My trip to South Africa starts with the spontaneous question to Tobias: What do you think of me visiting you in South Africa for a few days on holiday? At the end however it wasn’t only a few days…
Just three weeks after my spontaneous question I arrived in Cape Town leaving behind the cold Germany to enter the South African late summer. You can feel the heat as well as the diversity of the townships that we passed on our way to Cape Town. Then I finally saw, right in front of me, Table Mountain in all its glory and it’s even more impressive than you expect when seeing it on pictures! We quickly dropped off my bags and headed straight for the Cableway. But we were not the only ones who had this plan. After 90 minutes of queuing we took the quick ride to the top and were rewarded with a breathtaking view. Must-do no 1 in Cape Town!
Afterwards we went straight to the V&A Waterfront which boasts a pure harbour feeling…. Then on to Long Street for dinner at Mama Africa. They offer delicious food, an interior worth seeing and thanks to the live music there is a great atmosphere there!
As the weather was rather bad the next day we went to Canal Walk, a huge shopping centre and every girl’s paradise. Then we went to KWV in Paarl, they have excellent wine tasting. Without a map it is tricky to find but some nice South Africans showed us how to get there.
The place to be on Saturdays definitely is the food market at Old Biscuit Mill. There’s so much to see and even more to taste. The atmosphere is relaxed… and don’t be put off by the neighbourhood and the parking marshals & the other “official” helpers, who try to make some extra money.
Just 30 minutes drive later I find myself in a different world – in Gugulethu at Mzoli’s Meat. You must see that place even though I wouldn’t stay there too long because people start drinking early and in excess.
In the evening we went to the first international soccer game at the new Green Point Stadium. I’m not a big soccer fan but hearing 30,000 people singing and blowing their vuvuzelas was a great experience for me.
On Sunday Tobias showed me Llandudno, one of his favourite beaches. It is really beautiful and uniquely situated but if you ask me the water is way to cold!
Afterwards we had dinner at Beluga, a nice restaurant where you should definitely try the sushi!
On the Monday the trip that Tobias planned started. We flew to Port Elizabeth, picked up our rental car and headed for Addo Elephant Park. Our accommodation was great and on our first game drive we got to see a lot of animals like kudus, a lion, warthogs and so much more, it was only the elephants that seemed to want to stay away. We spent half of the bitterly cold night on our veranda looking at the waterhole – without success. But we did see the Milky Way, Venus and the Southern Cross. I’ve rarely seen such a starry sky. On the morning game drive we got as close to some elephants as you can possibly get – an experience you cannot describe!
From Addo we continued our trip to Plettenberg Bay, where the Indian Ocean was noticeably warmer than the Atlantic Ocean was in Cape Town.
The next day we headed to Knysna, a beautiful seaport situated in a lagoon. However the city was like a ghost town – summer has apparently gone along with all the tourists and fun. So we went to Oudsthoorn, where we visited an ostrich farm and joined an interesting & amusing tour. However, spending the rest of the day by the pool was a nice alternative on this hot (almost 40°C) day.
The next morning we set forth to the famous Cango Caves, where we took part in the adventure tour. After having crawled through the caves we finally squeezed through the 27cm high “Postbox” – we definitely know why this is called the “adventure” tour. But if you feel fit and aren’t afraid of narrow rooms, the tour is a must.
In Mossel Bay it was raining and because of this the seaside resort looked rather dreary. Our accommodation, an old train on the beach, was interesting; the beds however are only suitable for people up to 1.80m tall. The next morning we continued our way to Albertinia. The roads were empty – like on the entire Garden Route – and after every bend the landscape changed completely; sometimes you would think you are actually in Canada or even in the Black Forest and then suddenly you are back in Africa 😉
We arrived at the Garden Route Game Lodge and after the night before we were glad to see that this accommodation was more luxurious. During the first drive in the “wild”, – the park was rather small – I almost felt like being in a big zoo or a Serengeti Park (Serengeti parks are not like the Serengeti in Africa – they are common zoo-like parks found in and around Germany!), it was drizzling but the blankets protected us from cold. Also this waterhole stayed empty during the night… Both the dinner and the breakfast showed us the high standard of the lodge – delicious! The game drive in the morning fulfilled all our expectations – we saw the BIG FIVE! The highlight was to see a cheetah hunting and a lion trying to attack our vehicle – pure adrenaline!!!
From Albertinia we returned to Cape Town.
On Sunday we drove to Cape Point along the beautiful coastal road. The weather was great – the sun was shining and the view from Cape Point was beyond all description.
Monday morning I packed my bag and checked the flight status… instead of flying home I discovered that I’m going to have stay for another week due to the volcano eruption in Iceland. So we visited the Castle of Good Hope before Tobias had to go back to work (the next day).
With the extra time I could now visit all the places I wanted to if I had the extra time (which I did). Without reservation and a bit of luck I got a ticket for the ferry to Robben Island. For anyone who wants to understand the history of South Africa this impressive tour is a must. After so many attractions I had the perfect day to spend on the beach. A taxi took me to Camps Bay – nice beach, but I don’t really like the promenade.
I then booked a township tour, which started in the District 6 Museum and continued to Langa and Kayelitsha. The living conditions there gave me food for thought – the divide between rich and poor is huge. I couldn’t believe the dimensions of the townships, even if our guide called Langa with “only” 250,000 inhabitants “small”. Well, compared to 1.4 million people living in Kayelitsha it is small indeed. In the afternoon I experienced my first “braai” (BBQ), the food however tasted different after this tour…
On the weekend it was the perfect beach weather again, so we went to Clifton 4th, my favourite beach in Cape Town. In the evening we watched the sunset from Signal Hill. We stopped on the road on the top and saw how the last sun beams bath the city bowl in a golden light.
The last day before the return flight we went to Gordon’s Bay and to the Crystal Pools. After a short hike we reached the natural pools surrounded by the untouched nature. Since Tobias reassured me that the water was warm, I tried it – and there is nothing like warm water there!!!
My final conclusion:
Cape Town and the parts from South Africa I saw offer more facets than I’ve seen before on my travels. Due to that an intense preparation is necessary; I luckily had with Tobias a “guide” knowing the area. Without either of them you will probably miss a lot of the varying landscapes, the attractions and most of all – the lesser known places. That however would be a shame regarding this beautiful country full of contrasts. I will definitely come back.
I also want to thank Katja from Jenman for agreeing to Tobias’ holiday.