I've travelled a fairly decent chunk of Africa up to now, but South Africa had always been right up there in my bucket list. Right on the southern hemisphere of Africa, South Africa is famed for its wonderful city, Cape Town, as well as for Kruger National Park, found north of Cape Town, a 6 hour drive from Johannesburg. So when one of my good friends invited me to her wedding in South Africa, needless to say I was pretty damn keen.
Myself and my better half flew to Johannesburg, connected to Cape Town and then rented a little Fiesta for the rest of our 3 week trip, starting at the BIG Backpackers, a cozy B&B run by fun-loving South African locals. One thing worth mentioning is that driving is fairly easy in South Africa, since the roads are much quieter than London and everyone drives on the left hand side. I didn't drive (thankfully), but we had no problems at all during our trip.
Cape Town is one of those wonderful cities that has everything you could possibly want. It's modern without being cosmopolitan, it has huge beaches as far as the eye can see (perfect for surfers), it boasts an enormous amount of wildlife (Cape penguins, whales, sharks, seals and birds to mention a few), and the food is generous, cheap and delicious in most places you'll go to. You do have to look out for trouble and keep your wits about you, but that goes for most cities when you're the "foreigner" and don't know your way around, or which areas you should steer clear from.
We started our trip with a 3 hour hike up the infamous Table Mountain (it was close to 30 degrees while we were climbing), which provided the most beautiful views once we'd finally reached the top. I struggled, admittedly, as the boulders were almost as big as me, but with some rest and water stops along the way it's a really rewarding hike. Be warned, the winds at the top are extremely strong and you will feel like you're going to be blown off the mountain. I was told that in the Summer period (October to mid February) it would be extremely busy, with long queues to go on the cable cars, but since we visited in the Autumn (May), we had no problems at all and it didn't feel touristy in the slightest. After a wobbly cable car ride back down, we ventured to the V&A Waterfront for a well-earned drink and bite to eat, before heading to dinner at the luxurious Kloof Street Haus, where we feasted on oysters, the best bouillabaisse I've tried, ostrich steak (when in South Africa), and quenched our thirst with delicious cocktails.
The rest of our week consisted of a dramatic hike up Lion's Head, (not for the faint-hearted) with the most stunning panoramic views of Cape Town, a trip to see the famous Cape Penguins at Boulder's Beach, a Hen do and delicious dinner in Kalk Bay, and afternoons spent exploring the beaches (Llandudno beach is the prettiest) and admiring the surfers for braving the freezing, shark-infested waters to catch the best waves.
We’d end our days with drinks at the restaurants, and Rooibos teas before bed (it's about 15 degrees at night so why not), before heading to bed ahead of an early start the next morning. Our hosts at our B&B were extremely friendly and fun-loving, and that goes for most of the South Africans that we met along the way. We had lots of laughs at my attempts to speak in a South African accent and our hosts attempt at cockney rhyming slang, and as we're both pretty curious and nosy people (mainly me), it was great to chat to some really interesting people and find out about their lives in Cape Town rather than not mingle at all.
I managed to squeeze a few yoga practises into my days while travelling, admittedly not a full hour, but just enough to feel stretched out after long hikes or long drives. Yoga in South Africa is up and coming and I would have loved to have tried some classes out, if our tight schedule had allowed it.
Read up about my next adventure on the Garden Route and on safari in my next post.