Darwin’s HMS Beagle heads to Cape Town


Few are aware of the renowned Charles Darwin’s ties to South Africa and the Cape in particular. On Sunday, April 25, 2010, the H.M.S. Beagle will dock in Cape Town completing the production of a documentary series on the life and theories of Charles Darwin to commemorate 200 years since his birth and 150 years since the publication of his theory “Origin of Species.”

The series tracks his voyage across the globe having already sailed to Great Britain, Spain, Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Tahiti, and Australia; covering roughly 24,000 nautical miles. Along the way, they have interviewed scientists, politicians, artists, historians, and writers who contribute to the assessment of where the world stands today in light of Darwin’s evolution theory. This thrilling expedition will end in Cape Town at the V&A Waterfront, Jetty 2, on April 25 between 1600 and 1800 hours, where producers plan to exhibit the city’s breathtaking biodiversity and distinct population. Cape Town Tourism and the Beagle project implore the local sailing community to welcome the vessel by sailing out or to wave the ship in.

The series “The Beagle” is currently being broadcast in Holland and Belgium with negotiations for international broadcasting underway.

“Cape Town has such a varied history, and this is just a piece of a much broader picture. We’re very excited to be endorsing such an original venture, which ties in perfectly with the Darwin Trail Map that was launched last year. We urge Capetonians and boat owners to come out in support on Sunday,” said Mariette du-Toit Helmbold, CEO of Cape Town Tourism.

The Darwin Trail Map was launched in Cape Town in 2009, researched by the Africa Genome Education Institute and published by A&C Maps. The map retraces Darwin’s steps through the Cape, a stop on his homeward stretch from South America. While in the Cape, he visited areas we know today as Simon’s Town, Wynberg, Paarl, Franschhoek, and Sir Lowry’s Pass; and recorded sightings of animals like elephant, rhinoceros, the now extinct kwagga, and more. He traveled with a “tour guide” – a khoi man – dressed in top hat and tails.

The Darwin Trail Map is available at any Cape Town Tourism Visitors information Centre. For more information on the Darwin Trail Map, contact +27 21 487 6800.