Cape Town

After my epic safari, I made my way down to Cape Town, where I would end up spending the next week and a half. The New York Times had proclaimed Cape Town as the #1 destination in the World for 2014, probably in part because it is the World Design Capital for 2014.

During my stay in Cape Town I always had my guard up, since South Africa in general is not a very safe place from everything I’ve heard.This was only validated during my stay in Cape Town, nothing major, I just never truly felt safe there, which is a shame because it’s a beautiful city. The cardinal rule was to never go out at night alone, which already raises some flags about the safety of a city. So traveling as a solo backpacker, I often found myself staying in at night, or keeping it hyper local. The number of miscreants roaming the streets during the day curbed any desire to really see the city at night.

My first day there I decided to tackle Table Mountain, which is now one of the New7Wonders of Nature, the second of my RTW trip in addition to Halong Bay, and third overall with my trip to Iguazu Falls in January 2013. I had a pretty epic view of Table Mountain from my hostel, and it was really something special to watch at any time of day, but especially around sunset. There is a unique pressure system that causes the clouds to roll up from Camps Bay and then cascade off of Table Mountain, aptly dubbed the Table Cloth. I did some hiking for a few hours on paths up on top of the mountain, and had a nice day enjoying the sunshine and the view.

The next big thing on my list was to go Shark Cage diving, and I wanted to make sure I went with the best, so I

Great White Shark Breaching (via National Geographic)
Great White Shark Breaching (via National Geographic)

booked a trip with Apex, a company that has been featured by the Discovery Channel in the past. Unfortunately I didn’t get to dive. Upon inquiring about a booking online, their response went to my spam filter. Since they are a very popular operator, I was only able to get a trip that was scheduled to leave the day before my flight, obviously that got canceled, but I was lucky enough to have it rescheduled for the morning of my flight, and that too fell through because of bad weather. One of the unique things about South African Great White Sharks is that they breach from the water during certain times of year in order to catch their prey. Viewing some shots online, it looked absolutely amazing, so it may be something worth going back for during the right time of year.


Changing Stations at Muizenberg Beach
Changing Stations at Muizenberg Beach. See The Flag? Too Murky

I did get a few days of surfing in as well, down at Muizenberg Beach, which is roughly 45-60 minutes via train from Cape Town. Once again the surfing went pretty well, building on my solid day at Raglan in New Zealand. Not only is Muizenberg known as one of the best beginner surf breaks in South Africa, it is also a pretty popular beach for shark sightings close to shore, due to it’s proximity to Seal Island, and subsequently where a few of Shark Cage diving operators are. Muizenberg employs a method for spotting sharks that is pretty simple, and a little unnerving, but I guess it’s better than nothing at all. They have a dedicated shark spotter on top of the hill, he has a pair of binoculars and polarized sunglasses and a radio, and when he makes a spotting he’ll radio down to the tower to clear the water. There are 4 different flags, (Shark close to shore get out of the water, shark spotted swim at your own risk, all clear, and water is too murky to tell) and both of the days I went surfing the flag’s stated the water was too murky to see. Needless to say I survived, but it added some adventure to the experience. In terms of Shark Attacks, Australia is #1, USA is #2, and South Africa is #3. However, if you were to rank this based on the number of shark attacks based on the amount of coast, South Africa would move to #2, and Australia would stay at #1, which is pretty crazy to think, considering how much coast line Australia has.

For someone who really isn’t a good surfer, I have managed to surf in Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, Indonesia, Costa Rica and the US. Not too shabby, if I do say so myself! And I’ll most likely get some surfing in while in Portugal, which is all good practice for this summer, when hopefully I can go out more to try and catch some waves consistently.

African Penguins at Boulders Beach
African Penguins at Boulders Beach

I also rented a car with a fellow American I met at my hostel, she was doing a similar RTW trip and we made a day trip down to Boulders Beach, a beach known for it’s inhabitants, the African Penguin! We also made it the Cape of Good Hope, which is which is where the Indian Ocean meets the Atlantic, and the South-Western most point of the African continent.

Adding some culture to the trip, I felt obliged to visit Robben Island as well, and it really wasn’t the best tour, and a little out-of-the-way, but something necessary for me based on how much time I was there. For those that don’t know, Robben Island is the prison located off of Cape Town, and was used as a political prison for those that were seen as threats to the Apartheid movement, the most famous prisoner being Nelson Mandela. I also took the trip on the day before Human Rights Day in South Africa, which commemorates the day that the world took notice of the atrocities happening in South Africa, and placed embargoes on South Africa, although it’s a national holiday, it didn’t seem like many people knew much about it though.

Food and Drink whilst in Cape Town was ridiculously cheap. I was paying roughly $1-2 for beers and $5-10 for a very good meal, which was a welcomed departure from the price gouging of those items in OZ and NZ.

I’d highly suggest making a visit down to South Africa if you get a chance, and Cape Town is worth a good 3-5 days to truly enjoy it!