When we think of South Africa we think of Cape Town. While this trip we’re using South Africa as a transit hub we didn’t want to pass through without making it to Cape Town.
When we arrived in Cape Town our new friend Benjamin dropped us at our hostel. It’s an expensive city so even a room in a hostel was beyond what we wanted to pay, but we’d chosen one that is a multi-award winning and accredited Fair Trade for its social responsibility initiatives.
Our first task on checking in was putting in our laundry. With being constantly on the move and it going cold overnight in most places we stayed we were one day off running out of underwear, and everything we’d been wearing in Madagascar was looking dirty. We could only just put together a presentable outfit.
When we’d landed there were showers around and it was cloudy with patches of sun. By the time we’d settled in, and found a nearby cafe for lunch it had cleared and lifted a lot. Table Mountain was top of our wish list so we decided to head there first. We bought tickets for the cableway online and took an Uber to the base station.
We pretty much walked straight on. We’d assumed it was like a normal cable car so were surprised to discover there are just 2 huge pods (that take 65 people each) going up and down. Emma got a bigger shock when the floor rotated. She wasn’t at all keen on the height and steepness of it anyway, but with the rotating floor it was a bit much, “I really don’t like it” was repeated like a mantra until the top. She decided it still beat walking up the sheer side.
It was way better at the top than we’d expected. It is 1067m high. So yes there was the views you see pictures of, but we hadn’t expected there to be paths all over the top and to be able to walk to see the view on different sides. It was stunning, and we felt lucky to have good weather. We spent a good few hours walking and taking photos and soaking in the cool sea air.
With an hour or so until sunset we decided to end the day at V&A waterfront. The oldest working harbour in the Southern Hemisphere, Table Mountain provides a stunning backdrop so it’s no surprise it has been developed into restaurants and shops and a huge sculpture art gallery. It also has an artisan food market that has the usual breads, cheese, sweet treats. alongside regional delicacies. We tried the ostrich. An African church choir was performing outside which added to the atmosphere.
We were excited to find a big supermarket. We have a list of things we didn’t want to carry that we’d need for camping with the 4WD drive, which we’d now get in a couple of days time. We bought a couple of lunch boxes, ziplock bags, a flask, clothes pegs (mainly to keep food packets closed as we’ll be on a lot of rough roads), some big heavy duty plastic bags to put our rucksacks and sleeping bags in during the day to keep the dust off. We also bought a fresh supply of soap and shampoo. By no means all that we need, but a great start. We were quite late back to the hostel as the sun had well and truly set by the time we left the supermarket.
The next morning we lay in bed and listened to the rain pour. We felt rather smug about having grabbed the good weather window to go up Table Mountain the day before. By the time we’d moved, collected our laundry and got organised for changing countries it was clearing into a nice day. The sea air was fresh but the sun was warm.
Our first destination for the day was the neighbourhood of Bo-Kaap. As one of the oldest residential districts in Cape Town it is packed full of history and culture but is best known for its brightly painted houses. Under the apartheid government Bo-Kaap was declared a Muslims-only area and people of other religions and ethnicity were forced to leave. This was unique as most non-white people were moved away from the cities under apartheid.
It was a pleasant downhill walk to get there from our hostel and we spent an hour and a half a wandering its streets before heading down into the main part of the city, where we walked and admired Cape Town’s colonial buildings.
After a morning of city walking we decided to head to the beach. We picked Camps Bay on the other side of Table Mountain. A perfect white sand beach dotted with huge boulder like rocks next to a wild Atlantic Ocean it is backed by the 12 Apostles Mountain Range (which forms the back of Table Mountain). There are actually 18 peaks, but if you count the buttresses only (the part that protrudes, which might be made up of a few peaks) there are 12.
It was lovely, and also quiet and relaxed. We walked the beach and read the shark warning information before picking a restaurant for a late lunch. Marie had the catch of day, a beautifully meaty fish, and Emma had a mixed kebab of ostrich, springbok and something else beginning with K that she can’t remember.
We took our time, then walked back along the beach. The grey cloud sitting on Table Mountain had cleared for the first time that day. We took some photos and our shorter than planned time in Cape Town was over all too soon. We got an Uber back to the hostel, collected our bags and got an Uber to the airport. Travelling to the airport is interesting journey it gives a glimpse into the other side of Cape Town, as it passes townships and shanty towns.
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