Wednesday, 17 May 2017
Gepke had also managed to book a tour to Cape of Good Hope, and for this tour we are waiting outside our hotel until the driver will arrive. A van pulls up with in it our driver for the day called James. After we are seated James tells us we are his only guests for the day, so we can consider it a private tour and set the pace ourselves. That sounds like a plan! The Cape of Good hope is quite a drive from Cape Town, and along the way there will be frequent photo stops and opportunities to admire the surroundings and views. James starts out pretty talkative which worries us, but pretty soon he limits himself to describing what we see along the way and it seems he is very knowledgeable about the area.
After driving through the suburb cites like Bantry Bay, Clifton, Camps Bay, we get to the towns further away like Hout bay, Fish Hoek and Simon’s town where we stop at Boulder Beach to see the penguins. You can pay a fee to get on to the beach, but the penguins are just as visible if not even better from the free walk along the boardwalk. At some places along the boardwalk you can get close enough to pet the penguins, though I would not try it. Those beaks look sharp… From Boulder Beach we continue and enter the Cape of Good Hope national park area. At the side of the road further into the park we can get really close and personal with an ostrich couple. They even pose for us so we can get some good close ups.
Finally we actually make it to the Cape of Good Hope were there is the obligatory picture standing behind the sign. Afterwards we climb the hill up to the light house, take in the view and take a lot of photos.
On the way back we stop at the Botanical Gardens to admire all that grows here in the Cape area. The walk through the botanical gardens goes along a very steep trail, as Gepke wishes to photograph Proteas, the national flower of South Africa, at the highest point in the Gardens. We had agreed on an hour at the gardens with James, but we get lost and arrive 20 minutes late. He does not appear to be upset, after all this is a private tour!
We arrive back at the Lady Hamilton in time to have dinner at Miller’s Thumb, a good choice for the food turns out to be pretty special. No real menu other than: choose your meat or fish and how you want it prepared. The staff is very friendly and seems to know many of the locals that come to eat at the restaurant, which is usually a good indicator of a fine restaurant.
Thursday, 18 May 2017
Today is our flight back home, but not until later in the afternoon, so we book a day pass on the Hop-On-Hop-Off bus of Cape Town. Our intention is just to sit on it the whole ride and take in the sites, but when the bus returns after only 20 minutes, it becomes clear to us we’re on the wrong bus. So we switch from the yellow “Downtown Tour”, to the red “City Tour” and this time we get what we expected. It’s mostly an opportunity to take pictures we may have missed yesterday on our tour to Cape of Good Hope with James.
After the bus tour we gather our things at the hotel and order an Uber to the airport. The trip back to Denver turns out to be a challenge. First 11 hours to Frankfurt, followed by a 6 hour layover and then another 10 hours to Denver. Coming over we had a day hotel, but this time we just hang in the airport terminal and try to find a comfortable position in the chairs at the gate.
Lufthansa’s service was nothing special, but I have learned not to expect much from airlines anymore. However, the last leg going to Denver was really not very good. We had a hard time getting the attention from the flight attendants that seemed to keep missing us when it came to serving drinks and food. When we finally did get their attention, there would be no choice in food, or it would take another hour before something showed up. As far as I’m concerned Lufthansa is on my list of airlines to avoid in the future.
South Africa however was definitely worth it, and although Johannesburg was not my favorite city; Cape Town I could envision as a future home. South Africa is well developed, as is true for all the other countries in this area we visited: Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia. They all appeared way more developed than I expected. Should I ever return here I intend to do so on my own, not using a group tour. I’d like to take my time, stay in some places a little longer and have the flexibility of a rental car so I can decide my own pace. The G-Adventures tour was a good way to become acquainted with this part of the world, though I think there should be some adjustments to the current itinerary. No need to spend two nights in a tent in Sossusvlei. After the day trip, we might as wel had broken up camp and moved on. It would have been nice to have been able to upgrade in advance in some areas, but that was not initially offered as an option. But everything else was well taken care of and the tour guide Jaco was knowledgeable and always willing to help. I really enjoyed the trip and our stay there.