When we booked the safari trips with Discover Africa we told our agent that we wanted some down time between the big events. He left us a gap of 10 days between Botswana and Namibia, so we chose to hang out in Cape Town for some chill time. And literally, it is winter here, so there is a bit of chill happening. Rob and I don’t do great at just relaxing, though, where there are new things to see and discover.
We rented a VRBO in the little beach town of Kalk Bay, which is south of Cape Town on False Bay. To the east lies Pringle Bay, with the Cape of Good Hope to the west. 60 miles as the crow flies southeast of Pringle Bay is Cape Agulhas, the furthest south point on the African continent. That is a milestone that we thought for sure we would sail around in our boat one day. But now we’re visiting this area by car and driving instead of sailing.
We spent one day in the city as tourists and decided those tourist spots really aren’t our thing (although we really did already know that). The one thing we wanted to do is ride the cable car up to the top of Table Mountain, but that is closed for winter maintenance. You cannot drive up there, but certainly can walk up if you’re interested, which we definitely are not.
Cape Town is a city of 4.6 million people, dispersed between massively huge shanty towns of metal shacks and imposing mansions on the hillsides with beautiful water views. We spent a couple of days of driving along the beautiful coastline taking pix and ran across this shanty town right at the beach. Our host says that 10 years ago that was not there, it’s all immigrants coming in to Cape Town for work opportunities. It’s definitely pretty grim living conditions, to state the obvious.
Of course since South Africa does bottle some delicious wines, we couldn’t pass up an afternoon in wine country. It’s the dead of winter here, so the first couple stops weren’t very interesting. Then we stopped at Neethlingshof Winery and found this very engaging server. He was born in France and schooled in the UK then moved to South Africa. The accent was very heavily French, but we managed to communicate for a very long time. The winery was established in 1692, and is owned by a French corporation.
The wineries here bottle a red called Pinotage that is advertised as South Africa’s signature variety. It’s a grafting of Pinot Noir and Cinsaut/Hermitage vines. It’s a really interesting glass of wine, tasting a bit like a very full bodied Pinot. Happily I found Total Wines in Silverdale carries it, so I can get some back home. Sadly, for at least twice the price we’re paying here.
One afternoon we went down to the False Bay Yacht Club and chatted up some of the locals there. Of course we always love any time spent visiting with sailors, and met some nice folks who had been out cruising for 10 years in their boat in Southeast Asia (another spot we were sure we would sail Yohelah). We learned an interesting fact about False Bay and how two Orcas have completely convinced the great white shark population to abandon the bay. Here’s a YouTube video that explains that.
The South African power grid is state owned and obviously outdated and unable to keep up with current demand. They have implemented “Load Shedding”, which is a fancy phrase for rolling blackouts. There hadn’t been any for over a week when we arrived, but yesterday they started threatening. By afternoon they said there would be no outage in Kalk Bay. Suddenly about 6pm last night they said the power would indeed be out Thursday morning between 6 and 8:30 am. I’m not sure how families manage when they have children or work from home power needs. And now it looks like we’re going to have another outage tonight between midnight and 2 am.
Tomorrow morning we head off to Namibia. We have a couple days in the capital Windhoek, then an 8 day self drive arranged by Discover Africa. Cape Town was a lovely rest stop, but we’re ready to move along and see more of amazing Africa.