After spending two amazing weeks in Tanzania, Sarah and I boarded a plane to South Africa to tour around the bride and groom’s home country and see for ourselves if South Africa is really as beautiful as people say…All I can say is that I was blown away by the beauty of Cape Town. There are not many cities in the world I could picture myself living in, but Cape Town is DEFINITELY on that list. Despite it’s violent history and the fact that everyone put the fear of God in us to be careful driving around Cape Town, we had such a positive experience there. Everyone we met was so hospitable and eager to ask us Americans everything about our country. Sarah and I stayed at the groom’s cousin’s house and rented a car and pretty much drove EVERYWHERE. We had drinks in Hout Bay, Oysters in Camps Bay, drove down the coast to see the Rare Cape African Penguins in Boulders and then continued on to the Cape of Good Hope and hiked up to the lighthouse. In a span of 20 minutes we saw Baboons and Ostriches, and penguins climbing out of the sewers and we were like, “Where are we right now??”. It was sort of surreal, but I felt like Cape Town was all of California’s most gorgeous spots crammed into one tiny peninsula. You have areas that look like Big Sur, San Francisco, Malibu, and Napa all surrounded by an amphitheater of mountains and stunning beaches. It is one of the cleanest cities I have ever been to and the food and nightlife was amazing!
Some of our highlights of the trip were:
-Visiting a cheetah Sanctuary, eating wild Game meat, and wine tasting all in the famous wine country of Stellenbosch
-Great White Shark Cage diving off of the coastal village of Gaansbaii (on my bucket list forever!). I can’t explain what it’s like to be face to face with a 15 foot Shark with 3,000 teeth….AMAZING!
-I had to adapt to driving a stick shift on the wrong side of the road and on the wrong side of the car….cross country along the Garden Route! Phew!
-Sarah and I visited quaint B+B’s and villages along the garden route. We stopped frequently in the middle of nowhere along our drive to take photos. Our favorite were the hay bales and hundreds of ostrich farms we passed along the way
-Visiting the bride and groom in Jo’berg and having a braai in our honor at their house. We met ALL of their extended family and ate like kings and it was a very special day.
Despite all of this beauty, we saw a lot of the “ugly” side of South Africa. Despite the fact that Apartheid has been over since the early 90’s, there still is SO much racial tension and segregation happening. We drove past massive shanty towns where all of the blacks live and witnessed a culture that was reminiscent of the 50’s in America. We saw the fear and prevalent crime only by the existence of huge walls lined with barbed wire around each and every house and by how people practically barricade themselves in their houses for safety. Other than these clues, we never witnessed any crimes or felt unsafe, although Jo’berg is considered one of the most dangerous cities in the world.
Our final chapter of our trip, Sarah and I decided to take a jumper flight to Zambia (rather than Zimbabwe) to view one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, Victoria Falls, the largest Waterfall on the Planet! It was beyond words! We stayed at the Jollyboys Hostel and met people from ALL over the world. We went white water rafting in the crocodile infested waters of the Zambezi River and hiked around the falls and got soaked by the spray. Zambia was SUCH a pleasant surprise after seeing mainland Tanzania and the poverty there. Despite the poverty in Zambia, it was SO clean, beautiful and everyone there was SO happy! I felt like I was truly seeing the REAL Africa there and it left me with a thirst to come back and see as many more places on this continent that I can. I know I will come back soon to this gorgeous, complicated land someday soon. It was so nice to be able to “disconnect and reset” from my daily existence and I honestly, came back humbled, happy, relaxed and a changed woman.