 Junie 2017 1

Cape Point is one of the country’s most popular tourist sites, but many people who visit here are unaware of the secrets and fascinating facts that have helped to make this unique rocky promontory what it is today.
Here are 12 surprising facts you may not have known about Cape Point:

  1. The Cape of Good Hope Name
    The name Cape of Good Hope dates back to the 15th century, when Portuguese sailor Bartolomeu Dias became the first European to view Cape Point while in search of the southern tip of the African continent. According to historical records, Dias first named the region Cape of Storms, owing to the tumultuous weather and treacherous waters, but later, after a suggestion by King John II of Portugal, it changed to the more optimistic Cape of Good Hope.
  1. Plant Life at Cape Point
    The Cape Peninsula’s rich and diverse plant life has earned it eight World Heritage Site accolades from UNESCO. The Cape Floral Region makes up only 0.5% of Africa, and yet it is home to more than 20% of the continent’s plants. In fact, there are more floral species in the Table Mountain National Park region than all of the United Kingdom. You’ll find many of these while at Cape Point – recent estimates suggest that there are over 1000 species of plants in the Cape Point region, of which at least 14 are endemic.
  1. The Old Lighthouse
    There are two lighthouses at Cape Point, only one of which is still in operation as a nautical guide. While still a popular tourist attraction, the old lighthouse built in the 1850s no longer functions – it sits too high above the ocean and is often covered by cloud. Ships approaching from the east could also see the light too easily, often causing them to approach too closely. Because of this, they often wrecked on the rocks before rounding the peninsula. In fact, it was the wreck of the Lusitania, on Bellows Rock below the lighthouse in 1911, which prompted the construction of a new, more effective structure.
  1. The New Lighthouse
    The new lighthouse at Cape Point is one of the most powerful on the South African coast. Its lights have a range of 60 kilometres and each flash has an intensity of 10 million candelas.
  1. Table Mountain National Park
    Cape Point actually lies within the same national park as the famous Table Mountain – aptly named Table Mountain National Park. The Cape Point section of Table Mountain National Park covers approximately 20% of the national park, and on a clear day you can see the back of Table Mountain from various vantage points.
  1. Climate Research
    The air at Cape Point is among the purest in the world, and thus it is home to one of Global Research Watch’s (GAW) atmospheric research stations. GAW is a global network established by the World Meteorological Organisation to monitor trends and changes in the Earth’s atmosphere.
  1. Icebergs Spotted off Cape Point
    While rumours about iceberg sightings at Cape Point are mostly untrue or a case of mistaken identity, according to Dr John Rogers, the British Navy officially recorded an iceberg sighting off the coast of Cape Point in the 1800s. It was just 60 nautical miles away from the peninsula.
  1. Nearest Landmass to the South
    Even though on a clear day you feel as if you could see to Antarctica from Cape Point, it is at least 6,000 kilometres away.
  1. Bird Life
    Cape Point is home to a large number of species of birds. According to Africa Geographic, twitchers have recorded over 270 species in the region, ranging from tiny sunbirds through to the sizeable ostriches. The coastal plant life at Cape Point supports warblers, canaries, and shrikes, and it is common to see an array of seabirds. You may also be lucky enough to spot a Verraux’s eagle, or the rare Western reef heron and Baird’s sandpiper – both of which have been spotted at Cape Point but not seen before in South Africa.
  1. Dias Cross
    The Portuguese government erected two prominent crosses at Cape Point that serve as a navigational aid – when lined up, the crosses point to Whittle Rock which was a major shipping hazard in False Bay. There are two other beacons in nearby Simon’s Town that provide the intersection point.
  1. World War II Radar Listening Stations
    With shipping losses on the increase in 1942, the South African military erected two small aerials that projected a narrow radar beam capable of detecting German U-Boats rounding the peninsula. Remnants of these and other military structures – including a canon on Kanonkop used to warn Simon’s Town of approaching vessels – are still visible at locations throughout Cape Point.
  1. The Flying Dutchman
    Legend has it that ghost ship the Flying Dutchman haunts the oceans surrounding Cape Point, unable to make port and doomed to sail the turbulent seas for eternity. One of the earliest reported sightings of the Flying Dutchman Funicular came from King George V in 1881, but several Simon’s Town residents claim to have seen the ship in more recent years. While the myth likely has its roots in 17th-century nautical folklore, these days you can sail to the foot of the old lighthouse in the funicular of the same name.

