Surprising South Africa: Part 2, Cape Town

african penguins boulders beach capetown

Last week I shared with you Part 1 of my journey to South Africa, as we visited KwaZulu Natal, including Durban and the South Coast for wild adventure and a taste of Zulu culture.
Langa Love Your South Africa Sign

Today I’m taking you to Cape Town – undeniably and inarguably the most beautiful city in the world… and I’ve been to a lot of cities. With each new vista, from Table Mountain…
table mountain view of capetown

to Hout’s Bay…
hout's bay boats

to Chapman’s Peak…
Chapman's Peak Cove

to Cape Point at the Cape of Good Hope,
cape of good hope cape point selfie

to sandboarding on the white dunes,
sandboarding south africa group

to visiting the townships,
langa township

your heart will expand until you feel your ribs might shatter. Add to that, African penguins…
boulders beach penguin

…and then you implode from the amazingness.
boulder's beach penguins on sand

The people of Cape Town are indescribably lovely and welcoming, and the activities and sites add up to the ideal vacation for friends, family, or even the solo traveler. Come along with me, Isoul Harris, Colleen Friesen, and Chadner Navarro as we visit Cape Town, South Africa after the jump… (more penguins!)

We stayed at the absolutely beautiful Bay Hotel in the Camp’s Bay area of Cape Town.
Cape Town Camps Bay Hotel

It’s right on the beach, so lovely, and all the rooms are suites, with a beautiful pool overlooking the ocean.
The Bay Hotel Cape Town Pool

We had our first Cape Town dinner at the new Shimmy Beach Club, which was literally, not exaggerating, a 6-foot-long slab of wood coated in every kind of seafood you could imagine. It was almost so good I couldn’t enjoy it because my heart kept breaking that Jacinda wasn’t with me. Jacinda can put away a lobster like nobody’s business. This guy was totally winking at me.

I recommend hiring a guide for your time in Cape Town. Shaheed Ebrahim from Escape to the Cape is without a doubt the most-prepared guide I’ve ever had. We had a luxury van, equipped not only with your standard bottled-water and snacks, but chargers at every seat for every kind of phone/tablet/device! AND INTERNET. Yes, wifi in the car, which is what allowed me to live tweet, facebook, and instagram my Cape Town goings-on. Which you know I love doing in real time. My friend Chadner and I posed in the van (Chadner is the best, he kept us all happy with his rousing renditions of Disney musical anthems appropriate to our surroundings…on the beach, little mermaid, on safari, lion king, etc. etc.)

We set off for a tour of the beautiful sights of Cape Town. Because the morning was so clear and lovely, we headed right to Table Mountain to go up the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway and look down on the gorgeous city.
table mountain view of capetown

In the distance you can see Robben Island, where Nelson spent 18 years of his imprisonment looking up to Table Mountain as a “beacon of hope.” So moving.
table mountain robben island

Of course I had to pause for a portrait. Look how happy Table Mountain made me!
table mountain selfie

While at the top of the mountain, we saw this little guy. Does anyone know what he is?
Table mountain rock dassie south africa
It’s a rock dassie. So cute, but what’s most interesting is that it’s nearest relative in the animal kingdom is not a rodent or fuzzy mammal, but an elephant!

I loved learning all the legends surrounding Table Mountain…
table mountain legend

The group stopped for a shot. I met all of these people for the first time on this trip, and we just got along so well. They were all even with me when I got the news of my adoption, so they will always hold a special place in my heart.

We departed Table Mountain via the cableway (though you could hike down, or even rappel, as I discovered when I saw this pile of gear)…
table mountain climbing gear

next to this cute boy 😉
table mountain climber

From Table Mountain we headed with Shaheed to Hout’s Bay. I know we have a Prudent Mama from Hout’s Bay because she told me on instagram, what a beautiful place to call home!
hout's bay boats

At Hout’s Bay there is a man who is best friends with a seal. He is quite famous for his “seal whisperer” skills. His seal-friend’s name is Chippy. They have been friend for nine years, but before Chippy he had another seal friend who has since passed. Chippy lives in the bay and swims over every morning to hang out with his human BFF and eat fish.
houts bay chippy the seal

