Welcome to Part Five of our travel blog series! This past year my husband and I were fortunate enough to go on an adventure of a lifetime. The fifth and final part of our journey took us to Cape Town | South Africa. The rest of our trip included: Johannesburg and a Soweto Bike tour, the Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve, Sun City, and Kruger National Park. Join us on our day-by-day blog recap!
We flew to Cape Town and landed around 11PM. By the time we got our rental car it was around 12. We decided we wanted a place to crash for a couple of hours before our drive to Gansbaai for the shark dive. We drove to the first hotel we saw and found out they were booked for the night. We started searching more on our phones and found a tiny bed and breakfast. We went to put the car in reverse and we could not get the car to go in reverse. (insert laughs and face palms). It wasn’t funny at the time, we were both so exhausted and just wanted to find somewhere to stay. We finally figured out the rental car and drove to our spot for the night. It was in a pretty sketchy area and a super questionable place we stayed, but we were only there for a couple of hours.
We woke up around 3AM to drive to Gansbaai. We arrived around 5AM and had some breakfast. We had a quick safety demonstration and lesson on what to do in the cage and how everything would work. We loaded onto the boat and left dock. It was about a 15 minute boat ride to our spot where we dropped the anchor. I thought I was going to be super nervous and sick the whole time. But surprisingly I was just so so so excited and ready to see sharks! I still can’t believe we got to do this. We were in the 2nd group to get into the cage, so while we waited for our turn we went up above and got some cool shots of the sharks coming in. It was finally our turn and we hopped in the cage, and wow the water was cold!! Once we were in for a while we got used to it. It was so so crazy to see the fin above the water coming closer and closer and closer then going under water and not being able to see the sharks even though you knew they were right there somewhere close. It was pretty eerie. The time of year we went, the water is usually much colder and much more murky. We got lucky and had pretty good visibility. But it was still hard to see them. Our first time in the cage we only saw one or two under water but saw them above the water. It was frustrating. We had to get out and let another group in, so we watched from above again. We were able to see 2 huge rays, they were so cool to watch. We got a second turn in the cage and it was SO much better. Drastically better. We got so many good looks underwater of a lot of sharks, you’ll see on the video where two come in at the same time super close.
Ah! It really was one of my favorite parts of the trip. We learned from the marine biologists on the boat we were on that the great white population has drastically declined in recent years due to over fishing, not enough fish for the sharks to eat, and a few other reasons. I was pretty sad that we didn’t see any great whites the day we went. They said there was only 1 in the area that they knew of at that time and that is super uncommon. It was so sad that they aren’t in that area anymore. It is after all known as shark alley. Hopefully on our next trip we will be able to see a great white. The sharks that came in were called Bronze Whaler sharks, which are still amazing and look really similar to great white sharks. We had between 7-10 different sharks come in to the cage and they were around 3.5 to 4 meters long.
After everyone had 2 chances in the cage we headed back to shore. We had lunch at the shark dive place and then we watched the video that the guide put together for us. We left, drove up the coast which was gorgeous. It was such a pretty drive. We stopped at Betty’s Bay, played in the freezing water for a bit and walked around. We drove up the coast and made it to our place for the next couple of nights. It was a cute, modern apartment really close to Camps Bay. We got showered and got settled in and got ready to explore Camps Bay. Camps Bay was the prettiest beach I had ever seen. So many boulders/rocks and its so close to the mountains, so its a 360 degree beauty. We walked up and down the beach, enjoying the amazing weather. It was perfect, such a fun date night. One spot we were walking on looked like a good place to stop and take some updated headshots. You’ll see in the picture how a wave came out of nowhere and soaked me. I’m sure everyone watching got a good laugh. I could’ve totally went viral if we had a video of it. After that we walked around the shops and had some gelato.
