How’s it going?
Sorry, I’ve been MIA for so long. October was really busy – but in a good way. Somehow, we both managed to wrangle three weeks off of work and decided to spend it travelling across South Africa for a fortnight before relaxing in Mauritius for the final week. And boy – what an amazing trip it was! For me, South Africa was the highlight. I struggle to encapsulate the landscape in words. It’s just so jaw-droppingly beautiful. I’m already wistfully longing to return, whilst cheekily wondering if it’s viable to have another little escape over Christmas…
I’ve decided to take a different stance with travel posts, it’s just not feasible for me to go into the level of detail I normally do, so I’m just going to run through the highlights. If anyone is planning a trip to either destination and is actually interested in specifics, I, embarrassingly, have a colour-coded, day by day itinerary saved which I’m happy to share. YES, I’m that annoying / great person that plans everything. Feel free to get in touch! =)
Table mountain is the aptly named, iconic, flat-topped peak that overlooks Cape Town. Whilst exploring the city, I felt like we were never far from a beautiful view of it. It’s worth being flexible with this one – often it’s covered in clouds (“tablecloth”) and the weather can vary a fair bit from the ground level. Check the forecast in advance and if you’re not sure, as soon as you happen to see it’s clear, get going! You can either hike (there are multiple routes, and if you’re not comfortable going it alone, there are a few tour companies that take groups) or opt for the cable cars (if possible, try and book online in advance, especially in the mornings).
As we went up in the afternoon and were short on time, we opted for the cable cars.
^ I thought this picture was cool. Pardon my sausage fingers.
The floor in the cable cars rotates which is pretty cool, giving you a real panorama view – I think I also experienced this at Mount Titlis in Switzerland.
^ View over Cape Town. Unfortunately, as the queues were long, we didn’t have very long up there. I really wanted to hike over to the other side to Maclears Beacon, the highest point, but didn’t want to get stuck on a mountain top overnight, without water, just a little bit more! So we went for a shorter stroll instead.
There was a path that we just followed. I stopped around 347503543709853 times to take pictures. I had to be incredibly disciplined not to include all aforementioned photos in this post!
Ugh. Can we all just stop for a second and just drink this in. So beautiful:
It was so peaceful and serene up there.
^ Pretending to be creative. My wider angle lens just isn’t made for the bokeh effect.
Onwards we went…
^ Platteklip Gorge, I believe this is one of the hiking routes. Pretty glad we took the cable cars.
^ That’s Robben Island in the distance.
Stunning. This picture is rubbish, it really doesn’t do it justice but, alas, it’s the best I have:
On the car down, magnificent:
They drive on the left in South Africa, like we do here in the UK – I say we very loosely, this is a life skill I have yet to acquire. So, on one of the days, we hired a car and Mr Man kindly drove us down the coast, primarily, to see Boulders Beach and Cape of Good Hope – both covered below.
The whole drive was picturesque, I really wish I’d taken a few time-lapse videos! There are plenty of signs warning you about everything from landslides to wild animals. Thankfully, there are plenty of roadside points where you can pull up to take in the view and of course, a few pictures.
This was probably one of the most picturesque parts of the drive and I was definitely not ready for it! =( I just have this sad picture of us trailing behind a coach to show for it.
Stumbled into some wild baboons, they’re so big! There are signs everywhere warning you not to feed them. I guess they can get pretty vicious when they want to.
Seriously, can you imagine living here?!
We stopped at a cute little place called The Lighthouse Cafe for lunch. Completely head over heels in love with the decor.
We shared an unremarkable starter and dessert, and Mr Man’s pizza was also nothing to write home about – however, this pasta was dreamy! A tangle of tagliatelle, tossed in thee most perfect creamy alfredo sauce, littered with a generous serving of perfectly cooked (probably in butter!) mushrooms. Fresh herbs and more cheese on top.
I’d love another trough full.
Boulders beach is definitely one of my highlights of the whole trip. It’s one of the few places where you can see penguins, yes penguins, in South Africa. This breed are often referred to as the “jackass penguin,” because of their donkey-like braying. Upon arrival, you pay a small entry fee, allowing you access to a wooden observation walkway.
First little glimpse of them:
Note: Please prepare yourself for far too many pictures of penguins!
