After disembarking from the cruise ship, we stayed for 3 days in Capetown, and toured the area and did some hikes and reveled in the beauty of the setting of Capetown. We also saw the Robben's Island museum, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for decades. Upon departing from Capetown we headed south and east and drove along the famous "Garden Route" stopping in Cape Aghulas, Knysa, Mossel Bay and Aberdeen. We saw and did much, and had a marvelous time in the beauty and variety of the South African coast.
1. Climbing Plattekip Gorge to the top of Table Mountain
2. Seeing little Penguins on Boulder's beach
3. Hermanus cliff walk coves and beaches
4. Spanish Galleon Museum in Mossel Bay
5. Kingfisher Trail in Knysa
6. Bungee Jumping off Bloukrans Bridge (for the kids)
1. Throwing up after bungee jumping off Bloukrans Bridge (for dad)
2. Power outages all along the Garden Route
3. Hotel finding stress in Aberdeen
1. Climbing Plattekip Gorge to the top of Table Mountain - After hiking the nearby lion's head peak, we spoke to some hikers who recommended the platteklip gorge for a ascent to Table Mountain. We took the hike the following day, and it was marvelous. Steep, green, windy, cold, beautiful, and exiting the trail onto the top of the mountain was awesome. The views are incredible, and on the way down, we watched the final of the World Cup shoot-out on someone's phone.
2. Seeing little Penguins on Boulder's beach - These are darn cute little birds, clustered by the hundreds on the beach and all along the rocks. We were literally walking amongst them, and there is something simply adorable about penguins waddling about in the sand and coming up out of the water.
3. Hermanus cliff walk coves and beaches - This was a beautiful hike along the beaches and coves, and my regret is that we didn't get back into our swimsuits and head out cliff-jumping with the locals into the crashing waves. It was excellent beach weather. This is a place to which I would definitely want to return and spend more time if ever I came back.
4. Portuguese Galleon Museum in Mossel Bay - There was a full-scale replica of the boat which sailed to the South African coast for the very first time from Portugal. The boat actually made the trip on the 200th anniversary and now was housed in the museum. It was a great hands on museum with nautical history at your fingertips.
5. Kingfisher Trail in Knysa - Another winner of a hiking trail along a river, that was simply a gorgeous hike. Lots of green, some river wading, waterfalls, etc, etc. This one was a choice one.
6. Bungee Jumping off Bloukrans Bridge (for the kids) - Lots of thrills were had by the kids at this the 3rd highest bungee jumping bridge in the world. It was a bit of a sausage factory, going out to the bridge and getting suited up and being escorted to the edge as your feet are literally tied together, and being helped/pushed off the platform to keep the schedule. They loved it, and it's a pretty high adrenalin atmosphere.
1. Throwing up after bungee jumping off Bloukrans Bridge (for dad) - I had a sure knowledge that the jump would make me sick, and it surely did, and I threw up about 45 minutes later along the highway. I finally felt better. This was the last high jumping thing I'll do in my life. My nausea only is getting worse, and now that I've sky-dived, and bungee jumped, that's it for me.
2. Power outages all along the Garden Route - South Africa really can't get it together, and they publish their rolling black-out schedule weeks in advance. Power was in no way assured in the restaurants, shops, houses, etc. It was crazy how an economy can continue to function with un reliable power.
3. Hotel finding stress in Aberdeen - We were in high season for South Africa, and there are no chain hotels in the small towns internally, only small guesthouses and bed and breakfasts. Nor is airbnb a thing there yet in the rural towns. I had to call around to all sorts of home-stays, and get more than a dozen denials, and ask for some recommendations and other phone numbers, and finally after about and hour of calling around find an open place to stay.
4. Terrible check-in at the Capetown Airbnb - Our Airbnb check-in instructions are normally pretty good, but for our Capetown check-in, the directions were simply wrong, and it took me almost an hour of walking around the block, and asking around to finally figure out how to get into our place. The host was non-responsive and it was very frustrating. But eventually we made it in, and the stay was decent thereafter.
Friday December 16: Capetown, South Africa – We disembarked from our home for the last 30 days, the MSC Divina. Erik left early to go to the airport to get the rental car. He picked up Tera and the kids and they drove south for a rainy scenic drive to Cape Point, stopping along the way at: Hout Bay, driving the Chapman’s Peak drive, Kommetje, Cape Point National park to climb up the lighthouse, Boulders beach for penguin watching, and then Muizenberg to walk the boardwalk while Erik stayed with the car in the sketchy parking space. We returned to the city to attempt the terrible check-in at the Airbnb, and eventually successfully opened the door to the apartment for the evening supper of pasta.
Saturday December 17: Capetown, South Africa – We started the day going to the Robben Island tour, which is the island prison where all the apartheid prisoners were held, including the Nelson Mandela. Thereafter, we went on an Apartheid walking tour of downtown Capetown. We stopped at an Indian street food restaurant, then drove to the Lion’s Head sunset hiking spot, and hiked to the top and back. On the way back home, we drove through the colorful Bo Kapp part of the city.
Sunday December 18: Capetown, South Africa - We attended both hours of church in the Capetown building, then came home for lunch. We headed back out in the afternoon to tour the Kirstenbosch gardens, and walk on the canopy trail, and play a bridge game on the lawn. Then we drove to the Capetown Table mountain and hiked the Platteklip Gorge to the top, and meandered at the top and had some meat pies and took the cable car back down.
Monday December 19: We departed Capetown and began our drive along the Southern coast of South Africa – the Garden route. Our first stop Stellenbosch,with it’s old plantations and wineries, then we continued on Hermanus for a cliff walk along the beach and cliffs. These beaches and coves were totally worth returning to. Then we drove to the southern tip of Africa with the Cape Aghulas lighthouse and shipwreck and monument. (about 4 hours of driving today)
Tuesday December 20: We spent the morning at the Struisbaai beach (to fulfill Megan’s desire for a chill beach morning), which is a lovely place. Then it was in the car with a stop at the Bartabok Game Reserve, with a driving safari through the park (underwhelming). We did see some Bartabok antelope in the first 3 minutes of the drive, and rest was rather blase, then on to Mossel Bay, with a hike along the St. Blaize hiking trail. We ran into a homeless guy who was really excited to show us his cliff cave. We stayed in Mossel Bay at a golf course condo. (about 4 hours of driving distance)
Wednesday December 21: We started the morning with a cave of origin tour (not worth recommending), Then we went to Diaz museum in town, with a full scale replica of the original Spanish galleon that had been the first boat to round the cape. It was an awesome museum to visit. We continued our drive Knysa, and hiked the Kingfisher trail in the afternoon, which was a delightful highly recommended trail along the river.
Thursday December 22: We drove to some viewpoints in the morning, and then took a tour of one of the local black townships. It was incredibly interesting to learn about some of the race and apartheid history of the place, and the creation of townships for the negroes, to visit and walk through a township. We drove on to Bloukrans for our bungee-jumping adventure (I threw up, to no one’s surprise) but Megan and Jacob really enjoyed the thrill). Then we drove to Aberdeen, which was somewhat stressful, because I didn’t have a hotel reservation, and the reservations were hard to come by at high season, in little po-dunk towns in central South Africa. I was on the phone for a hour before I found us a place to stay.
Fall Semester 2022
Here we go again! Our 8 Suitcases have been whittled down to 4 suitcases as we take a four month world trip with our two youngest kids, Megan and Jacob. From Canada to Europe to islands in the Indian Ocean and finally to South Africa, from Sep to Dec 2022, here are our travels and experiences.