Our first week in South Africa – Discovering Cape Town
Last week we flew from Frankfurt to Cape Town for a dream three-week trip through South Africa. This destination has been on our bucket list for a long time and it was finally time to discover it. We are happy to take you on our adventure and will love to get to know You in South Africa. We started our first week south Africa in Cape Town and it went like this.
It started well, our trip to South Africa. After a day travelling by train from Belgium to Frankfurt, we were exhausted when we got there. Luckily we had booked a hotel near the airport to get a bit of sleep between our train journey and the flight. Until we got to the airport, we were convinced that this would only be an eight-hour flight. Haha, not so. How could we be so wrong? We rarely look for how long a flight really is, otherwise the courage is already in our shoes.
No, we really don’t like flying anymore. That’s why we sometimes gamble how long flying is to our destination. Sometimes that turns out better and it’s a boost for our mood, but sometimes it also turns out negative, like now. Especially the hours of waiting at the airport, is getting more boring for us. And we also didn’t see a 12-hourflight , instead of eight hours. On top of this, it was an overnight flight too. Hurray!
Although we scored an upgrade for our flight, it was a hellish flight. Agree, the seats were comfortable and there was a lot of legroom. Also the food and drink was tasty. And the staff did even better to make it pleasant for us. But an overnight flight? Never again! Everyone sleeps while we consciously experience every hour with our eyes wide open. We are among the “lucky” minority who can’t sleep on a plane. And this 12 hours straight. I would never want to do this again, but unfortunately our return flight is also an overnight flight within 3 weeks. With a stopover on top, but more on that later. Let’s push that out until the time is right.
Cape Town reached
After about twelve hours of flying, and about thirty hours straight awake, we had finally arrived in Cape Town. The first song we heard on African soil in the airport taxi to our Airbnb? Can you feel the love tonight from the Lion King. And the second? Africa by Toto. No joke! We were already in the mood. Despite the fatigue, a smile still appeared on our faces.
We booked our stay weeks in advance through Airbnb. It is a nice colorful house in the middle of a quiet neighborhood near the sea. Most of the attractions can be found nearby. A true prime location! There was no immediate mention of sightseeing on our arrival day, we first took a long nap. Five hours later we woke up with raging hunger and then we went to explore the local neighbourhood for a nice bite. To go back to sleep and start the next day fresh.
Helicopter flight over Cape Town
Our first day of discovery in Cape Town was an instant blast of size! What’s the best way to get an impression of a city? From the air of course! We were going to discover Cape Town on a helicopter flight. We had both never done this before, but it had been on our bucket list for a long time. We kept waiting until we were at a destination that must have been really impressive from above and this was it. Cape Town is truly stunning from the air! It was a very impressive flight with a lot of useful information from our pilot. An experience to remember. We’d do it again, but the price tag will hold us back.
The next few days we spent on the cozy Waterfront. This is a small port town where there are many good restaurants and a unique atmosphere. There are several live artists at work and there is a huge shopping centre with African souvenir shops but also the well-known big brands. It is a jumble of different cultures and crafts. A place where they might see us a lot in the next few weeks.
Aquarium and art in Cape Town
We also visited cape town’s Two Oceans aquarium. This is one of the greatest in the world. And that’s not a lie. We saw fish we never saw before and there was a huge aquarium to be found with sharks, small and large fish, rays and much more. Very impressive! Coincidentally, we came across Watershed after our visit to the aquarium. A very cozy place where all kinds of local artists offer their works of art and their craftsmanship for sale. Admittedly, most “souvenirs” are a bit more expensive here, but you will meet and support the real artists of these gems.
Cape Point National Park
The highlight of this week, however, was our visit to one of the National Parks of South Africa. We chose to book a tour to Cape Point National Park and Boulders Beach Penguin Colony. So the first part of the tour went to the Cape of Good Hope National Park and the part where Cape Point, the pointy top at the tail of Cape Town, is located. This is South Africa as you imagine it! Endless roads through a beautiful natural landscape with wild animals such as baboons, ostriches, antelopes and various species of birds. As if this wasn’t pretty enough, the entire nature park is once again surrounded by ocean on one side and mountains on the other, providing breathtaking views. Admittedly, we have never seen such a view before in our lives. Simply sublime!
To enjoy some views we also had to climb a bit. The famous lighthouse at the highest point at Cape Point requires some energy, of which we still have muscle pain in our legs today. Also for the route from the lighthouse to the ocean below, you needed some muscle strength. But every climb was more than worth it! The views here are so fantastic. It’s like a dream. You have to see this in real life to believe how beautiful it really is here. We even saw a couple of wild antelopes and ostriches up close and on the way back also some wild baboons. Fortunately these latter from a safe distance as they can be aggressive. Great to see how these animals are at home here!
Boulders Beach Penguin Colony
After this visit it was time to meet the famous penguins of South Africa. We were all set! Boulders Beach is about an hour’s drive from Cape Point National Park. We already saw on social media some beautiful images of people posing with the penguins. However, we don’t want to stress animals, so we wouldn’t take a picture too close anyway, but we wanted a photo from a distance with these cute animals! Unfortunately, Boulders Beach is made for the visitors (not for the animals) so that you walk on a wooden road above the beach and therefore can not come into direct contact with the penguins (unless you deviate from the path).
Apparently they have only done this just as the animals were under too much stress from tourists. Understandable choice that we fully support! Of course it is better this way for the animals, and that should definitely be priority number one, but it was still a small disappointment that we did not walk among the animals. It felt a bit like going to the zoo to look at the penguins, but in their natural habitat. We didn’t stay there long. We thought the entrance price was far too high, because on the beaches next to this attraction, you could also see penguins from a distance. A tip: you shouldn’t pay in, rather look around the other beaches nearby and you will also spot penguins!
Although we felt like real tourists during this day, something we normally hate, yet we could recommend this tour of Cape Point National Park and Boulders Beach toanyone. We are usually not in favour of organized tours and usually choose to discover something ourselves, but in this case a tour is the best choice. Renting a car yourself was not an option for us because of the other traffic rules and the hours of driving on unknown roads. It would have put us under too much stress.
We stopped this tour several times and had the choice of which sights we were taking in and whether or not we paid to enter to see the penguins for example. Our guide on the bus also gave a playful explanation of the places we passed during the day. This humorous man was in itself a tourist attraction! The full eight hour tour we laughed. Plus: on the bus was also wifi and water available. All benefits for us!
More Cape Town next week
The next few days and weeks are still very fun and exciting things planned including a visit to the wine region of South Africa and a safari. Next week you can read another update of our travel stories in South Africa! Until then!