Saturday, 20 July 2013

The Big Five

Cape Town if full of so many activities that you can never run out of things to do. In the past six weeks we have been busy trying to see and do as much as we can and so I compiled my list of “Big Five” adventures I would recommend to anyone visiting Cape Town.  

1. Lions Head.  One of the most memorable experiences I have had in Cape Town was hiking Lion’s Head. The hike up to the peak of Lion’s head was about hour and took us all around the mountain so we had a 360 degree view of Cape Town. When we first started the hike, we were on a stable path and it seemed that the whole hike was just going to be walking up a steep dirt road. However, after the first 10 minutes we finally got to the “real” hike. We were faced with narrow passages, ladders, chains, and a lot of rock climbing. However, even though we were all exhausted by the end, the views throughout the hike were incredible. When we finally reached the top we claimed a spot on the side of the mountain and had a picnic while watching the sunset. I definitely think hiking Lion’s Head is something no one should leave Cape Town without doing.

2. Shark Cage Diving. One of the most exhilarating experiences I have had in Cape Town was Shark Cage Diving. I had been waiting to do this ever since I found out I was going on to South Africa. As we were sailing out into the ocean, I was so excited and thrilled. However, as soon as the boat stopped moving and I sat down, I felt extremely nauseous. As the first group started going into the cage, I couldn’t even bring myself to put the wet suit on because I was so seasick. However, when the first group came back out of the water I could feel the adrenaline rush through them and I knew I had to find a way to ignore the nauseous feeling in my stomach and put on the wet suit so I could finally get in the cage. As soon as I climbed down the ladder into the cage, the freezing cold water erased all memory of my seasickness and when the first great white shark appeared right in front of us I forgot all about the cold water. Being that close to a shark of almost 4 meters is just so indescribable. I was so mesmerized by the shark and just seeing it in its natural environment. When I got back on the boat the seasickness started to return but looking back, it was definitely worth it because the feeling of being in a cage and that close to a great white shark was one of the most exhilarating situations that I have ever experienced.

3. Bikes and Wine Tour. The third activity I would recommend doing is a bikes and wines tour. Although it was an extremely tiring experience I have to say it was definitely worth it. That day we took a train into Stellenbosch, which is an area outside of Cape Town where the vineyards are located. We picked up our mountain bikes at a house near the train station and started on the adventure route. We planned to stop at four different wineries along the route. As we were mountain biking through vineyards there was always a constant backdrop of endless mountains. It was an extremely beautiful area and would definitely recommend this activity to anyone.  

4. Safari. On one of the last few weekends of the trip we went to the Fairly Glen game reserve. To be completely honest, initially I was not that interested in going to a game park. I equated the experience with going to the zoo. However, I was surprised by how different it actually made me feel. There was something about being so close to such a powerful animal without a fence for separation that made the whole experience feel so much more real. I remember when we first saw an elephant walk out from behind a tree, I had shivers run down my back because I just wasn’t expecting it to be so massive and beautiful. Going on to the game park was truly such a great experience and even if you aren’t an animal person you will definitely leave the game park feeling amazed.

5. Table Mountain. Table Mountain is definitely a must do when in Cape Town. We decided to do the hike one of the first weekends we arrived. We ended up hiking three hours only to just reach the base. Needless to say half of us just took the cable car the rest of the way up. When we reached the top I can’t even begin to describe what the view was like. You feel as if you are looking down upon the rest of the world. We ended up spending hours on top of the mountain eating, drinking, taking pictures, and watching the sunset. I would definitely recommend going to table mountain whether you hike to the top or simply take the cable car. It will end up giving you such a great appreciation for the city. 

-Anita Patel


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