There are a lot of car rental options in South Africa. So besides your well known big brand companies, there are also a range of smaller companies renting older vehicles. We don't need anything new and fancy, just basic reliable transportation. But, we needed it for almost 8 weeks.
Long story short, we made a deal on a 1995 Ford Laser. Yep, an old car. But, it's only got 88,000 kms (54,000 miles) on it. It's only just broken in! The Ford Laser was actually a partnership between Ford and Mazda. It's the exact same car as the Mazda 323 that was produced in those years. I'll get a decent picture for you another day.
For our 53 day rental, we are paying R7,844 ($824). Or, given that we have the car for pretty much two months, it works out to $412 per month. Approximately $15.50 per day. Not bad.
The car has security system and gearshift lock, and it even has air conditioning. We put 100 kms (62 miles) on it yesterday, and we're totally happy. Other than a minor wheel alignment problem, it drives like a new car.
So, first, we had to go pick it up. We needed to take two trains. One to downtown, and then transfer to another one. Total of about 20 kms (13 miles). The one way tickets cost R12 ($1.27) each!
Our train car was empty. Well, except for us!
We had no problem getting to where we were going. No problem finding our way, that is. The only problem was the weather. That 20% chance of rain they had forecast became 100% by the time we arrived at our stop!
Waiting out the rain.
We stepped out of the train, and it was pouring buckets! It only lasted 15 minutes or so, and we were able to walk the last portion without getting wet.
Picked up our car, processed all the paperwork, and we were on our way. Our couchsurfing host Mark had lent us his GPS unit for the day, so we programmed in the way to see the penguins at Boulders Beach.
52 kms (31 miles) from where we picked up the car to get to Boulders Beach.
Boulders Beach is located about 2 kms south of Simon's Town, on the way to Cape Point. At the time, we thought we might make it all the way to Cape Point, but both the penguins and Cape Point are in South African National Parks, and they have separate entrance fees. Fairly expensive entrance fees.
(As a side note, some of you have mentioned getting a parks pass. While this is a good idea, it's not very cost effective for international visitors. The pass for a couple is R2,650 ($281), so I think we'll pass on the pass!)
We found free parking at Boulders Beach, however the lot was almost full. We did find a spot though. Pretty busy at this time of year as it is summer holiday season in South Africa. Most children go back to school on January 15th.
We paid R55 ($5.83) each for admission to the park.
Penguin, blocking the path.
First thing we came across was a penguin blocking the path. They're not afraid of humans, and they can actually give you a nasty bite! We skirted around this one with no problem though.
This is a young one. Eventually, the chest will be almost all white.
Resting on a rock.
Boulders Beach is small, but it's quite pretty. Easy to see how they came up with the name!
Nice view of the coast looking back from Boulders Beach.
This one is having a snooze. Just standing there with his eyes closed.
This one is molting. They loose their waterproofing through the molting process, so they fatten themselves up for a few days and then they don't go in the water for around three weeks. Which also means they don't eat for that period.
They will nest just about anywhere. Sometimes it's out in the open like this, and sometimes they have a nest like a normal bird, but on the ground. They like to dig themselves a hole in the underbrush to nest.
Out for a walk. Too funny.
The African penguin is an endangered species. At the end of the 1800's there was estimated to be 4 million of them. Today, there is around 50,000. The colony here was introduced with just one pair in 1982, and now number approximately 2,000.
These ones came out of the sea all in a row looking like soldiers!
This one has an egg!
Lots of people watching the penguins. There are viewing platforms and fenced boardwalks so that you can't disturb them too much.
This one dug a hole in the underbrush to nest.
It was a fun afternoon, and as you can see by the sky, the nice weather has returned. In fact, it's supposed to be perfect for the next week or so with highs around 25C (77F) and sunshine. Perfect summer weather. :-)
We decided we didn't have time to go see Cape Point. It was going to cost another R110 ($11.65) each and we figured we didn't have enough time to justify the expense. We'll try and make it back there when we return to Cape Town at the end of February.
We drove back to Marks and picked up a shoulder of lamb along the way. Not a bad price, at R129 ($13.65) but there wasn't much left over. It was delicious though, and it just fell off the bone.
Ruth makes a great roast dinner!