Cape Town, South Africa
More European than African but in substantially better shape than Johannesburg.
South Africa itself is an interesting place. After the Mandela revolution that ended apartheid, you would have thought that they would have gotten it right the next time around. Unfortunately, that is not what is happening in Johannesburg. What is occurring here is a similar agenda but reversed. They now have reverse apartheid which means that if you are black you will be hired and if you are white you will not. It is effectively destroying the economy in Johannesburg because they are hiring unqualified people for positions which is causing havoc and is part of the reason their economy is in shambles.
Cape Town did not follow the same route and is in substantially better shape because of it.
Driving into Cape Town, you are stunned by the proximity of the townships to the city. When watching documentaries or news stories about them, you are under the impression that they are on the outskirts of the town, but they are in fact in the middle of it. They nestle up right next to the houses and skyscrapers of Cape Town. It makes sense why a revolution happened and why crime is still high in the town.
Highlights around the city:
Table Top Mountain
Tabletop mountain, which is the pride and highlight of Cape Town, is a tourist favorite. Once you get to the base, there are two ways to the top. The first is the cable cars but if you are taking the cable cars get there by or before 8 am. In the peak season the line can be up to four hours wait and in the South African sun it is a miserable experience.
The second way is the hike. It is a grueling hike that is not for the light of heart.
It is located in the south of the cape and is always a fun time. The colony is small and is crowded, but if you haven't seen wild penguins, it is worth a visit.
Cape of Good Hope
If you’re in South Africa you need to visit the Cape simply as one of those check the box items. It was fascinating to be able to stare out into the distance viewing both the Indiana and Atlantic oceans.
If you are visiting the cape, you have the option to start at ocean level and walk all the way up to the lighthouse. If time is abundant, the walk is enjoyable but uphill will take a little more than an hour
The best way to do this entire process is: Drive up to the parking lot at the lighthouse ride up the Flyingdutchman to the top and spend your energy walking down to the edge of the cliffs which round trip will take you an hour and a half. Then if you are feeling up to the rest walk from the lighthouse down to the ocean.
Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens
Lovely large gardens. They have full forests of around 450 different species of trees and plants, some older than the dinosaurs!
The sky canopy bridge is a must see if you go here. The bridge takes you to the top of the entire the line and gives you a spectacular view of the city and garden.
If you are feeling adventurous, bring your hiking shoes and a bunch of water because there are an incredible amount of hiking trails above the gardens that are entirely old wood forests and are fascinating to walk through.
St James Beach
St James Beach is more for the photography than anything else. It is a row of ridiculously colored houses that are situated right on the beach that provides for some unique shots and more personal real life situations
If you are in the town, you can start off by heading town to the wharf.
You have the aquarium for the kids
You have shopping for the family
And you also have a bunch of interesting places such as the V & A Food Market, to get a unique snack and food!
- Talk to strangers. I had no idea about St James when I traveled to Cape Town but was fortunate to find out about it through a conversation with a guy sitting next to me at lunch.
- There is a lot to do while in Cape Town. If lacking time, take a tour. I don't enjoy tours for so many reasons but if you lack time, the best way to get in a lot in a small amount of time is by doing a tour.
- Cape Town is not as dangerous as Johannesburg but it was still 48 of 50 most dangerous cities in 2015, so I would not encourage you to spend time walking around at night. Just follow your standard travel rules, don’t be flashy, etc., and you will be good
- Research any hikes you plan to do before attempting them. I tried the Skeleton Gorge, but unfortunately, I ran out of time before I could finish! Had no idea how long it was.
- Words of advice that I heard from locals, don't go out at night, and if you do stay away from the wharf.
- Their airport, during peak hours, is one of the worst airports I've ever been to. Leave hours between connecting flights because you have to go back through security even if it is a domestic flight.
- Check out the cape of good hopes lighthouse during golden hour, best time to do the path out to the cliffs and best time to view it
- St. James is best during sunrise if you are looking for the golden shine on the houses. You might have the opportunity to see the sunset behind the houses but with the weather conditions and positioning of the sun, it is not a high percentage.
- Canon 5DSr
- Canon 6D
- Canon 24-70mm ƒ2.8 L II
- Canon 70-200mm ƒ2.8 IS II
- Canon 24mm ƒ1.8 I
- Mefoto Tripod
SAEP is an award-winning non-profit dedicated to helping children and youth in the impoverished informal settlements (townships) of Cape Town through academic support and personal development. SAEP helps beneficiaries build academic and life skills, realize their potential, prepare for productive employment, and contribute as leaders to South Africa's economic and social development.
Operating in communities known for high levels of poverty, unemployment, HIV/AIDS, violent crime, child abuse and neglect, SAEP works to combat educational gaps and advance potential for academic achievement through four major programs, involving (1) early childhood development, (2) high school support and enrichment (3) youth development ("bridging year") for promising township high school graduates, and (4) tertiary support for "bridging year" alumni.