Our first week in South Africa – discovering Cape Town
Last week we flew from Frankfurt to Cape Town for a three week trip through South Africa . This destination has been on our bucket list for some time and it was finally time to explore it. We would love to take you on our adventure and get to know South Africa. We started our first week in South Africa in Cape Town and it went like this.
Better check beforehand
Our trip to South Africa didn’t start well. After a day of traveling by train from Belgium to Frankfurt, we were dead on when we got there. Fortunately, we had booked a hotel close to the airport so we could still get some sleep between our train ride and flight. Until we got to the airport, we were convinced that this would only be about an eight-hour flight. Haha, it’s not. How could we be so wrong? We rarely look up how long a flight really is, otherwise our spirits drop.
No, we really don’t like flying anymore. Therefore, we sometimes guess how long it is to fly to our destination. Sometimes it turns out better and it is a boostto our mood, but sometimes it turns out negative, like now. Especially the hours of waiting at the airport, is getting more and more boring for us. And also a flight of twelve hours, instead of eight hours, was not ideal. On top of this it was also a night flight. Hooray!
Although we scored an upgrade for our flight, it was a hell of a flight. Agree, the seats were comfortable and there was plenty of room. The food and drinks were also delicious. And the staff went above and beyond to make it enjoyable for us. But a night flight? Never again! Everyone is asleep while we consciously experience every hour with our eyes wide open. We are among the “lucky” minority who cannot sleep on a plane. And this for twelve hours straight. I would never want to do this again, but unfortunately our return flight within 3 weeks is also an overnight flight. With a stopover on top, but more on that later. Let’s push that aside for now until the time comes.
Cape Town reached
After flying for about twelve hours and being awake for about thirty hours straight, we finally arrived in Cape Town. The first song we heard on African soil in the cab from the airport to our Airbnb? Can you feel the love tonight from the Lion King. And the second? Africa by Toto. No joke! We were already in the mood. Despite the fatigue, a smile appeared on our faces.
We booked our stay weeks in advance via Airbnb . It is a beautiful colorful house in the middle of a quiet neighborhood near the sea. Most places of interest can be found nearby. A true top location! There was no immediate mention of sightseeing on our arrival day. We first took a long nap. Five hours later we woke up with a raging hunger and then we went to explore the local neighborhood for a tasty snack. Then go back to sleep and start fresh the next day.
Helicopter flight over Cape Town
Our first day exploring Cape Town was an instant blast! What is the best way to get an impression of a city? From the air of course! We went to discover Cape Town by helicopter flight . Neither of us had done this before, but it had been on our bucket list for a while. We have always waited until we were at a destination that must be really impressive from above and this was it. Cape Town is truly beautiful from the air! It was a very impressive flight with a lot of useful information from our pilot. An experience to never forget. We would do it again in a heartbeat. Only the price tag is holding us back.
The following days we spent at the cozy Waterfront. This is a small harbor town with many good restaurants and a unique atmosphere. There are several live artists at work and there is a huge shopping center with African souvenir stores but also the known major brands. It is a mix of different cultures and crafts. A place where they may see us often in the coming weeks.
Aquarium & Art in Cape Town
We also visited Cape Town’s Two Oceans aquarium . This is one of the largest aquariums in the world. And that’s not a lie. We saw fish we never saw before and there was a huge aquarium with sharks, small and large fish, rays and much more. Very impressive! Coincidentally we came across Watershed after our visit to the aquarium. A very cozy place where all kinds of local artists offer their artworks and their craftsmanship for sale. Granted, most souvenirs here are a bit more expensive, but you do meet and support the real artists of these gems.
The highlight of this week, however, was our visit to one of South Africa’s National Parks. We chose to book a tour to Cape Point National Park and Boulders Beach Penguin Colony. So the first part of the tour went to the Cape of Good Hope National Park and the part where Cape Point, the pointy tip at the tail of Cape Town, is located. This is South Africa as you imagine it! Endless roads through a beautiful natural landscape with wildlife such as baboons, ostriches, antelopes and various species of birds.
As if this were not beautiful enough, the entire natural park is surrounded by ocean on one side and mountains on the other, making for breathtaking views. Admittedly, we have never seen such a view before in our lives. Simply sublime!
We also had to climb a bit to enjoy some of the views. The famous lighthouse at the highest point at Cape Point requires some energy, of which we still have muscle pain in our legs now. You also need some muscle for the route from the lighthouse to the ocean below. But every climb was more than worth it! The views are so fantastic here. It’s like a dream. You have to see this in person to believe how beautiful it really is here. We even saw some wild antelopes and ostriches up close during our visit and some wild baboons on the way back. Fortunately the latter from a safe distance as they can be aggressive. Great to see how these animals are at home here!
Boulders Beach Penguin Colony
After this visit it was time to meet the famous penguins of South Africa. We were all set! Boulders Beach is about an hour’s drive from Cape Point National Park. We already saw some beautiful images on social media of people posing with the penguins. We don’t want to stress animals though, so we wouldn’t do a photo too close up anyway, but a photo from a distance with these cute little animals is what we wanted of course! Unfortunately for visitors, Boulders Beach is made so that you walk on a wooden path above the beach and therefore cannot come into direct contact with the penguins (unless you deviate from the path).
Apparently they have only done this since the animals experienced too much stress from tourists. An understandable choice that we fully support! Of course it’s better this way for the animals, and that should certainly be priority number one, but it was still a slight disappointment that we didn’t walk among the animals. It felt a bit like going to the zoo to see the penguins, but in their natural habitat. We didn’t stay there long. We found the entrance fee much too high, because on the beaches next to this attraction, you could also see penguins from a distance. A tip: it is better not to pay the entrance fee, rather look around at the other beaches in the area and you will also spot penguins!
Even though we felt like real tourists during this day, something we normally dislike, we would recommend this tour of Cape Point National Park and Boulders Beach to anyone. We are usually not in favor of organized tours and usually choose to explore something on our own, but in this case a tour is the best choice. Renting a car ourselves was not an option for us here because of the different traffic rules and hours of driving on unfamiliar roads. It would have caused us too much stress.
We stopped several times on this tour and had the choice of which sights to join and whether or not to pay entrance fees to see the penguins, for example. Also, throughout the day, our guide on the bus playfully explained the places we passed. This humorous man was a tourist attraction in his own right! We laughed the entire eight-hour tour. Plus: Wi-Fi and water were also available on the bus. All benefits for us!