The M-3, more leafy boulevard than highway, swings east around Table Mountain, then south, past the University of Cape Town. One of the first landmarks is Klein Constantia, a gorgeous, mountainside vineyard that is part of the original land grant by the Dutch East India Company in 1685 to be the main vegetable garden for the city's role in replenishing ships' stores.
We've called ahead, so Lowell Jooste, the owner's son, plops us onto a padded seat in the back seat of his beloved, restored 1948 Willis truck for a bumpy, dusty ride up the side of the mountain for the best view of his vines. And when we stop at the top to gape at the view -- long lines of green vines marching down across the red African soil down to False Bay -- he pops out a bottle of his intense, herbal sauvignon blanc and pours us a glass.
As we sip, he points out the green line where vines end and the mountaintop pine forest resumes, and the tall, mildly electrified fence erected against the vineyard's most voracious pest -- the hungry Cape baboons. They can eat a harvest's worth of grapes in a single night.
"They are vegetarians," Jooste shrugs.
The view becomes only more dramatic as we head south down the peninsula past the peaceful fishing village of Fish Hoek, past Simon's Town, a World War II base for Britain's Royal Navy and into the Cape of Good Hope Nature Preserve. The peninsula is only a few kilometers wide here, the land eternally whipped by winds careening from the Atlantic to the west and the Indian Ocean to the east.
The seaside road is cut into sharp granite cliffs; the vegetation only low, wind-battered shrubs and occasional acacia trees. Ostriches eye our cambi as we pass. Signs warn us not to encourage the baboons by feeding them.
We've been warned to lock our doors against those playful nuisances when we park at Cape Point. A battered old VW van full of German tourists didn't get the message. They left a side door open, and a huge, grizzled baboon climbed in looking for food, sending a terrified woman scrambling out. The driver, pounding on the passenger's side window, finally drove out the baboon -- not without a few parting snarls on both sides.
Another gaggle of baboons clambered over parked cars, breaking their antennas and chewing on the rubber of their windshield wipers. A vandalic lot.
But, again, the view justifies the trouble.
At the Cape of Good Hope, the setting sun blasts the sea- battered rocks, paints them red and yellow, while the cold Atlantic continues to froth and crash at their bases. The sky turns dark blue, split by vectors of spiraling, white sea gulls.
This must, indeed, be the fairest cape.
From squalid shacks to millionaires' row
This all-black township on the outskirts of Johannesburg is 75 square miles in size, with perhaps 3.5 million residents. But until a year or two ago, it didn't appear on most local maps. The average white South African, guidebooks say, still has never been there.
The Irish-born restaurant manager in my downtown Johannesburg hotel confirms it: "We wouldn't think of going in there. We know what it's like."
So when I crowd with nine others onto a tiny minibus for a tour, I'm in international company -- a couple from Boston, a small group of Russians, an Italian businessman and an Australian woman who grew up in Beijing.
Our minibus is from Johnnie's Face to Face Tours, based in Soweto. Its motto: "A different point of view." Our tour guide, born in Soweto, still living there, is Abraham Lincoln. Only he pronounces it "AY-bram."