Muizenberg, Kalk Bay & Around
Muizenberg was established by the Dutch in 1743 as a staging post for horse-drawn traffic. Its heyday was the early 20th century, when it was a major seaside resort and the likes of Agatha Christie learnt to surf here.
Kalk Bay is named after the lime ('kalk' in Afrikaans) that was produced by burning seashells in kilns and used for painting buildings in the 17th century. Under apartheid it was neglected by government and business as it was mainly a coloured area, with the upside being that it avoided the forced population removals that devastated Simon's Town.
Around False Bay, south of Kalk Bay, the communities of Fish Hoek and Clovelly have wide beaches that are safe for swimming.
Simon’s Town & Rest of Southern Peninsula
On the False Bay side of the peninsula, Simon’s Town is named after Simon van der Stel, 17th-century governor of the Cape. The winter anchorage for the Dutch East India Company (Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie; VOC) from 1741, and a British naval base from 1814 to 1957, it's now a South African Navy HQ and you'll see many uniforms on the streets.
Local Knowledge: Avoiding Traffic & Crowds
Main Rd is the coastal thoroughfare linking Muizenberg with Fish Hoek, although a prettier (and often less congested) alternative route between Muizenberg and Kalk Bay is the mountainside Boyes Dr, which provides fantastic views down the peninsula. You might spot whales from here between roughly August and October.
If you can spare only a day for the Southern Peninsula, one strategy for beating the crowds is to head down the Atlantic Coast via Chapman’s Peak Dr, then follow Kommetjie/Main Rd (M65) to the entrance to the Cape of Good Hope nature reserve. Start early and you’ll arrive at Cape Point well before the bulk of the tourist buses, which often stop at Boulders first (and you can hit this on the way back instead).
Sunpaths of the Cape
In his research into the Khoe-San and the even older peoples who lived at the Cape, Dean Liprini, an archaeoastronomer, has developed an astonishing theory. He believes that the Cape is crisscrossed by a grid of sight lines and key points comprising caves, sound chambers, geometrical marker stones, and sun and moon shrines, some in the uncanny shape of giant human faces. Sunrise and sunset are exactly aligned with these points at the summer and winter solstices and the spring and autumn equinoxes, thus indicating that they formed a way for the ancient people to measure the passing of the year and record auspicious dates.
As wacky as it may sound, there may be something in Liprini’s theory, as you’ll discover if you go for a hike in the hills of the Southern Peninsula with him or one of his colleagues. Observed from certain angles, unmistakable profiles of faces appear in the rocks, some with ‘eye’ holes that catch the light. One such rock is a granite boulder on Lion’s Head, while another is the Pyramid All-Seeing Eye, just off the M6 between Glencairn and Sunnydale. There’s also what Liprini calls the Cave of Ascension, above the ancient burial site of Peers Cave. To find out more about the sunpaths and to organise a guided walk, check the website http://sacredsites.co.za.