Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime. – Mark Twain
For 12 months now the words have failed to come. And honestly, they’re still not here, not the way I’d like them to be anyway. Thousands of photos and a notebook full of meticulous scribbles to reference, yet here I am desperately trawling the depths of my psyche for something, anything, reasonably coherent to say. It’s like my internal translator, the one which converts raw, visceral feelings into words and sentences with structure and meaning…..it’s gone. Overloaded by awe after 17 breathtaking, challenging, unforgettable days in South Africa.
So let’s strip it back then and focus on the visuals, letting the pixels I’ve composed and exposed speak for my currently mute mind, starting first with Cape Town and the surrounding area (before flying to Durban and doing the safari thing in the next blog).
Oh, and some more snazzy quotes too, since I seem to have lost the ability to speak for myself.
There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living. – Nelson Mandela
Bo-Kaap, the famously vibrant Cape Malay area of Cape Town and site of our first Air B&B. And what a brilliant introduction to South Africa! Intermittently upmarket and downtrodden, diversely populated and at times flooded with ill-mannered tourists, Bo-Kaap serves as a wonderfully astute representative stand-in for South Africa at large.
You could leave life right now. Let that determine what you do and say and think. – Marcus Aurelius
Rising 1,085 metres above the sea and city below, Table Mountain (and the adjacent Lion’s Head) is Cape Town’s most obviously defining natural feature. The unique combination of elevation, geology and weather patterns have made Table Mountain a biodiversity hotspot, with the summit and slopes hosting an impressive number of endemic species. Of course, with a tram and trails leading to the top, Table Mountain is also a hugely popular visitor attraction, with tens of thousands of selfie stick toting tourists traipsing about every year. Still, the broader summit, away from the tram buildings, offers plenty of room for solitude – if one is willing to walk a bit – and is well worth a visit.
When we recognise the virtues, the talent, the beauty of Mother Earth, something is born in us, some kind of connection, love is born. – Thich Nhat Hanh
It’s hard to imagine anyone taking a tour of Robben Island and not being moved. The island’s position in Table Bay affords stunning views of Cape Town, but it is of course the human history of the place that takes centre stage. Long the site of political imprisonment, most recently during South Africa’s notorious apartheid regime, Robben Island is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and museum. Tours of the prison are led by former inmates, who selflessly offer up their often horrific stories in the spirit of inspiring change and fostering hope.
Everything is a miracle. It is a miracle that one does not dissolve in one’s bath like a lump of sugar. – Pablo Picasso
Wandering the city and peninsula from dawn to dusk and beyond, we made our way to many of the typical tourist hot spots – Stellenbosch, Boulders Beach, Cape Point, Chapman’s Peak Drive, Hout Bay, Kirstenbosch Gardens, Camp’s Bay Beach, Bloubergstrand, Clifton Beach, V&A Waterfront, The Old Biscuit Mill – sleeping as little as possible in a futile effort to soak it all in. In truth, many (although not all) of the locations mentioned here and featured above could justifiably get their own individual blog posts, but as I said in the intro my words just ain’t a comin’. I guess some things are just too good to put into words…..which is why I always take plenty of pictures!
Stay tuned for the next instalment when we head into the wilds of KwaZulu-Natal in search of all the critters. And check out the blog of our globe trotting travel companions, Wild Air & Hops!
See you soon!