I finally made it to South Africa! I have never visited the vast continent before so reaching this mark on my around the world adventure is a huge milestone. I really tried to tame my expectations but was blown away by how much I fell in love with this place.
Cape Town was my first stop after a grueling 26 hours travel time from Beijing. The charming town did not disappoint with Table Mountain backdropping the skyline. The colors, the air, the vibes...ah I just love this place. My only regret was not having more time.
Hike Table Mountain
Table Mountain, one of the new wonders of the world, looks flat as a board on top. The panoramic view from the top can't be beat with full city and coastal views. There are over 900 different hiking trails ranging from 3-5 hours long on average. The most popular trail is +-3 hours .
I am a big hiker and somehow this short hike left me crawling up the mountain by the end (literally, I crawled over the last rocks). The deceiving climb starts out easy enough but gets steeper and steeper until there is no turning back. And what an accomplishment it was! We enjoyed cold water at the cute cafe on top of the mountain while soaking in the stunning views.
Piece of advice
Don't hike unless the cable car is running. Once you make it to the top the chances of you wanting to hike back down are slim to none.
Take the cable car to the top of Table Mountain
Like many people (and like me on day 1) you may start the hike and decide an hour in "nope" and turn back around. No matter, a lovely cable car will take you up in 5 minutes for just a few dollars.
You can take pictures and enjoy the view while looking fresh and new (unlike me on day 2). Be sure to check their website to make sure the car is running as it frequently shuts down during high winds.
You may be shocked to see dassies hopping around the top of table mountain. These little furry animals are native to South Africa and look like a cross between a gerbil and a rabbit - cutest things ever!
Visit Camps Bay
Camps Bay is a stunning cove opposite to the Cape Waterfront. It has beautiful mansions built along a hill similar to Laguna Beach. The white sand and turquoise water make for a breathtaking view. There are fun bars and restaurants along the water that make for a great sunset stroll.
Stroll through Victoria and Alfred waterfront
The famous Waterfront is as charming as it is lively. Street performers, bars, and shops draw in locals and tourists alike. Stop for a glass of wine or ride the ferris wheel. Several seafood restaurants along with a market full of specialty restaurants and shops provide plenty of options for food.
In fact, the Victoria and Alfred market houses a juice/smoothie shop and raw vegan fast food shop (called the Hungry Herbivore). Raw pizza and chocolates anyone?
Indulge in the exotic superfoods and teas local to South Africa
Rooibos tea, baobab, moringa, coffee and chocolate. The list goes on and on. These treats are African superfoods (and vices) that you must try in Cape Town. Rooibos is an African root packed with antioxidants. I drink the tea back home in the U.S. with a higher price tag and less availability - but not here. It is organic just about everywhere and costs close to nothing because it grows everywhere. Yum! I had about 3 cups a day.
Baobab and moringa I saw everywhere. The native plants only grow in Africa and have healing properties and nutrients. I had them added to my smoothies for an energy boost every morning. I actually had never even seen these in the U.S. so what a fun discovery it was. Oh and how can I forget coffee and chocolate (aka my two biggest weaknesses in life)?
Raw, organic, local chocolate is all too easy to find and the coffee in South Africa can't be beat (except maybe by Tanzanian coffee). The biggest challenge was to not go crazy over the inexpensive fine treats in town.
Get your vegan on
Who would have thought? Organic vegan restaurants everywhere. This was so nice after 2 months in Asia of not having anything of the sort. Downtown CT has a cluster of little juice bars and vegan cafes within close proximity. It was the perfect boost before that Table Mountain hike.
Shop downtown at the greenmarket square
If you are looking to get souvenirs this is the place. The colorful fabrics and beads along with carved wood pieces make the perfect gift. Even if you don't want to buy anything this market is fun to walk through.
Go on a sunset cruise
Yes, do this. All you need is good company and a little vino. Africa's waters and coastline are truly breathtaking.
Drive along the coast to Cape Point
California? Is that you? No, it is actually Africa. I couldn't believe I wasn't home in San Diego for parts of this drive. I was quickly reminded by the vast site of table mountain and distinct blue color of the sparkling ocean.
Cape Point is one of the most southern tips of Africa and also displays the merging of the Indian and Atlantic ocean. The colliding of these great masses of water can be seen as the colors are different shades of blue. The drive from Camps Bay is about an hour and a half.
Take a day trip to the wine country of Stellenbosch
Stellenbosch is truly magnificent. It reminds me of Napa Valley with an old colonial style of the B&Bs and restaurants. Such a charming and quaint town actually houses a popular university with 28,000 students. There are organic wineries all over for wine tasting along with hundreds of hiking trails.
Amazing organic restaurants? Yes, that too. No need to have a toxic wine tasting tour when you can elegantly sip on local organic wine and hike it off the next day. The best part is Stellenbosch is a quick 45 minute drive from Cape town.