November 15, 2016:
So we’ve spent the last day and half steaming towards Cape Town. Sadly, the seas have been very rocky, which resulted in major parts of the outside deck being closed for safety. However, this morning, we arose to glorious clear skies (albeit windy), and packed up and then went up on deck to see the sail into Cape Town.
We are also in the very nutrient-rich waters of the Benguelas Current, so these waters are abundant with seal mammals, especially dolphins and migratory right whales and humpback whales. Sure enough, on the sail in, I spotted many fur seals bobbing in the waves, along with some dolphins and two whales. We have totally lucked out today, because as we drew close, the views of Table Mountain were amazing!
The plan is to spend tonight on the ship at dock, and then we will leave the Navigator tomorrow to have a post-cruise stay in Cape Town at the famous Table Bay Hotel. Because the weather was so extreme from Namibia, we were about two hours late cruising into port. Nonetheless, we had a tour awaiting us which combined a trip to the Durbanville Hills wine growing region for a wine-tasting, and a trip to an ostrich farm to play with ostriches.
We traveled out through the suburbs of Cape Town. Everywhere we went, we saw modern upscale housing and office buildings and malls. It is only as you get to the far limits of downtown that you see the “unofficial settlements” (as the townships are called here), and it is a far different story.
The area of Durbanville is fairly close to the City, and the topography looks very similar to that of Santa Barbara. We arrive at the de Grendel winery for a tasting and tour of the wine cellar. Although the Stellenbosch wine region is perhaps the best known and most awarded wine region, Durbanville is also popular, and the de Grendel estate is beautiful! Probably the best known wines in South Africa are their Chenin Blanc and a red clone called Pinotage, creating by grafting Pinot Noir and Hermitage (Cinsault) together.
I can’t say much for the wines we tasted, but it was a wonderful afternoon for a walk in the gardens, which featured a great view back towards Table Mountain. The wine estate even featured some wild animals like Oryx, ibises and Cape guinea fowl. Next stop … ostriches!
After a detour through the gift shop, featuring some beautiful (but very expensive) ostrich handbags and carved ostrich eggs, we got a lecture on the physiology, care and feeding of ostriches, then we went outside to visit them. We all got corn kernels to feed them, and after the initial shock of them pecking at my hand, it was fun to feed them. However, the guide showed some of us how to get the ostriches to eat corn off our heads, which I might have tried, until I saw an ostrich swallow an earring off one woman. Not to worry, though! The guide just grabbed the bird by the throat so he couldn’t swallow, and reached his hand down into the throat to retrieve the earring. Our final fun consisted of getting to sit on an ostrich.
Driving back to town, we timed it almost perfectly to see the sun setting beyond Table Mountain, and we made a brief detour through the wetlands surrounding Milnerton to catch the sunset views from the beach. We’re both looking forward to seeing more of Cape Town tomorrow!