Hello, little guy…
EEK! Omg, these guys are soo cute!
There’s so many of them, chilling out on the beach. I mean, just look at it, who can blame them. That water is a kaleidoscope of perfect shades of teal, complemented by soft white sand… I’d be chilling too!
All the blue. All the penguins. ❤
They’ve set up numerous little nests for them around the beach to help them find somewhere safe to lay eggs and hide from predators.
They’re so elegant and fast underwater, but on land, the opposite, quite clumsy. They do, however, have the cutest waddle going for themselves:
Seriously, I wanted to bring one home with me. Could have happily spent the whole day there watching them.
Pano shot of Boulders Beach:
Cape of Good Hope
The Cape of Good Hope is the most South Western point of the African continent. When I was researching, I read that it’s the point at which the two oceans (Atlantic and Indian) meet, however, this actually moves around a bit, so sadly, it was something we didn’t get to see.
However, we definitely did see wild ostriches!
When you get there you can quite easily get to the top, from where the view is pretty special.
Stopped for a little photo break midway:
Pretty purple flowers!
And a, uh, new friend too…
The view from the top. The sea was pretty choppy with waves crashing into the rocks at the coast, it was still, somehow very calming to watch.
There’s a quote that was on my mind for much of the trip which kind of encapsulates it – “the cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears or the sea” – Isak Dinesen.
You can see some of the coastline from here too – rugged yet beautiful.
A huge botanical garden nestled at the Eastern foot of Table Mountain. It’s worth taking some time out to just go for a wonder and explore. You could quite easily spend the entire day here, it’s just so picturesque.
^ All the aloe.
There are a few recommended routes and I believe you can also get an audio guide etc, but we just decided to wing it.
^ Adore this quote.
Couldn’t get over this tree. I mean, what. It’s like something out of a book / film. So great.
^ Exotic flowers. Orange blossoms.
The treetop canopy walkway was opened to mark the 100th birthday of the gardens. It’s often referred to, quite appropriately, as the ‘boomslang,’ a tree snake. It’s path winds through the upper most branches, creating the impression of a snake’s ribcage in the air.
There were quite a few people around so I had to patiently wait around to get some good shots:
I believe at its highest point it’s 12m above ground, from where you have a great viewing point of table mountain. It’s a shame it was so cloudy!
Clifton is an affluent residential area in Cape Town which is home to four beaches, separated by large boulders and rocks. The beaches are simply named Clifton 1-4. Having had read online that the 4th was the most popular that’s what we opted for. I think we really lucked out because before long we had the entire beach to ourselves!
^ Well almost to ourselves!
We showed up an hour or two before sunset and it was pretty nippy thanks to the sea breeze – guess that’s why normal people had left!
There’s something so deeply calming and hypnotic about just sitting and watching the waves isn’t there?
Sky turning pink and orange.
❤ So beautiful.
Sunset panorama, not a single other person to be seen!
When I eventually got up to leave, I realised I was leaving my footprints behind and I simply couldn’t resist:
The Lion’s Head
The Lion’s Head is the pointy peak next to Table mountain, standing 669m tall. There’s a hiking trail that spirals around and takes around an hour to the top. If, like me, you stopped a million times in awe of the view, and had a sprained ankle, it’ll probably take 1hr30 -1hr45.
The path starts of deceitfully easily – you just start walking at an incline… Before long, there are stairs.
And glorious views.
And a couple of benches too:
The views are completely surreal.
At some point, the ascent became a little tougher and I had to pop my camera and my rather large phone, which doesn’t fit in most of my pockets, in my backpack.
The path splits into two – the ladder / chain route, “enter at your own risk” or a longer steeper hike. Needless to say, we opted for the latter. I was in no way interested in using metal chains to scramble up the rock face. Noooo, thank you very much. Slow and steady and safe is my general preference.
Eventually, after a bit of huffing and puffing and lots of swearing, and um, a few “why the hell are we doing this” type outbursts we made it to the top.
The view at the top made it totally worth it. I think for the final 20-30mins I was so focused on the clambering around and actually getting there in one piece that I’d forgotten to look around and take it in, then at the top, it was just jaw-dropping all over again. I mean, just look at this:
You get a full 360 view – that’s Robben Island that you can see in the distance. Another thing we sadly missed. We’d booked our tickets over a month in advance because they sell out pretty quickly, only to find, on the day, they’d cancelled boats out as the water was so rough. =(
Signal hill: at noon each day they fire a canon. We saw this from afar on our boat tour of the waterfront (pics below), a little tuft of smoke, then about 5-10 seconds heard the bang. Really exemplifies how much faster than noise light travels.
