From Victoria Falls we took a South African Airways flight to Cape Town, with a short layover in Johannesburg. Because Cape Town is one of the most gorgeous, interesting and happening places of the world, we had planned it for the last leg of the boys’ trip. Our intention was to keep expectations low with the Africa trip, and then improve on both accommodations and activities as time went on. (Note to tourists: Don’t start your visit to Africa in Cape Town, you’ll be disappointed with the rest of your trip!) For example, we started off in Lusaka, which is pretty boring, but at least it’s “Africa,” so the novelty makes it kind of interesting. Our first adventure was tent camping, then at Vic Falls it was a youth hostel with a shared bathroom (for the boys), and now in Cape Town we were staying in a very nice boutique hotel called Oxford House. This way the boys’ trip just got better and better as it went along.
Oxford House was in the Green Point area of Cape Town, within walking distance of the stadium, aquarium, and the V&A Waterfront, which is this fabulous shopping center with 450 shops that rivals South Coast Plaza (the mall I grew up close to).
We had three full days in Cape Town, not including our arrival and the boys’ departure days. The plan was that the men would climb Table Mountain on Wednesday (while I found a salon that knew how to cut and color white person hair – I was wayyyy overdue), the boys would go shark diving on Thursday (our budget couldn’t accommodate all four of us going, plus, it’d be nice for Thom and I to have a day to ourselves), and then on Friday (which happened to be Ryan’s birthday!) we’d go on a wine country tour in Hermanus (about 1.5 hours away).
Table Mountain is one of the defining features of Cape Town. It appears in almost any postcard you might buy there.
There’s an aerial tram that will take you to the top, with a nice little ski chalet-type restaurant up there. Of course, you guessed it, the Jayne+Eric gang did not want to take the tram up. They would climb the mountain and then take the tram down.
It’s a very strenuous hike, about 2 -2.5 hours depending on how fast you go and how many breaks you take.
It’s really a straight up climb, with boulders that can come to mid-thigh. How do I know this you might ask? Well, about ten months ago I climbed it with a group of Thom’s colleagues when we all attended an Ag Econ conference there. The day we climbed it it was cold and drizzly, which just added to our joy.
(See my proof-of-climb photo below — that’s me, bringing up the rear in the pink tank.)
The guys started off right after breakfast. The day was clear and glorious — perfect for a hike! (I had found a hair salon 2 blocks from our hotel and went there, with a request from Thom to get blond highlights this time.)
As you can see here, the trail is very steep with lots of loose rocks (necessitating the fencing over some of them). The photo below shows an example of a canyon you have to climb through.
But the views were fantastic and the day couldn’t be better.
They made it to the top in record time — 1.5 hours. Earlier in the week when the boys kept stepping out of the sauna every three minutes at the gym in Lusaka, Thom kept telling them to work on their mental toughness to stay in. The boys turned the tables when Thom kept taking breaks up the mountain and told him he needed to go 20 minutes up without a break and that it was just a matter of mental toughness (and he did it!).
They were rewarded with spectacular views at the top, and a well deserved lunch.
All kinds of Dassies (aka the Rock Hyrax) scampered on the rocks and under the tables around the guys. (They sold dassie stuffed animals at the store. They’re pretty cute.) If you can believe it, one of their closest living relatives is the elephant!
After a few hours on top the guys took the tram down.
Meanwhile, back on the ocean floor, I took a jog before my hair appointment and got completely lost. Somehow I ended up on a bona fide freeway! At the top of the freeway bridge the shoulder was about 10 inches wide and cars were whizzing past me at 60 miles an hour.
Fortunately I was wearing a bright pink sweatshirt so I was easily visible. It was pretty scary. (BTW, my hair turned out great! The blond highlights hide the teensy-weensy itty-bitty little bit of grey I have in my hair. I think I’ll just age gracefully into a platinum blond, but my dark eyebrows need to catch up.)