Credit: capepoint.co.za

Cape Town and the Cape Peninsula have two glittering coastlines with a beach to suit every mood and moment. Whether you’re after buzzing beachside bars, secluded coves, safe swimming beaches or a romantic spot for a sunset picnic, our guide to Cape Town’s best beaches will point you in the right direction.

CLIFTON BEACHES

Best for: sheltered sunbathing, seeing and being seen, sunset picnics

It takes about 10 minutes to drive from the city centre to any of Clifton’s four beaches. Coves of soft white sand separated by giant boulders that protect them from summer’s ‘Southeaster’  wind, each beach attracts a slightly different crowd though undoubtedly the most popular is Clifton 4th Beach.

In many ways it is the unofficial playground of the rich and beautiful but Clifton 4th is a classic Cape Town beach with a great holiday atmosphere. Toned bodies soak up the sunshine, vendors wander back and forth selling cold drinks and ice lollies, yachts bob about on the aquamarine ocean – just remember that the Atlantic Ocean here is usually quite cold and you won’t be doing much swimming.

Cape Town's Best Beaches

Popular Clifton 4th Beach is the playground for the rich & beautiful.

On balmy summer evenings locals love to round off the day with a sunset picnic on a Clifton beach. Head down in the late afternoon and you’ll find a festive atmosphere with blankets spread out on the sand, baskets stuffed with deli-bought goodies and candles ready to burn late into the night. Just be warned: it’s illegal to drink alcohol on Cape Town beaches (and these popular beaches are effectively policed) and you’ll have to carry all your stuff down from the car park – and back up again – via a long series of steep steps so pack light.

Best for: family fun, sunbathing, beach volleyball, sunset cocktails

Just down the road from Clifton you’ll find the gently curving crescent of Camps Bay – the best known beach on the Cape Town coast. Both locals and visitors flock to this palm-lined strip for people watching, to play beach bats or volleyball, walk their dogs or catch a tan while gazing up at the dramatic peaks of the Twelve Apostles range, part of Table Mountain.

If the wind picks up, nip across the road to one of many restaurants, cafes or fashionable bars where Cape Town’s beautiful people dine on seafood and salad or sip chilled local wine. On peak summer days these restaurants spill out onto the pavements, creating a wonderfully laid-back Mediterranean ambience.

Cape Town's Best Beaches

It’s an easy transition from the broad beach to busy cafes in Camps Bay.

LLANDUDNO

Best for: beach picnics, surfing, body boarding, a local favourite

Twenty kilometres south of Cape Town on the way to Hout Bay, Llandudno may be a bit off the beaten track but this spectacular beach is certainly a favourite among locals. A narrow road winds its way down through an exclusive hillside neighbourhood to a soft sandy cove where you’ll find children building sandcastles, groups of friends playing beach bats and Frisbee, surfers carving patterns on the waves and waggy-tailed dogs bounding about.

As with all the beaches along the Atlantic coastline the sea is so refreshing it can make your skin tingle. However, it’s also a great spot to watch the sunset so take snacks (there are no shops) and a beach umbrella and look forward to serious sunbathing followed by a romantic beach picnic.

 

Cape Town's Best Beaches

Llandudno Beach is a favourite with locals & is perfect for sunset picnics.

BOULDERS BEACH

Best for: penguin watching, family fun, safe swimming, snorkelling

For a Cape Town beach with a unique twist head to Boulders Beach; its soft sand and slightly warmer sea (Boulders is on the Indian Ocean’s False Bay coastline) are home to a large colony of endangered African penguins. These endearing birds have become minor celebrities and visitors flock to watch them strut their stuff between the hulking granite boulders – a highly entertaining sight to see.

Boulders Beach lies about 40km south of Cape Town, just beyond the naval base in picturesque Simon’s Town, which makes it a great stop on the way to Cape Point. If you’re travelling with kids, pack a picnic and plan to stay awhile as this is sure to be one of their holiday highlights.

Cape Town's Best Beaches

Watch African penguins strut their stuff at Boulders Beach.

credit: go2africa.com

Silvermine Nature Reserve

14 Junie 2017

It’s a cool misty morning when we visit the reserve and the clouds roll in over Silvermine as rapidly as the tablecloth covers the Mother City’s iconic landmark.

