Sunday, June 27, 2010

"South Africa isn't just beautiful, it is achingly beautiful." -Bill Clinton (Part 1)

Given Bill Clinton's recent high profile appearances at the US's World Cup soccer games, and the nature of this post, I thought that this was the perfect quote to sum up how Beth and I felt about South Africa as we explored the country on our vacation.

From the bush in Kruger to downtown and suburbs of Cape Town to the wine farms in Stellenbosch, South Africa provided some of the most beautiful vistas I have ever seen. And it wasn't just one place... just driving around, no matter where you are, you could look up and swear that you were in the middle of a post card.

This post focuses mostly on the first couple of days in Cape Town when we visited Table Mountain, Signal Hill, Boulder's Beach, Cape Point, and The Cape of Good Hope.

As in the last post, there's a link at the bottom that will take you to the original quality photos.

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Day 1:
After finishing up our last game drive at Jock Lodge, we gathered up our things, had a quick breakfast, and got on the road back to the airport. It was another 1.5 hour drive out of the park and to the airport and sure enough, we saw some more wildlife on the way out. Here is one good shot that Beth was able to get:


We managed to spot a few other animals as well, but were in a little bit of a hurry since we got a late start from the lodge so we didn't stop to take many photos.

We arrived at Nelspruit ~30 mins before our flight, got through security in literally 60 seconds and were soon on our way to Cape Town.

Our first night in Cape Town was pretty low key. We checked into our hotel and, since the weather was pretty bad the first night, decided to stay close to home and just visit the restaurant next door for some dinner. My brother, Rishi, is studying abroad in South Africa right now, so we called him up and he came down and met us from some dinner and drinks and we just caught up and re-connected. A perfect end to the day.

The next day, we decided to get into action and tackle Table Mountain. Table Mountain is a massive mountain that sits right smack dab in the middle of Cape Town. It is 3563 ft high and has an awe-inspiring level plateau almost 2 miles wide. It looks like a giant flat table right in the middle of the city, hence the name Table Mountain. Here is what it looks like from pretty much everywhere in Cape Town:


This picture was taken from Signal Hill (which I'll cover in a little more detail later on) and shows Table Mountain, Devil's Peak just to the left., and Cape Town below. This is some of Beth's handiwork with the camera.

One of the "touristy" things to do in Cape Town is to go to the top of Table Mountain and check out the views of the city, the coast and the mountains. There are two ways to get to the top: you can either take the Table Mountain Cableway sky tram or you can walk. The walk is a strenuous 3.5 hour hike up hill and the sky tram is a relaxing 2 minute ride in a cabin that spins 360 degrees to allow you to see all parts of the city during your ascent. Can you guess which one we opted for?
View from the Lower Cableway Station.


View on the way up...in the Cableway Sky Tram


We were warned that the visibility at the top was "not very good" but we thought...ehh.. how bad can it really be? We found out. When we got to the top, the fog was so thick, you could feel it. You couldn't see more than 10-15 feet in front of you, which was actually kind of cool since it made it seem like we were walking inside of a cloud, but it didn't make for very good views of Cape Town. We didn't really get any pictures of this since they would have basically just been a completely white frame...not very interesting.

We decided to wait it out and see if we could get lucky with a break in the fog. To kill some time, we grabbed some lunch at the restaurant on top of Table Mountain. We were just finishing up our meal when a women rushes in and frantically shouts "Hurry! You can see!" Beth and I looked at each other, and I said "Go! I'll take care of all this!"

For the next hour, we walked around Table Mountain and got a chance to see some amazing views. Below are some of the ones we were able to capture on film:
A break in the clouds!


Cape Town from Table Mountain. If you look closely, you can see the soccer stadium.

Pictures of Lions Head from Table Mountain

After finishing up at Table Mountain, we took the short drive over to Signal Hill. Signal Hill is a flat top hill (yes, another one) just beyond Lion's Head. You can't really see it from the pictures above because it extends straight back from this angle towards the coast. It's called Signal Hill because in the 1800's the signal flags were used from this point to communicate with ships as they were coming into Cape Town's harbor. One of the coolest things about Signal Hill is that it offers really cool views of the new Greenpoint Stadium that was built for the World Cup. This is where we eventually wound up to watch the match that we went to. Here are some of the pictures we got from Signal Hill:

To see the photos in their original quality, you can click the link below:
Table Mountain and Signal Hill on Picasa (http://picasaweb.google.com/101833804019051744981/TableMountainAndSignalHill?feat=directlink)

Part 2/Day 2 will be coming shortly!

1 comment:

externalappearance said...

Somebody owes me an email... Psst! The blog is back. Haha

*kisses*