Panorama of Table Mountain and the 12 apostles from the top. I was in awe.
Th same again, with the sun setting.
I believe that’s the edge of Clifton beach in the pic below.
With the sun starting to set we got a move on – it was a long way down. And on a sprained ankle, it would take me a while.
Quite a few people had the same idea, so we followed the crowd and headed down. Unfortunately for me, (Mr Man couldn’t really have cared less), we soon arrived at the chain and ladder point. I won’t beat around the bush, I was petrified and had a
small meltdown, insisting that we head back up and take the other route, but alas, time was against us. I had to dig deep and with my shaky, clammy hands, I somehow braved it down. It felt like eternity before my feet hit solid ground and I think the mass of people behind just added to the pressure I put on myself, but they were very kind and patiently waited whilst I inched my way down on my poor sore ankle.
But with views like this ahead of us, once I stopped shaking, it was pretty magical. I still swore a lot – going down seemed more tricky than going up.
Before long, darkness fell. Props to my new iPhone 7 plus for this shot. Seriously impressed.
Such an amazing experience.
The Victoria and Albert Waterfront is a working harbour and a popular place to shop and dine. I think we popped down here twice on our trip, the first time to explore, the second in a failed attempt to visit Robben Island. (Sea was too rough and the ferry was cancelled).
The views of Table Mountain are pretty special from here:
And random places you can see seals:
The V&A food market is also worth checking out.
I thoroughly recommend grabbing a burger at Woodies. It looks an absolute mess but it tasted great – I went for the chicken with a creamy mushroom and green pepper sauce and Mr Man opted for a beefy chilli one. The chips were really enjoyable too.
On another occasion, we tried out the Tunisian delights – their chicken sandwich with sweet chilli (not sure how North African that is…?) was delightful.
Took a little catamaran boat tour of the harbour – you can also see the football stadium quite clearly from here.
And random seals make their appearance, chilling out, enjoying the sun.
Formerly known as the Malay Quarter, Bo-Kaap is a former township and now a multicultural residential area with cute little colourful houses. The museum is also worth a quick visit for some more background on the history of the place.
So vibrant, so cute!
Colourful houses make me happy.
We stopped at Bo-Kaap Kombuis for some Malaysian lunch – the menu was a bit of an eye sore so I quickly opted for the chicken denning vleis and Mr Man chose for the bobotie. The sauce my chicken came in was quite nice – pretty sure there was some tamarind in there to give it that slightly sweet and sour note. The rootis are worth getting – delicious!
Signal Hill in the background here:
We also stopped in the Batavia Cafe – it’s cute and quirky but the food and coffee were both pretty disappointing if I’m honest.
Food & Drinks
A few placed I wanted to mention, where the food / drink was worth checking out. All the pics from here on were taken on my phone because I was too lazy. Soz.
Great food and service – salmon teriyaki was delicious and Mr Man’s steak, he informed me, was also really good.
It’s worth ordering dessert too – chocolate fondant:
Exceptional service with unique food and uh, chilli in the drinks, because, why not. Lime, ginger beer and mint, muddled with plenty of ice and topped with some chilli powder for an extra kick. Really delicious.
We opted to share the set meal for two – a mixture of veggie and meat / chicken / prawn dishes laid out in a traditional fashion, over a bed of injera. Rip up some of the injera and get stuck in. We also ordered some teff, a brown, healthier equivalent pancake / bread which I found to be even yummier.
And, Ethiopian coffee, one of my faves. Served up with fresh warm popcorn.
Talking about coffee – this place was a gem. I definitely popped in at least four times. Great coffee, friendly staff, nice vibe – oh, and free wifi. The iced coffee is worth trying too.
Cute decor. Decent chicken sandwich.
The star of the show here was the dessert, malva pudding.
A soft, spongey, sticky, caramel pudding with apricot jam. served up with warm custard. Yum.
That’s it for Cape Town – hope you guys enjoyed! Next post will be the Garden Route.