The four of us arrived at our final destination in South Africa pretty late in the afternoon, after having spent the day around Simon’s Town to see the penguins. We navigated through Cape Town and after a while we found our AirBnB and a good parking spot. The apartment we rented was about 15 minutes from Longstreet, a main restaurant and bar street in town, and not far from Table Mountain, the iconic flat mountain that dominates Cape Town’s skyline. It had two bedrooms and a nice patio with a barbecue we could use, and it was almost the same price as getting four dorm beds in a hostel!
The same evening we went down to Longstreet to meet with some of our friends from our overland trip that started in Cairo. We started a bar called Beerhouse, where they serve 99 beers from all over the world and a selection of international food, including currywurst from Germany! We had a nice dinner and a few beers with our friends and then headed to an Irish bar a few meters away, but it was apparently too early and therefore empty, so we tried another bar called Sergeant Pepper, which was nice with a balcony up above the street where we sat!
Robben Island – Capetown
The next morning we had a trip to Robben Island booked! Robben Island is about 40 min by boat off the coast of Cape Town. It’s famous for the prison on the island that was used in the Apartheid years, the most famous inmate being Nelson Mandela. He was imprisoned on the island for 17 years. We got an Uber to the V&A Waterfront where the ferry to the island would take off. We had booked online as it was high season (otherwise booking in advance didn’t seemed to be necessary) and just had to show the tickets on our phones before getting on the ferry. The ride there had nice views of Cape Town from afar off the back of the boat. On the return trip we saw a couple of seals and penguins and heard of people who had even seen whales swimming by during other times of the year.
We got to the island and all the passengers got into two buses, which would take us to entrance of the prison where we met our guide. All the guides on Robben Island are former inmates, so they have some very personal stories and insights, which makes the tour much more interesting. The guide let us into one of the former cells and explained about living conditions and more in the prison.
After this we walked around and saw the cell of Nelson Mandela. It was super small and very basic, which made it even harder to imagine that he had to spend 17 years of his life in there. The tour in the prison took about an hour and then we hopped on the bus again. We were driven around the island some more to see other buildings, the village where workers and their families live, and the former quarry, where the prisoners had to work long hours cutting through limestone.
The tour came to an end and we were dropped of next to the ferry again, which took us back to the waterfront in Cape Town! There we decided to get some quick and cheap lunch at the shopping mall. While we were waiting for our food we ran into some of our friends from the overland trip again, so we had lunch together!
Table Mountain – Capetown
The next morning we had to wake up early, as we decided to hike up Table Mountain! It was summer in Cape Town, so we feared it might get a bit hot and an early start was in order. Instead of taking a taxi there we decided to be sporty and walk from our AirBnB. It took us about 45min to get to the Lower Cable Car station, where we would meet two of our friends who wanted to join us on the hike. The way there was mostly uphill and as we weren’t in great shape, it felt harder then it should.
We chose the path to the right of the cable car station, which took us up a steep hill for a while and then led to a path alongside the mountain for about 20 minutes. After this the path met with some other ways up and we started the very long way up Platteklip Gorge! The path was mostly stone steps leading in a zigzag route up to the plateau on top of Table Mountain. Luckily it was pretty cloudy this morning so we couldn’t really see the strenuous path further up (otherwise I might have wanted to stop) and the sun wasn’t too hard on us. Also the path can get very crowded, but we somehow were lucky that day and didn’t have too many people joining us up there.
About 1.5 hours and a lot of pain later we finally reached the top of the trail. As it was still relatively early we decided to hike along the plateau to the peak of table mountain instead of directly to the upper cable car station. The hike took us along a beautiful and luckily very flat area across some wooden bridges to the peak. There were great views of the bays of Cape Town, so it was a rewarding detour. We had a short break at the peak and then headed toward the cable car station, which took us about 45 minutes to walk to.
When we got there, it was still pretty cloudy and kind of cold, so we bought some hot chocolate in the cafe there and had our lunch. Just as we finished our break the sun finally came out and we were rewarded with some amazing views over Cape Town. We enjoyed them for a while and then started our hike back down, which turned out to be quite hard, going down the steep steps.
