We left a very windy Struis bay this morning for the 3-hour drive along the Garden route to Mosselbay.
Well, it’s perfectly perched on the edge of the Indian Ocean, and in the foothills of the Outeniqua Mountains – we have been told it’s got more attractions and adventures than you'll find in almost any other towns of its size. I was most excited to go here as it’s got 60 kilometres of beaches and more than 300 days of sunshine in every 365!
MosselBay is situated exactly half way between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth (400 km in each direction) - so it was the ideal place for us to stay, and the ideal place to do the Blaize trail. The St Blaize Hiking Trail is a wonderfully scenic combination of craggy coastline, interesting caves and rock formations, sweeping ocean views and pretty fynbos.
Starting at the Khoi San Cave at The Point, you can follow the whole coastline for 13.5 km to Dana Bay which takes about 4 hours. As we only have 1 car, our option was limited to hiking in 1 direction, so we did a quick 8km of the track (4 each way)
Hermanus to Struis Bay
If I thought yesterday was bad, then I must have been kidding myself. It’s 60km’s winds today, yup, that’s right – 60KMS!! So, overall today was going to be a tricky day and the plans we had of lazing around in Struis Bay being beach bums is out the window.
We researched things to do on the way to Struis Bay and as we left Hermanus we drove to this ‘amazing, indigenous’ forest located over an hour away called Platbos. Google ranked it as one of the best things to do and I now no longer trust google in the slightest. I won’t go into too much detail about this forest, but I will say, it took us so far down a gravel, sandy road in the middle of nowhere and it’s awful. We walked for about 15 minutes into the forest when we both looked at each other and just sighed - this will be the place we get murdered. It was just horrible. We were the only ones there and the path was next to non-existent and very easy to lose your way, so we swiftly turned around.
Grabbing a packed lunch, we made our way to where we were staying tonight – Struis Bay. We finally found the perfect lunch spot and munched down on beautiful rolls from the bakery (60C each) before heading to Cape Agulas. This is the furthest Southern point in Africa and is also famous for being the place where you can put your one foot in the Indian Ocean and the other in the Atlantic Ocean – at the same time. What a goose bump moment, right? Turning our back on the land, looking out over the ocean and knowing that the entire African continent is lying behind us! Perfect – what a Bucketlist ticker!
I would say It’s a must-do at least once in your life: visiting the southernmost tip of Africa at Cape Agulhas. However, I feel the weather spoilt it slightly, it was just so goddam windy! Make sure if you do come down though, to park at the Lighthouse and walk to the point – the boardwalk is great and you can spot Hummingbirds and tortoises along the way.
The town here is perfect, it’s interesting, full of nice bars and restaurants as well as pretty much every house here is a mansion! Obviously, it’s an expensive area I reckon, but the biggest downside to this town is their supermarket. It sucks! Never go to OK Supermarket as it’s just total shit. Treat yourself to dinner out…we wish we had.
Mosselbay tomorrow for more hiking, I can’t wait!
The Garden Route - First stop Hermanus
We left Cape Town this morning, albeit a little late after having issues with locking ourselves out the house. This truly wasn’t an ideal situation but a few hours behind schedule we eventually started our Garden route road trip.
Today would see us drive 2 hours along the South Coast to Hermanus – one of the most famous towns for Whale Viewing over Winter. Along the way we stopped at Betty’s Bay and I have to admit, this little stopover was 100% worth the time. 5 minutes from the main road will take you to the beach which is covered in little penguins all lined up beautifully basking in the sunlight.
If you have been reading, you will remember that we went to boulder Beach a few days ago and it cost us $16NZD each, whereas here, there is a beautiful little café, great bathrooms and to walk the full walkway costs $2.50NZD pp!! Definitely come here over Boulder beach any time! We didn’t even pay as by the time we got to the boardwalk we had passed so many little penguins we didn’t feel the need to have to walk the boardwalk – and it was blowing a hoolie!
From there we continued the adventure through to the coastal town of Hermanus to check into ‘Mariners Village’ home to our Air Bn B for the night. It’s excellent here, for $47NZD we have half the house, our own garden and kitchen facilities. We really enjoyed our last host in Cape town but here it’s nice to have privacy again.
