I was recently asked to write a feature for Country Life on my favourite spot in Africa, and the reason why. I chose the Cape of Good Hope. This is what I wrote:
There are a lot of things that make the Cape of Good Hope my favourite place in Africa. I love its unparalleled beauty – I never, ever get bored of it. I love that it has lighthouses. Not just one, but two of them. I absolutely adore lighthouses. I love that it is so close to Cape Town. And I love that, when you swim around the Cape, you can go from 12º C to 17º C in 10 strokes. It’s a wonderful sensation, like topping up a cold bath with warm water!
The fact that the Cape of Good Hope has two very different waters on either side – icy cold and often unforgiving on the Atlantic, and warm and generous in False Bay – makes it the most perfect place in the world for an endurance swimmer to train.
One of my most memorable swims was the rounding of the Cape of Good Hope I did with three friends in 2004. Tony Sellmeyer, Gillian Atwood, Kevin Andersson and I swam the 12 kilometres from a little beach called Neptune’s Dairy, around Cape Point to Buffels Bay. It took us just over 3 hours, and just after the start we were buzzed by a Great White Shark. I say ‘buzzed’ because of the energy we all felt as it torpedoed by underneath us – I’m not sure that the creature even registered that we were there, but we were certainly acutely aware of him! We could have chosen to give up the swim then and there, but we elected to push on. And stick very close to each other.
Which brings me to the last thing I love about the Cape of Good Hope: its name. This may actually be the thing I love the most about it, because it epitomises my philosophy in life.
I believe in hoping for the best, even while you plan for the worst. Because if you don’t have any hope, you can’t have any dreams.
Lewis Pugh’s new book 21 Yaks and a Speedo – How to achieve your impossible is out now. For more inspiration and ocean antics, follow him on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LewisPughOceans and twitter @LewisPugh.