Last January, a group of us who had met on a past Contiki trip decided to reunite in South Africa. And let me tell you, I was more than impressed with this beautiful country. I stayed in Cape Town and Pretoria, with a 4 day tour of Kruger National Park. It took me 23 hours of air time to get there, but it was more than worth it.
What you should do in Cape Town:
1. Take a cable car up Table Mountain. It’s recognized as one of the new seven world wonders. Table Mountain gives you panoramic views of Cape Town and awesome photo ops! You can see Lion’s Head and the Cape Town Stadium, where the 2010 World Cup was held. There’s also a restaurant on top so you can take in the gorgeous views at lunch. In the summer, the cable car opens at 8am and we went right when it opened as we were told it can get pretty busy in the afternoon. Cost for the cable car ticket is 225 rand (around $18 USD).
2. Hike Lion’s Head. This is a fairly easy hike that also provides gorgeous views of Cape Town. What’s cool about this one is that the path up spirals around the mountain, giving you views of the ocean, Camp’s Bay, and Table Mountain. It’s also very easy to get to. We took an uber and got to the base around 5:30 am, so we could watch the sunrise from the top. It’s about a 1 hour hike to the top. There’s definitely some sketchy areas of the hike, like narrow paths with big drop offs so there’s chains to hold on to that have been mounted to the side of the mountain. There’s also a ladder that brings you up some of the steepest areas of the mountain. It’s pretty exhilarating, especially when you get to the top.
3. Spend some time at the beach. The beaches here are so pretty, and it’s hot here in January. We stayed in Camp’s Bay, a popular beach area with lots of restaurants and shopping as well.
4. Groot Constantia Winery: Oldest wine estate in South Africa. We did a cellar tour, tasting, and lunch here.
Things I wanted to do in Cape Town, but didn’t have time:
1. Boulder’s beach. This is the beach with the African penguins, just outside of Cape Town.
2. Shark cage dive. Cape Town is one of the best places to do this, but when we asked the companies that provide these tours, they said the water was too warm and they hadnt seen sharks in a few days. I appreciated their honesty. There’s tons of companies that have information on this at the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront. There’s a big mall, restaurants and a ferris wheel there.
3. Cape of Good Hope. The most southern point of the African continent.
Where we stayed: We stayed in an airbnb that had amazing views of the ocean and was within walking distance to Camp’s Bay. There’s tons of these places to choose from.
Kruger National Park: This park itself is enough reason to get on a plane and go to South Africa! This huge park allows you to drive yourself (or schedule a tour) through the African wilderness on your own safari. You’ll see wild elephants, lions, leopards, rhinos, giraffes, and more. There’s tons of lodging available, from economical to luxury options. We stayed in little houses that had a BBQ available to us with showers and air-conditioning. Don’t worry, all the lodging is gated to keep animals from getting to you! There’s also a bunch of restaurants scattered all over the park with good food and amazing views of the wildlife.
One night we had a braai (BBQ) in the middle of the park. You have a tour guide drive you around some areas of the park in a big Jeep. They then bring you to where you’ll have dinner, with a fancy set up, candles, and the nicest servers just for your private table. There was a guy with a shotgun that stood right by us in case animals came up to us, ha! Bring mosquito spray. Here’s the website: https://www.sanparks.org/parks/kruger/
There’s lots of places in South Africa to have hands-on interaction with some African animals. I went to Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve, a drive outside Pretoria in Krugersdorp. I got to play with baby tigers, lions, and a full grown cheetah. You could also feed giraffes. It was incredible! It was also very affordable, around $5-10 USD to pet the animals. Website here: http://rhinolion.co.za
This tourist spot is super gorgeous. There’s a viewpoint to see a waterfall and green cliffs that go on for miles. I believe admission was around $10 USD. There’s also lots of people selling African souviniers you can barter for. I got some good stuff there for cheap. Lots of hand-carved wooden accessories and jewelry.
We also visited the capital building of Johannesburg and the Nelson Mandela statue. There’s lots of people trying to get a picture in front of this statue, and others trying to take pictures of you to sell. They’re cheap, but nothing you can’t take yourself.
That’s all I’ve got! I hope you too get to enjoy this fun country!
See my YouTube video 🎥 for this trip here:
Lots of footage of the animals in Kruger Park, Camp’s Bay, Table Mountain, the hike up Lion’s Head, and God’s Window.
What did I miss? Comment below!