‘’My heart feels as it may pop out its socket’’. This came out my mouth half way up the track today. Along with many, ‘oh, my fucks’ and ‘This is hard’ and ‘it’s so hot’’. That was our Table Mountain experience on the track on the way up.
At the top it was more of a ‘wow, this is incredible’, ‘Holy shit, there’s a Lynx’’ and ‘’I am so happy we did this’’ – Yes, we saw a Lynx and yes, it was awesome!
Let’s go back to the beginning. There are many ways to hike Table Mountain – Cape Town’s most famous and notably the most incredible mountain as it towers over the City and provides unbelievable views. I think over 100 based on what our host told us.
Quick fact alert** Did you know UNESCO has named Table Mountain one of eight World Heritage sites in South Africa? More to the point Robben Island and Table Mountain are the only two heritage sites in the world that are in visibility of each other! BOOM – even more reason to get you asses up that mountain!
Kirstenbosch & Lions Head
Good morning folks! Another beautiful day today in Cape town and on the list to cool things to do in Cape town today was Kirstenbosch and Lions head. Acclaimed as one of the great botanic gardens of the world, we felt that we had to add Kirstenbosch to our Cape town adventure.
Only 20 minutes from our house and nestled against the eastern slopes of Cape Town’s Table Mountain is this stunning Botanic Garden with many many walking paths, café’s, 1 restaurant, various trails to Table Mountain and some of most picturesque picnic spots I have ever seen.
It costs 75ZAR to enter, which is about $8NZD pp and it’s worth it. We hiked some of the Skeleton gorge, got caught in 2 different rain storms (I blame being so close to the beautiful mountain equipped with its own weather system), checked out some African wildflowers and managed to not step on any snakes. Overall, we spent just over 2 hours here, but we loved it. It’s beautiful and a great place to bring family or friends to have an all-day picnic basking in the sun…or in our case skipping from 1 shaded area to the next hiding from both the intense Cape sun and the rain.
Cape Town is fast becoming one of my favourite cities in the world, in part of due to the hundreds of spectacular hikes you can do while you’re here. Every day we look out of our window and are blessed with the views of Lion’s head. The city has been blessed with an abundance of climbable mountains and this one is considered one of the most stunning views of the city. It was next on our days list of adventures.
The five-kilometre hike climbs 500 metres as it encircles Lions Head, which meant that half of our walk was in the scorching Cape Town heat and the other half was shaded- that to me is a win. Caked in sunscreen we began the hike. In beginning, at least, the path was wide, smooth, and flat and then became hot and challenging about 15 minutes in.
From the moment we started walking, the views were spectacular. I was obviously on edge as my face is in the stage of half peeling off just now and the thought of it burning again makes me want to spew but I tried to stay as positive as possible and it wasn’t hard at all. The sweat was pouring off us both as we practically ran up enjoying every second. We even chose the ‘hard’ way up which included vertical sections of chains and staples – I loved it.
We would both recommend if you are fit enough to add the challenging route into your climb on the way up for a kick of adrenaline and then on the way down do the easy route as then you get a good mix of views. Now, the summit was in sight and I could taste the victory, 43 minutes in and BOOM! We made it. WHAT.A.SIGHT. Panoramic views over the whole city and Table Mountain, we just sat in awe for at least 20 minutes, before snapping all the best pics and making our descent back home.
I am so happy we ticked this off the list. We have 1 days left here which means that tomorrow we tackle Table Mountain, I’m sick of writing this every day so I can only imagine you are sick of reading it, but tomorrow it is the day and it’ happening.
**Very quick add on – If you are planning on eating out in Camps Bay we can recommend 100% Paranga! After 18,000 steps today and 14km’s we treated ourselves and my god it was worth it. A bit pricey but for the setting, the outstanding food and the great service – we would be back!
The Cape of Good Hope
It was a no go yet again for hiking today as I am still pretty badly burnt, but now I am at that itchy stage where I want to rip my own skin off. This is getting beyond a joke, BUT Cape town is a fantastic place filled with amazing things to do so today we decided to make our way to see the Penguins at Boulder beach and then drive the Chapman’s peak coastal route as far as the Cape of Good Hope in the Cape National park.