The reserve is popular during the warmer months for its beautiful hikes and picnic spots next to the dam, but the wild nature of the surroundings are equally highlighted in winter when the mist lies low above the fynbos and the rain turns everything green.

In 1675 it was thought that these mountains contained silver and so shafts were sunk to try and find it. There was, in fact, no silver to be found but the name has stuck and today we can enjoy the fynbos unspoilt by the mining.

In 1898 the reservoir was built to be used as a water supply, but since 1912 this beautifully still body of water, surrounded by picnic spots and trees, is home to a couple of Egyptian geese, schools of fish and happy human swimmers.

The reserve is divided by Ou Kaapse Weg into two sections, I’m visiting in the west area today where the reservoir is. This plateau sits above Tokai and Muizenberg, offering a spectacular panoramic view of the city.

In 1998 Silvermine was declared part of Table Mountain National Park which ensures that its natural beauty will be preserved. There are over 900 species of fynbos to be found in the reserve, made up mainly of proteas, ericas and restios. Stop by the main gate on the west side to see their display of the flowers currently in bloom.

On the boardwalk

It’s a weekday today and the reserve is wonderfully quiet, we’re taking the boardwalk which leads around the reservoir and the only people in sight are an elderly couple that are clearly regulars. She is taking their dog for a walk as he gingerly wades into the cold water. I am not quite as brave so I won’t be joining the schools of kurper fish in the dam today, but as soon as the weather is a bit warmer you’ll find me back here swimming in the  rooibos-hued water.

One of the Hoerikwaggo tented camps is in the reserve so you can spend a night there – it’s the perfect place to go recharge when you need a break from the city, but don’t want to drive for hours. There’s a fully equipped kitchen and a communal braai area (plus hot showers for those of you who don’t like the roughing it aspect of camping). SANParks has also just built a new set of bathrooms next to the reservoir for those of you just there for the day.

Things to do

14 Junie 2017 2

  • Bring a picnic, there are designated spots all around the reservoir
  • Braai during the colder months when it won’t be a fire risk – make use of the built in braais
  • Twitchers can spot swallows,orange-breasted and malachite sunbirds, rock kestrels, kites, buzzards and peregrine falcons. One may also be lucky enough to spot one of the resident black eagles.
  • Cool off in the reservoir; it’s a lovely place to swim
  • You can bring your dogs along but you’ll need My Activity Permit, and they’re only allowed on the far side of the reservoir.
  • Try out one of the many hiking and mountain bike trails (you’ll need a My Activity Permit to ride too), see below for the routes.

Walk and ride

14 Junie 2017 3

Both the east and the west side of the reserve offer lovely walks while the mountain bike trails are only on the west side. The walks all start out with clear maps and are well-marked. There’s everything from a short stroll around the reservoir to longer treks that will take you through the plethora of fynbos and past panoramic viewing spots. Pick up a map at the entrance, the various routes are clearly illustrated to keep you on track.

Circle the reservoir
Drive through the first gate to the west section on the right of Ou Kaapse Weg, if you’re coming from the Tokai side. Carry on up the road to the parking lot at the end of the reservoir, from here you can follow the wooden boardwalk.
Look out for:
The pair of Egyptian geese that call this area home.
Duration:
This picturesque route will only take about 20 minutes and is perfect for young children.

Elephants Eye

14 Junie 2017 4The hike starts from the parking lot at the reservoir, look out for the sign that has a detailed map of the route. You’ll start out on a path which will take you to a dirt road. The ‘eye’ of the elephant is a wide cave which is a good place to enjoy a break and snack while you enjoy the view.
Look out for:
The stream that turns into a mini waterfall as it falls off the edge of the mountain.
Duration:
It’ll take about 2.5 hours to get there and back.

Silvermine River Walk
Turn right after you go through the pay point on the west side and park here. The path sets off down the gravel road, past Hennie’s Pool/ Uthango picnic area and up the stream to the reservoir.
Look out for:
The various creatures that live in and around the stream.
Duration:
It’ll take about an hour-and-a-half both ways.

