Cape Town: A City that Doesn’t Disappoint
If you had asked either of us which city we were most excited for on this trip, Cape Town was always the answer. After spending five incredible nights there with our best friends, Jeff and Catherine, we can now confidently say that it lived up to, and exceeded, all expectations and stands as one of the most amazing cities we have ever visited. It literally has it all. White sand surfing beaches, hiking in the mountains, world-renowned restaurants, and wine country are all within a stone’s throw. Don’t forget the 70 and 80-degree days in the middle of winter. If that wasn’t enough, the people of Cape Town are some of the friendliest we have ever met. No interaction was left without a smile, a joke, and a big ‘ole belly laugh. Oh, and to top it all off, it’s incredibly affordable (at least compared to western standards).
If you saw our last post, we hiked to the top of Table Mountain with Jeff and Catherine. This hike was one of the most difficult, but most rewarding of our lives. You can check out the GoPro video from this hike by clicking here.
You’ll also be obsessed with Cape Town when you:
- Go Full Tourist and See Cape Town by Bus and Car
When we weren’t walking along the beachside promenade of the Seaside neighborhood, we were exploring the city by bus or car. We went against everything we’ve ever said as travelers, and spent a day on the “Hop On, Hop Off” bus blue line tour. Once you swallow your pride and proudly take a seat on the top level of the red and yellow bus, it rules. The informative audio tour gives information about the history and culture of Cape Town and gave us quick glimpses into the diverse neighborhoods. As we “hopped off” at the V&A waterfront we were able to take in the growing tourism industry, while cruising through downtown gave us a peak into the day-to-day grind. Our favorite stops were roaming the lush gardens of Kirstenbosch Gardens and seeing Imizamo Yethu Township with a local (you can read more about this below).
We took another day to cruise around the Cape in our rental car. The peninsula drive along the coast of Cape Town is a stunner. Picture high, windy roads with rocky cliffs to your right and sparkling water crashing into the coast on your left. The mountains surrounding Cape Town are truly breathtaking. Although we weren’t so lucky, you can also catch baboons running along the road on this route. This drive has a small fee, but it is 100% worth it. To save some time, make this drive part of your road trip to Boulders Beach to see the penguins.
- Experience Local Life in Imizamo Yethu Township
While exploring Cape Town, you can’t ignore the horrific impacts that Apartheid has had on the city. In Afrikaans, Apartheid literally means “separateness” and separate Cape Town is. The thriving city and upper class neighborhoods are contrasted with the temporary shelters of the townships. There are literally mansions across the street from the townships. We were told that about 20% of the population still lives in these townships today. While jarring to see inequities of Cape Town life, a visit to a township is eye-opening. Although the homes are temporary in nature, they have a strong community with schools, stores, churches, and barber shops. Our guide, Patrick, had lived in Imizamo Yethu since the beginning of Apartheid and was one of the greatest people we’ve ever met. Despite many struggles, his pride and connection to his community was amazing. We got to play with children in the preschool, walk through stores, and watch the locals BBQ as their days were winding down. Visiting Imizamo Yethu left us wandering how the inequities of Cape Town could be solved and humbled by the community’s ability to make so much out of so little.
- Play with Penguins at Boulders Beach
As part of our peninsula drive, we stopped at Boulders Beach to see the African penguins. These penguins are the only natural colony of penguins in Africa. The name of the beach is a literal interpretation of what you’re walking into. This spot has enormous boulders that protect beautiful coves for swimming and picnicking.
After picnicking on a boulder overlooking the water, we headed to the observation platform to check out the penguins. They are literally everywhere and watching them waddle is everything. After watching them with all of the other tourists, we went back to the first cove and climbed the boulders to a middle beach that is only accessible through the rocks or water. In this protected area, we were able to get really close to the penguins and observe them as they napped together, wandered through rocks, and waddled into the bush above us.
Beyond the adorable penguins, the beaches of Boulders Beach have the whitest sand and clearest water we have ever seen. It’s worth a stop even if you don’t have a heart and don’t like penguins.
On your way to Boulders Beach we stopped at Muizenberg Beach to see the rainbow colored bathhouses that line the beach. In a world that needs more color, these tiny houses do the trick. According to locals, Muizenberg is one of the best places in the world to learn how to surf due to its continuous and calm waves. Just stay alert; great whites are a common sight. As we were told, just don’t be the last one out of the water when there’s a sighting. Easy enough, right?
- Eat and Drink Everything in Sight
As if having unbeatable beaches, mountains, great surf, and amazing weather wasn’t enough, Cape Town also has killer food and spirits. While in Cape Town, we were able to get really good food and wine for super cheap. We ate creative BOGO pizzas and $3 bottles of wine at Rock Pool on the Sea Point promenade and met friends for wine and lobster rolls downtown at the trendy Burger & Lobster on Bree Street. Not only is the wine cheap, but it’s also de-lic-ious. With wine country right outside the city and their signature Pinotage varietal, you can find top-notch wine anywhere.
Speaking of wine, the wine country outside Cape Town is a must-do. Stellenbosch, Frankschhoek, and Paarl are full of wineries and are an easy drive from Cape Town. We stopped for wine and cheese at Fairview Winery. If I ever go missing, you can find me eating cheese in the back of Fairview. It was next level. Next, we tasted African craft beer at Cape Beer Company, where Johnny was in heaven. The beer was awesome and they even gave us some extra IPAs because they knew Americans love them, #respect. We finished our wine country road trip at Rhebokskloof Winery. We got to experience that Cape Town charm first hand here. Despite being closed for the day, they gave us a personal tasting because South Africans simply can’t say no to four thirsty backpackers wandering in after hours. The grounds of Rhebokskloff are beyond. It is surrounded by rolling hills and vineyards. The wine ain’t too shabby either.
If you’re looking to Airbnb in wine country, check out Scali in Paarl to rent a gorgeous guest house on a winery where they’ll host you for a private wine tasting and you can roam the vineyards at your leisure. All this for about $60 a night #heaven. Side note: Scali’s sparkling wine is the most delicious bubbles to hit my lips, which is saying A LOT.
In sum, we are already ready to plan our next trip to Cape Town!