The Cape of Good Hope conjures many images but it’s unlikely many have visions of beer mixed in there. It’s even less likely craft beer comes to mind. That’s a good thing since you won’t be too disappointed when you find it’s not exactly a craft beer Mecca. That’s one of the reasons I was lugging some beer from Urban Brewing Company with me when we pulled into our B&B in Glencairn.
the stunning trip from Cape Town to the Cape of Good Hope: Chapman’s Peak Drive
The drive there was every bit as stunning as you may have heard and made the initial regret of leaving the iconic mountains of Cape Town fade relatively quickly. Our choice of accommodation was even nicer than the photos, too and more importantly perhaps, the little seaside town of Glencairn seemed a place we could actually let our guard down a bit. After the initial culture shock of flying into Johannesburg, a somewhat hectic eight days on safari and hiking while worrying about being mugged in Cape Town, this looked like a regular tourist town. Our super friendly hosts assured us that walking to their recommended restaurant was not a problem in the least. After a short lie-down, we pried ourselves from our super comfy bed and sped down to neighboring Simon’s Town to check out the Boulders Penguin Colony there.
our little buddy enjoying the sun, three of them a dip and the boulders
It was surprisingly enjoyable to watch these magical little creatures going about their day. A lot more nimble than they look, they can go from a standing to a lying down position a lot more gracefully than anyone I know, not even having to use their wings. Watching them surf was particularly entertaining.
Let’s go surfin’ now, even penguins know how; a true colony of penguins
It was so engrossing, it was looking like an afternoon hike at the Cape of Good Hope wasn’t going to happen but it was so gorgeous out, we had to at least go and have a look. The sun was already low in the sky as we drove into what could only be described as a surprisingly surrealistic landscape.
a surrealistic landscape punctuated by the occasional passing ostrich
There was a bit of construction in the park and the guys controlling the traffic good-naturedly ribbed us about our arriving to the park so late. We continued on, with a bit more urgency and made it to the Cape of Good Hope sign for the signature photo in perfect light.
the Cape of Good Hope is a destination in itself
We toyed with the idea of going up to the lookout but knew we’d want to continue on the hike. The park closes its gates at sunset and this was a fair drive from the entrance so we sped back. The traffic controllers were already long gone, surely joking about the crazy tourists paying so much money to spend an hour in the park. Actually, we had a Wild Card Pass that we bought mostly for Kruger and though it had paid for itself there alone, we were using it for many more parks in South Africa. We’d be back tomorrow for that hike.
an nearly empty park with the gates closing soon
We went to Dixie’s Restaurant right down the street from our B&B and the food was excellent. The choice of beer was fairly extensive but mostly stuff from large commercial conglomerate breweries. I got a Cape Brewing Company (CBC) Pilsner and my notes say it was a good Helles, my usual way of saying it isn’t hoppy enough. It was a pleasant enough beer but evidently didn’t warrant a photo. It was dark in there. My lamb shank (which was great) didn’t get one, either. We didn’t linger, it was crazy busy and we had some Dungeons Stout waiting in our fridge back in the B&B. Besides, we had a hike to do the next morning.
the hike up to the lookout at the Cape was worth coming back for in itself
It wasn’t quite as nice as the previous day so the trip in was a lot quicker. The hike up to the lookout was very much that: up. It was also short and we were up there in no time and making our way towards the lighthouse. It was very windy but the landscape even in less than stellar weather was stunning. We got a bit more than half-way to the turnaround and saw steps, albeit steep ones, heading down to Dias Beach, what we had largely been admiring from above the whole walk. We’d been to the somewhat disappointing lighthouse area the previous day so decided the beach was more to our liking.
looking down at Dias Beach and the steep stairs
You’d imagine that once down in this cove, the wind would have subsided somewhat but it was absolutely whipping down there and we were sandblasted into walking backwards most of the time. It was an odd contrast to the way it looked, so peaceful and nearly tropical with the aquamarine water. As enthralling as it was, we took a bunch of photos and made our back to the stairs more quickly than we surely would have otherwise.
braving the winds on Dias Beach
When we got to the top of the stairs, going to the lighthouse didn’t even remotely appeal to us. We’d done more than half of the 4km Cape of Good Hope Trail and for us, the drop to Dias Beach was definitely the highlight and only one other person had bothered to come down. So, we headed back to the lookout and then down to the car.
leave only footprints, take only memories: we have a lot/one last look back
The Cape of Good Hope has another six or seven trails of similar length in the park, a few a bit longer. They even have a couple overnight trails where you can stay in cabins. It sounded like a wonderful place to spend a few more days but that was not in our plans. As a matter of fact, we still had a six hour drive ahead of us to reach Tsitsikama National Park, our next stop. Thankfully, Dixie’s was on the way. We’d built up quite an appetite on the trail. I’d eyed up the steak the night before and my wife went for some local fish. I washed mine down with a CBC Amber Weiss, which was a lot better than their Pilsner. Craft beer might not be the reason to go the Cape but at least you can find one to go with your steak. With the way craft beer is going in South Africa, I wouldn’t be surprised if the area had more to offer craft-wise next time. Let’s hope so.
my tasty steak, CBC Amber Weiss and lovely wife who drove after lunch