For Thanksgiving this year, I opted out of turkey and Black Friday at the mall and chose to check a new continent off of my list: Africa! I visited Cape Town and Johannesburg and considered it to be a “gentle introduction” to Africa, and traveled with Gate 1.
Cape Town is a very vibrant city, is rich in history, offers delectable meals in trendy restaurants and most importantly, cost effective! We stayed at Cape Town Lodge Hotel, which offered a great location and excellent customer service.
Here is my first tip for your first long flight:, arrive in the evening. We landed in Cape Town around 09:00 PM and crashed when we checked in to our hotel. That way when we woke up, we felt refreshed and adjusted to the time difference.
Balled Out on Braids!
Before I did anything, I had to get my braids done. I did a little research before I left and chose to go to Afro Corner, I’m so glad I did! For the braids below, including the cost of the hair, style and gratuity, I paid $36 USD…you read that right.
The entire setting was not one that I was used to, the braiders were super friendly, hard working and got girls in and out, and I felt welcomed and valued. I highly recommend supporting this business during your Cape Town visit.
For our first full day in Cape Town, we did a city tour and learned about the must see sights of Cape Town, to include the Iziko Slave Lodge, the Company Gardens and my absolute favorite stop: Table Mountain. We took a cable car to the top of the attraction to enjoy a breathtaking view of Cape Town. Table Mountain is one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature and is a significant Cape Town tourist attraction. This was an excellent kick-off to the trip!
The second day would tickle the outdoor enthusiasts fancy and offered the opportunity to tour the Cape Peninsula. The steep mountains, secluded coves and pristine beaches simply took my breath away. We were able to enjoy the natural beauty of the Cape of Good Hope and trek to the top of a lighthouse to enjoy more picturesque views. During the drive we were able to spot several species such as antelopes, baboons and ostriches.
The next stop was my favorite of the day: we stopped at Boulders Beach and enjoyed the penguins waddling freely!
Finally, we ended our day at the world acclaimed Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden. It’s world renowned not only for the beautiful and diverse displays, but it is nestled against the eastern slopes of Table Mountain.
This day was all about WINE! We traveled to four wineries and my favorite was Spier Wine Farm.
Not only did this stop offer the best background for my photos (smile), but the wine was paired with CHOCOLATE!
During the full day driving around wine country we also stopped to see where Nelson Mandela was freed and drove past the mountains where Diana Ross’ late husband tragically fell off and died.
Johannesburg solely consisted of game drives and a stay at Mabula Game Lodge. Mabula is a first class lodge located nearby the Mabula Game Reserve.
I will never forget this African safari destination. During four drives, I reveled in the variety and beauty of the animals that roamed free. I spotted lions, rhinos, elephants and giraffes to name a few!
I kept whispering to myself how much the imagery resembled Lion King and had to pinch myself a few times, this was real life!
Our ranger would stop towards the end of each drive for either a picnic with nuts and wines and beers, or coffee and cookies. It was a nice touch and gave us the opportunity to reflect on the drive.
Know Before You Go:
- Penguin Beach. I was really looking forward to Penguin Beach, but I must admit, I was a bit disappointed. Do not expect to stroll the sand next to the penguins or be able to touch them, they are fenced off because of the actions of prior visitors. I do not regret going there, and still had a lovely time, I just wish I knew what to expect prior!
- Credit is Cool in Cape Town. No need to make a huge withdrawal at the ATM prior to visiting Cape Town, credit cards are widely accepted. Although I previously discussed my preference of using cash on vacation for budgeting purposes, it was nice to know so many businesses accepted plastic for payment.
- #TeamUber. As with most of my travels, I quickly realized Uber was a much more affordable transportation option compared to taxis. I witnessed the taxis overcharge tourists, especially leaving the airport and touristy spots like Table Mountain.
- Gratuity Gluttony. Everyone in South Africa expects tips! So keep a small amount of cash with you to appease everyone from the “car guards,” gas station attendants and waitstaff.