South Africa’s Cape: Adrenaline Filled Adventure
When we arrived in Cape Town we caught a taxi to our hostel Ashanti Lodge . The sun had already set and since we were new to the city and found the hostel quite nice and welcoming, we just relaxed there, had a few beers at the bar and ordered one of their homemade pizzas. The location of our hostel near the base of Table Mountain made it perfect for us to hike up to the top of Table Mountain our first day there. The hike was beautiful but a bit grueling, especially after eating so much in Israel. It felt so good to get out and exercise but both Ronen and I were huffing and puffing a bit on the way up. The hike took us about an hour and a half and it zig zags up the side of the mountain past waterfalls, dozens of different types of flowers and birds singing and flying from bush to bush.
When you reach the top, you realize exactly why its called Table Mountain and that because the top is so flat, the 360-degree view is simply breathtaking.
We had been planning on abseiling once we got up there and when we arrived and signed up, we realized that it is the longest commercial abseil in the world at a whopping 112 meters! I think that it may also be one of the most beautiful. When we reached the edge and had to start dropping down it hit me, “Holy SH**! We are in South Africa, abseiling 112 meters down the side of Table Mountain!” and I couldn’t have been happier! Of course Ronen was jumping down the mountain, where I went with the more slow and steady method.
Once we reached the bottom, we had to hike back up to the top again but this time it was only about 20 minutes. However, after the two hikes and the adrenaline pumping abseil, we decided to spoil ourselves and pay for the cable car to take us back down.
That evening, we picked up our rental car and drove to the super market thinking that it would be more economical to make our own meals. When we were there we realized that we were better off eating at the hostel than trying to buy all the ingredients to make a stir fry of our own so we just purchased some wine for $2 a bottle and a few beers.
The next morning, got up at 4 AM to drive to Simon’s Town for our trip to Seal Island and Great White shark cage diving with African Shark Eco Charters. We had apparently picked a perfect day to go because the sun was shining and the seas were calm.
When we got close to seal island we saw a shark breach and we ended up getting to watch a large shark hunting a seal for about 3 minutes from 15 meters away, breaking the surface with the seal barely above its head and jaws.
The hunt ended unsuccessfully but it was only a matter of minutes before we saw the next predation, which ended in a kill. It was fascinating to watch the seabirds zoom right to the site of the predation looking for scraps.
About 10 minutes after the second predation, we saw a third that ended in a kill as well, but this time, no scraps were left behind for the seabirds, just a blood slick on the surface.
By this time, the sun had come up further which we were told gives the seals an advantage over the sharks because the light allows them to see better and avoid predation. We tried dragging the decoy seal past the island in hopes of a hit, but we had no luck with it so we went to the south end of the island and anchored, the crew put the cage in the water and then began chumming for the sharks. It then took us over an hour for the first shark to show up. This is an important thing to note, because if the chumming made the white sharks automatically come to boats associating them with food, then it wouldn’t have taken an hour to see the first shark. We knew the sharks were in the area since we saw them hunting earlier in the morning, but they just weren’t interested in the tuna fish head hanging off the stern of the boat. Chumming is also very closely regulated in South Africa, the boats are only allowed to bring 25 kg of fish parts with them each day.
We volunteered to be the first in the water since no one else wanted to and we obviously had no hesitation at all. We suited up in our wetsuits, hoods, booties, and weight belts and waited for the sharks to arrive. When one finally did, we hoped in the cage and waited for it to cruise by. The visibility was very poor, it was actually below average so we could only see 3 meters around us but we were still lucky enough to have “Jelly” swim by us three times. It was such an incredibly special moment for me, being so close to such a powerful and beautiful animal and it allowing me to share its space. The water was 16C but when I saw the white shark, it didn’t matter how cold the water was, it could have been 0C and I would have stayed there with that shark for hours.
We spent the rest of the morning waiting for more sharks and the rest of the people to get in. We ended up being the luckiest and seeing the most action while in the water but the view from the boat was spectacular!
After the last group got out of the cage, we went to drive by Seal Island one more time and we saw a small White Shark breach right next to the island on a seagull. It was a full breach but the shark didn’t eat the gull. I think the gull’s injuries to its head and especially its wing will probably be fatal.
We also got a great view of all the seals up close to the island and on the island as well.
When we got back to the harbor we had lunch at a little fish and chips place and then started our drive around the Cape. Our first stop was to Boulder Beach to see the African Penguins. The penguins were so cute waddling around the sand dunes and playing in the waves.
We also got to see a mother penguin feeding her baby. She let us stay and watch for over 10 minutes. The baby would just chirp and then the mother would turn to the baby and regurgitate her meal for it. Now that’s what I call mother love.
After our penguin adventure we kept driving to the Cape of Good Hope. The drive was breathtaking, with flowers blooming along the cliffs. We were also able to see Southern Right Whales, a mother and calf and another adult.
When we reached the National Park we drove to the Cape and then hiked to the lighthouse. It was a stunning view with sheer cliffs and seabirds riding the breeze.
On our drive back to Cape Town we found ourselves in the middle of a slum. We had our doors locked and just kept driving. The hard part is when the beggars stand in the middle of traffic to try to stop you and get money from you. That was really difficult for me to handle. It’s unfortunately not rare to see slums around Cape Town with people living in shacks made out a sheet metal and children playing in the dirt. The extreme poverty there is something that I will never get used to seeing. It breaks my heart every time.
Our time in Cape Town was wonderful but when we got back to our hostel we realized that we had done everything we wanted to do while in Cape Town. We decided to cancel two nights in Cape Town and spend the rest of our time exploring the Garden Route.