The Road Ahead : June 2013
EVERYTHING BECOMES CRYSTAL-CLEAR as I stand atop Table Mountain -- number-one tourist attraction in Cape Town, South Africa's southern-most city -- and decide I, too, will be back. "It's true," agrees a tourism official. "Many visi- tors have been here before, but they're pulled back as if by some giant magnet." A cable car whisks visitors to the summit. Downtown's high-rises stretch beneath. Wedged in this business district is cobbled Greenmarket Square where, I've already discovered, dozens of stalls showcase handicrafts from all over the 55-country continent. At the city's edge -- beyond offices, hotels and department stores anchored by Adderley Street, downtown's main drag -- is Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, a vast complex of restaurants, shopping malls and hotels cleverly combined with the city's port. The area brims with buskers, including entire African choirs and dance troupes. Below my vantage-point is Camps Bay, among the best of multitudinous white-sand beaches and opposite a strip of upscale shops and restaurants. I recall sweet sounds luring me into Dizzy's for an afternoon of beachside music. Camps Bay is framed by the Atlantic Ocean -- flat as metal sheeting today and glinting in bright sunlight. From the mountain, my eyes settle on a speck of land just off Cape Town: World Heritage-listed Robben Island, where anti-apartheid leader and national hero Nelson Mandela was imprisoned. South Africa's 'Devil's Island' is now a tourist attraction. Penguin and seal colonies, along with introduced springbok, impress visitors less than what they've come to see: Mandela's cell and a quarry where political prisoners toiled. A gaze in another direction sweeps over aptly-named Cape Flats, a suburb-dotted expanse where many of Cape Town's 3.5 million people live. Beyond Cape Flats: the renowned vineyard towns of Stellenbosch, Paarl and Franschhoek with their distinctive Cape Dutch architecture (included in Cape Town tours). Most tourists visit Cape Point, despite pesky baboons loitering at the parking area and deftly stealing tourists' cameras and mobile phones before tossing them into the sea. Early colonists stared from look-outs onto an angry sea where two currents meet and decreed this to be the southern edge of Africa. It isn't. The true tip is Cape Agulhas, less visited and slightly more distant. Cable cars are the easiest way to Table Mountain. But I'm persuaded to trudge up one of Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden's several challenging hiking trails. (Mountaineering routes also exist). Breathless, I ride the cable car down -- in time to watch drifting cloud, locally termed a 'tablecloth', shrouding the mountain from view. Next morning, I head 115km southeast to Hermanus, a resort area from where caged diving into great white sharks' watery domains is a fast-growing diversion. QUEENSLAND'S LARGEST CLUB JUN/JUL 2013 THE ROAD AHEAD 31 IMAGES: SUNSET OVER KRUGER NATIONAL PARK. HERMANUS OLD HARBOUR, RHINO GRAZING, BO KAAP (CAPE TOWN) HOUSES. DEPARTURE INTERNATIONAL | TRAVEL ... Camps Bay, among the best of multitudinous white-sand beaches...