A Travellerspoint blog

Cape Town: Day 4

Kirstenbosch Gardens

overcast 14 °C

28 June 2017

Overnight there was heavy rain. I could hear the rain against the window and thought the chances of a lovely day to visit the gardens weren't good but the weather cleared to a cool sunny/overcast day.

We started the day with a security escort to the bank. No we weren’t taking out huge amounts of money – Jude asked the hotel reception guy about the location of a bank and he insisted that one of the staff escort us to the bank and back. I had already taken some money out of an ATM without any problems, and Cape Town feels quite safe during the day.

Our personal security man also escorted us to catch the hop-on-hop-off bus and promised to walk us to the NOMAD office to start out tour tomorrow morning. We caught the bus just after 9.00am and got off at the Kirstenbosch Botanic Gardens. We did the guided tour through the gardens because it was just about to start when we entered. Then we wandered through the gardens and had lunch … ended up spending around five hours there! The gardens are at the base of Table Mountain, they are massive and really beautiful. We were lucky enough to find a couple of King Proteas in flower and even more lucky to spot an owl that was well camouflaged in the tree branches.

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We just missed a bus and had to wait over half an hour for the next one. The ride back was very slow as it went the long way to Cape Town – it followed the coast and we passed many beautiful beaches. Just as well we didn’t want to hop off at any other attractions because the service was finished for the day by the time we got off at the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront (Cape Town harbour tourist area). We wandered the area and looked in a few shops before catching a taxi back to the hotel around 7.00pm. Another full day in Cape Town.

Posted by MissWalker 21:40 Archived in South Africa Comments (1)

Cape Town: Day 3

Let's take a few photos

sunny 14 °C

27 June 2017

Today we spent the day with professional photographer Greg Hillyard as our tour guide and mentor. He picked us up at 7.30am and we went to Signal Hill to watch the sunrise, or actually to watch the sun gradually make it's way through the low cloud cover over Cape Town.

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Then we started along the coast, stopping at St James to photograph the colourful bathing huts.

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After a coffee break we stopped to see some seals in the Kalk Bay harbour.

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Then the penguins at Boulders Beach,

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and the lighthouse at Cape Point,

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We made quick stops at an ostrich farm and Misty Cliffs and had a late lunch (yummy pancakes) before arriving back at the hotel just before 5.00pm.

The weather was mainly sunny but overcast at times, which made for some interesting light for photography.

Thanks Greg! Some beautiful scenery, some expert photography advice, and the time to take as many photos as I want ... doesn't get much better than that.

Back at the hotel we met up with Andrew, who owns the company that did our tour booking (Escape 4 Africa Travel). It was great to spend some time with Andrew and to meet the person that answered all our questions about overland travel in Africa.

Posted by MissWalker 13:49 Archived in South Africa Comments (1)

Cape Town: Day 2

Is this winter in Cape Town?

sunny 16 °C

26 June 2017

I woke up feeling refreshed, and then I realised it was only 1.00am.

Judith and I met up for an early breakfast ... travel buddies back together again.

I'd been monitoring the Table Mountain website before I left home - there had been some bad weather and the cable car hadn't been running on quite a few days. But the weather was perfect today, so we caught a taxi and were in line to buy tickets for the cable car at 8,30am. Table Mountain is usually very cold and windy in winter. We took coats and gloves but Cape Town had turned on a beautiful warm sunny day and by lunch time jumpers weren't even needed and we were down to short sleeves.

The cable car only takes about four minutes to reach the top. It has a rotating floor so you get to see the 360 degree view. We spent a couple of hours walking the track on top of Table Mountain and taking photos of the views, the flowers and animals (Rock Dassies). We took photos of everything ... hundreds of photos! We even did some scrambling over rough ground to take photos of the proteas at the bottom of the mountain. Table Mountain was fabulous. The perfect way to kick off our adventure in South Africa.