As we left Camps bay it wasn’t long before we were on the Chapmans peak drive, considered one of the most stunning coastal drives in the world. It is, but it was foggy for us on the way there so I will add the photos I took on the way back. 50ZAR each way per car was quite a lot but we both discussed that it was 100% worth it. The road twists and turns around Chapman’s Peak Drive, which hugs its namesake with a towering cliff with a sheer drop above it. It is renowned for its spectacular 180° views of the Cape Peninsula as well as its 114 twists and turns, and we were just amazed driving it. We actually feel that it would have been better if neither of us were driver but we can’t have everything.
Arriving in Boulder bay we paid the 160ZAR pp ($16NZD) to go visit the Penguin colony. I was worried that we wouldn’t see any or they would all be fishing for food or hiding, but I was wrong as there were hundreds. You can actually go swimming with them if they let you but as they are wild animals, we kept our distance and took some snaps before continuing our journey.
Stellenbosch & Villiera Winery
Hey, guess what? We didn’t make it to Table Mountain today as I am the most burnt, I have ever been in my whole life. That is not an understatement, in fact I spent about 30 minutes this morning crying to Leo feeling sorry for myself – why? Because I got burnt. It’s bloody ridiculous!
However, plan B we decided to check out Stellenbosch and the surrounding wineries. The town of Stellenbosch is surrounded by the vineyards of the Cape Winelands and the mountain nature reserves of Jonkershoek and Simonsberg.
After picking up the car from Budget – which we 100% recommend as the team were amazing, the car was cheap, and they even upgraded us! Everything ran like clockwork and in 20mins we were out in our little Ford number and heading 45 minutes East to Stellenbosch. The town's oak-shaded streets are lined with cafes, boutiques and art galleries. The architecture is original and has a strong Dutch focus mixed with South African traditional – very unique. Oh, and it’s hot here – like 5 degrees hotter than Cape Town so wear sunscreen and be prepared to sweat.
We had read about Villiera Vineyard and it looked amazing as not only was it a vineyard but also home to a fantastic nature reserve and we booked a 2.5 hour tasting and safari around the property. IT WAS FAB…but more of that later as I want to give special mention to Café Furlough. If you ever find yourself near this place, make sure you add it to your list. Filled with beautiful healthy meals and the best-looking cakes I have seen so far in Africa, it was brilliant. I had a poke bowl and a raw juice and Leo had a brilliant pulled beef burger with sweet potato. DELICIOUS! And even though a little expensive, it was on par with NZ and I was so sad as I am so burnt, we treated ourselves.
Moving on to the Vineyard, our afternoon cost 250ZAR pp - $25NZD. This included 6 wine tastings, 1 glass of Champagne (or Cap Classique as they call it as they can’t take the name) and a 2 our nature safari. We saw heaps! Springbuck, Giraffe, Bontebok, Black Wildebeest, Burchell's Zebra, common Duiker, Steenbuck, Waterbuck and Grysbok and the best part was we managed to find a chameleon which has been on my list for forever! The 2 hours flew by and I took about 500 photos, but I just loved every second, and for the price it was more than worth it.
Camps Bay & Clifton Beach
A new day! Waking up at 6am a bright yet foggy morning was excellent. In Scotland it wasn’t reaching daylight until 8.30am so as soon as sunrise hit, we were up and getting ready for our day. Currently, Cape Town is suffering from load shedding - an intentionally engineered electrical power shutdown where electricity delivery is stopped for non-overlapping periods of time over different parts of the distribution region. This happens three times a day for an overall 7-8 hours and this morning was from 8am, so we made sure we were good to go from there and excited for a day exploring the bays.
Camps bay is an absolutely beautiful section of the city and to be fair, everyone who lives here is MINTED, it’s like the Hollywood hills of Cape Town which means it’s safe and that’s pretty much why we chose it, even though as cheap as it was, it’s still blowing our budget – you pay to be safe right? We arrived at the beach and wandered, snapping lots of stunning pics of the rolling mountains behind the bay and from there made our may to Clifton beach. We walked as we don’t have a car until tomorrow but it’s only about 20 minutes from each other so easily accessible.
We made it home for 3.30pm, red and ashamed of our stupidity with the sunscreen and reckon tonight will be a night in watching movies and feeling hot, tired, sorry for ourselves and burnt.
