POST 10 – December 13th 2018 – Destinations
Visiting the south... of South Africa !
Cape Town and the southern cape region…
The five days Myriam and I spent in South Africa were pretty intense, and mostly focused on the region of Cape Town, with the visit of the city, and its surroundings.
The weather was pretty good during our stay there, and you could feel the proximity of the ocean, bringing some well needed fresh breeze…
As usual, and for the ones interested, you can find the report about our trip between Namibia and Cape Town, with British Airways / Comair Business class on FlyerTalk. The entire journey was not very smooth this time… https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/30497701-post51.html
Anyway, we arrived late on a Sunday evening in the city and spent our first day touring the city on a « hop-on, hop-off » double decker bus. Although I am not always a fan of those, it remains one of the best ways to visit the most popular spots of the city by yourself if you don’t have much time, and never been to this city. This was our case here…
I have to say that the City Sightseeing company we used was very well organized and the buses were going pretty far away from the city. We managed to visit the fabulous Kirstenbosch botanic gardens, go along the Atlantic coast of Cape Town, and the stop for lunch in a small fishing village south of the city.
At the end of the day, we followed a walking tour done by a friendly local guide into the neighbourhood of Bo-Kaap near the city center. This neighbourhood became famous because of the colorful houses and we got to learn thanks to this tour some good stories and the history of this district. Initially, it was inhabited by the black muslim community, who had poor living conditions.
Nowadays, it is still the muslim heart of the city and one of the most iconic and famous areas of the City of Cape Town, it also became very expensive to live there.
There are many stories on the market on why the houses are so colorful and not just like plain white. The one I preferred, and I do not know if this is the most authentic version of the story, is that the houses were painted in flashy colors because those were the cheapest colors available in the market. The white paint was just too expensive to afford at that time and nobody wanted to purchase the flashy colors.
The second day was spent hiking towards one of the nicest and most iconic spots in the city : Table mountain and its top at 1050m altitude. We could have certainly take the cable car to the top, but we decided to hike instead and I am glad we choose this option which allowed us to see breathtaking views ! (But for the ones wondering, we decided to take the cable car to go down the mountain J).
It was a good hike and we certainly enjoyed a nice hot beverage when we reached the top !
The region of Cape Town is located in one of the most scenic places of Africa, where the mountains of the cape peninsula meet the South Atlantic ocean (and about 200 kms towards the east, the Indian Ocean). The Cape of good-hope, one of the most well known capes is located about an hour away from the city of Cape Town and the national park (having the same name) is one of the most popular attractions in the region. To have more freedom in our planning, we decided to rent a car for a few days – and I was able to get additional practice on the « driving on the other side of the road » J
The pictures are worth a thousand words… featuring some cute cape pinguins, hungry baboons, and coaches of European tourists !
A lot of people think that the cape of Good Hope is the southernmost point of Africa and this is not quite correct. It is certainly the most well known but it is the southwestern most point of the continent. The southern most cape in Africa is named after Cape Argulhas and is located about 3 hours away from the city of Cape Town. It is also where the Indian ocean and the Atlantic oceans are meeting, with the first one being significantly warmer than the other… The road to get there is also very scenic, and you can enjoy some great views over some nice beaches, wineyards and authentic villages. We even slept under a luxury tent in the middle of the wineyards !
Although we spent only one day in Johannesburg and did not see as much of the city as we wanted, the region of Cape Town is certainly different than Johannesburg, and is greener and maybe more multi-cultural and peaceful than it’s counterpart. That is the picture it tries to show at least. Unfortunately, the stats are still showing a way less glamourous picture of the situation. Out of a population of about 3 million inhabitants, it is estimated that about 2 million people live in poverty, or extreme poverty, and most of them are concentrated into massive « slums », built out of what they could find, and located at the outskirts of the city, where public transportation and government are completely absent, or simply living in the streets, in the shadow of the skyscrapers and 5 star hotels… And this was just heart-breaking for me
With such a gap in the South African society between the ones who are wealthy and have everything and the ones who have almost nothing, violence and insecurity are clearly visible. South Africa is the second largest user of all sorts of fences and security equipment per capita worldwide, just after Israel. Most of the houses are equipped with cameras, electric fences and hire armed private security guards available on call 24/7. And most of time, going out after business hours in the city center is firmly not recommended.
All I can say is that despite those issues, most of the people we interacted with, including some who struggle daily, have a joy of living, and have been very welcoming towards us. More than 25 years after the end of the Appartheid, let’s hope the sun will continue shining on the rainbow nation…
Stop #5 : South Africa (Cape Town and the region of the Southern Cape), 5 days
Positives : Wonderful landscapes, temperate climate, great food for a very affordable price and friendly people. The infrastructure is there to accomodate tourism, compared to other destinations in Africa.
Negatives : Security issues, especially in the big cities. Unfortunately, this was the main thing that disturbed me a lot as I enjoy walking and visiting in the evening. Staying confined in a hotel after 6pm was quite annoying, although if we would have chosen a different hotel outside the city center, maybe this would have been less of an issue ?
COMING SOON : A NEW YOUTUBE EPISODE ABOUT MY 5 DAYS IN SOUTH AFRICA !