You can give them a dollar and get to feed and pet Chippy. You know Chippy likes it because he doesn’t have to come do it every day! He’s surprisingly soft.
houts bay chippy the seal 2

He will even gently bite the fish out of your mouth!
houts bay chippy the seal feeding

After washing away our fish-mouth-breath with ice cream, we continued along Chapman’s Peak drive to overlook the cove. Stunning.
Chapman's Peak Cove

We sat for a group shot. No idea why I am making such a ridiculous pose.
Chapman's Peak Cove Group

Our next stop was definitely one of my very favorite moment’s from the trip – Boulder’s Beach.
boulders beach cormorants

What makes Boulder’s Beach so amazing? The comorants pictured above are quite wonderful, but the real draw is the African penguin colony.
boulder's beach penguins on sand

African penguins split the parenting duties 50/50. So that’s mom or dad, with baby penguin.
boulders beach mama penguin

Another cutie. Fun note, there are gay penguins in this colony. All the other penguins are chill about it.
boulders beach penguin

This penguin had something to say, but sadly I don’t speak penguin.
boulders beach talking penguin

The beach is protected, so you can walk onto it on a walkway that goes through the penguins area, above where they make their nests. To help keep the population stable, they also provide the penguins with some track housing and the penguins dig it.
boulders beach penguin apartments

We saw some abandoned penguin eggs, which is a bad sign because penguins never leave their eggs alone, so our representative from South African tourism called a local penguin rescue organization and they came down to take the penguin eggs and incubate them.
boulder beach penguin eggs

I can’t get enough of these penguins.
boulders beach penguin family
boulders beach close up african penguin
boulders beach solo penguin

After I was dragged kicking and screaming away from the penguins, we stopped in Simons Town for lunch, where we were serenaded by the lovely ladies and their musical DIY ankle instruments…
simons town south africa

From Simons Town we hopped back in the van to head to the Cape of Good Hope and took the funicular up to Cape Point.
Cape of Good Hope Cape Point Funicular Group

Once known as the Cape of Storms, the Cape of Good Hope felt to me like we were at the bottom of the world. I think this was one of my top two moments from the entire trip, just feeling like I was at the very tip of Africa.
cape of good hope lowest point in africa

Legend says this is where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet, though the reality is it’s about 300km south of here. But this is as close as I got.
cape of good hope cape point selfie
I was so invigorated by life, being at this place in the world.

The view was amazing. You could hike down to this beach…
cape of good hope 1

..but it was quite windy that day.
cape of good hope windy

I love a good directional sign. You know you are somewhere wonderful when you see a sign like this.
cape of good hope sign

Or a sign like this.
cape of good hope don't feed the baboons

After a long day like this we skipped wine country and high tea (in retrospect, we should have rallied! How often are you in South Africa?), we ate at the famous Victoria and Alfred Waterfront and I fell asleep at the table and everyone got drunk and took pictures of me sleeping. Oddly, I am not sharing those, ha. In the morning we woke up for a leisurely horseback ride on Noordhoek Beach.
Noordhoek Beach

Not a bad place to clear your mind, right?
noordhoek beach

It was so beautiful.
noordhoek beach horseback riding

I adore horseback riding. It’s therapy, but prettier.
Noordhoek Beach Horses

Here’s my adorable horse. I want to eat him.
horseback riding jaime with horse

It was lovely. Then we headed to the township of Langa for a tour and lunch. During apartheid, black South Africans were sent to live in townships outside of big cities, and it can be kind of shocking to see the townships at first, and honestly a little bit frightening. It’s just so different from any way of life we are familiar with here at home. They are places that are obviously poor, reeking of poverty, but at the same time, full of joy and welcoming people.
langa township

A church in Langa.
langa african gospel church

A bedroom in a Langa home.
langa township home

So many small businesses making it work in Langa.
Tula's Hair Salon in Langa Township South Africa

I found it interesting that Langa was experimenting with solar power. Awesome.
langa township solar power

A Langa butchery, where you would purchase your meat…

And some of the meat for sale.
langa township sheep head

The people of Langa have pride and love for their township.
langa township south africa sign

We visited the community center, where locals can learn craft skills (of course, I especially loved this part of the tour and purchased a bunch ‘o amazing stuff)
langa community center crafts

and we participated in a drumming session/lesson. This was awesome.
langa community center drums

