It says something about Cape Town that despite the fact that Jeromy chipped his tooth (surfing), had his phone stolen (at a soccer game), got in a minor car accident (with the guy across the street) and our dryer, hot water heater, wifi, and alarm were all out at different times, we still loved Cape Town! We consider it one of our favorite places we’ve visited so far. Oh, and we had cockroaches…
We had heard great things about Cape Town, which is why we decided to make it one of our longer stays. We stayed a month there, but we never could have anticipated the beautiful city and surrounding region that we encountered.
To add to our enjoyment of the area, we were also able to get a great deal on a beautiful home on AirBNB with 4 bedrooms, so we had plenty of room to spread out and find some personal space! It also had a great pool which was fun!
My parents spent the first week of our time in Cape Town with us and then they headed back to the USA and their lives there. We were so sad to see them go, but grateful for the time we had to spend with them and for the opportunity to share what our life is like on the road with people we love.
It only took a couple days of being in Cape Town to realize that although we had a month to visit, it was still going to be difficult to fit everything in that we wanted to do. I made a calendar and we started adding in all of the activities we wanted to do before we left. As I went back through the pictures to write this blog post, I couldn’t believe everything we were able to fit in. Not only that, but we had a list of things we didn’t have a chance to do that we put on our list for “next time” as well. The Cape is an incredible place to visit and as you look through our (long) list, I’m sure you will see why we loved it so much.
We didn’t actually stay in Cape Town itself, we stayed in a neighboring town near Big Bay in the Parklands area. It was great because it was in a neighborhood with stores and restaurants nearby and it was only a few miles from the beach at Big Bay. We had lots of fun there, taking surf lessons one day, watching the amazing kitesurfers, and we even rented a bike and taught Luke how to ride! There were also the most amazing views of Table Mountain from that area.
While we didn’t stay in Cape Town proper, we did make it in to Cape Town on a regular basis. The following are some of the things we did in the city of Cape Town.
Victoria and Alfred Waterfront
This was a beautiful waterfront area with a fun playground area for the kids, tons of shopping and restaurants, and a picturesque harbor looking out toward Robben Island.
This is the island where Nelson Mandela was held prisoner for 18 of his 27 years in prison. Many other political prisoners were held here as well, and after closing the prison the government decided to re-open it to tourists in rememberance of the sacrifices made to end apartheid. I was really looking forward to going here and we were disappointed when, because of strong winds, the tours were cancelled day after day. We were finally able to go towards the end of our time in Cape Town and I am so happy we had the opportunity. Our tour guide had been a prisoner on Robben Island and gave us insight into what life was like there. We were also able to see the cell where Nelson Mandela spent most his time there and on our bus tour around the island, his former guard spoke to us about him. His gaurd wrote a book about his experience called Nelson Mandela, My Prisoner, My Friend. All the pictures we took are forever gone on Jeromy’s stolen phone, but it’s an experience I won’t soon forget.
While the kids were playing at the playground at the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, they made friends with a family from Ireland that was traveling as well. I had a chance to get to know their mother, who is a travel writer, and we compared notes on what to do in Cape Town. She gave us some great ideas, one of which was going to Greenpoint Park! The kids had so much fun at the playground and then we continued to walk along the water until we came across one fun thing to do after another. At the end of the day, we watched a beautiful sunset over the Atlantic Ocean.
Premier League Soccer Game
There is a huge stadium in Cape Town that was built for the FIFA World Cup and we were able to go to a South African Premier League soccer game there one evening. We had a really fun time cheering on The Sundowners, with the night only slightly being spoiled by the fact that someone pick-pocketed Jeromy’s phone during halftime. Fortunately, my sisters were coming to meet us in India just a few weeks later, so he didn’t have to go too long without a phone. The bright side for him was that it was a good excuse to get the most recent iPhone!
One of our last nights there, Jeromy bought tickets for the Broadway show Annie and we went on a date night to a wonderful dinner (the food in Cape Town was amazing) and the musical. It was a great performance and a fun night to spend together, just the two of us.
A highlight I wasn’t anticipating while in Cape Town was having such a fabulous experience with the local congregation (ward) we attended for church every Sunday. We were immediately welcomed with open arms by everyone. Parker was brought in like a regular member of the quorum, passing the sacrament, attending weekly activities, and receiving assignments to work on at home. He really enjoyed getting to know some of the youth his own age and they loved to ask him questions about the United States.
