I researched package holidays for a little while and was disappointed to see that there wasn’t anything that fitted what I was looking for within my budget. The accommodation was too far outside of the city, the flights were at terrible times and the rental car, for a hefty price was the size of a clown car! I decided to book everything separately to see if package holidays are really the “bees knees” with their “best prices”. Turns out, they’re not. I managed to book cheaper flights at convenient times, accommodation right where I wanted to be and a decent sized car for a great price. I ended up saving about a grand in the end! I find package holidays are better when you’re looking for an international holiday but definitely check out the prices separately before diving in!
Dropping our car off with Mr Parking and hopping on our Skywise flight, we departed just before 6:30am from OR Tambo International. We were on route to the Mother City! The flight, if not a little cramped was mainly pleasant. We had a great pilot with a fantastic sense of humor and he managed to get us there 20 minutes ahead of schedule.
We grabbed our luggage and trekked what felt like 5kms to the rental car collection area. Only once we made it did we realise that they actually had shuttles from the terminal to the rental desks. However it was nice to stretch the legs after our flight! A relatively painful collection process from First Car Rental, we found our gold Toyota Etios and hit the road just after 9am.
We couldn’t check into our accommodation until 2pm so we decided to try our luck at the Table Mountain Cableway. Immediately realising how busy it was, disappointed, we retreated back down the mountain again. Starving and unsure of what to do next, I suggested Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens as they have a restaurant and a tea room. Paying our R55.00 entrance fee, we headed straight for the tea room as we were slowly beginning to malfunction from hunger. After a lovely brunch under beautiful Cape Town skies we made our way into the botanical gardens, on the hunt for “The Boomslang”, Kirstenbosch’s new treetop canopy walkway built in celebration of their centenary. After climbing up some steep stairs, having a quick rest under a beautiful tree and chatting to some polite students from a highschool in Cape Town we finally found the entrance to the walkway. We were greeted by panoramic vista’s highlighted by the gorgeous clear day. You’ll get views of the city, the gardens and the mountains when you make your way round the 130m long walkway. The swaying of the walkway is a bit unnerving but thankfully the amazing views will easily distract you. We spent the next few hours wandering around the gardens, admiring the different plants species, spotting colourful sun birds and overall enjoying the beauty of nature. We stopped at the tea room on the way out and enjoyed some delicious gelato and a well deserved beverage after a very hot day.
We checked into Harbour Bridge Hotel and Suites late afternoon. Although a beautiful, spacious two bedroom apartment on the top floor, we were disappointed to see that the “sea view” we’d been promised on their website was hindered by the other apartments in front of us. We were also smack bang next to the N1 highway onramp. When we asked if we could be moved to the front side of the hotel, we never really received an answer from the woman who showed us the apartment, we received more of a shoulder shrug and a smile. So we decided to make the best of it. It was just somewhere to put our head down before adventuring during the day. I definitely don’t recommend this place if you’re looking for relaxation and peace. The noise of the highway and staring into the apartments across the way might get to you, just a little bit.
Rising early, we headed towards Zonnebloem to experience the popular “Charly’s Bakery“. The bakery is situated in a gorgeous French Colonial style building decked out in pink stripes and vibrant shapes. As you enter, you are greeted by colourful cupcakes, cookies, french fancies and friendly faces. Behind the counter you’ll find cake angels hard at work on extravagant birthday and wedding cakes. It took me a while to decide what to have, there was just so much choice. I eventually chose a traditional red velvet cupcake topped with a rose petal. It was delicious! I wish I’d had more space to sample their “Cookie Monster” cupcake as well as their quirky cookies and french fancies but one cupcake was enough for me. All the more reason to go back though! Charly’s Bakery is 100% South Africa’s equivalent to Cake Boss in my opinion! Don’t skip this place if you have a sweet tooth and appreciate the art of patisserie.
