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I haven't been everywhere yet,

but it's on my list!

  • Writer's pictureDeborah Latham

Cape Town, South Africa

Updated: Sep 21, 2023

What's not to love in Cape Town? SmarTours (get $150 off - YOUR REFERRAL CODE: NGK-6KV)

Day 1 - Our first day started out with breakfast at the hotel, then a short bus ride to Table Mountain. When we arrived at Table Mountain, the winds had picked up and were too strong to be able to ascend to the top in the cable car. We detoured to the top of Signal Hill to enjoy the views of Table Mountain and across the bay. As the day progressed, we learned more of the history of Cape Town, from the arrival of the Portuguese to the Dutch Settlers. Our bus took us on a tour of the city then dropped us off for a short walking tour where we continued to learn the history of Cape Town. Our walk took us through the Company's Gardens, which is the oldest garden in South Africa and a heritage site.

From our city tour, we stopped at Victoria Wharf for restrooms, a quick lunch and to let those who needed to get local currency to use the ATM's. There was no time for shopping but were given a layout of the land in case we wanted to return on our own during free time. The wharf was bustling with tourists and locals alike. There were several restaurants, breweries, and quaint shops to enjoy as well as a shopping mall.

After lunch, we returned to the hotel. This is when we were first introduced to rolling blackouts. For a few hours each day, each grid has their power turned off to conserve energy and not overwhelm the electrical systems. We don't know how fortunate we are here in the US to not have to experience no power for several hours a day. I definitely had a new appreciation for our electric company! The main section of the hotel had a generator, but our rooms did not. Thankfully, this didn't affect me too much as I had booked a half day wine tour, so departed with the rest of the group that had booked this tour to go enjoy some wonderful South African wines! We visited two wineries on this tour, my favorite one was Neethlingshof Estates in Stellenbosch. I was introduced to my new favorite wine, the South African Pinotage. If you are a wine lover and have never tried the Owl Post Pinotage, from Stellenbosch, I highly recommend it! I was lucky enough to find it in my local Total Wines when I got home! We had a delightful afternoon tasting wines and getting to know each other! The conversations were great, the wine plentiful, and overall it was an excellent tour!

After the winery, we returned to the hotel for dinner on our own. I stayed at the hotel and had dinner with a group of the lovely people that went on the wine tour! We shared more wine and conversation and had a wonderful evening! I never felt alone the whole day!

Day 2 - Coastal Tour and PENGUINS!!!

As you get to know me through this blog, you will soon learn that I get very excited about wildlife and sealife! The second day in Cape Town was to be the first day of viewing local wildlife in their natural habitats! I was very exuberant about this day, up and ready to go and first one in the bus after breakfast! Our first stop was back to Table Mountain! The winds weren't high this morning, so we were able to take the cable car to the top of the mountain. This isn't a normal cable car like I'd experienced before. This one rotated so you had 360° views on the trip up the mountain. I experience awful motion sickness and was queasy within the first rotation. I had to look at a fixed object in my hand the whole way up, so I was unable to get any photos from the cable car. However, stepping out onto the top of the mountain, I was greeted with the most breathtaking views imaginable. The breeze picked up some and it was chilly enough to put my jacket on! We took the trail with our guide, Jeremy, as he pointed out the different sites in the distance and told us about the different plants and flowers on the mountain. It was a beautiful day to enjoy the hike and scenery!

After a beautiful scenic drive around the coast, next up was Boulder's Beach Penguin Colony. We had a short walk to the boardwalk to view the penguins and about 30 minutes to enjoy watching them and take photos before walking to the restaurant where we had lunch. This was the first experience where I got to see just how well this SmarTours company paid attention to the little details. I had noted on my reservation that I was allergic to eggs and fish. When we got to the restaurant, I didn't even have to say anything. The server came right to the table and asked which one of us had the allergies and then proceeded to bring me BBQ chicken instead of fish. The restaurant had even made me a special dessert with no egg in it! The whole trip I was given delicious options to replace those I was allergic to, and it was greatly appreciated!

After lunch, we were back on the bus for a drive through Table Mountain National Park to the Cape of Good Hope. This was where we saw our first ostrich, antelope, and baboons! The coast around Cape Town is incredibly beautiful. There are so many beautiful beaches. I would love to go back and explore more someday!

From the Cape of Good Hope, we had a quick visit to Kristenbosch Botanical Gardens. Because we had to work Table Mountain in which was supposed to have been the previous day, we didn't have much time left for the gardens. We were able to walk a short loop and hear some of the history of the gardens. It contains over 7000 species of plants from southern Africa. The 528-hectare Kirstenbosch Estate (which includes the Garden) falls under the Cape Floristic Region, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You won't regret a visit to these picturesque gardens. My favorite were the gorgeous Mandela's Gold Bird-of-Paradise!

SmarTours packed so much into this day, but we weren't finished yet!!! On to my favorite dinner of the trip! This was an optional tour that could be purchased from SmarTours before you left. I had not purchased it in time and was so happy there was still availability for me to go. There were a few on our tour that did not purchase this one, but I feel it is one that shouldn't be missed. If you have the chance to go to Gold's Restaurant, you should definitely do it! You are treated to authentic African food from all around the country. It's a tasting menu, so they bring out small amounts of each thing to try, and you can ask for more of something if you really like it. I tried ostrich for the first time, and it was delicious! I tried everything, and everything was so good! There were 14 courses, so the small amounts of each thing were perfect. The dinner includes face painting (This is optional, but I always want the full experience and it was so much fun. My face painting symbolized the tears of the warrior princess), then learning to play the drums, a hand washing ceremony, a blessings ceremony, and singing and dancing. It's not just the food that makes this dinner special, but the whole cultural experience! I give this optional tour 5 stars!!! What a great end to the 2nd day in Cape Town!

Day 3 - Cultural Tour and Dinner with a Host Family

On our last day in Cape Town, instead of enjoying a free day, I opted for the optional Cultural Tour and then the optional dinner with a Host Family. The cultural tour was very informative and full of hope for the future of Cape Town and South Africa in general. After the emotional days of seeing the cultural divisions created by Arpatheid and hearing the real life horror the South African colored and black communities have experienced, this tour was a look into what is being done to help repair and restore the country. We visited the colorful Bo-Kaap neighborhood, where the houses are bright and cheery! The houses were required to be white during slavery when the houses were leased. When these rules were lifted and the slaves were allowed to buy the property, they painted them brightly as an expression of their freedom. This multicultural neighborhood, which lies on the fringes of Cape Town's city centre, is full of character and colorful houses, many of which are national monuments and date back to the 1750s, with cobbled streets that rise up to meet the lower slopes of Signal Hill on which the suburb lies. Although we had seen this area from the bus, it was different exploring on foot and being able to go into a local art gallery.

Next we visited an elementary school and spoke with teachers (it was summer so no children were in attendance) and then an artist cultural center where adults are trained in various art and cultural trades. Many of us gave donations to the school as they are so in need of supplies and teaching materials and bought local art from the artisans at the art center. We were treated to drum lessons at the art center which was great fun!