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In the afternoon Judith did a hike and I did a free walking tour of the Bo-Kaap area, which has rows of brightly coloured houses. The walking tour was 90 minutes long and then I walked for another hour before heading back to the hotel. Exhausted again but very satisfied with a wonderful day in Cape Town.

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Posted by MissWalker 11:46 Archived in South Africa Comments (1)

Cape Town: Day 1

Getting there is exhausting

sunny 14 °C

24 June - 25 June 2017

24 June felt like the longest night ever. My first flight left Canberra just after 5pm and the sky was soon dark. The night continued in Perth, with a delay and then another flight to Johannesburg through the night. It was still dark when we arrived in Johannesburg at 5.40am - the city lights were spread out below showing the huge size of the city. During my long night I had two airline dinners in a row followed by two breakfasts.

The flight from Perth was delayed for nearly an hour and a half - after we boarded we sat there in stifling conditions while the technicians reset the aircraft electrics due to a problem when the ground crew plugged in something - after a while I didn't really care as long as they either fixed it quickly or got us out of the sweat box.

The South African Airways flight wasn't great, the seats were cramped and uncomfortable. It seemed much longer than eleven hours. We ended up arriving in Johannesburg an hour late, which only gave me an hour to get through immigration, collect my luggage, re-check it for the domestic flight and get to the gate. Easy! I arrived at the gate just as boarding started. I arrived in Cape Town just after 9am on 25 June (around 24 hours after I left Canberra), feeling totally exhausted. But I made it and it's exciting to be in South Africa!

Foggy early morning in Johannesburg.
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Just before landing in Cape Town.
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Coming into Cape Town from the airport you could be in any city in the world but once you pass the industrial area it's very different. There are several township areas filled with rusty tin shacks next to colourful new government housing areas, which have been built to move people out of the townships. Closer to the city are more affluent housing areas and the city has a tropical feel with palm trees lining the streets.

Table Mountain is the dominant feature in the city. The clear sunny day was perfect to see the mountain. Just hope the weather is like that tomorrow - the cable car is on the agenda for tomorrow.

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I managed to get an early check in for my hotel room and was very tempted to go to bed. But it was only 10am and I needed just a short rest before grabbing a map and going for a walk. I had intended to walk to the castle but we passed it on the way to the hotel and I noticed there were a lot of homeless people camped near the walls of the castle. The driver said it was safe for me to walk in the area but I decided against it.

I walked for a couple of hours but today I need rest more than sightseeing. The city streets were very quiet (it's Sunday) but there were quite a few people in the parks taking advantage of a warm winter's day. Also plenty of squirrels in the park, including this one who was begging for food.

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Posted by MissWalker 10:47 Archived in South Africa Comments (0)

Africa 2017

Packed and ready to go

sunny 13 °C

I have been planning this trip to Africa since I returned from the United States last November. After months of research, bookings, injections and gym sessions the waiting is over – I’ve packed up my malaria tablets, hiking pants and safari shirt and it’s finally time for the fun to begin.

I’ll meet up with my friend Judith in Cape Town, where we’ll spend three days before departing on our six week adventure. We will be taking part in an overland truck tour that covers South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Swaziland and Lesotho.

Packing for this trip has been really difficult because of luggage restrictions on the truck - we will each be given a locker that will fit a duffel bag. Medications (much more than I would normally travel with), sunscreen, insect repellent etc. take up quite a bit of room, which means less room for clothes. Clothing has been cut back to the basics … I just have to keep reminding myself that I’m going on an African adventure and it doesn’t matter if I wear the same clothes over and over ... maybe I'll wash them occasionally.

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There was a last minute panic when I discovered I didn't have my spare camera batteries. Spent ages looking for them ... I'm sure I put them somewhere safe but I could only find the spare for one camera.

Internet access may be patchy as we head into the more remote areas. I’m actually looking forward to being disconnected from my electronic gadgets for a while (except my precious cameras, which will be working overtime). But the blog won’t be neglected. I’ll keep notes and post when I have access to internet.

Posted by MissWalker 20:15 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

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