Saturday, 23 April 2016

Travelling Cape Town and the Garden route, South Africa

 Last Year I went to South Africa with my university to study the biology and ecology of the African coast. Some of my friends and I flew out a few weeks earlier to travel a bit beforehand. Here is a list of things we got up to.
 Cape Town, we stayed in Cape Town for a week once we landed. The hostel we stayed in was called Ashanti lodge, I would highly recommend this hostel if you’re staying in Cape Town, it has amazing views of Table Mountain from behind, and even from the toilet! The food is good, especially the pizza. The staff are very friendly and helpful, the city centre is a short walk and the waterfront is about 20 mins away. It is a bit pricier compared to other hostels, but we really enjoyed our stay. We travelled via city tour buses most of the week and this showed us a lot of what Cape Town had to offer, these are around £7 for a day ticket and you can travel on any route. The buses stop at most tourist attractions and drive a massive loop around each side of table mountain, it is a nice ride because you can sit on top and look out at all the scenery from the mountain to the beaches and right across the city. During the week we went shark cage diving, hiked table mountain and took the cable car down, took a boat trip whale watching, explored some beaches, visited seal island, ate out in nice restaurants extremely cheap, browsed museums, explored kirstenbocsh gardens, as well as a visit to cape point and boulders beach to see the African penguins.

Shark cage diving, this was an incredible experience, being so close to a animal like that is a experience I will never forget. There are many different companies to do this experience with; unfortunately we got transferred on to another company after choosing the company we wanted. We were put on a larger boat which was kind of annoying because there were quite a few people on there but it was still a great experience.

Hiking table mountain, we took the skeleton gorge route up which was hard going but worth it, this is probably one of the hardest things I have done because once we got out of the gorge it was awfully hot and tiring. However the views on top were outstanding and once you reach the top you feel a great feeling of achievement. We also came across a red water lake on top which was a nice resting point.

The garden Route, the second week off our trip was spent exploring the garden route which was incredibly beautiful and environments changed along the way making it very exciting. We travelled this route via the Baz bus, a very good and affordable way to travel however doesn't allow much in the way of flexibility. Our first stop was Mossel bay, which was very anti climatic after coming from Cape Town which is very vibrant. Mossel bay was like a ghost town, there was nothing to do and we saw more stray cats then people. The hostel we stayed in was an old train on the beach transformed into dorm rooms. I really disliked this hostel, the location was lovely because it was placed on a nice beach however I disliked how smoking was allowed in the bar and the rooms weren't very nice, I woke up throughout the night to a very unpleasant smell. The next day we travelled to Wilderness via the Baz Bus and this place was beautiful, we stayed on top of the valley in a hostel called the WildFarm. There were animals everywhere and it was a really homely feel. We went down into the village in the evening and ate at a restaurant called Cocomo's, we all loved it there it had a great vibe, live music, friendly staff, great food, then we came back and watched the rugby World Cup next to a open fire. The next day we went canoeing and chasing waterfalls, this was a eventful and funny activity, we had some laughs. From here we travelled to Knysna, a chilled out town, we relaxed more here and didn't do so much except explore some of the area. The next and last stop was Wild Spirit backpackers, this place was by far the best place we stayed, it was run by some kind hippies. It was so laid back and had great vibes and was beautiful, there were horses in paddocks, tree houses, little herb and veggie gardens, waterfalls, homemade organic food, mountain scenery and great people. Two of my friend’s bungee jumped of the largest bungee bridge, whilst my other friend and I went horse riding. We then had to take an 11 hour Baz bus journey back to Cape Town to meet the rest of my university course for a week of studying the coastal areas in the West Coast national park.


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