A sojourn in Cape Town

Looking back at my brief time in Cape Town, my three favourite memories of the visit are the trips to Robben island, Cape Point and the colony of African penguins at Boulders beach.

My colleague and I had booked a 3 day tour package in Cape Town through our travel agent, when booking a flight to Johannesburg. After a couple of days in Pretoria with our host family and driving around the city taking in the President’s office, freedom park, the craft market etc., we took the budget Kulula airlines flight to Cape Town. I had read about the humorous announcements made on the flight and I was delighted to hear some of them. The following clip is a Kulula humour snippet I found on youTube, courtesy of South Africa Travel Online.

After the entertaining flight into the city, we checked in at our hotel and then spent the rest of the afternoon and evening walking around and exploring the nearby markets. It was a relief to be able to walk about the city freely after having feeling constrained in Pretoria and Jo’burg, where the roads became deserted by 5pm and houses had electric fences around them.

table mountain

We took the cable car up Table mountain the next morning. Despite my fear of heights, I always seem attracted to hills and mountains and their summits during my travels, especially when it is accessible by cable cars. This time was no different and I found myself in a crowded cable car going slowly up the mountain to the summit.

cable car

After our little trip to the summit of Table mountain and back, we took a bus tour around the city, stopping at the Malay quarter, the castle fort remains, the Company gardens as well as the City Hall and House of Parliament. I liked the colourful and lively atmosphere of Cape Town.

Malay quarter

The next day, we went on a day trip to the Cape peninsula. It was a beautiful drive passing Clifton bay.

Clifton Bay

We then continued on to the beautiful Cape Point Nature reserve and Cape Point, the most southwesterly point of Africa. We climbed up to the old lighthouse.

Cape point

Lighthouse at Cape Point

Cape of good hope

After lunch, we travelled onto Simonstown to visit the colony of African penguins at Boulders beach. The tiny penguins seemed habituated to humans and thus did not seem to mind that people were walking around their little space on the beach. This is a short video clip that I put together from a few of the videos that I had taken at the penguin colony.

I did read that the African penguin colonies were reducing in size due to food shortages. The colony at Robben island were down to 3000 from around 15000. So, I suppose the same could be the case for the Boulders beach colony.

The day trip ended with a visit to Kirstenbosch botanical gardens, a 528 hectares estate, where only indigenous South African plants were grown. After walking around the gardens a bit, we were quite content to return to the cafe and enjoy our afternoon tea and relax.

Kirstenbosch

On the third day, we walked to the famous Alfred and Victoria Waterfront and took a ferry to Robben Island. The island prison, which housed prisoners from the 17th to 20th century and where Mandela was imprisoned for 18 of his 27 years in prison, is now a world heritage site and museum.

The island tour started with a bus trip around the island. We had an interesting and funny guide called Yasien Mohamed, who had been a former political prisoner on the island. His tour was very informative in relation to the island’s history and the influence of different countries on the tiny island prison. He was also the funniest tour guides I have ever come across and I believe his vocation should have been that of a stand-up comedian. In between sharing island facts, he would ask each one of us on the bus which country we were from and then make a joke related to that nationality as well as mention a connection that that country had with the island.

The part of the island that inspired me the most was the limestone quarry where the prisoners had to work long hours, which in turn affected their eyesight. He mentioned that Mandela too had worked in this quarry for 18 years due to which he had not been able to face the camera flashes directly. The interesting part about the quarry was that the limestone quarry became the place where the more educated black African prisoners like Mandela focused on the education of other black African prisoners and sometimes that of the prison guards. It came to be known as the university of limestone quarry.

As I had forgotten to recharge my camera battery after my trip to Cape Point the previous day, my battery had died while on the ferry to Robben island. So, I have no photos from my visit to the island. However, it is the place that made the biggest impression on me, at Cape Town, as I seem to remember several details of that visit without the aid of photos.

Table mountain

[I am sharing this post at:

Travel Tuesday Linkup, co-hosted by Diana@Diana Elle, Rachel@A Nesting Nomad and Katrina@The Thrifty Gypsy’s Travels;
** City Tripping #34, hosted by Mummy Travels and Wander Mum
*** Wanderful Wednesday, hosted by Snow in Tromso, Lauren on Location, The Sunny Side of This and What a Wonderful World]

Wander Mum
Travel Notes & Beyond

Wanderful Wednesday

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38 thoughts on “A sojourn in Cape Town

  1. I’m the same as you, I’d have found it very oppressive to stay somewhere where everyone’s locked inside their compounds by 5. When I’m on holiday there’s nothing I like more than going out for a pleasant stroll in the evening (providing the weather co-operates, of course!).

    The trip to Robben Island must have been fascinating, and maybe you took in even more because you weren’t focussing on taking photos? I had no idea about the limestone quarry, that’s interesting. I’m glad good things came out of a horrible situation.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, Rachel, the Robben Island trip was indeed fascinating and the limestone quarry most interesting as I had not known about it being used as a place of education before. Our guide also referred to it as the place of birth of the African National Congress. I agree not being able to take photos let me experience the place better than I would have while looking out for great photo angles. Have a lovely day! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • South Africa was always on my travel list so it was wonderful that I was able to visit a lovely part of it – Cape Town. It’s definitely worth a visit.

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    • I think we take in more and interact with others around us more, when not looking at a place through a lens. Cape Town is indeed interesting, Diana.

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  2. I didn’t know Mandela was imprisoned on Robben Island. This was a very beautiful journey. I’d love to visit South Africa someday. I recently read a few posts about it and I am sold! The only thing is the I’m not sure how safe it is right now.Thank you for joining me for #TheWeeklyPostcard.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I wouldn’t go on a solo trip to South Africa. From the three cities that I visited in South Africa, I felt more safe in Cape Town than in Jo’burg or Pretoria. Hope you do get to visit South Africa someday and thanks for hosting #TheWeeklyPostcard.

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  3. Looks like you had a fantastic time in Cape Town. I would love to mirror your trip as it sounds like a perfect mix of experiences and I’ve never been to Cape Town!! The photo from Cape Point of the beach with the clouds over it are stunning…and how cool that you can see penguins so close up. Robben Island sounds like a very sobering experience.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Elizabeth and yes, I had a wonderful time in Cape Town. I loved seeing the penguins up close and Robben Island was an inspiring visit, as it gave a glimpse of the harsh day to day reality that Mandela went through in prison and yet found the power within him to inspire others. I would include a visit to the wine lands as well, if I get the opportunity to revisit the city.

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    • Thank you for the lovely comment. I originally made the short clip to share with my family a little of what I had experienced out there at Boulder’s beach. Since they loved it, I decided to include it in my post. I am so glad you enjoyed it 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. What great photos – i’ve been to the Cape and winelands a few times and I do love Cape Town, some amazing buildings and the wonderful mountain and sea. The penguins are a great bonus too. I went on a fascinating tour of the townships on my last village but left it too late to get tickets for Ribbed Island so I need another trip to see that. Thanks for linking to #citytripping

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  5. I would love to visit Cape Town. There is so much to see in terms of beautiful scenery. I am afraid of heights too but I would not miss a visit to Table Mountain.

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  6. I found this so interesting, Ahila, particularly the bit about Mandela helping to educate other prisoners on Robben Island, and the fact that your guide had been a political prisoner too. I’d love to visit Cape Town one day. Visiting from #WanderfulWednesday

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  7. I always hear great things about South America and it’s so high up on my bucket list! It looks like such an interesting place to visit! The cable car would definitely be something I’d do (even though I’m afraid of heights like you are). I always seem to test my fear as well haha.. Looks like an awesome trip! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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