I decided that I wanted to check out some of the places around Cape Town, and I found a scooter rental company online, so I decided that would be the easiest way. The company didn't seem to have an actual office, which was a bit strange, but we met up in front of a big hotel, did some paperwork and I was on my way. The weather was sunny and 70's, very nice driving weather. My plan was to work my way all the way around the coast for about 200 miles total and end up in a town called Hermanus, where they have the great white shark diving. The roads along the cape are in great shape and the views (as you can see from above) are fantastic of course. Passing all the cyclists on the road I became jealous of all the Cape Towners who have scenery like just out their back door.
Along the coast I passed by beaches for sunbathing, beaches for surfing, and more remote beaches with rolling sand dunes and windsurfers out in the distance. I have never seen such drop dead gorgeous scenery located so close to a major metropolitan area! I stopped for a bit to check out the dunes for a bit and had a bite to eat in a trendly little restaurant before continuing on. Further on along the coastal rode I stopped to check out some sort of commotion with hundreds of birds flocking overhead. There was a truck parked on the beach and people were hauling in tons of fishes with big nets, pouring them into a basket, and dumping them into the back of truck. There seemed to be one surly man in charge barking orders, all the while little black kids would be running up to the nets and trying to steal a few fishes before get chased off by this one very angry man. It was entertaining to say the least!
Continuing on the beach road the winds were really howling off the cape, and I was beginning to regret being on the scooter as the winds were ripping sand off the dunes and whipping it across the road, which was really stinging my bare skin. I put on a long sleeve shirt, but I didn't pack any pants, so I would just have to endure it. Plus some of the wind gusts were so strong that it felt l was going to get pushed off the road at some points. I just got as low and aerodynamic as I could and pressed onward. Finally I got away from the beach road and back on to the main road. On the interior I passed some of the townships, which appeared to be tin shacks stretching for miles and miles. Eventually the road went back to the coast and I rode through another scenic beach town and back on to another amazing road that wound its way along the rocky outcroppings overlooking the ocean. Such good driving! Well at least until the winds picked up again! After two hours of battling a crazy strong wind I finally arrived in the sleepy beach town of Hermanus and checked into the backpackers as it was getting dark. Long day!
I was hoping to do the shark diving the next day but apparently the waters were too choppy, so it would have to wait until the next day. I was told there was a penguin colony some 30 miles away so I decided to check that out instead. It was a good place to spend a few hours watching the penguins do their thing.
The next day the shark diving was on! Now it's not really diving, but that's what they call. Basically you drive out in a pretty big boat and they find the shark and chum the waters to get the sharks around the boat. There is a cage on the side of the boat that you go in wearing a wetsuit and dive mask. When the shark gets close everyone puts their head under the water to see the shark coming up to the cage and going by. The visibility isn't very good so you need the shark to be very close. But It's a pretty big rush seeing the great white swimming only a few feet away from you!
Sometimes the shark will even smash into the cage as it is trying to get the bait that is set out for it. Or sometimes they pull the bait out of the water at just the right time and you can see the shark come out of the water with its jaws ablazing, trying get the bait. Really cool to see! Although you can only stay in the water for so long, because it's freezing in there, even with the thick wetsuits. Then you can warm up on the top deck of the boat and watch the sharks circling the boat from a higher vantage point. So it was a fun way to spend the afternoon! It never really felt dangerous at any point, but maybe a bit startling when the crash hit the cage when you weren't expecting it to! It was something that was worth doing, but now that I've done it, it's not something I would do again I think.
That afternoon I rode back around the coast to a quaint little coastal village called Simonstown. I was hoping to do some scuba diving with the 7 gilled cowsharks and check out the sea lion colony. Sadly the water was too choppy for the sea lions, but the cowsharks would still be okay. And it turned out to be an awesome dive! It was first cold water dive, so it was a little strange getting used to such a thick wetsuit, and the vest, and the hood, and all the extra weight, but after a minute or two it was fine. The diving itself is in a kelp forest, and its kind of dark, so it gives a kind of eery feeling. And then there's sharks cruising through! The cowsharks are about 10-12 feet long and will swim very close to you! It almost looks like they're eyeing you down. We saw about 20 of these sharks in our dive. It's one of my favorite dives so far!
The next day I took by time driving back along the coast and checked back into the hostel that afternoon. The next morning I would hop on an overland bus with 22 other people that would take us up through Namibia and Botswana, ending in Victoria Falls!