Cape Town, South Africa Beaches

January 22, 2012 by staff 

Cape Town, South Africa Beaches, CAPE TOWN, South Africa — When a 300-pound seal jumps 6 feet from the harbor to the concrete floor a few steps away from where you’re standing, it’s hard to look away. I was watching the fishermen offload their catch in Hout Bay, a seaside suburb on the southernmost tip of Africa, when this massive, whiskered fellow leaped from the ocean with the grace of a ballerina. Once there, the seal stared me straight in the eye, a bored expression on his face. Then, with a flippered splash, he was gone, a dark figure swimming away effortlessly in the turquoise marina.

As tourists flock to South Africa in December and January to bask in the heat of an African summer, many take safaris to see the area’s famed wildlife. But when you’re traveling with children, as I was, a safari in the African bush can be risky — particularly when it comes to malaria.

Without taking anti-malaria medication in advance, it can be life-threatening. Pediatric doses of that medication can be hard to come by, particularly for children who weigh less than 80 pounds. That meant a safari was out of the question.

But seeing wildlife was still in the picture, even while enjoying the conveniences of a bustling city such as Cape Town, as I learned quickly at Hout Bay harbor. Animals are an intrinsic part of this landscape, and though their appearance can sometimes spell danger, they are respected and protected as often as possible.

Take the great white shark, for example. One of some 95 species of shark that inhabit the warm waters off southern Africa, the great white is respected and feared. Along the False Bay coastline, shark alerts are common, and in summer shark spotters are employed to watch over the popular swimming beaches from strategic points on the mountain.

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