One week back in the real world (particularly with this New York chill) and I’m missing South Africa! SA is stunningly beautiful and vast, and although my trip was short (only nine days) I feel like I got to do and see so much!
I booked this trip with my travel buddy and a few other friends many months ago with Smartours. The prepackaged tour called for several days in Cape Town and then a quick romp in Kruger National Park on safari.
Cape Town is South Africa’s second largest city after Johannesburg, and it’s beautiful, cosmopolitan, and very diverse with over 3.7 million people living there. Located on the Western Cape, the city is well-known for its landmarks Table Mountain and Cape Point as well as Robben Island, the prison located off the coast where Nelson Mandela was held for 18 years. I only had three full days there so I had to narrow down the top things to do in a short amount of time. Over the next several days I’ll share with you my top 10 attractions.
No. 1–hands down–is Table Mountain. Yet it’s very possible to get up that mountain and have a horrible time. Why? Because the view can be hit or miss depending on the clouds and freezing depending on the weather. So it’s best to get there early in the day before the clouds roll in.
We caught the City Sightseeing Hop-On Hop-Off tour bus at 9 a.m. Our goal was to take the bus to Table Mountain. We bought tickets for the cable car that takes you over 3,000 feet to the summit days before on their website (to avoid the long lines onsite). It’s definitely worth buying the tickets ahead of time because they are good for 14 days, and if you don’t make it up the mountain because of bad weather refunds are offered.
That morning it was a bit cloudy so we road the bus and got off at a few of the stops, but when we saw a break in the clouds we made a beeline up the mountain.
We were not disappointed. The panoramic view is magnificent. You can see all of Cape Town and beyond, out to Robben Island, and the vast ocean which seems to surround Cape Town on all sides. Tina and I hiked the rocky paths that extend all over the top of the mountain. It’s possible to walk to the farthest points on the mountain peaks if you have the right shoes on.
It gets cold up there so it’s also a good idea to dress warm. It’s possible to skip the cable car and hike up to the top on some well worn paths. And if you really want adventure, there’s guided rock climbing and paragliding offered at the top. But for those who wish to play it a bit safer, there’s a nice gift shop with warm food and drink!
Coming up next: The V&A Waterfront in Cape Town