We had lunch at a lovely restaurant in Langa called Lelapa. The food was all prepared by proprietress Monica and her mother Sylvia.
lalapa restaurant langa

It was amazing. I ate a bunch of meats that are common fare in South Africa but new to me, including Ostrich and Kudu. Pictured here are some yummy bread treats, including this fried dough ball that is a local Langa specialty. I asked Monica for the recipe and she said she would email me, but she likes to share them on her own site, so go check it out at
langa lunch

One of my favorite moments of the trip is when I was talking to Monica about the recipes as two guys are playing marimba in the background, and she goes “Excuse me, just one second,” turns around to face the tables, and starts belting out a hardcore amazing The-Voice-worthy version of Happy Birthday. Monica’s got PIPES!
langa lunch monica

When you arrive in Langa, the kids know what’s up. They are the cutest, and they’ve obvs gotten some treats from some tourists before. This guy held our hands and did backflips until I stopped and bought him a lollipop. Cut to five minutes later, 300 kids are swarming me for lollipops. Which of course I loved, I missed Scarlet so much by now, I was so happy to play with some adorable children. I had brought pencils to give the kids, but left them in my suitcase, so I stocked up on lollipops at a candy store on the main street. I tried to ask all of their moms if it was cool before I gave their kids lollipops, and the moms I did ask said it was okay, but I hope I didn’t upset anyone. It’s probably not that awesome to just hand out candy without parental permission, so I apologize to nay Langa moms who had to wrench pops out of their kids’ hands.
Langa cute kids

A lesson from Langa: Love Your South Africa.
Langa Love Your South Africa Sign

Our last adventure stop in the Cape Town area was to try sand boarding at Atlantis dunes. You set up your sandboarding trip in advance, then meet your dude at the dunes. There’s a parking area where you leave your vehicle, then he lets out some of the air in his tires (so they will drive on the sand better), and you climb in the back of his pick up to head onto the dunes.

When we got to the dunes, I turned around all smooth-like to hop out of the bed of the truck, and promptly caught my pants on a screw, ripping them wide open and revealing my booty to everyone. Luckily they only pretended to take instagram pics (I hope?). I headed back to the car to change into my spare shorts (thank god), which explains my amazing shorts-and-boots look I’m rocking here.

Sand boarding involves a board that is shorter than a snowboard, but otherwise similar. But there’s no ski-lifts, you have to walk to the top of the dune, which is cute the workout in itself. You wear your shoes and strap into the bindings on the board. you also wax the board before each run, otherwise you go quite slow. Even if you are not a skier, snowboarder, or general action sports enthusiast, I recommend sand boarding because it’s much, much tamer than you think. Sand is not speedy, that’s why you wax each time. I wasn’t feeling the smell of the wax on my hands so I did some passive-aggressive pleading with our instructor and he waxed my board for me 🙂

Which ended up super-helpful when I challenged Isoul to a race and my freshly-greased board coasted me to victory!

This group was such a fun one. We all enjoyed describing my shorts-and-boots look as the perfect style “for when your knees are hot, but your ankles are cold.”

Then we headed back in the pick up (and I kept my pants on).
sand boarding truck south africa

Then to the airport to hop our flight (you can go direct from Cape Town to Limpopo on SA Express plane, FYI) to Kapama Private Game Reserve.
SA Express Plane in Cape Town

Next stop: SAFARI! Check in next week for all the wild animals you could ever imagine.

See more of my journey to South Africa here:
Surprising South Africa: Part 1, KwaZulu Natal
Surprising South Africa Part 3: Kapama Safari




Thank you for sharing your experience. I had no idea all the wonderful things South Africa has to offer…and the beauty! I’m putting S. Africa on the list, high on the list for must see places to take my family. ps, love me some gay penguins!


Gah! Those penguins! Cannot get enough of them. This trip looks so incredibly amazing.


This looks like an incredible trip! Sand boarding is blowing my mind. I would love to do that! What a gorgeous place South Africa is. I never knew!

Adventure Kidz Mom

ah man.. I am a Capetonian, and we live and breath this cities daily beauty. We are crazy about our city, so its soo wonderful to read that other people have had a fantastic time here too!


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