Chapmans Peak Drive
Today we got to sleep in a little, which was super nice, we had been waking up between 4 or 5 for the last 5 days, so it was nice to get a couple extra hours of sleep! We ran to a pick n pay and grabbed some breakfast and started our drive along Chapmans Peak to Boulder’s Beach. The drive was probably the most scenic drive I’d ever been on. The road is right on the mountainside along the ocean. It was amazing. Some places were half way tunnels under the mountain side, it was incredible and the movie will do a better justice showing how amazing it was. We stopped in Hout’s Bay at a market and bought a few things there.
We made it to Simon’s Town and found Boulder’s Beach. We waited forever in a line for a parking spot but decided to park on the road instead of waiting for what could’ve been hours. Found our way to the beach and it was a lot smaller than we had expected, and pretty crowded already. We saw our first penguin up on a boulder and thought it was the coolest thing ever. We started watching people walk behind and around some of the big boulders and so we followed and explored it more. We figured out that the beach was much much bigger and secluded on the other side of the giant boulders. It was quite the climb to get to the other side, going under, through and over huge boulders, but its so so worth it. On the other side there were so many more penguins. ALL OVER. It was the coolest thing ever. We were able to sit with them, swim with them, follow them around. We found out it was their mating season so they were pretty aggressive and territorial. I was walking around and didn’t notice one and apparently I got too close because it bit my leg. It was the big joke of the trip that the penguins were more dangerous than the sharks. They were seriously so fun to watch and hang out with. The beach was also really pretty, shallow water, huge boulders, sandy areas. Would 10/10 recommend spending the money to go to the actual beach and not just the boardwalk to view them. We got back to our car and found out we got a parking ticket. Which was ridiculous! There were no signs or any indication of parking not being allowed, not to mention the other 50 cars parked in the same way. Apparently they don’t put up signs to make money off of tourists. It works. haha.
We made our way back to Table Mountain and literally had to sprint to make it on the last trolley car up. We took the huge cable car up to the top and the view was breath taking. You could see so much of Cape Town. We timed it perfectly because we got to watch the sunset over the ocean, it was spectacular. We ended the day eating some Hard Rock Cafe at Camp’s Bay. We packed up all of our things and got ready for our very last day of our trip.
Signal Hill + Bo-Kaap
This was by far the saddest day of the trip. The last day. I fell in love with the country and the only thing making me want to go home was my cute babies. Besides the fact I missed them so much, I could’ve stayed so much longer. It was the best trip ever. Today was pretty rainy which I loved, there’s nothing like the rain in Africa. We went down to Camps Beach one last time and found some awesome sand sculptures. Then we explored Signal Hill which was so foggy and beautiful. We made our way to Bo-Kaap. “Situated at the foot of Signal Hill, close to city centre, and formerly known as the Malay Quarter, the Bo-Kaap’s origins date back to the 1760s when numerous “huurhuisjes” (rental houses) were built and leased to slaves. These people were known as Cape Malays, and were brought from Malaysia, Indonesia and the rest of Africa to work in the Cape. To this day, the houses are a mix of Cape Dutch and Georgian architecture, in distinctive multi-coloured rows on steeply cobbled roads. The choice of colour is said to be attributed to the fact that while on lease, all the houses had to be white. When this rule was eventually lifted, and the slaves were allowed to buy the properties, all the houses were painted bright colours by their owners as an expression of their freedom. Many of the families in the Bo-Kaap have been living there for generations. Today the Bo-Kaap community is a significant part of our cultural heritage.” ( https://www.capetown.travel/getting-to-know-the-bo-kaap/ ) We hadn’t heard of Bo-Kaap when we were planning our trip, but saw a few things about it during our stay in Cape Town and figured it would be a fun place to visit before our flights. It was such a fun area. I fell in love with the cobble stone roads and the bright colored houses. It was the perfect ending to our trip. We drove back to the airport to begin our long flights home! Cape Town > Johannesburg > Atlanta > Denver > Salt Lake.
Planning a trip?
Here are some helpful links!