A huge grey hulk of a navy support ship is heading straight towards us. In our two-man sea kayak we are no match for this monster, and our guide is gesticulating wildly for us to get out of the way so the ship can dock. The Drakensberg is aptly named, as this mountain looms high above us. Even so, I can’t resist the temptation to stop and grab a photo, even if it means incurring an impatient honk from a naval tug. It is a thrilling end to our kayaking in Cape Town with Extreme Scene. For just 400 Rand (around £20), we spend two hours paddling around the shoreline in search of seals, penguins and a spectacular array of bird life.
Sea kayaking in Cape Town
Brian, our colourful guide, regales us with fascinating tales as we paddle through the inky bay. First, there’s stories of how the Dutch and British used this area as a naval base. The meeting point of the two great oceans of the Atlantic and Indian made this an attractive base, offering shelter from the treacherous winds of Table Bay. Later, it was to become the replenishment route for the Boer War, but was finally returned to the South Africans in 1957.
Roman Rock lighthouse
Then, the story of the Roman Rock lighthouse, perched on a perilous rock, 17 metres above the stormy bay. Such was the strength of the gale force winds, that in true VIP fashion, it has its own helicopter pad to allow for provisions to be delivered to the lighthouse keepers. Imagine the desolation of living on a rock, surrounded by shark infested waters and ravaged by cold South Easterly winds!
This natural rock foundation is submerged at high tide, and torturous weather meant that although it only took 97 days to erect the lighthouse, the whole project took four years to complete.
The lighthouse is too far offshore for us, so we head instead to a large rock, marooned in the bay, for glimpses of baby seals. They bask leisurely on the rocks, and seem happy to pose, while I clumsily attempt to take photos without dropping my camera into the murky depths. We don’t linger too long as they really do reek, and besides the main attraction awaits.
The penguins of Boulders Beach
We push on towards the giant boulders of Boulders Beach, to admire the antics of the colony of between 2,000 and 3,000 penguins. Brian peppers us with endless fascinating facts about their behaviour. Unlike the randy seals, who take up to 32 wives, these cuties mate for life. Once they reach maturity at around age 4, they will stay with the same partner until their death around twenty years later. Awwww!
Sadly, the penguins are endangered, due to deep water trawling, which is ravaging their food supply. It is estimated that in less than ten years, these creatures will be extinct.
Brian explains how they hunt in ‘rafts’ – a huge group of around fifty penguins who work together to hunt sardines. They travel up to 20 km offshore to search for food but can travel much further. Research has also revealed that they can dive to depths in excess of three hundred metres!
We watch in fascination as they slither awkwardly across the rocks, bob around like ducks and waddle about the beach. It’s astonishing just how maladroit these mammals are considering how long they have occupied this stretch of coastline. I chuckle as two penguins cautiously edge across the rocks and tentatively slide into the water. I inwardly applaud their determination.
Back to shore
Our return journey is punctuated by sightings of numerous large seabirds, and the occasional penguin. One appears lost, as he waddles up the bank heading towards town. Then of course, there is the return of the naval ship, a formidable sight on the horizon.
Back on land
Back on land, we wander picturesque Simon’s Town, one of South Africa’s oldest towns. With its Victorian wrought iron balconies, it’s a pretty bohemian place. It is an ideal place to laze away a balmy afternoon overlooking the water.
A scenic drive
Just as pretty is the beautiful drive back to cape town. The road passes through verdant forest, sleepy seaside towns and offers sneaky glimpses of Table Mountain. This city really packs the wow factor!
Why go kayaking in CapeTown
If you fancy seeing seals and penguins, I highly recommend a kayaking trip with Extreme Scene. It’s a great way to enjoy an active morning, in a more relaxed setting. Don’t worry if you do not have your own transport, as Extreme Scene can organise transfers for you.
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Disclaimer: we received a discount of 10%, but as always, all views are our own and unedited.