Much More Than Just a Mountain

The Cape Peninsula is one of the most scenic places on earth, but the topography is even more amazing when you delve a bit deeper. Table Mountain is an iconic feature, and based here at the V&A Waterfront, it looms over us in an ever-present avuncular fashion: an unchanging presence that holds Cape Town in its granite and sandstone embrace. But Table Mountain is only one aspect of the Cape Peninsula – a 52-kilometre chain of mountains that extends from Mouille Point to Cape Point. About one and a half million years ago it was an island (and has been, off and on, for five million years); come to think of it, there are many locals who wish that it was still the Cape Island. We would be Waterfront Ferries, running a service between the seaport of Bellville and Cape Town.

The Peninsula’s true magic lies in the fact that it is a city surrounding a National Park – and what an incredible park it is, too. Declared one of the wonders of the modern world, the Cape Peninsula has an area smaller than most international capitals, but it is host to an incredible 2 285 plant species. The Cape Point area is only 77 square kilometres in size but has over 1000 plant species. Compare this to California, with a similar Mediterranean Climate: for every 1600 square kilometres in California there are only an estimated 14 species. So amazing is our fynbos that the region is one of the earth’s six designated plant kingdoms. The other five regions are somewhat larger - the Boreal Forest Kingdom has an area of 32 million square kilometres - so the importance of our little kingdom cannot be overstated.

Great things are done when Men & Mountains meet
This is not Done by Jostling in the Street.
- William Blake

For those not familiar with the term fynbos (or fijnbosch, as the Dutch settlers termed it), it is descriptive of the small-leaved plants that cover the slopes of the Western Cape mountains. Including the famous protea and erica families, fynbos is unusual in that it is fire-regenerated, requiring to be burnt in cycles of around fifteen years, and this is where the problem of urbanisation becomes apparent. Our mountain fires are necessary, but not too often. It has become a continual battle between conservation and the needs of people on the interface between mountain and civilisation. Waterfront Charters are ecologically orientated in all we do, so we understand and support in every possible way the services that keep our fauna and flora flourishing. Bottom line: don’t do anything that can result in an unwanted wildfire.

When we take guests out on our beautiful boats on coastline and sunset cruises, we always encourage those aboard to look both to sea and to our amazing mountains. Looking at the sunlit cliffs, we revel in the fact that those peaks and valleys are part of Table Mountain National Park – protected and preserved for future generations. A mountain reserve, we must add, that extends into the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, protecting the equally important wildlife there. We do everything we can to promote the preservation of sea life; the inhabitants of our oceans live there – we are just guests.

So: New Year’s resolutions? To love and protect our unique environment. To look after the sea and the land; ensuring the survival of our little Kingdom. The best way to get going is to join us for cruises to see and learn about the wilder side of the Cape Peninsula. As part of our intent, we will be joining forces with CapeRADD – a diving company that specialises in education and conservation – to offer chartered trips that will educate and fascinate all aboard. More on this soon.

And to each and every person, we wish you peace, good health and prosperity in 2019. We live in a beautiful part of the world, and whether you are a local or a visitor, treasure the Cape Peninsula experience!