Next on the list was Chapman’s Peak, in the hope of seeing whales and of course to enjoy the gorgeous coastal views. Arriving at the toll gate entrance. We paid R40.00 and made our way along the winding roads passing funky motorcycles, cyclists and even a bridal party. Arriving at the main viewing point overlooking Hout Bay, we absorbed the amazing view of the mountains, keeping an eye out for any whales and commending the cyclists whizzing by. Jumping back in the car, we drove past the beautiful Noordhoek beach, well known for its horse rides along the sand. Coming to the end of the drive we realised we needed to double back to get onto the route to Hermanus. Finally heading in the right direction, we drove the 2 hour drive to the whale capital of South Africa.
Arriving just before 2:30pm, we made our way around the local market and then onto the front. Finally spotting our first whale, we excitedly watched canoeists paddling out towards it marvelling at the view they must be seeing. We quickly grabbed a table at one of the restaurants on the front called “The Burgundy“. We found a prime spot right at the front of the restaurant over looking Walker’s Bay and the whales. After placing our order, our drinks arrived and to the excitement of everyone in the restaurant including our waitress, a whale breached four times in a row. Ecstatic cheers were heard from all the restaurants along the front. In all the excitement our waitress ended up pouring coke light into my kola tonic instead of lemonade! It was a great atmosphere at The Burgundy and the view as well their food was just amazing!
We spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around town and along the rocks on the front. Spotting dassies and the whale from earlier, it was such a lovely afternoon. The remainder of the afternoon was spent at Bojangles Pub watching South Africa beat Wales for a spot in the semi-final in the Rugby World Cup.
Today our mission was to make it up Table Mountain, come rain or shine. Luckily it was another amazing clear day in Cape Town. We started the morning off at the V&A Waterfront with a bit of shopping at the 3 day old H&M, the first in South Africa. In the mood for a boat ride, we jumped on the Citysightseeing harbour tour boat and enjoyed an informative 20 minute journey around the harbour. We were privileged enough to spot the S.A Agulhas II, the polar research vessel in its reserved spot.
We then proceed to hop on the Citysightseeing bus that would take us up to the Table Mountain Cableway. We jumped off for a quick stop to explore the streets of the vibrant Bo Kaap neighbourhood. Formerly known as the Cape Malay Quarter, this neighbourhood has brightly painted houses in any colour imaginable.
Home to one of the oldest Mosques in South Africa, the Bo Kaap gives you a glimpse into the Cape’s Muslim communities way of life. As we wandered the streets we passed a Muslim bride on her way to the Mosque in a stunning wedding gown as well as families sitting on their porches probably wondering why tourists found their houses so fascinating.
We made it back to the bus stop just as the bus rounded the corner and hopped back on. The climb up to the cableway was beautiful and Citysightseeing’s open-topped bus made for a great platform. Expecting a huge queue we had pre-booked tickets on the bus but when we arrived there wasn’t a queue in sight! Murphy’s. Late Sunday afternoons may be the best time to go to avoid queues but definitely book online or with Citysightseeing to skip the queue just in case!
The journey to the top was amazing if not a little daunting the higher we climbed. We had a 360 degree view thanks to the cable car’s rotating floor, you’ll get to see all aspects of the climb up. Once at the top, we stepped out of the cableway shelter and were greeted by gale force, chilly winds so don’t forget a jacket! I honestly didn’t expect it to be as windy as it was and I was almost blown away a few times. We grabbed a quick snack at the restaurant and then set off exploring the mountain and marvelling at the views.
The wind was a bit hampering when it came to taking selfies but the views were mostly definitely worth it.
You’ll see views of Lion’s Head as well as the whole Atlantic Seaboard if you venture a bit further round, although I never ventured round that far. There’s only so much cold wind a person can take! We had planned to watch the sunset from the top but were worried about missing the last bus down which was at 7pm and the sun would just have set by then plus there would’ve been a pretty big queue to get back down so we decided to head down a little after 6pm to catch the bus.
The bus route went through Camp’s Bay so we hopped of there and headed onto the beach to see the sunset. Getting battered by the sand thanks to the wind, we decided to sit on the rocks and enjoy our last sunset in Cape Town. With the tide coming in, the sun setting and the Twelve Apostles towering behind us, it was a fantastic way to end our trip.
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