Noordhoek Circuit
Park at the reservoir and follow the track below the dam wall to get to the gravel road that will take you past a lookout, here you’ll have fantastic views of Noordhoek Valley and Long Beach. Continue along the gravel road and take the path to the left, marked by stone cairns, that leads up to the beacon with views of Chapman’s Peak Drive, Hout Bay and the Sentinel.
Look out for:
The highly photogenic landscapes and fynbos.
Duration:
It’ll take you about three hours.

Silvermine mountain bike trail
Drive up the road from the main gate on the west side and look out for the turn off to the right, there is a parking lot with a bathroom where the trail starts. The route passes the reservoir and goes up to Noordhoek Peak before circling back.
Duration:
The circular route is about 7.5km long.

Steenberg Peak
This is just one of the walks on the east side, above Muizenberg and Kalk Bay, the turn off to the gate is on the left of Ou Kaapse Weg around the corner from the first entrance if you’re coming from Tokai. Park here and follow the gravel road up to Steenberg Peak. The path then descends to Wolfkop and circles back to the parking lot.
Look out for:
Junction Poolbefore you reach the peak.
Duration:
This round trip will take about three hours.

 

credit: capetownmagazine

Sea Kayaking is one of the very exciting activities to enjoy when staying with us in Simon’s Town.
We recommend contacting Kayak Cape Town at 082 501 8930 / www.kayakcapetown.co.za for your sea kayak trip!

8 Junie 2017

Here are some interesting and useful tips when embarking on your sea kayak adventure:

Good kayak paddling technique

Learning how to paddle a kayak forward is easy. But focusing on a proper technique ensures you can paddle faster, more efficiently and with less strain on your body. Here are the primary elements of a good forward stroke. But keep in mind that the ideal paddling technique depends also on your physical condition and the style of your paddle. Be sure you are holding your paddle correctly before proceeding.

Good posture is key if you are to use your body efficiently. Sit straight, relax your shoulders, and open your chest for ease and efficiency of breathing. Don’t lean against the backrest.

Keep your legs together with feet against the footpegs. Adjust the footpegs so that your knees are bent slightly and you are able spread and press them against the kayak for extra balance if needed. Keeping your legs together allows better torso rotation and makes paddling more efficient.

Be sure that you have proper footpegs you can push against.

Your torso and legs will do most most of the work. Your shoulders and arms are only there to transmit power. To learn the principle, try paddling by rotating your torso and keep your arms absolutely straight.

When you place the blade in the water, imagine your are pulling yourself up to and past the paddle.

At the start of your stroke, coil your torso so that you place the blade in the water up by your feet and close to the kayak’s waterline. Keep your lower arm almost straight. Relax your upper arm with a slight bend so that your upper wrist comes a bit closer to your eyes.

Press your stroke-side foot firmly against the footpeg. Sink the blade into the water with a spearing motion.

Begin the paddling stroke by uncoiling your torso and keeping the lower arm near straight. Keep pressing the stroke-side foot against the footpeg to support the stroke. Try to generate more power at the beginning of the stroke, less at the end. That way you create power with the strong muscles of your torso, and right when your paddle is in the water at its most favourable angle.

Keep your upper arm relaxed and hold the paddle loosely, so your muscles can rest. Keep your upper hand at about eye level, and allow your upper hand to move across your body, to keep the paddle vertical.

End the stroke when your lower hand is about level with your your belly. Continuing further would feel natural, but it just slows you down.

After the stroke, move the blade out of the water to back and away from the kayak. Lift the blade out of the water by leading with the elbow. and allowing the wrist to follow. Take care not to lift your elbow above shoulder level. Let your upper arm follow the rotation of your torso.

After you lift the blade from the water, prepare for the next stroke. Keep coiling your upper torso so that you can start the next stroke as far forward as possible.

Try to maintain a continuos flow, but focus on each paddling stroke. Remember that paddling forward is not the same as paddling in a straight line, so keep reading the following tutorials also.

COMMON MISTAKES:
– poor posture
– insufficient torso rotation
– ending the stroke too late and too far behind the hip
– pushing the upper hand too forward, creating a less effective blade angle
– rocking the kayak from side to side with abrupt weight shifts
– straining the wrists by allowing them to bend

Credit: kayakpaddling.net

South Africans have been inundated with tips on how to save water, followed by warnings of what will happen should we not comply.

Now, it’s caution of a different kind headed our way, as experts warn Capetonians should be geared up for a significant winter storm this week.

