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Passing the Cape of Good Hope

Traditionally considered the Southern tip of the African continent, the Cape of Good Hope is actually about 90 km west of the southernmost point, Cape Arguilhas. However, the point at which the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet fluctuates between those headlands, moving endlessly as the place where the warm Arguilhas Current and the colder Benguela Current merge. This mixing of two currents and sea temperatures results in turbulence that doubtless gave the point its first name, the Cape of Storms, given by the Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias, the first European to round the point in 1488. The named was changed by John II of Portugal to inject some optimism into the search for a shorter route from Europe to India by sea. Today the beach cradled between the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point is named Dias Beach. “The Cape” has been and still is a global landmark for sailors rounding the African coast, as it marked a significant waypoint in the Cape Route and Clipper Route for ships operating between Europe, the Far East and Australia. There are not many places on earth where you are likely to encounter ostriches and penguins, zebras and whales during a morning walk.