For dinner tonight as much as we wanted to just lie in bed and bathe in a bath of milk, I managed to cook us up a storm and just look at the setting? Isn't is simply beautiful? Roll on feeling excellent for Table Mountain tomorrow!
The arrival into Cape Town
50,000 words in to this blog and I can honestly say I am proud of myself for keeping up to date with it. I’m actually loving it, I love writing about my experiences and for my small amount of readers who have some across this blog, I hope you like it too!
So, we have arrived in Cape Town – it’s excellent but the journey here was far from it. We flew Fly Safair (S.A’s version of Ryan Air) which in all fairness was actually great but we hit the worst turbulence on the way and for 2 hours I cried, breaking Leo’s hand and determined that this was the end. It was bloody horrible. However, we made it, and grabbed our luggage making our way to ‘parkage A ground floor’ to get an Uber, just in case any one reads this and needs an Uber in Cape Town, you have to go there. Hopping in the car, our driver was lovely, and we chatted, laughed and exchanged stories until CRASH!! Some dick head on his phone wasn’t looking and smashed straight into the side of us. The poor guys car was messed up and as much as we were all totally fine, I couldn’t help but feel so sorry for our driver. It was clear that he is struggling and needs this job and to do so relies on his car.
Welcome to Cape Town hey? Anyway, we arrived at our Air B n B in Camps Bay and it is wonderful! Camps bay can be described as up market I guess and is known for its fine white sand, natural rock swimming pool and views of the Twelve Apostles mountains. Our Air B n B was booked months in advance so we got it cheap at approx. $70NZD per night – it is worth it... just look at the views!!
It was nearly 6pm when we arrived so we made our way down to the bay to grab some food from ‘Woolworths’ – which we later realised is really expensive so go to ‘pick and pack’ instead. The walk takes about 30 mins each way from where we are so it was great to get some exercise in, even with the heat and steepness of the hill climb.
Today was an epic day. Raining … again, we opted to go explore the Sterkfontein Caves.
The Sterkfontein Caves are one of the richest and most productive palaeo-anthropological sites in the world and form part of the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site. We had no idea what to expect but after a 30minute drive, we arrived, paid the $16NZD entrance fee and we were in.
Our guide was brilliant and informed us right from the start that it was 127 stairs down, 60m underground and 232 stairs back up so at least we were getting in some exercise!
We were first taught that within the Sterkfontein Caves, scientists have discovered many hominid and other animal fossils, dating back more than 4-million years, to the birth of humanity. The most important and most famous of these fossils are “Mrs Ples”, a 2.1-million-year-old Australopithecus skull, and “Little Foot”, an almost complete Australopithecus skeleton that is more than 3-million years old. These fossils, both found in the Sterkfontein Caves in the Cradle of Humankind, tell us much about the precursors of modern humans, Homo sapiens, allowing this cave to be one of the most significant in the world.
Anyone will know that taking photos in the dark/ caves is super difficult and as I only had my phone, the quality is pretty useless, but I am sure you will catch the just of the experience, as it was pretty awesome.
At one point in the cave we had to squeeze through a 1m squares crevice for 25m, so I would recommend not coming here if you are claustrophobic, scared of the dark, wet small spaces or generally not keen on big ass caves as this one was huge! An estimated 40% of all the world's human ancestor fossils have been found in the Cradle, so it’s pretty awesome to tick off the list, and it’s ‘indoors’ so a great rainy day activity in Jo’berg! At the end of the tour you can check out the statue of the founder of this cave and you can either rub his nose for Good Luck or his hand for Wisdom. Legend says that you can't rub them both though as it's considered selfish and bad luck. I went for Wisdom as I feel with great wisdom comes good luck? Who knows... it was a great day anyway!
Our next stop is Cape town where we will spend a week in Camps bay, hopefully training hard for Kilimanjaro before we head off for a week along the Garden Route, which I am very excited for. Jo’berg was never on my list, in fact we only came here to visit family, but I can say I have thoroughly enjoyed it. I have loved how incredibly friendly everyone we have met has been and how as much as I wouldn’t say I felt safe, I definitely didn’t feel threatened at any time.
Hey! I'm Ally. I left the UK in 2011 to move overseas and ended up in New Zealand - my new home. This year we are taking a gap year to loop the world stopping in some AMAZING destinations - and I'm passionate about sharing these adventures with you!