Updated: Aug 26, 2022
We started off the day in Hazyview, where we had a buffet breakfast at our hotel before heading to Johannesburg. Along the way we stopped by the Union Buildings in Pretoria (the official headquarters of the South African government), where a large statue of Nelson Mandela welcomed us with open arms.
Our two-hour flight from Johannesburg to Cape Town departed from the airport at 6:40 pm When we arrived at our hotel, the Protea Marriott Seaview, we were too tired to go out. We sat in the lobby with other tour group members and since the next day was open, decided to get together in the morning and take the “hop-on-hop off” bus. Once the planning for the next day was done, we headed to our room and called it a day.
Included in our tour package was a Cableway and red bus combo. This allowed us to get on and off the double-decker bus as often as we wanted between 9 am and 4:30 pm and also included a ticket for Table Mountain Aerial Cableway. There were 3 routes of loops, so we could have ridden the bus pretty much all day. We opted for the Red loop because it was the one that stopped at Table Mountain. While the weather was nice, we wanted to take advantage of the cableway,
A block or two from the hotel we hopped onto the bus. We opted to see the entire route before deciding the first jump off point. This 24 KM (16 mile) ride takes about an hour and a half. While on the upper deck, you can take relatively unobstructed photos from a vantage point that you would not have any other way. The bus makes 11 stops, some of which include: “The Waterfront”, Convention Center, Downtown-Long Street, Table Mountain, Camps Bay, Clifton Beaches, Sea Point and Mouille Point. We enjoyed the fresh ocean air and sunshine on the open deck, even though it was more chilly than we expected. I wore shorts and a lightweight sweater which was a big mistake for late March, as it was way too cold for such attire (Think late September at the Jersey Shore on a cloudy day).
We noticed brightly colored homes and businesses, pre 1850 architecture, and lots of cars in the Bo-Kaap, a section of Cape Town, also known as the Malay Quarter. Dating back to the early 1800’s, this is the oldest surviving neighborhood in Cape Town.
We approached Table Mountain.
We passed through Camps Bay.
When we got back to the hotel area, I immediately changed to warmer clothing and was very glad that I did.
Along with some of our fellow tourists, and eager to get some steps in, we took a 5 KM (3 mile) hike from our hotel to the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, more commonly known as simply “The Waterfront”.
Along the way, we walked along the promenade through an ocean-side park, where we saw some interesting sculptures.
It wasn’t until we stepped back, onto a little lookout area conveniently placed in the park, that we realized these odd pieces were part of a bigger picture.
Several small sculptural components when looked at from the correct vantage point reveal a rhinoceros.
On the beach is a monumental pair of glasses frames, large enough for several people to sit or stand in at the same time. This steel sculpture, created by Cape Town artist Michael Elion, faces Robbins Island where Nelson Mandela was once a prisoner. They can be seen as looking at the island through the eyes of Nelson Mandela.
Next stop on our walking tour, Green Point Lighthouse.
We passed the beautiful Somerset Hospital and colorfully painted steps that led to it.
Where are we? Another Irish Pub/Tavern??
We spent a few hours at the harbor, and had a tasty and moderately priced lunch at the Mozambik restaurant (Highly recommend: the calamari appetizer)
Chess must be big in Cape Town as evidenced by the chess board below.
Sometimes what appears to be a life-like metal statue is actually a human actor.
If you go to South Africa, look for yellow frame-like structures. Sit on each one you see and have a friend or fellow traveler snap your photo. The photo below has Table Mountain in the frame. I know this how?
Table Mountain takes up a lot of real estate in the Cape Town area and so the are several viewpoints.
Near these frames was a red-bus pick up point and so we hopped on again where we saw Table Mountain from another vantage point.
In Iceland there is a mountain called Kirkjufell which to me looks a lot like South Africa’s Lion Head.
Lion’s head reminded us of that spot in Iceland.
As we approached Table Mountain, we noticed a huge cloud over it, but we were here, and so we de-bussed and headed towards the funicular.
We took the funicular to the summit of Table Mountain snapping photos along the way. As you may have noticed in the photo above, there is a very thick cloud over the mountain which makes for an eerie ambiance. It is very cool but not the best for panoramic photos as everything is whited out. I did manage to get some shots that I liked. In the one below, my husband is walking on a boardwalk but it is impossible to know where it leads.
At the top, in addition to boardwalk bridges, is a fortress-like structure, which allows for a safe way to look at the surrounding area.
The funicular was priceless.
After visiting Table Mountain, we took the last Hop-on-Hop-Off bus back to the Sea Point part of Cape Town where we were staying.
Early the next morning, we went for a walk on the beach, or rather rocky coast, where we photographed African Oystercatchers, Egyptian Geese, Cape Wagtails, Cormorant, and Gulls..
To see more photographs of the African Oystercatcher please go to: https://mariamarkatos.smugmug.com/Animals/Birds/Shorebird-Collection/Haematopodidae/African-Oystercatcher/
We also saw “The Tale of the Snail and the Whale” sculpture set.
We really enjoyed the Hop-On-Hop-Off Bus because it allowed us to see over the traffic. The next day, we purchased tickets and headed on a different route, the blue one, taking us to the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens. Some Helmeted Guineafowl greeted us. While I have seen these birds in the US on several occasions, they are not American but rather of the South African Diaspora.
