The Cape of Good Hope

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The Cape of Good Hope, Western Cape.  South Africa.

The rugged spine of grey sandstone and shale that begins at Cape Town’s Table Mountain extends down a narrow strip of land, ending at the Cape of Good Hope.  Here the warm Madagascar Current of the Indian Ocean meets the nutrient-rich upwelling of the cold Atlantic Ocean.  Marine life of all sorts thrive in the area: southern right whales that birth their calves, sea lions that hunt  fish, great white sharks that hunt sea lions.  Even penguins make a home here.

On land, this jagged spine of rock forms sheer cliffs and razor-edged peaks, with the bizarre, weathered topography of karst formations in the valleys.  There is a certain austere, windswept beauty to the open heath here.  The fynbos – Afrikaans for “fine bush,” because of the needly leaves that define its flora – forms one of the most biodiverse ecological systems in the world.  There are more species of plants in the fynbos that extends from flat peak of Table Mountain to the point of Cape of Good Hope than in all of the British Isles.


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