Week in Cape Town (End of 1st Leg)

Trip Start Mar 11, 2009
Trip End Jan 05, 2010

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Arriving in Cape Town yesterday signalled the end of the long first leg.  Although this actually ends with a week off the truck in the city or whatever you want to do.  Some are going to travel around South Africa up to Jo'burg and Kruger NP, I on the other hand am going to spend the full week in Cape Town with my parents.

12th - Had a day of rest from truck life sorting out all my photos making backups and putting in a huge pile of laundry of the clothes I am keeping.  Organised some private tours for just the 3 of us in advance with a guide called Sophia.  In the evening we met with others from the truck and some of their families to go to a game restaurant on Long Street with a only a couple of people missing.

13th - Off on a Cape Peninsula Tour today.  Drove down to Hout Bay and had a look around the harbour.  From here we backtracked to go and see Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens for an hour, completing a small loop around this world heritage site.  Back on the road we drove down past Noordhoek and Scarborough (Now been to 2 of these named towns on 2 continents) and into the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve.  Stopped for photo stops at the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point, having lunch at the restaurant at Cape Point.  We saw ostriches within the reserve, interesting to see these animals with the sea as a backdrop.  Next stop was the Penguin colony at Boulders, 20 mins spent here before continuing the tour.

Drove past the naval town of Simon's Town and past the dry town of Fish Hoek before stopping at Constantia to have a quick look at the old manor house, which is part of one of the oldest wineyards in the region.

14th - My dad and I met Gary, Tom (one of the new guys), Elyse plus her dad and sister at Ashanti Lodge in the morning.  We were picked up by shuttle bus and driven on the N2 stopping to watch whales at Hermanus and a town before Gansbaai.  Reached our destination of Kleinbaai shortly after Gansbaai.

Today I am going Shark Cage Diving with Great White Sharks!!!  The company is Great White Shark Tours with Brian McFarlane aboard the Apex Predator.  The cage holds up to 7 divers and offers some great underwater views of these powerful creatures.  We went through a safety briefing before leaving on the boat and travelling to the nearby Dyer Island (all sharks near this island are great whites).  Even before anyone got in the cage a large shark was swimming around the boat - and would continue to do so all day - characterised by a white dot on its dorsal fin.  I was in the 3rd group of 4 to enter the cage, you get 22 good looks as the sharks go past, diving underwater when the crew says to and facing the direction they say.  I had 3 goes in the cage throughout the day as the water was clear enough to see a good distance.  The sharks came close to the outside of the cage numerous times.  On two different occasions they got even closer: 1) One's tail fin was hitting the cage shaking it violently as it munched the bait giving Gary a very good front row view; 2) Another shark's nose and lower jaw came into the cage bursting a buoy as the bait was being pulled out past the cage.  Al (Elyse's dad) and myself had front row seats for this with both of us pulling ourselves to the back of the cage as fast as possible so as to watch this powerful shark and yet be in a safe environment due to the crew - definetly amazing to watch firsthand.

At the end of the day we viewed the seals on Dyer Island and the smell was very strong.  Going up shark alley we had the decoy seal being pulled behind the boat and to our luck we saw a half-breach by a Great White (a full breach is when the shark competely leaves the water and is documentary class footage).  Headed back to shore to watch a video of our day and I bought one of these dvds.

Today was one of those once-in-a-lifetime events.

15th - Had an early morning pick-up (6am) to drive to Aquila Private Game Reserve, which can be found 10km form Touws River on the N1.

On our 2-3 hour game safari with our guide/ranger Gabriel we managed to see: hippos, springbok, both of the elephants, zebras, giraffe, ostriches, all 5 of the rhino, eland, oryx, black wildebeest and across the road in the sanctuary enclosures there were: lions, crocodiles and a leopard - the cheetah couldn't be spotted.

Had lunch before departing back to Cape Town driving on the older road instead of going through the tunnel to give us views over the Winelands region.  Went out for a meal at Nandos once we got back to the appartment.

16th - Got on the Red sightseeing bus from opposite the Camps Bay Hotel to Victoria & Albert Waterfront.  Went shopping at Cape Union Mart - a restock for me.  Had lunch at Willowbys in the Mall, browsed the shops before my Mum & I went to watch the new Harry Potter film.

17th - Went down to the Nelson Mandela Gateway for 10:30 to try my luck at getting tickets to Robben Island.  My luck was in....got the last ticket for the 11am ferry 10mins before it was due to leave - my parents booked their tour for thursday.  After a choppy ride I disembarked on the famous island that was one of my main reasons for coming to Cape Town.  The bus tour is informative but I didn't like it as we couldn't get out to see some of the interesting places on the island, other than the prison buildings.  Once the 45 min bus tour was over I was dropped at the prison to be given a tour by a former political prisoner of Robben Island (1 of the 9 who live on the island now).

Left the island at 2pm (you don't get long on the island) and arriving back on the main land I met back up with my parents in V&A Waterfront where we looked in shops before having our evening meal there.

18th - Rain, rain and more rain in the morning, stayed in the appartment till around midday.  As at this time we headed into the city and specifically to the District Six Museum via a brief stop at the Waterfront.  The museum is about the people of the now-vanished District Six.  It is worth a look and walking tours can also be arranged through the old District Six.

I stayed at the Ashanti Lodge this night as the truck is leaving early tomorrow morning. 

Unfortunately I couldn't do Table Mountain due to the cable car being under maintanence for most of the stay, then bad weather preventing going up on the available days of the stay.  I could have hiked up with others but I decided against this option as my parents had come out to see me.  Another reason for me to return to this city and country.
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