South Africa – Cape Town & The Western Cape

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Cape Town is a beautiful city full of great things to do for anyone and everyone. Having met some amazing people in Cape Town at the end of my first trip to South Africa, I started my second trip there to catch up with friends and explore more of the area.  A person could spend a week here and not cover it all.  There is hiking, beaches, shopping, history and culture.  I’m not much of one for big cities, but Cape Town just might be my favourite city I’ve ever visited!

I covered the amazing Shark adventures that can be had in the area with Shark Explorers in my post last week, and in my mind they offer the best attraction in the area.  Up close and personal encounters with Sharks!  However, there are so many amazing things to do in and around Cape Town, and next to a visit with the Sharks, climbing Table Mountain was at the top of my list.  Table Mountain is listed as one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature, and it is impressive.  It is recommended to hike with a partner or in a group as there have been muggings on the mountain and the weather can also change very quickly.  Lucky for me Tim Lundy, the son of Mike Lundy who is a renowned expert on Table Mountain, leads hikes on the mountain and is also part of the local mountain rescue team.  I hired Tim to join me for a hike up the Platteklip Gorge on Table Mountain.  It’s not the easiest way up the mountain, but it’s the shortest, and a beautiful hike.  It’s also the most common trail people take up the mountain as you can save your knees and take the Gondola down from the top.  It’s the only trail up the mountain where you can do this.  If you’re into adventure, I’d definitely recommend joining Tim for a hike on the mountain.  He is incredibly knowledgeable on local plants, wildlife and the mountain itself.  He’s also a fun guy to hang out with for the day.

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As I have a certain affection for good wine I couldn’t visit the Western Cape without a day of Wine Touring, and Wine Flies is the company to take care of this for you!  Starting with a morning pick-up they take you to 5 different wineries throughout the day and the fees include all your tastings as well as lunch and some brandy at the end of the day.  Lord G was an amazing guide for the day, knowledgeable in different wines yet without any of the snobbishness typically associated with wine.  This tour is for fun people!  We tasted some amazing wines throughout the day, and our group was awesome.  The last winery of the day was Annandale Estates, which is owned by South African Springbok Rugby Legend Hempies Du Toit.  They make some of the best wines I’ve ever tasted, and I’ve toured close to 75 wineries in my travels.  After a great day of wine touring I hosted the group for a party in my ocean front hotel.  My hotel was The Pods At Camps Bay, which if you can afford it is the best hotel I’ve ever stayed in.  It is a 17 room boutique hotel with gorgeous rooms and amazing views.  Luckily for me my travel points paid for my stay here.

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Having made some great friends during the wine tour, I headed out with 2 of the guys from Germany the following day to explore the Cape of Good Hope.  It is listed as the most Southern Point in Africa and is where the Legend of the Flying Dutchman comes from.  It’s well worth the short drive from Cape Town to check out the scenery and history at the Cape of Good Hope.  Make sure if you take one route there to take the other route through Simon’s Town on the way back to hit up Boulders Beach and see the Penguins.

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Cape Town offers many unique experiences for people.  I went out for dinner at the the most interesting restaurant ever with my two German friends, the Bombay Bicycle Club is strange and unique but offers some amazing food and cheap drinks.  Don’t be fooled by the name, it has nothing to do with India.  The servers like to make patrons wear sombreros and pour tequila down their throats, and happy hour is from 10pm to midnight.  They also serve a mean Wildebeest steak.  It’s definitely an experience not to be missed when in Cape Town.

For the more budget conscious traveller I’d recommend The B.I.G. Backpackers, it is conveniently located, and better then many hotels I’ve stayed in.  It’s a 5-10 minute walk from the waterfront and many restaurants or shops.  To top it off the staff is great, and they have an honour system for the beer fridge.  This is my choice of places to stay when visiting Cape Town.  You can’t beat friendly, affordable, clean and comfortable all wrapped into one!

Having been to Cape Town twice and for a total of 9 days, I still haven’t covered all the amazing things to do in the area.  One of the things still on my list is a visit to Robin Island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned.

Cape Town has something to offer everyone from the shopper to the nature lover to the beach bum.  And if you’ve heard about how dangerous South Africa is, ignore it.  Like anywhere, be aware of your surroundings, keep alert and don’t walk around wearing all kinds of shiny things to draw attention to yourself.  I’ve spent a month in Africa each of the past 2 years and never had an issue.  The world may be big, but it’s not scary.  Go out and explore it, just make sure Cape Town and South Africa are on your list!  You won’t be disappointed.  In fact you’ll find a friendly country with great culture that offers some of the most beautiful scenery, nature and wildlife anywhere in the world.

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