For a first trip to South Africa this trip had a sample of everything. We started with a bustling city with a dynamic new waterfront, great views from Table Mountain and Cape point, and a wonderfully scenic drive along Chapman's Peak to African Penguins at Boulders Beach. A guided tour of a township showed what progress had been made but also what is still to be done. Then on to the beautiful winelands of Stellenbosch and Franschhoek where we ate and drank at superb restaurants. We then drove through winding passes to vaste empty bush landscapes to our glamping site where we saw three of the big five plus some ostriches. Then a further change of scene down to the coast with a bay cruise and a cliff side walk to a swaying suspension bridge. We ended at Addo Elephant Park overlooking a waterhole from our veranda. Midmorning when it stated to get hot one or two elephant arrived to be followed by a rush of fifty others coming to drink and wallow. A highlight was a night drive where saw a baby hyena with its sister and mother and a spine chilling moment when a male lion in the torchlight walked straight towards the vehicle.
The planning of the trip went well and a late variation was easily arranged. The hard backed book for our trip was a revelation with every detail of what you might need in one place and also a lovely keepsake. The car kit of TomTom, simple mobile phone, chargers and adaptor was inspired and took away any nervousness about driving and finding locations. The Lat/Long for each location was brilliant.
There was a hiccup with SIM card not working but another was easy to get at the Waterfront. However it may have been useful to bring a unlocked smart phone and get a local SIM card. Then it would have been easy to use the app for Uber taxis which seem to be ubiquitous in Cape Town. Whilst the VW Polo hire car was suitable for around Cape Town, it was too small and underpowered for long climbs on the garden route and the self drive at Addo. Perhaps unfortunately we were bitten by mosquitoes whist sleeping on our first night in Cape Town.
Jimmy was excellent with a broad knowledge and was able to show the history as well as the current good and bad in the townships by car and on foot. He was recommended by Michael Huellenhagen at Bayflowers guest house. All the guides at Buffelsdrift and Addo were very professional but also with a good sense of humour. Quote" We don't feed the lions here so they don't associate vehicles with food. If we did then they may decide to come aboard to find some more."
We were in a long queue both at the bottom and the top of Table Mountain waiting for the gondola ride. It may have been better to go for the early morning to avoid the queues. Our trip to Robben Island was cancelled because of rough seas so plan some flexibility into your trip to allow for rescheduling. The weather in Cape Town can change quickly so carry layers of clothes. We were hot at Cape Point but the clouds started to come in and by the time we returned to Cape Town our restaurant only had seats left outside so we were eating with blankets wrapped around us. Always have a lot of small notes and change for tipping. When you park there will always be a minder nearby to look after your car for a small fee.
All the animal encounters: penguins that make you laugh, a hatching ostrich, two rhinos ambling down the road towards us, giraffes crunching bones for calcium, baby elephants surviving the melee around a waterhole, learning to like a hyena and a frisson moment with a lion at night.