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OOriginally known as the Cape of Storms, this tumultuous corner of Southern Africa has a history that will leave you feeling moved and enriched.
Communities of people had lived in the Cape region long before the beginning of the Christian era, surviving by hunting, fishing and gathering edible plants and roots. They were the ancestors of the Khoisan people of the modern time - the Bushmen - known as the San the Khoikhoi. They were hunter-gatherers who lived in small, loosely knit groups, highly mobile on account of their dependence on game, therefore also widely dispersed.
Before the Dutch came to the Cape the Bushmen conducted trade with their Bantu-speaking neighbours in cattle and, to a lesser extent, iron and copper. After the arrival of men from Europe, they traded their cattle for tobacco and began to act as brokers in developing trade between the Europeans and the Xhosa tribes to the east.
In 1487, the Portuguese sailor Bartholomeus Dias set out to find a sea route to the East. Sailing along the west coast of Africa, his ships encountered a terrible storm, which drove them out to sea and away from the coast. Once the storm had passed they resumed their journey in an easterly direction, expecting to reach the coast. After a number of days' sailing without any sign of land, they changed direction and headed north, eventually landing at the mouth of the Gouritz River on the east coast of Africa on 3 February 1488. Dias and his crew were the first Europeans on record to round the Cape, albeit unwittingly.