Heavy rain and strong winds are expected in the western part of the country from Tuesday night through to late afternoon on Wednesday.

Consumers need to conduct appropriate maintenance checks to ensure their vehicles are in a roadworthy condition, as well as conduct comprehensive maintenance repairs and checks to relevant areas of their homes, says Christelle Colman, CEO of Europ Assistance South Africa.

“By being proactive and conducting the necessary risk management South Africans can lower their risk damage to their homes and vehicles caused by extreme weather.”

Christelle Colman provides tips on how to ensure your possessions are kept in good condition during this week's rainstorm. Photo: Supplied

Christelle Colman provides tips on how to ensure your possessions are kept safe during this week’s rainstorm. Photo: Supplied

Christelle has provided a risk-management checklist for those who won’t be throwing caution to the upcoming gusts of wind. Here’s how you can mitigate damage to your possessions ahead of the expected rainstorm:

Important vehicle checks for driving in wet conditions:

Tyre tread

One of the most important checks motorists can make this winter is to the condition of their motor vehicle’s tyres. A tyre tread below the legal limit of 1 mm, or level with the tyre-tread depth indicator, significantly increases the likelihood of an accident occurring, especially in wet weather. This could also result in an insurance claim being rejected should the insurer determine that the cause of an accident was a direct result of poor tyre maintenance.

Visibility factors

When driving in wet, rainy or misty conditions, good visibility is paramount. Something as simple as replacing worn windscreen wiper blades can drastically reduce the chances of an accident occurring. Car lights should also be in proper working order at all times, but the lights are especially important during winter months as they’re the only means to increase a vehicle’s visibility on dark, wet roads.

Car battery strength

One of the most common causes of motor vehicle breakdowns in winter is a weak battery. Due to the colder weather conditions a vehicle’s engine requires more battery power to start up. Motorists should check the strength of their car battery on a regular basis and replace it if necessary to avoid the inconvenience of an unplanned breakdown.

Brakes

One of the most important components of a motor vehicle is its brakes. Have brakes checked by a motor mechanic for any wear and tear to ensure the vehicle has the best chance of stopping in wet or icy conditions. Motorists should listen out for any metal-to-metal or squeaking sounds when applying the brakes and if brakes do make these sounds they need to be replaced as soon as possible.

Emergency driver assistance

South Africans need to ensure they have emergency driver assistance in place and have emergency numbers on hand in case of an accident or breakdown. These types of services may already be in place through existing providers (eg as a value-added benefit with insurance policies) or through banks or medical aid – so consumers are advised to review their policies or consult their providers.

Important home-maintenance checklist ahead of heavy rains:

Water supply

When it comes to preventing water damage, the most important thing all homeowners need to know is the exact location of shut-off valves for the following: the main water supply, appliances that use water (eg dishwashers, washing machines and icemakers), sinks and toilets. This will ensure that in the event of a leak the water supply can be quickly shut off before it causes further damage and a plumber can arrive to fix the problem.

Water pipes

It’s vital to conduct regular inspections along plumbing lines for any leaks, damage or corrosion. The sooner these problems are detected the sooner the homeowner can contact a licensed plumber for repairs to avoid further damage.

Walls and floors

Inspect foundation walls and floors for cracks that might allow water leakage, particularly when living in an older home or an area with poor soil drainage.

The roof

A home’s roof is one of the most important parts of the home as it protects the occupants and belongings from the elements, and the structure of the building. Regularly check the roof for missing, worn or broken roofing materials that can allow water to infiltrate and weaken the roof’s structure. After a severe storm, inspect the roof thoroughly or contact a licensed roofer for further evaluation and repairs.

Gutters

Clean gutters and drainpipes to avoid leaves and other debris from clogging them up and damaging your eaves. Clogged gutters can cause water to pool on the roof which is likely to result in rotting, leaks and possible damp. Gutters should be checked at least twice a year; the best time to do so is during the transitional seasons of spring and autumn.

Emergency home assistance

Ensure you have emergency home assistance in place and have these emergency numbers on speed dial in case of an incident at home, like flooding or a tree having fallen on the roof. During storm periods the use of home-assistance services can be of tremendous benefit to homeowners should they experience any type of emergency.

Keep safe and warm!

 

Credit: You.co.za

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