Cape Point is as picturesque as it is dangerous, however, that shouldn’t deter one from embracing all that it has to offer, and all the lessons its history has to teach us.
Here are a few little known facts about Cape Point you need to know.
THE OLD LIGHTHOUSE WAS FLAWED
Firstly, Cape Point has two lighthouses, one of which doesn’t work anymore for one very good reason: it caused shipwrecks. Yes, the old lighthouse built in the 1950s was problematic from the start, and it’s one major flaw was that it was built too high. This caused ships to spot it too early, and so believing that land was some distance away, ships would run aground at Cape Point, leading to a loss of life and of course ruined ships.
Another consequence of being built too high is that in bad weather the lighthouse would be completely hidden in the clouds.The last straw was the sinking of the Lusitania, a Portuguese liner, in 1911, which convinced authorities to shut down the old lighthouse and build a new one.
CAPE POINT’S BRIGHT NEW LIGHTHOUSE
In 1919, a new lighthouse was completed, and at first was lit manually by a three year old, engineer Harry Cooper’s daughter. It needed manual lighting because the light was the flame of a paraffin torch. In 1936, it was electrified with 19 million candlepower, and became the most powerful light in Africa with a range of an incredible 60km.
CAPE OF GOOD HOPE
What’s in a name? Everything, according to the early explorers. They were quick to dub Cape Point the Cape of Storms, for obvious reasons; the sea in this region claimed countless ships. But King John II of Portugal, believed this was unfair on the beauty of the area and preferred the name Cape of Good Hope.
But if lighthouses and cultural appropriation are not your thing, there’s more to wonder about at Cape Point, like the over 270 special of birds in the Cape Point area that include warblers, canaries, shrikes, and if you’re lucky, a Verraux’s eagle, the rare Western reef heron and Baird’s sandpiper.
WORLD HERITAGE SITE
There are believed to be over 1000 species of plants in the Cape Point region, of which at least 14 are endemic. It’s no wonder that because of it’s plant life the Cape Peninsula has earned itself eight World Heritage Site accolades from UNESCO.
CAPE POINT IS A FEAST FOR THE EYES
If staring into the distance is something you enjoy, then you’ll be glad to know that on a clear day you can see the back of Table Mountain from various vantage points at Cape Point. There really isn’t a spot in this area that doesn’t offer a spectacular feast for the eyes.
INCREDIBLE HIKING TRAILS AND FAMILY FUN SPOTS
Take for example the magnificent hiking and cycling trails, the picnic spots and family friendly spaces at the Cape of Good Hope. It’s an area where the kids are free to roam (with adult supervision of course) and feel one with nature.
A (FREE) AUDIO TOUR
For the less physically adventurous, there is the free audio guided tour of the park, where the history of the area is told in a captivating and educational way.