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A narrow, 75-km long strip of land separating the cold Atlantic upwelling from the waters of False Bay, the Peninsula’s landscape is dominated by a rugged mountain chain, culm-inating at its northern end in the famously geometrical massif of Table Mountain. Cradled between this renowned landmark and its flanking peaks — Lion’s Head and Devil’s Peak — are Cape Town’s city centre and harbour, site of the first colonial settlement in southern Africa and now the country’s cultural and tourism epicentre.

Rising to 1 086 m and sculpted from delicately coloured sandstone, the Peninsula’s mountains are clad in the extraordinarily diverse fynbos vegetation that is unique to the southern Cape region (see p.6). Table Mountain alone supports a staggering 2 600 plant species, more than the entire British Isles. Despite residential development at lower altitudes, much pristine mountain landscape is protected in the newly proclaimed Cape Peninsula National Park that runs, discontinuously, from Table Mountain to the Peninsula’s tip at the Cape of Good Hope, and which is destined for recognition as a World Heritage Site. The coastline, spectacularly rugged in places, is punctuated by numerous idyllic beaches.

Dedicated birders with limited time can fit in an excellent day’s birding on the Peninsula by starting early at the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden and Constantia Greenbelts before proceeding, via Kommetjie, to the Cape of Good Hope reserve for lunch, and finally winding up at Boulders Beach in the late afternoon. However, more relaxed visitors wishing to combine birding with general sightseeing could easily spread this programme over two or more days, expand-ing it to include the Table Mountain cableway, a boat trip to Robben Island or a visit to the city itself. The only site that, ideally, requires an early start is Kirstenbosch, as by mid-morning birds are less visible and tourists more so. A visit to the very productive Strandfontein sewage works is a must for those with an interest in waterbirds. Pelagic seabird trips (p.38) depart from the Cape Peninsula, either from Simon’s Town or from Hout Bay. Although not included in this chapter, Sir Lowry’s Pass (p.60), Paarl (p.82) and Rietvlei (p.42) are also conveniently explored using Cape Town as a base, and may be combined with the above sites.

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4 Crassula Way, Pinelands, 7405, Cape Town, South Africa

27/09/09: Dalton Gibbs reports back from Gough Island! Read the blog!

26/09/09: New Cape Town Pelagics trip report from trips of 12 and 19 September 2009.

30/08/09: British Birdwatching Fair at Rutland Water proved very successful, with sunny weather and over 20,000 visitors. Callan's "Birding Namibia and the Okavango" was the most highly-attended lecture on the Saturday, with over 240 people. Congratulations to the winners of the Birding Africa competition and the African Bird Club raffle that we helped sponsor!

12/08/09: New Cape Town Pelagics trip reports from August and July 2009. Highlights: Little Shearwater and more!

07/08/09: The sub-adult Black Sarrowhawk visits our garden again! Read on about Raptor Research in the Western Cape.

27/07/09: Cape Town's Verreauxs' Eagle Chick has grown! And its sibling never had a chance to hatch. See the pictures of the chick, its nest and the breeding pair. Find out more about the Western Cape Raptor Research Programme.

27/07/09: To follow modern nomenclature and systematics, we've adopted the IOC World Bird List, Version 2.1.

13/07/09: The 8th African Bird ID Challenge has launched! Win a 50% discount on a Cape Town Pelagics trip, a copy of Southern African Birdfinder, or African Bird Club membership for 1 year.

6 July 09: Cape White-eye research in our garden.

2 July 09: Cape Town's Verreauxs' Eagle Chick has hatched! See the pictures of the chick, its nest and the breeding pair. Find out more about the Western Cape Raptor Research Programme.

2 July 09: Campbell Fleming, a Cape Town scholar, avid birder and photographer, joined Birding Africa last month as an intern. Click here, to see what he got up to.

2 July 09: New pelagic trip reports from the Cape Town Pelagics trips in June 2009. Highlights: Slenderbilled Prion and Leach's Storm Petrel

30 july 09: Our latest Cape Fynbos and Karoo trip reports feature Hottentot Buttonquail, Cinnamon-breasted Warbler and other fynbos and Karoo endemics...

26 June 09: Tungsten mining threatens RAMSAR site, South Africa's Verlorenvlei. Read the Media Release.

22 June 09: Claire Spottiswoode, one of the Cape Birding Route founders, was part of the exploratory team at Mount Mabu. The mountain is part of the newly discovered largest rainforest in Southern Africa.

11 June 09: A colour-ringed Black Sparrowhawk visits the Birding Africa office garden. Read why it's a 10 months old male!

14 June 09:
Wildlife at the office of The Cape Birding Route, Birding Africa and Cape Town Pelagics.

31 May 09:
Michel Watelet wins the 7th African Bird Club & Birding Africa ID Challenge. Test your African birding skills and WIN a Birding Africa Cape town day trip or a copy of the Birdfinder!

30 May 09: A tragedy unfolds at Kommetjie south of Cape town as 44 beached False Killer Whales were shot. Click here for more details and pictures.

14 March 09: Raptor Watch in Cape Town on 14 March 09