We saw several cute birds in the gardens that also saw us.
Even though it was not technically the rainy season when we went to South Africa, it still rained some of the time. At home we would stay in, but being 7800 miles and 20 hours from home changes things. Foul weather gear is a must for a trip to South Africa, and not just umbrellas. Rain jackets, ponchos and protection for camera equipment are suggested for the windy downpours. Flowers do look beautiful in the rain, especially the Calla Lily.
Green plants look especially green. Everything appears more lush. Walking in the rain allows you to experience the saturation of color that a sunny day cannot offer.
After leaving the gardens, from a somewhat protected seat on the bus, I was able to see one of Cape Town's wineries.
Another advantage to traveling on a rainy day, less crowds, as evidenced by the many empty seats that would be full on a sunny day.
I can't swear to it but I think that the image below is of another winery.
And even on a rainy day, the sun will come out, if you behave.
My husband was seated at the back of the bus which is a great place to see where you were.
Well it looks like more rain is headed our way.
In the evening, we went with some of our Tour-group friends to a Syrian Restaurant called Damascus. Having grown up with similar cuisine, I knew what to expect. The food was amazing and, as good or better than Mom’s, the best yiaprakia/yalanji/dolmada (Yalanji refers to vegetarian stuffed vegetables - grape leaves) that I have ever eaten. The mezze platter was delicious, as was the tabule. Additionally the falafels were divine. My husband had lamb which was also marvelous. I highly recommend this place.
On our last full day in South Africa we went on a tour of the Cape Peninsula. Looking at the Map Below you will see where we went.
Hotel in Cape Town
Hout Bay - Mariner’s Wharf
Cape Point Ostrich Farm
Cape Point Nature Reserve
Cape of Good Hope
Upper Funicular Station
Sea Point Marriott, Cape Town
Immediately after an early breakfast, we headed south on Chapman’s Peak Drive to tour the Cape Peninsula stopping at scenic lookouts along the road.
2 - Mariner’s Wharf
We stopped at Mariner’s Wharf, where we needed cash for almost everything including entry into the bathrooms. While this is not unusual, and was the norm even in the USA until the late 70’s early 80’s, it is another reason why it is important to have some cash with you when you travel. The people who train the seals generate their income and pay for the seals’ food with the money you give them for photos. So, I didn’t use a telephoto or shoot without their permission from far away. Give them a few rand for a photo op.
This seal was really healthy looking and loved its trainer.
Remember the frames? The photo below is a reminder that we visited Chapman’s Peak Drive.
3 - Cape Point Ostrich Farm
Our next stop was a combination rest-stop, farm stop, and snack stop - The Cape Point Ostrich Farm.
I thought it was cute that visitors could feed the ostrich. I later learned that the ostriches on the farm are raised not only for their eggs but for their meat.
Ostriches weren’t the only animals at this farm.
4 - Cape Point Nature Preserve
Not every place has a picture frame to let you know where you are. Sometimes there are signs.
5- Cape of Good Hope
Cape of Good Hope: The Most South-western Point of the African Continent. You may have thought it was “the most southern”, but no.
6- Upper Funicular Station
While we could have hiked to the lighthouse, we had about 45 minutes at this stop and the walk was closer to 50. So, we took the funicular. The ride afforded us a view of the mountain and surrounding area that we would not have gotten otherwise. We did however, walk partially down and back to the funicular. If you need some hand sanitizer, you can get “Freshly Squeezed” Hand Sanitiser here.
To see more photographs of Cape Peninsula please go to:
After a wonderful lunch, which consisted of a Marinated Mediterranean Squid Salad and a Seaforth Seafood Platter at the Seaforth Restaurant, we were off to see some penguins.
The first animal to greet us at Boulder Beach, in Simon’s Town, was the Rock Hyrax pictured below. While this animal looks a lot like a groundhog, it is more closely related, and I’m serious, to an elephant. This animal, with long-term memory and intelligence, is also similar to its cousin in that its strong back teeth easily grind up tough vegetation, and its two large incisor teeth eventually become tiny tusks. The hyrax and elephant share a common ancestor.
As the raucous sounds of the Penguins grew to a loud din, we started noticing them everywhere. They were spotted even in the shrubbery that was a good walk from the beach for their little legs.
It was mating season and we saw penguins courting each other, preparing nests, and being amorous. Some had already laid eggs. Female penguins can lay two eggs at a time. It is the male who sits with the egg until it hatches some 65 days later.
At this rate, penguins will overtake the earth. There are harsh realities that keep their population from growing and threaten their existence. They must compete with local fishermen for food. Seals find their young to be a tasty treat. There have been numerous oil spills that affect their ability to swim and get food. And, predatory birds often steal and eat their eggs.
There were thousands of penguins on the beach. If you have a problem with offensive smells, grab and wear your COVID mask because, as adorable as they are, they really do stink.
To see more photographs of the South African Penguin and Boulder Beach, please go to:
Back at the hotel
We walked from the hotel to the beach just in time to see a beautiful sunset.
In the evening we went for Ice Cream and it was SO GOOD.
To be continued ......
Join us in our final South African blog segment "South Africa - Part 4 - Our Last Day"
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