The opposite side of Africa

Hello all,

so for as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to go to South Africa. Not sure why, but that country seemed fascinating to me. So when my sister graduated from college back in June, I thought I’d surprise her with some plane tickets to South Africa and bring the troops (i.e. friends) together for what ended up being a 7 persons / 10 days trip during the last week of October and the first couple days in November.

Below the itinerary of what we ended up doing.

Day 1-7: Cape Town & Surroundings

Since we were all flying in from different locations,  we agreed to book flights separately and fly into Cape Town. We ended up arriving over the course of two days, so we got some time to recover from the long flights. Most of us took an Uber to the Airbnb, but the last bunch that arrived more or less at the same time booked a rental from the airport and drove it to town. We ended up keeping the rental for the week we were in Cape Town, but in hindsight it would have been best to only book a rental car for the couple days we drove out of town and instead rely mostly on Uber while in town. Uber proved to be a reliable and cheap option while in the city so we ended up using it a lot.

The time we spent in Cape Town, we ended up hiking Lion’s Head and taking the funicular up to Table Mountain. I would have loved to squeeze in a hike up Table Mountain as well, but I didn’t get much encouragement from the group and felt a little worried to go on an unknown challenging early morning hike on my own. We also ended up exploring the Saturday market at the Old Biscuit Mill and the Waterfront, the downtown area (albeit sometimes sketchy), and of course chilling by the beach. And during our last day in town we went on the Robben island tour (which is pricey and requires signup on the website beforehand! but still worth it in my opinion).

For the two days we decided to venture out of town, we ended up doing the following:

On the first day, we headed out quite early and passed Boulder Beach on our way to Cape of Good Hope. On the way there and back we passed plenty of little coastal towns but only ended up stopping in one for a quick coffee and breakfast break. The goal was to have enough time to drive back before it became too dark. I loved our little roadtrip and wished I had more time to complete the full Garden Route along the coast. But I guess if you’re also short on time, Boulder Beach and Cape of Good Hope are definitely worth it.

On the second day, we left a little later in the day and made our way to the vineyards in Stellenbosch.

Accommodation: Our Airbnb in Cape Town proved to be a fantastic choice for a big group such as ours. It was our home away from home and our host was super friendly and helpful. Would definitely recommend it!

Cafes recommended: I’ve managed to try a few coffeeshops during my time in South Africa and I’d recommend all of them in a heart beat. I usually ended up going for the flat white, but in a country like South Africa, you’ll find all that your heart desires when it comes to coffee drinks 🙂 Here are some names: Truth Coffee Roasting, Origin Coffee Roasting & Giovanni’s Deliworld. Another cute coffeeshop that we stumbled upon on the way to Robben Island is Monocole & Mermaid!

Here are some pictures from this first part of the trip:

Day 7-10:  Pilanesberg and Johannesburg

For the second part of the trip we headed East! One of the main activities that I wanted to do in South Africa was to go on a safari. However, since we did not have time to go to Kurger National Park (further away and requires several days of a trip), we ended up picking Pilanesberg for our safari. Pilanesberg is the second biggest national park in South Africa and also hosts all the Big 5 animals on site. Sadly, it is never guaranteed that you’ll see all the animals, since the animals roam freely and the park is pretty big.

We ended up taking a morning flight from Cape Town to Johannesburg, rented a car from the airport and drove straight to our accommodation near Pilanesberg, where we just relaxed for the rest of the day. The following morning at 5AM, our safari Jeep picked us up for our 5 hours tour. My advice to you if you’re going on a sunrise safari is to wear a ton of layers. It’ll be super cold when you start off the day but it gets pretty warm once the sun comes up!

After the safari, we ended up packing our stuff and heading to Johannesburg where we spent 2 days exploring a Saturday market and some coffeeshops. In hindsight, I would have probably skipped Johannesburg as I found the downtown to be quite sketchy. It was also clear that there are some quite wealthy people living in some parts of town with gated communities and fancy cars while some people were walking the streets and begging at every intersection…

Accommodation: Our accommodation in Johannesburg was nothing special, but the one by Pilanesberg turned out to be a great find (albeit no WIFI!).

Cafes recommended: At least Johannesburg did not disappoint when it came to coffeeshops! We loved Father Coffee so much that we went back again before we headed to the airport!

Below some pics for this final leg of the trip:

 

Overall, the trip to South Africa was definitely worth the hours spent in planes and airports. The South Africans that we met were all super friendly and helpful! I would love to visit again some day and get to experience more of this amazing country.

Until then, feel free to get in touch if you have any questions.

Cheers,

Dom.

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