Practical Traveler: Cape Town to Victoria FallsWritten by Judy Pfaffenberger | | firstname.lastname@example.org
We were glad to arrive in Cape Town where we would spend 4 nights. Our guide, Charl, was also glad to be there because it was his home and he would get to see his family. We began with a city tour, stopping for the view atop Signal Mountain before taking a cable car to the top of Table Mountain where we probably wouldn’t have a view since it appeared to be “socked in.” The gondola on the cable car rotated 360 degrees so everyone had an equal view, at least until we went into the cloud. It was still a fun experience although very cold and windy at the top.
Our driver was kind enough to drop people where they wanted on the way back to the hotel. Several got off in the city or at a new waterfront complex to shop; a few were taking the ferry to Robbin Island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned; and a friend and I decided to visit some places in the city, stopping to see the oldest church in South Africa, touring the Gold Museum next door, and strolling through the East India Company Gardens which were springtime beautiful. We found a cheap internet place to check email and then went back to the hotel on a public bus.
A group of us ate dinner on our own at a recommended restaurant, The Ocean Basket. The dinners were between $6 and $14 and all were pleased with them. One person chose the seafood platter containing deep-fried Calamari heads. They looked like little octopi and he gave them to me since he didn’t like eating things which appeared to be looking at him.
A highlight of the Cape Town area is the wine country around the quaint town of Stellenbosch. We had some free time to explore the town before taking part in a wine tasting. This became wine country because a few hundred years ago some French Huguenot Vintners were kicked out of France by the king and went to Holland since it was mostly Protestant. Land in Holland isn’t known to be good for grapes so they were offered land in South Africa to encourage settlement there.
That evening we were treated to a home hosted dinner in a middle-class home in the suburbs. Our hosts were of part- Indian background so they served an Indian style chicken and rice dish with several other side dishes. This is a great opportunity to interact with average people and see how they live.
Our last day in Cape Town was a full day of exploring the peninsula to the Cape of Good Hope. We began with more awesome coastal scenery, including a short sighting of a lonely whale. At the Cape we took a funicular to the top for the view. Nearby we had a nice seafood lunch – fish kebabs wrapped in bacon- before stopping at Boulders Beach to see hundreds of African Penguins. It wasn’t listed on our itinerary, but our guide said we had to see Kirstenbosch Gardens, generally accepted to be one of the ten best gardens in the world. We were very grateful for this too short visit.
Our farewell dinner that evening was at the revolving penthouse restaurant at the Ritz Hotel. Sixteen from our group would be heading home the next morning while the other 22 of us went on to Victoria Falls.
Most of the weather on this trip was mild but when we landed at the airport at Zimbabwe it was 100 degrees. At that moment I was glad that I had prepurchased my visa so I could go to the hotel rather than stand in line with more than 100 others in the unairconditioned airport. However, it would have been about $100 cheaper to buy it in the airport.
My main reason for doing the extension was to see Victoria Falls and take an optional ($195) day trip to Chobe National Park in Botswana (and add 3 more countries to my collection, including Zambia which I got by walking across a bridge near Vic Falls). The falls were at about 1/3 flow so they were not too spectacular, but when they are at full flow in April and May, there is so much mist you can’t see much of the falls. We had a guided tour along the opposite rim, with a rainbow in every view.
Our trip to Chobe was very good but we didn’t see much that we hadn’t seen before except larger herds and many kinds of birds. The morning segment was a game drive and after a buffet lunch with goat meat (it wasn’t b-a-a-a-d at all), we cruised on the river where we got up close and a little too personal with some hippos.
Our final farewell dinner was a Boma dinner, a buffet along with traditional entertainment. Some of the meats offered for dinner were Impala turine, buffalo stew, ostrich kebabs, kudu steak, warthog, and boerwort sausage. That fortified us for our almost two days to get home. Although travel has become more difficult, I feel it was worth it and I was blessed to be able to make such a trip.