Wine Tour – Cape Town
For our next day in Cape Town we had booked a wine tasting tour with Wineflies, a company that some of our friends recommended to us. For around $50 we would visit 5 different wineries and taste about 30 different wines, including chocolate and cheese tasting and a barbecue for lunch. We were picked up with a minibus around 9am and then picked up about eight more people before driving toward Stellenbosch, a large wine producing region near Cape Town. The rest of the people with us were around our age and we started getting to know them as soon as we arrived at the first winery. The first winery we visited, Usana Wine Farm, was just added to the tour, recently they started producing their own wine and doing wine tastings there, before they just supplied other wineries with grapes. We were invited to sit in the living room of the owner’s house and tried five different wines while we learned about the proper way to taste wines. This included five steps, which we unfortunately couldn’t really remember after that day, probably due to the amount of wine we drank! We really liked the wine there, so I decided to buy a bottle for about $5.
We moved on to the second winery, which was small, but very old. There we were led into the wine cellar for a tasting, which were mostly red wines. With the wine they also offered a chocolate pairing, which made the whole experience even better.
Luckily all the wineries were pretty close to each other, so the drives were never longer than 20 minutes. At the next winery we learned more about the grapes and the process of making wine, which was also very interesting.
Our lunch was at the same winery, which was a very nice barbecue – the South African people call it braai. The lunch was very filling so we were ready for some more wine and drove on to the fourth winery we would visit. We tried some sparkling wine, more chocolate and some delicious biltong, a type of dried meat in South Africa. The last winery we visited was probably the biggest and most commercial one, there were tons of people and they had a big shop. With our last tasting we were offered some cheese, one for each wine. Some of the cheeses were really good, so after the tasting we headed back to the shop to try some more.
After tons of amazing wines and a fun time with the people we met we were driven back to Cape Town in the late afternoon – not without getting one last bottle of wine from Wineflies on the minibus which we split between all of us. Back in Cape Town we weren’t able to do much more after that much wine, so we just relaxed.
LION’S HEAD – Capetown
Despite the wine tour that we had the day before, we decided to hike up Lion’s Head early in the morning. Just as last time we walked from our apartment to the start of the hike and met some friends we made during the wine tour and from our overland trip there. The hike up Lion’s Head is a lot easier and more fun than up Table Mountain. The trail leads in circles around the mountain, so the views of Cape Town change all the time. Most of the trail is a relatively wide and easy path until the last part, where a little more climbing is necessary, but it is the most fun part. Miri’s relatives had told us about a secret cave – Wally’s Cave – on Lion’s Head, which is not well known and offers beautiful views. To get to the cave we squeezed between the fence and the rock just on the left of the first ladder we came across on the trail and hiked along a small, but still visible trail.
We knew we had to take a left at some point when we reached a fork, but we missed it the first time so we had to turn back. On the second trial we found the right path and found Wallies Cave after a short hike. It wasn’t huge, but very nice and the view over Table Mountain was rewarding. It was especially nice that there weren’t any other people, in contrast to the rest of the hike which was very crowded.
After this short detour we headed back to the regular path and continued our hike up. We decided to go up the more difficult path, which includes scrambling up some rocks, ladders and chains in the rock wall. It sounded more difficult than it actually was, in fact it was great fun.
After a while of scrambling we reached the top of Lion’s Head and were rewarded with amazing views over Cape Town and Table Mountain. We had a quick lunch up on the top and enjoyed the views before heading back down.
Devil’s Peak – Capetown
On one of our last days in Cape Town we decided to hike up Devil’s Peak, which is next to Table Mountain. We still needed to get in better shape for our big next destination: Kilimanjaro. To get to the starting point of the hike we basically took the same route as up Table Mountain, just before the path up the Platteklip Gorge there is a sign saying Devil’s peak and we followed that trail instead. The trail was beautiful along the mountain side and then up toward the peak. It was pretty steep as well but not even close to the route up Table Mountain. On top we had some different, but also very nice views over Cape Town and Lion’s Head. After a short break we headed back down and enjoyed the rest of our days in Cape Town with a barbecue, some more drinks on Longstreet and another trip to the waterfront.
We spent a week in Cape Town and were sad to leave this amazing place, but we promised to come back some day and we were also excited for our next destination – Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.