*Today, I am proud to invite the fabulous Linda Sage to guest blog on Globetrotter Guru. I met Linda through a mutual friend, and worked with her on social media strategy planning through my business, Trumpeter Media. Linda has travelled extensively and has recently visited Cape Town in South Africa.
Cape Town – South Africa by Linda Sage
As the third leg of my journey was finally coming to a close and my destination of Cape Town laid out a few thousand feet below me, my traveller’s tiredness evaporated when I looked out of the aircraft window and was enthralled by what looked like a large undulating cloth of spun gold threads over a pitch black background. This first view of the area of South Africa at night is one to be remembered.
Travelling to Cape Town
Once on the ground, the spun gold effect was shown to be the unique colour of their street lights, an amber light covering casts a soft and enhancing light, much easier on the eye than many others I have seen. A long, complicated journey with flight changes which in the end took over 24hrs, plus the working day previously made the distance from Cape Town Arrival’s Terminal to the car hire seem like a marathon, but then their friendly, supportive service got me underway in a jiffy. Coming from the Middle East I had not driven for a while and in a new country, tired did seem a bit daunting, but their roads are well lit, well marked and easy to follow, making the final part of my journey a breeze. By the time I reached the hotel in Camps Bay all I wanted to do was hit the bed, I could hear a rumbling in the distance, but dismissed it. The following morning, with bright sunlight shining through the rooftop windows, I opened the curtains, wow…… the view of the white sands, iridescent blue sea, with waves crashing onto the rocks just a few feet away, palm trees and already many fitness enthusiasts of all ages, running, walking, cycling and playing football in the clear morning light.
A Morning Surprise!
I slowly looked to my right from my balcony to meet the majestic Lion’s Head and its rocky surroundings, following on from there, the undeniable outline of Table Mountain, with the cable cars like miniature toys going up and down the craggy expanse from the foot to the top of the mountain. Breath taking is an understatement, it made everything that had gone on the day before, melt into oblivion.
Camps Bay, Cape Town
Camps Bay is a very popular resort area of Cape Town, fairly affluent tourist zone. An array of restaurants, cafes, shops and boutiques are on a flat easy access road, which is something unusual for this area, as most access points are by hills and steps. Although tourist orientated, Camps Bay only has one limited chemist and one smallish supermarket, but the restaurants and cafes offer a huge variety and amazingly good value for money. Situated on the scenic bus routes, it also makes getting out and about without a car very easy. Though the South African sun is very different from the Med, or the Middle East, running round on these buses, which connect to other lines with recorded narration, makes sightseeing very easy and gives you a great orientation of where to go back to. These buses also give you an insight to the very colourful history of this Rainbow Nation.
Long Street, Cape Town
The water front in Cape Town is always busy, modernly refurbished, from shops to fine dining, burger joints to pots of beer, anything and everything you could need to spend time wandering and getting a feel for this beautiful city. This area is just a stone throw away from Long Street which by day is an unassuming commercial area, but by night is the heart of the music, social and dining scene of this city.
Driving in Cape Town
While driving in the Cape Town area, the roads in general are a pleasure; going along the coast road from Camps Bay to the southern Capes is scenic and stark at the same time. Take time to stop in places for photographs, of thatched cottages nestling below the road line, to huge expanses of white beach occupied only by the odd person and their dog.
Chapman’s Peak takes you along the coastal route to Simon’s Town, Boulder Bay and the National Park that is home to both Capes and many animals, although I saw many more road signs warning about the dangers of Baboons, than I actually saw the animals. The stunning scenery, the mesmerizing dash of the surf against the rocks, holds you spellbound at every turn. Even if you are not a photographer, you cannot help taking photos. The Capes are busy with tourists from all around the world; a cacophony of languages resonates in all directions. Neither Cape is very accessible for people who cannot walk very well, limited access by road and the funicular car, but the magic of feeling on the top of the end of the world is really for the more agile.
Simon’s Town is a small, quaint town home to most of the shark diving companies, this was a wonderful experience, just bouncing around on the small vessel to get to Seal Island is worth the trip. If you are lucky there are pods of playful dolphins that will escort you some of the way. Although the sea looks beautiful, it is cold! Even with a wetsuit the cold and sometimes murky waters do not offer the best view of the elegant sea monsters that sharks look like up close and personal.
