Cape Town: From Sea to Mountain
Cape Town reaches from the blue waters at the Cape of Good Hope to Table Mountain, towering over the city like a kilometer-high wall. Our local Metrohm colleagues showed me the «Mother City», as Capetonians affectionately call their hometown, in its best light. With its beautiful sea and mountain landscapes and vineyards just outside the city borders bringing forth delicious whites and reds, Cape Town made me feel right at home!
The beginnings of Cape Town go back to 1652. Back then, the East India Trading Company sent employees to the Cape of Good Hope to establish a halfway station for ships traveling between the Netherlands and the East Indies. One of these employees was Jan van Riebeeck, who was charged, among others with planting fruit and vegetable gardens for the ships to replenish their provisions.
The «Company’s Garden» still exists today. It has been turned into a park but there are many monuments reminding visitors of its past. The most impressive reminder however is a saffron pear tree that is thought to date back to van Riebeeck’s time, making it almost 370 years old. The tree still bears edible fruits!
Views from Table Mountain
Table Mountain was voted as one of the New7Wonders of Nature in 2011. Its appearance is striking: the mountain seems to emerge directly from the sea and rises more than a thousand meters into the sky, and it looks as if it’s made from giant lego blocks.
You can climb Table Mountain on foot or take a cable car—either way, you’ll be rewarded with a 360° view of the cape and the surrounding area. Once you’ve reached the top, rock hyraxes (or dassies, in South African English) will show you their Cape Town lifestyle: sunbathing on rocks overlooking the sea.
You may not be familiar with these animals that can only be found in some parts of Africa and the Middle East. Resembling marmots or overgrown guinea pigs, they’re probably just not impressive enough to compete with lions or elephants as documentary stars. But it turns out that elephants and manatees are the dassies’ closest living relatives.
Something for Everyone at the Shore
When driving along the shores of the Cape area, you can see rocks, sandy beaches, harbors, and promenades. The Victoria & Albert Waterfront is where tourists in Cape Town gather to enjoy the seaviews from restaurants, cafés, and bars and to walk on the shore. Even though there’s no natural beachfront left here, you can see seals at the waterfront, which are abundant in the Cape area and come here to rest and play.
Boats leave Cape Town from Hout Bay harbor every day to catch fresh fish, which is then sold at the local fish market. Fish and seafood are naturally staples of the Cape cuisine. While touring the Cape area, we stopped at Hout Bay to get some of the freshest fish and chips there is!
Cheetah Encounters: Raising Awareness for an Endangered Species
Only minutes away from Metrohm’s small Cape Town office is a site of the Cheetah Outreach trust. Our Metrohm colleagues in Cape Town can sometimes even see the cheetahs from the office balcony. The Cheetah Outreach program focuses on educating the public about these magnificent big cats and on raising awareness of their plight. At the Cheetah Outreach sites, the public can also experience cheetahs up close. In a «cheetah encounter», I got to pet a 6-months-old cheetah cub and I learned about cheetahs in South Africa and the conservation work done by Cheetah Outreach.
In addition to education, the Cheetah Outreach program includes work to protect free-roaming cheetahs directly: the organization breeds Turkish Anatolian Shepherd dogs and places them on South African farms to guard livestock. As Cheetahs avoid confrontation with the large dogs, they stay away from the livestock, and thereby also from farmers’ guns. In the first year, Cheetah Outreach covers the costs for dog food and veterinary care. In exchange, farmers agree not to shoot cheetahs. About 95% of farmers decide to keep the Anatolian Shepherds after the year has elapsed.