It’s been so fun to play tourists this week as we’re getting to know our new city–going out to explore while the rest of our American world is still sleeping. Both of us can hardly believe we’re here. I had a moment as I was going to sleep one night this week, where I thought suddenly: “I’m in Cape Town.” I turned over to tell Chas–he needed to know, too. Does he know? We’re in South Africa! It’s bizarre. Here are a few highlights of things we’ve done this week.
An Afternoon in Hout Bay
Our friend James, who was on the same Ethiopia trip we took a few years ago, picked us up to give us the grand tour, advice for living here and to feed us. We took the long way to his house in Hout Bay, and ended the afternoon with a windy walk on the beach.
When the clouds move in over Table Mountain, as seen in the background above, it’s aptly called the “table cloth.”
Kirstenbosch Gardens + Hiking Table Mountain
One morning, we ventured out to Kirstenbosch for a sweet walk through the most insane gardens. It rests against the eastern slope of Table Mountain and is appropriately dubbed the most beautiful gardens in Africa.
We hadn’t planned on a proper hike up Table Mountain yet, as we were still pretty jet lagged, but we followed a trail from the gardens named “Skeleton Gorge,” figuring we’d take it as far as we could. Good plan, eh? “Skeleton Gorge” sounds like a breeze.
It’s so unsatisfying to start a hike, and not reach the good part–the summit. So, we pulled ourselves together, surveyed our stash [2 granola bars, 2 apples, one bottle of water, a Nokia phone that looks like it came from my high school JanSport backpack], and set out for the top (note: it was not enough stash). Once we got to the top of our trail, we realized it would take us another couple of hours to get to the “top” of Table Mountain. We figured, What’s another 3 hours’ hike? It’s probably pretty flat…like a table. Then we’ll take the Cable Car down from the other side, catch a taxi back to Kirstenbosch. No problem.
One thing that’s important to know about Table Mountain, is that it’s not so much a “table” as you’d assume looking at it from the bottom. It’s actually quite rugged terrain that just keeps going up. And, yes, the view is insane. But when that “table cloth” comes in, it comes in quickly, and it is cold and windy.
We finally made it to the Aerial Cableway, where we discovered that it was…closed. Because of wind. So that meant another 1.5 hour hike back down the other side of the mountain. Once we were in view of the parking lot, I spotted a taxi, and with some kind of beastly reserve of strength, ran the last leg of the trail to hail it. Next time, we’ll prepare a bit more.
Boulders Beach + Cape Point
We took our first little road trip out of the city down the coast to the southern tip of Africa (though not the southernmost), Cape Point, stopping first at Boulders Beach in Simonstown for some ice-cream and penguins.
Apparently, the penguins settled Boulders Beach in the ’80s. I don’t get it. Did they get lost?
A long way home.
It seems most tourists come in at the visitor’s entrance and drive straight through to the end at Cape Point. So when Chas and I took a few different roads through the National Park, we stumbled upon Buffels Bay, which was our own little secluded beach for the afternoon…minus a few baboons, ostriches, and elands.
The water was too icy-cold for me, but Chas went for a dip. I loved his last words: “Hey, keep an eye on those baboons and watch for sharks, ok?”
We rounded out the afternoon by driving home from Cape Point via Chapman’s Peak. The drive is both terrifying and incredible. The sheer drops and tiny roads weren’t especially fun for these faint-hearted drivers, but the views can’t be beat.
It was an ideal first week in Cape Town. How sick are you of all these ridiculous photos of amazing sights? Then, come visit us…it’s so much better in person!
Super cute photo texts were made using Cape Town Love.