Views from the boat can often afford a more panoramic view than from the cage, but of course it cannot offer the same emotions, though pretty close enough. Eating in one of the small restaurants here, has to be fish and it is not disappointing, melting in your mouth, flaky white succulent fish is just the most amazing way to end you hours at sea.
Boulder Bay is a stone’s throw away from Simon’s Town, very accessible and delightful, seeing the colony of penguins living and playing on the sand and in the surf. Great photos in this area as well. This is just a short walk on wooden decking quite an easily accessible place. Although, you have to park a bit of a distance from the entrance, but it is all on a road tarmac surface. Only a couple of small shops and a café or two there, but a wonderful place for ice cream.
A Helicopter Ride around the Peninsular
Taking a helicopter ride around the peninsular is a great way of seeing the contrasting areas, especially if you are pushed for time. With such a great exchange rate from the British Pound it is not such a luxury as in many other locations. The pilots are local, knowledgeable and insightful, certainly a highlight for me.
Table Mountain, clearly is the heart of this area and coming here without visiting this legend would be a travesty, but don’t leave it until the last day of your visit, because visibility and winds could rob you of this opportunity. Travelling up the easy way by cable car, offers magnificent views in all directions of the coast, in a slow secure climb in a revolving car. For those more fitness minded there are trails and pathways leading in all directions to the top, apparently great climbing opportunities as well for the not faint of heart. The view from the top, of all the coast and Robyn Island is magical, the colour of the sea and the white beaches frame the landline as far as you can see. There are all sorts of walks at the top, from short paved ones to quite mountainous tracks, the choice is yours. There is one café and gift shop at the top, to sit and enjoy the views around you.
South African Wine
No South Africa trip would not be done without a visit to a wine maker and with the local sightseeing buses you can link up easily with the Constantia Wine area, the oldest wine in the Cape Town area, although the grounds were well kept and the original house preserved; the highlight of this trip was the incredible tour guide, her articulation, passion and wholehearted positive enthusiasm for food and wine, brought the entire visit alive.
Her eloquent verbal embraces in the descriptions of the wine and exquisite food combination had my mouth water even for wines that previously I had not enjoyed. An exceptional depth of knowledge delivered in a very humanistic, humorous and warm way.
Game Reserve – The Big 5
Of course the highlight of the stay for me had to be a game reserve, driving over two hours from Camps Bay though the new tunnel and Stellenbosch wine lands, a huge contrast in environment from the coastal area, dry, arid land with huge eruptions of rock formations around a well made road, made for an easy journey to Aquila Game Park, champers reception and amazing lodge breakfast before setting out on a few hours of safari. To be honest, the trail was not very long, the genial host and the spectacular big five were enough to make this day one that I will treasure for a very long time. The elephants played to the cameras, the giraffes lofty haughtiness and almost disdainful looks at us tourists, as much to say “What are you doing in my backyard!” had all the cameras clicking, zebras, buffalos, wildebeest, rhinoceros and hippos all had their enchantment, but for me there was nothing like seeing the King of the Beasts in his natural habitat, an amazing lion and his protective lionesses at his side was the icing on the cake for me, thank goodness for good camera lenses! Difficult to see as they blend into the stone clad hillside spectacularly well, but just one picture is worth it and something that has been embedded in my memory forever.
South Africa – A Fabulous Place to Be!
South Africa, just a fabulous place, so much to see, superbly amicable and friendly people, exceptional value for money, somewhere that had been on my “To Do” list for a very long time, but one that I will definitely be returning to as soon as a longer visit is possible.
Many people paint the place with horror stories of violence and crime, I know that nowhere in the world is a safe haven, but I did not have one single moment of fear, doubt or uncertainly in my time there, in fact the people in general could not have been more hospitable, sociable or friendly; great service in every place I went, the food portions are like the US, so a good breakfast and dinner is all you need, variety is no issue no matter how discerning you palate, or conservative your taste, you will never go hungry. Though, it is important to keep your water intake up, as the sun does affect your body. Without sounding like a sign-up for the South African Tourist Board, Cape Town and the surrounding area truly is “THE” place to see and experience, there is so much to see and do, for every age and interest. If you enjoyed this blog, you might also enjoy reading about things to do in Cape Town.