On our first Sunday, the Primary was practicing for their yearly presentation for the whole congregation. They were quick to give Luke and Tyler a part and included them in the program. The next week they got up in front of the whole congregation just like they belonged there all along! They also made good friends with some of the other children there and were sad to say goodbye when we left.
Jeromy and I were both welcomed warmly as well and I was even given a beautiful bouquet of flowers to take home for our time in Cape Town. While this may not seem like a huge deal, when you are traveling and don’t have a home or community, it is really nice to feel like you are a part of something for a while and that people care about you. Thank you Milnerton Ward, you don’t know how much it meant to us!
We love to hike and The Cape area has endless opportunities. We just scratched the surface, but were able to have some pretty amazing experiences.
Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden
This is a beautiful botanical garden at the foot of Table Mountain in Cape Town. We had a guided tour learning about the abundance of vegetation and wildlife that can only be found in The Cape. My favorite was seeing the large variety of Proteas they had. The kid’s favorite parts were the natural spring they could drink directly from, climbing the “spider trees,” and The Boomslang which was a wooden platform that let you walk in the tops of the trees. It was named The Boomslang because that is a type of snake that is found in trees in the region and it winds around like a snake in the trees.
We did this hike on Thanksgiving Day and had a great time! It was a fun way to spend our time not thinking about all the delicious food and family we were missing at home. There were no turkey dinners to be found here, so afterwards we headed to Italian food instead!
My boys are so brave! On each of these extreme activities we had multiple people say how incredible our kids are. They are truly amazing and I love their sense of adventure.
Shark Cage Diving
This was not quite what you see on Discovery Channel, a bit safer, but still incredible. We were in a cage attached to the boat on one side and when the sharks would come close, we would go under with a mask and watch them swim by. Parker was on the end and was constantly being splashed by the fish on a line that they used to lure the sharks in. Hopefully not too close!
A crazy drive up, a beautiful hike, 13 platfoms, 11 ziplines, and a suspension bridge in The Hotentot Mountains. The longest zipline was over 300 yards long! So fun!
This was so much fun, sandboarding and sandsledding for me! The 4X4 drive to get to the dune and riding back up the hill was almost as much fun as going down!
Table Mountain deserves a section all it’s own because it is truly amazing! It was recently named one of the New 7 Natural Wonders of the World and it deserves it. There are stunning views from the top as well as hikes all over. An interesting phenomenon locally named “The Tablecloth” is a layer of clouds that forms over Table Mountain covering it like, well, a table cloth. It can spring up in minutes and our first time up we went from clear skies and amazing views to being in a dense fog within minutes. We were able to go up twice, once at the beginning of our time in Capetown and once on one of our last days there. Being a defining characteristic of Cape Town, it was the perfect way to start and end our trip to The Cape.
Towns Around The Cape
Simon Town was a cute little town on the other side of Table Mountain from Capetown.
We walked around and had a delicious lunch there, but the big draw to this area is the penguins! Yes, you read that right, penguins in South Africa! There was a huge colony in the area and we got to get up close and personal with them. As we were exploring around the beach, there were hundreds of penguins swimming, sleeping, and just walking around.
While they weren’t afraid of us, they weren’t exactly friendly either and my mom had a close call as she was climbing over the rocks back to our beach with a penguin nipping at her toes while she held herself up above him! The boys and I had to scare the penguin off before she could get down. I love these pictures because it is such a great example of how adventurous my parents were the whole time in South Africa. They climbed over and under huge rocks to get to the other section of beach, just for a better view of the penguins! Grandma and Grandpa didn’t slow us down at all!
While we aren’t wine drinkers, we still had to go check out the famous wine region around Cape Town. It was incredibly beautiful and had delicious food. We can’t speak for the wine, but the non-alcoholic sparkling grape juice was the best we’ve ever had.
This is a small, high-end town out in the mountains known for its wine as well. We stopped through here on our way back from ziplining, had a nice lunch and fun shopping in the shops, as well as going to the art galleries.
Cape of Good Hope
Many people have heard of the Cape of Good Hope as the place where the sailors knew they were rounding the African continent. It was amazing standing here, looking south, and knowing the next piece of land was Antarctica! We just couldn’t take a deep breath because a huge whale had washed up on the rocks and was rotting nearby. While the smell was horrendous, it was pretty interesting to see a whale that close up.
While many people think the Cape of Good Hope is the most southern point in Africa, that distinction actually belongs to Cape Agulhaus. It is also where The Indian and The Atlantic Oceans meet. We had fun climbing out on the rocks and trying to guess where the two oceans come together.
Goodbye Cape Town! We love you, we miss you, and we can’t wait to come back!