The Telegraph newspaper in the UK has declared Cape Town, South Africa, “the greatest city in the world to visit right now”.
It always feels good when the rest of the world acknowledges it … and the compliments for Cape Town are bursting in this particular Telegraph article, starting with the fact that not only has Cape Town and the surrounding winelands returned to pre-pandemic normal, but that it’s “positively revamped and recharged”!
Travel writer Simon Parker says that “after two years of local lockdowns and international red listing, the city of wine and waves is back with a pop and a fizz.”
With both BA and Virgin reinstating their direct flights to Cape Town, and United Airlines resuming its New York – Cape Town route (3 non-stop flights per week from 5 June), tourism is making up fro bleak times.
Further proof of ‘endurance ‘’ of another kind also in the headlines.
The Endurance, the lost vessel of Antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton, was found at the weekend at the bottom of the Weddell Sea.
The ship was crushed by sea-ice and sank in 1915, forcing Shackleton and his men to make an astonishing escape on foot and in small boats.
Scientists have found and filmed one of the greatest ever undiscovered shipwrecks 107 years after it sank. Video of the remains show Endurance to be in remarkable condition.
Even though it has been sitting at a depth of 3008 metres, in 3km (10,000ft) of water for over a century, it looks just like it did on the November day it went down.
Its timbers, although disrupted, are still very much together, and the name – Endurance – is clearly visible on the stern.
“Without any exaggeration this is the finest wooden shipwreck I have ever seen – by far,” said marine archaeologist Mensun Bound, who is on the discovery expedition and has now fulfilled a dream ambition in his near 50-year career.
Two reasons why was this ship is so prized
The first is the story of Shackleton’s Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition.
It set out to make the first land crossing of Antarctica, but had to abandon the quest when the expedition ship, the Endurance, was trapped and then holed by sea-ice.
From then on it was all about survival. Shackleton somehow managed to get his men to safety, an escape that saw the Anglo-Irish explorer himself take a small lifeboat across ferocious seas to get help.
The other reason was the challenge itself of finding the ship. The Weddell Sea is pretty much permanently covered in thick sea-ice, the same sea-ice that ruptured the hull of Endurance.
Getting near the presumed sinking location is hard enough, never mind being able to conduct a search.
But this past month has seen the lowest extent of Antarctic sea-ice ever recorded during the satellite era, which stretches back to the 1970s. The conditions were unexpectedly favourable.
The expedition to find Endurance has cost an anonymous donor over $10-million, and was made possible by South Africa’s icebreaker, SA Agulhas II, which set off from Cape Town in early February with the Endurance22 Expedition team on board – including archaeologists, extreme environment filmmakers and scientists.
The Endurance is now protected as a Historic Site and Monument under the Antarctic Treaty.