POINT, CAPE PENINSULA NATIONAL PARK, AND THE
CAPE OF GOOD HOPE
Situated at the junction of the earths' most contrasting water masses - the cold
Benguella current on the West Coast and the warm waters of False Bay on the East
Coast, the Cape of Good Hope is popularly perceived as the meeting point of the
Atlantic and Indian Oceans. Geographically, however, the Indian Ocean joins the
Atlantic Ocean at Cape Agulhas. The local authority proclaimed the area a nature
reserve in 1938 and it was incorporated into the Cape Peninsula National Park
in 1998. It encompasses 7 750 hectares of rich and varied flora and fauna and
its 40 kilometer coastline stretches from Schuster's Bay in the west to Smitswinkel
Bay in the east. The cliffs of the southern point, towering more than 200 meters
above the sea, consist of three clearly defined promontories - Cape of Good Hope,
Cape Maclear and Cape Point.
The Cape of Good Hope is an integral part of the Cape Floristic Kingdom,
the smallest, but richest of the world's six floral kingdoms.
comprises a treasure trove of 1 100 species of indigenous plants,
of which a number are endemic (occur naturally nowhere else on
earth) Two types of fynbos ('fine bush'), coastal fynbos on alkaline
soils and inland fynbos on acid soils, are found.
fynbos plants include proteas, ericas, (heath) and restios (reeds).
Some of the most striking and well-known members belong to the
Proteacae family, of which up to 24 species occur. These include
King Protea, Sugarbush, Tree Pincushion, and Golden Cone Bush.
popular horticultural plants like pelargonium, freesias, daisies,
lilies and irisis also have their origins in fynbos.
With its diverse habitats, ranging from rocky mountaintops to beaches
and the open sea, the Cape of Good Hope is home to at least 250 species
birds' tend to rather scarce because of the course scrubby nature
of the fynbos vegetation. When flowering, however, proteas and
ericas attract sunbirds, sugarbirds and other species in search
of nectar. For most of the year there are more small birds in coastal
thicket than in fynbos. Large animals are a rare siting in the
Cape of Good Hope, but there is a wealth of small animals such
as lizards, snakes, tortoises and insects. There are some herds
of Zebra, Eland and a variety of other antelope. Small mammals
also include Rock Hyrax (dassie), Striped Mouse, Water Mongoose,
and Cape Clawless Otter.
area offers excellent vantage points for whale viewing. The Southern
Right whale is the species most likely to be seen in False Bay
between June and November. Other species are the Humpback Whale
and Bryde's Whale. Seals and dolphins may also be seen.
strategic position of the Cape of Good Hope between the two major
ocean currents ensures a rich diversity of marine life. There is
a difference between the sea life west of Cape Point and that to
the east due to the markedly differing sea temperatures.
South African Marine Living Resources Act is strictly enforced
throughout the Cape Peninsula National Park, and especially in
the marine-protected areas. Disturbance or removal of any marine
organisms is strictly prohibited between Schusters Bay and Hoek
van Bobbejaan, but is allowed in other areas during season and
with relevant permits.