We arrived in the Cape on New Year’s Day. Leaving Swellendam we stopped by Robertson to see the house in which my wife’s grandmother grew up. A nice bit of family nostalgia. We then decided to swing by Franschhoek for a quick visit… on the way we passed by the Theewaterskloof Dam: one of the main reservoirs supplying the Cape.
It was depressingly empty: the Cape has been suffering a multi-year drought, to the point that they currently have level 6 water restrictions in place.
To get to Franschhoek we headed across the lovely Franschhoek Pass.
Franschhoek is a gorgeous little town I stumbled across in 1996 during my first visit to the region. It was exactly the wrong place to visit on January 1st, though: the town was absolutely heaving with people. We quickly decided to drive onwards to Stellenbosch, which proved to be virtually empty: it’s fundamentally a University town and so gets nice and quiet when the students are home for the summer.
After a late lunch we had enough time to visit the beautiful botanical gardens before they closed.
From Stellenbosch we headed towards Somerset West, where we stayed with family for the remainder of our time in South Africa. It’s around 45 minutes from there to Cape Town, so a perfect base for visiting the city.
As we were a little early getting to the area, we went straight down to Strand beach. It was quite the experience – on New Year’s Day (and January 2nd, too, apparently) it’s completely full of people.
We had two full days to enjoy Cape Town. The first day, January 2nd, was the day of the Kaapse Klopse – or the Minstrels Festival – in Cape Town.
On the way in we saw some cows crossing the motorway. Luckily they chose to use the overhead crossing.
We arrived early to make sure could find parking at the Waterfront and walk back into town for the parade. It was due to start at noon, but by 2:30pm we decided to bail: we didn’t have that much time in Cape Town and the kids were getting hungry. The festival is known for its late start, apparently… it seems even some of the performers struggled to know where to go.
We headed back to the Waterfront for a bite and to shop for gifts for friends and family.
Yesterday we decided to take the kids to the top of Table Mountain. It’s a busy time of year, so getting there early is a good idea. We didn’t, so were told we’d have to wait 2 hours to get the cable car up. We rolled the dice and waited… in the end it took a little over an hour before getting to the front of the queue.
The ride up – in the Swiss-made cable car, apparently – was nice. The car had a rotating base, which allowed people to get a varied view of the surroundings on the way up.
At the top the view was incredible – the conditions were absolutely perfect.
There was plenty of interesting flora and fauna. We saw a fun little lizard, bouncing up and down on a rock.
We did have to queue for the cable car back down, of course, but at least the view from the queue was spectacular.
That’s it for our South African leg, and for the trip as a whole. Here’s the route we took across from Swellendam to Somerset West:
Here’s how the route looks from Lesotho, as that’s the last time I posted one:
Today we fly back with a heavy heart. It’s really been an incredible 6-month trip… we’ve seen our children grow – and not just physically – over the time we’ve been away with them. I’m so happy we had the chance to do this… I’ll probably publish a wrap-up with links to the various posts over the last 6 months. To finish, here are a couple of photos we published to our Instagram feed – one is the “best 9 of 2017” (chosen by us, not based on popularity).
The second is our “Happy New Year” photo, courtesy of Prisma.
Thanks for following along over the last 6 months. This blog’s normal operation will start again shortly, for those of you who didn’t. ;-)