I can’t seriously believe we had committed ourselves to this sit for the next two weeks. Really, I have to sit and drink wine or beer in this chair and watch the sunset every night for the next 14 days? Damn life is good! House Sitting in South Africa Part 3 was proving to be a good decision.
Our next sit was only an hours drive from the last one. We agreed to meet Mary there in the evening before she left to do the handover. This way she could enjoy her last day in South Africa. We had briefly passed through Simonstown last year when we visited Capetown. This time had skipped it on this trip once we found out we would be sitting down here.
We arrived around 7pm and headed straight to the house just south of town and up the hill. Our little rental car struggled up the hill around the switchbacks to the house. As instructed, we parked on the street not even attempting to get up the driveway. It was a steep driveway to say the least. And with both of us and our bags in the car, I doubt we would have made it up there. During our stay, I learned to go past the house, turn around, and come back down the hill to get a running start at the driveway.
The driveway wasn’t the end of things. There were also 61 steps up to the house. With Vanessa’s heavy suitcase that was not going to be fun. Luckily there was no need to worry about carrying bags up the stairs. We could just put them in the funicular and ride that up! Yes, another house sitting first for us. We had our very own funicular at the house. It went from the garage all the way up to the living room and kitchen. It also had an optional stop at the downstairs bedrooms on the route.
The house was high up on the side of the mountain pictured above, hence the need for a funicular! Once the bags were unloaded it was time for a tour of the house. And it was also time for a thorough briefing on the security system and also the water system.
We had just a short time with Mary to master the state of the art security system that would be keeping us safe for the next few weeks. There were electric fences, eight cameras, motion sensor beams inside and out, and a video intercom system. And of course, no security system would be complete without the panic buttons. Press these little buttons in any room of the house and armed guards would show up in minutes. This house had two security companies under contract, just in case the first one didn’t show up fast enough. Mary told us that she had accidentally set off the alarms on an almost daily basis during her stay. Somehow we managed to never do it once during our stay.
Most of our first day was spent getting to know the house and studying up on the security system. But we also needed to go grocery shopping. Simonstown itself has no real supermarket so we headed to nearby Noordhoek. Here you will find just about everything you could need including our favorite supermarket in South Africa, Food Lovers Market. We were lucky to have a great kitchen in this house along with a braai (BBQ) out on the deck. We stocked up on some South African typical meats including our new favorite, ostrich steak. And not forgetting some wonderful and inexpensive South African wines to compliment it all.
While we were in Noordhoek we decided to check out Noordhoek Beach. This was just a short drive from the supermarket, and we were not to be disappointed.
The beach was a short walk down a trail from the parking lot. There were no shortage of signs telling you to not take any valuables as robberies were a common occurrence on this beach. This included a recent murder! I wasn’t about to leave my camera behind in the car so we ignored all warnings and headed down to one of the most amazing beaches I have ever seen. Although there were very few people on the beach we were not worried about our safety. There was a film crew filming down there with several armed guards watching out for them. At low tide, there were many tidal pools left on the beach. Here the water was almost warm enough to dip your toes in. But with the frigid water temperature and strong waves, there was no chance of actually swimming in the ocean.
There were so many more beaches and small towns to explore in this area. And with animals to take care of for this sit, we had plenty of time to get out and explore.
Just a short drive south from Simons Town was Cape Point National Park, famous for the Cape of Good Hope. There is a lot more to the park than the obligatory picture seen above. But most people only seem to get out of the car at a couple of viewpoints for a picture and call it good. Not us. We decided to hit the hiking trail that ran from the lighthouse parking lot all the way down to the Cape of Good Hope. This was about a 3 hour round trip with photos and side trips. The trail offers some of the best views in the park, yet so few people do it. And it’s not that difficult of a trail. About halfway along the trail, you will come to some wooden steps leading down to Dias Beach (Gods Beach). Quite a few wooden steps actually!
Going down these steps will lead you to just another unbelievable beach. Once again you are likely to have it to yourself. Don’t worry about bringing a towel. With the ice-cold water and strong current, you probably won’t be swimming here. On God’s Beach, just walking in the sand is amazing enough. A short walk around the cliffs at the end will lead to a view of another equally stunning beach. After climbing the wooden steps back to the main trail you realize why there is nobody else down there!
The rest of the trail will take you along some rugged cliff tops with clear blue ocean down below. The wind is strong along the edge so be careful when taking those stupid selfies!
The trail eventually heads down the cliffs. From here you will end up in the parking lot at the Cape of Good Hope. Once again you will see people, lots of them. Most of them just get out of the car or off of their tour bus to line up to have their photo taken with the famous sign. Of course, we did that too. But we still had an hour hike back up to our car where our lunch was waiting. Most of you are probably wondering why we didn’t just bring our lunch with us and eat at the beach? Or sit at some spectacular viewpoint to eat lunch?
Well unless you like sharing (or donating ) your lunch with baboons, it is not advised! It is strongly recommended to leave all food and drink in your vehicle. These guys will snatch it straight from you, no matter what it is. Even just a bottle of water will be gone in seconds. In fact I think one of the funnest things to do at Cape Point is to just sit and watch the baboons steal stuff from dumb tourists who ignored all the signs telling them to leave all food and drink behind. It really is quite entertaining!
Baboons are not the only animals you have to watch out for. Just driving on the roads around the park can be quite treacherous if you’re not paying attention!
A small subsection of Cape Point National Park just happened to be down the street from our house. This made a nice walk in the evenings to swim with the penguins at sunset. Boulders Beach and the Penguin Colony are included on your pass for Cape Point or your Wildcard annual pass. As we had purchased a Wildcard annual pass we were free to visit the penguins anytime we wanted.
Most of the time it can get very crowded here during the day. By sunset, most of the day-trippers from Cape Town have gone home. Now you can get some alone time with the penguins. The beach itself is really pretty. It is fun to explore all the hidden sections behind the rocks. Just be careful not to piss off any penguins as they do bite, ask Vanessa!
Just a short walk away is The Penguin Colony viewing area, also included with your pass. Here you will likely see hundreds of sunbathing and swimming penguins from the boardwalks. Just be prepared to fight for your position with equally as many selfie-taking tourists.
After a few weeks here the penguins almost became part of life. Passing a few penguins walking down the street just seemed normal to us. I’d often laugh at tourists taking their pictures, like ” what, have you never seen penguins walking down the street before?”
Just north along the coast from Simons Town were lots of colorful little towns spread out along the coastline. Kalk Bay was one of the closest and was full of colorful little stores and restaurants. It also had plenty of colorful characters to match. A quick wander around the harbor is a great way to end the day. With seal viewing, fish markets, and people watching, it was always entertaining. The highlight for me was some of the best fish and chips around at Kalky’s Fish and Chip shop. This was a lively place always full of locals getting their fill of some of the freshest fish around.
Further north are the beaches of St James and Muizenburg, both of them famous for their colorful beach changing rooms. St James Beach is small but pretty. Muizenburg Beach is much longer and a lot more fun to walk along. It is a really popular place to learn to surf, with many inexpensive places to rent a board. But don’t even think about it without a wet suit, and watch out for those sharks!
There are so many wonderful places to explore outside of Cape Town itself. There was no chance of us getting bored here during our stay here, I guess we’ll just have to come back next year and explore some more!