I received word of the Cape Town fires, spreading from Muizenberg across Silvermine Nature Reserve, on Sunday night. Wildfires in the summertime are a common occurrence on the Cape Peninsula. Something as small as flicking a lit cigarette out of a car window can start a tiny flame that quickly turns into a blaze. I quickly remembered last week's news headlines, that Cape Town experiencing some of its hottest days on record, and knew this could be a recipe for disaster. Southeasterly winds, combined with a heat wave, could make this blaze even harder to combat than the usual summertime fynbos fire.
The outpouring of support from individuals and corporations (like Woolworths SA and Pick n Pay) has been incredible. This is why, I can honestly say, Capetonians are a community like none other. Though a city of nearly 4 million, residents of all walks of life rise to the challenge when it comes to helping one another through difficult times. Follow @vwsfires on Twitter for more information on their progress and how you can donate to help those in need.
Impact on Travelers
Roads like Champan's Peak, Ou Kaapse Weg, Boyes Drive are key access points for the Cape Peninsula sights like Table Mountain National Park & Cape Point, the Ostrich Farm, Cape Point Vineyards, and Kalk Bay and Simonstown sightseeing. Tour operators scrambling for alternatives to reduce cancellations and come up with alternative plans for when these roads are closed.
My recommended detour is to spend a full day exploring the coastline east of Cape Town. On a clear day, you will have beautiful views of Cape Point across False Bay from Strand & Gordon's Bay before heading down the scenic Cape Whale Coast route to Hermanus, a quaint town known for its seasonal whale watching. After lunch, and maybe a kayak tour, head back to Cape Town, stopping in Betty's Bay to visit their penguin colony.
Impact on the Landscape
As you may have seen from drone footage, the landscape is looking quite barren and rocky. One of my favorite areas to hike in Kalk Bay won't look the same for quite some time. But, as Notes from A Cape Town Botanist points out, this fire has a silver lining. It's a natural thing, even if started by unnatural causes. Certain plants have specific reactions to smoke, heat and fire, such as releasing seed pods that will spur new life. This hearty fynbos landscape will flourish soon enough and I can't wait to see what blossoms.