Day 1 – We Americans get such little holiday time compared to Europeans that I was forced to do Southern Africa in 10 days! So what is better than waking up to an unobstructed views of the Atlantic Ocean glittering in the early dawn light? Answer – breakfast at the The Azure Restaurant’s terrace at the 12th Apostles Hotel just off Camps Bay in Capetown, southern Africa.
Not only you still have the 180 degree view of the Ocean, but you’re enjoying it with delicious food, fresh beverages and exceptional attention from the wait staff. If you are there in July or August (their midwinter) you might even spot a whale or two.
After breakfast, right behind the hotel, there are a series of well-maintained trails that can challenge even the most serious marathoner. I jogged off the numbness of a long flight from Colorado to the backdrop of the 12th Apostles mountains with their rough summits. In front, the Atlantic Ocean shimmers, cool and refreshing.
In the afternoon, take a trip to Green Point, Sea Point and the Cape Quarter Shopping Center. If you are a vinyl aficionado, Mabu Vinyl is a must stop. With a bit of luck, Sixto Rodriguez might be lurking by the store.
TIP: Cape Town is hilly and the narrow roads can be congested at times. Rent an automatic – It’s a lot easier with all the stop and go.
There’s only one place to spend the evening, waiting for the sun to set over the Western horizon. That is the top of Table Mountain. A quick 5-minute cable car trip takes you to the summit where there are plenty of spots to have a late snack, a beer and be ready with the camera.
TIP – Find a rock close to the cable car station. The queue for valley return can swell to well over an hour with all the people that are trying to get off the mountain as soon as the sun dips.
Wake early and take the M6 coastal road to Simon’s Town (former British Naval Base) to try your luck with the Shark Cage experience. There are two well established outfitters that enjoy testing your fear in the Indian Ocean, by Seal Island.
The boats leave the port at 6:00 AM sharp and return by noon. Strong winds, undercurrents and the sharks’ poor cooperation sometimes make it difficult to schedule a trip. If you are lucky to get the green light from the skipper, it will be an unforgettable experience. For the ones that like their feet on the ground, Boulders Beach is now a sanctuary for the extremely cute African penguins. They are not domesticated, but they don’t mind people.
The rest of the day can be spent visiting the Cape of Good Hope’s park. There are two lighthouses marking the most Southern point of the African continent. The newer lighthouse is perched on top of a taller peak, with amazing views of the two Oceans – the Atlantic and the Indian – meeting in a spectacular way. The second lighthouse is the more historical one and it’s almost at the base of the rocks. The path to the older lighthouse can be quite adventurous, with cliffs on both sides of the narrow trail.
TIP: Watch out for strong winds at these lighthouses. They can be very forceful.