Travel Review: Cape Town, South Africa
Hey team!! Things have been busy as of late, so I'm FINALLY getting around to give y'all the recap on my amazing trip to South Africa and what it made me realize in terms of the blog!
It as an incredible trip, and South Africa is an incredible country. If you ever have the chance to go, or deciding where to take your next adventure, def consider SA. Why did I enjoy it so much? Well, first of it has everything. If you're traveling to Cape Town (must!) you'll get mountains, the sea, warmth, cold, city and countryside (hello beautiful wine farms!). There's so much to do from water activities (did not partake), hikes, museums, amazingly unreal food, lots of wine, beaches, animals, etc. Literally, everything! And that's just Cape Town -- there's so much of SA left to explore. Do not leave without going on Safari!
So before I get into the deets, Now to South Africa and why you MUST go. One of my favorite countries -- seriously.
Get ready for lots of photos of water, wine, naturally, and Savanna ciders because they're a delicious treat.
Cape Town: Cape Town has it all. It's a waterfront city in the mountains, surrounded my acres of wine vineyards. Soooo, you can hike multiple mountains, visit multiple beaches, and explore the amazing food scene of the city and go on numerous wine tastings. It's the perfect place for city-dwellers, nature-lovers and foodies, of course.
This was at Boulder Beach in Simon's Town which was about 45 minutes south of Cape Town center but was a beautiful drive and totally worth it. These little penguins were so cute!
Where to stay: So while Cape Town does have a down-town area, the city is pretty spread out. That means you can stay in one of the many bays, get a beautiful sea view (that comes with outrageous sunsets), and be able to take an super-cheap Uber downtown for drinks or dinner. We stayed in Camp's Bay which is chock full of beautiful rentals (definitely check out AirBnb to start) all within ~10 minutes walking distance to the beach. It's a busy, residential area, but there are restaurants and places to grab a drink all along the beach - so there's always something to do. You can also check out rentals in Clifton and Bantry Bay which are a bit up the way towards the city centre but are just as beautiful and offer great/similar priced accommodation, from what I've found.
Things to do: Okay, this could be an endless list, but because we were only there for 4 days, this is totally not exhaustive of all the activity there is in Cape Town and its surrounding areas. BUT, some highlights of our trip include driving along Chapman's Peak Drive (totally like the Pacific Coast Highway) on the way down to see the penguins on Boulder Beach in Simon's Town (above) and eventually to the Cape of Good Hope for some pretty ocean views and a perspective on just how far south you are!
You should definitely take a hike while in Cape Town. You can do either Lion's Peak or hike or take the cable car to Table Mountain. We did a sunrise hike to Lion's Peak which was definitely worth the early wake up call. Not only was it significantly less crowded with tourists and such (as we were coming down at 9am the crowd coming up was growing fast), but it was definitely far cooler than it would have been even 2 hours later. We started around 6am (a little behind schedule), but this will depend on the time of year and when the sun rises. The views are panoramic because you are hiking all around the peak, so you can see all sides of Cape Town. Difficulty wise, I would say this isn't necessarily an easy hike. It starts off as just an inclined walk -- pretty easy. Then it turns into more rocky terrain where it's not always clear where you're going and can be a bit scary for those not too keen on heights or not avid hikers. But if you're traveling and feeling the weight of vacation indulgences, you'll feel amazing after this! Overall, it was a pretty serene and relaxing scene and I would urge you to see Cape Town this way! Table Mountain (which we did not get to) is also a must-see (whether you hike it or cable car) and offers more views of this amazing city. If you can do both, do it!
Another Cape Town/South Africa must is a visit to a "wine farm" or two. South Africa is known for its many wine vineyards, which they call farms, and it would be a shame to miss out on that! There's a town called Stellenbosch just outside of Cape Town that is surrounded by tons of vineyards and where many wine farms are. We drove out from Camp's Bay and visited two: Hidden Valley Wines & Babylonstoren.
It was a beautiful, warm day - perfect for some vino if you ask me :). First, we went to Hidden Valley to have one of their tastings, which I think ended up being a whopping $4 per person for pretty much three glasses of wine altogether. Not sure how that worked out, but no complaints. It was a beautiful venue and the views were gorgeous, a perfect spot to stop for a tasting!
Next we went to Babylonstoren, another hotel/wine farm, where we had lunch at their unreal restaurant, Babel. The grounds were beautiful and reminded me of an old European farm, which I then realized it was! Lots of white buildings, old Dutch art and design pieces, orange clay walkways, and picturesque gardens.
For the restaurant, the atmosphere was super cool -- lots of crisp white woods, glass, and rustic touches of color with a bright and airy vibe. The food was literally a work of art. Super fresh, farm-to-table and something a true foodie or art lover would appreciate. The appetizer was literally just a compilation of raw vegetables, fruits, meats, nuts and other things crafted together in a special and simply, yet unique way. We were stuffed to say the least, but walking around the gardens afterward wasn't a bad way to feel better. Super cool place -- if you're looking for a wine farm while in Cape Town definitely add this one to your schedule.
As for places to eat in Cape Town, my two favorites we went to were Jarryd's cafe for breakfast after the hike and the Pot Luck Club for our last dinner. Jarryd's is a fun & trendy place where you can choose your breakfast/brunch from literally an endless menu with amazing-looking (didn't get to partake) coffee to go with. I got the smoothie bowl, but you could choose from tons of egg dishes, veg-based dishes, avo toast, and french toast/pancakes/etc. So many yummy choices -- this place is a must if you're into healthy, trendy brunch. Who isn't? Pot Luck Club was again, a trendy choice, but my all means a good one. It's in a funky area, Woodstock, where your Uber will literally take you to the front door where there's a security guard waiting to take you to the restaurant. I think this was my first real encounter with the safety risks in Cape Town, where you really can't walk alone at night and always have to taxi/Uber. The restaurant was in the Old Biscuit Mill which has a fun market held on Saturdays which we didn't have the chance to go to. The restaurant served really flavorful, innovative tapas-style food from who knows what region of the world. It was definitely as good as the rave reviews make it out to be, but you literally have to get a reservation 2 months in advance. Highly recommend though!
Those were my standout activities from Cape Town! You really can do everything and anything, and I wish we had had more time to explore more. But essentials: at least one beach, sunsets in one of the bays, sunrise hike and of course, wine tastings. If you are planning a trip to South Africa, I hope this gave you a few places to add to your list, if not, well I hope this inspired you to plan a trip here soon!
P.S. stay tuned for Part II of my travel review: Safari edition! Can't wait to share with you what a special experience it was.