Spring Break: Cape Town Edition

Remy B. University of Cape Town, South Africa

Date

April 13, 2015

Table Mountain & the 4 Day Garden Route Adventure

This one has to be full of pictures, as there is no adequate way to describe the adventure, exploration, laughter, and memory making that occurred over spring break in and around Cape Town.

The “vac” as it’s called here began with an entirely unprecedented hike up the famous Table Mountain last Saturday. What was supposed to be a walk around the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens and a “short and easy” hike with a friend turned into the most gorgeous, terrifying, but epic adventure here in Cape Town. From Skeleton’s Gorge, we just kept going. As we reached the top of the mountain, the sun was on it’s way out. This made for the most beautiful scene I had ever witnessed. We frolicked on the rocks like we were on top of the moon, and it was out of a fairytale for a few minutes. The only problem was that the cable car was on the opposite side of the mountaintop, so we ran like Olympians and somehow found our way to the cable car station just in time to take the last car down with the Table Mountain staff. Unreal.

On Monday I left early in the morning to begin a 4 day adventure tour along the Garden Route with Southern Ambition Africa (travel company). I decided to join a random group for the tour and got to meet new people from all over the world (Germany, Colombia, South Africa, and the US).

Day 1: Started with a tour of the Spier Winery in Stellenbosch and driving through the wine-lands.

We then drove to the town of Wilderness where we stayed the night at the Beach House Backpackers, and got watched the sun set over the beach, which was glorious. The Backpackers had the most relaxing, chill vibe, and I could have stayed there forever talking to travelers from all over.

Day 2: In the morning we woke up to watch the sunrise, and then took a walk along an abandoned railroad track to reach a cave. This cave used to be a restaurant, and when it was closed, all of the tables, chairs, as well as the structures/kitchen were left behind. A man named Clifford (who was experiencing homelessness) decided to move in several years ago, and he now takes in other people in homeless situations and gives them responsibilities around the cave. It’s completely decorated with shells and different crafts, and we had the chance to walk through the intricate layout of rooms inside. It was the most whimsical place I have ever seen.

After touring the cave, we went canoeing along the Black River (water wars ensued no doubt) and stopped at a trail head on the side of the river. We hiked barefoot through the lush mountains and ended up at a beautiful waterfall with a large area to swim underneath it. We headed back to get ready for our visit to the elephant sanctuary.

Elephants are my favorite animal to ever exist, so I was living my dream in that picture. My elephants name was Jabulina, or “Jabu” for short :) She was phenomenal. Next we went to Monkeyland, a sanctuary that takes in all kinds of monkeys. We found this little one (a baby squirrel monkey) eating behind a tree, which was arguably the cutest event I have ever witnessed.

We ended the day at our next backpacker lodge, African Array, and were treated to one of the most delicious homemade authentic South African dinners. We relaxed by the fire and mentally prepared for the next morning: bungy jumping from the world’s highest bungy bridge!

Day 3: We woke up early to head out to the Bloukrans Bridge in near Plettenberg Bay, and had the best time leaping into the beautiful scenery below the bridge. This was easily the most amazing activity of the trip. After the jump, we headed to Tsitsikamma National Park to have lunch, relax on the beach, and hike to a suspension bridge that crosses the mouth of the Storms River. This place was paradise.

After lunch in Tsitsikamma, we headed to the largest Rastafarian community in South Africa, known as Judah Square. We took a walking tour of the community with Brother Zeb, who explained and demonstrated several aspects of life in the community.

After the visit to Judah Square, we drove to our last (and best) backpackers called Afrovibe, located right on the beach. We got there just in time to watch the sunset over the mountains down by the water. We had another delicious authentic South African dinner, and then danced for hours and jumped in the ocean around 4am to finish off the night.

Day 4: We headed out around 8am to make our way to the first stop of the day, which was an ostrich farm. We got to feed, hug, and ride the ostriches and learn about their history and importance in South Africa. After this visit, we headed to the Cango Caves, a complex system of tunnels and chambers that was discovered in the mountains. This was also one of my favorite stops on the trip, and it was incredibly mind-blowing to walk through. Go nature.

After exploring the caves, we headed to the Cango Wildlife Ranch to see a ton of animals and get the chance to interact with some of them. I chose to do the lemur encounter, which is exactly what it sounds like. They climb all over you and play with you for a few minutes, which is like living in Madagascar for a brief moment.

After our time at the wildlife ranch, we settled in for the ride back to Cape Town. This trip solidified the fact that I will be back, and this is not the only time I will be living in the Mother City.

Thanks for reading!

Salani Kakuhle!

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South Africa