Hey SSLs and fellow travelers! I just came back from a momentous, much-needed VACAY to Cape Town, South Africa. This whimsical journey will definitely be one for the books, as I have completely stepped outside of my comfort zone little by little. While my dream is to have my passport over-stamped, I had never envisioned myself visiting Cape Town. I mean I’d read about Johannesburg and have died laughing every time I heard Trevor Noah. But travelling to South Africa? NO, it had never crossed my mind before someone reached out to me about this trip.
I took a leap of faith by accompanying a boutique travel group for the first time with the former Go Some Place Now travel company (currently known as Everyday Globetrotter), hosted by Ms. Britta Urban. So, this is basically a group of millennials headed by an experienced flight attendant/ travel enthusiast, who arranges domestic and international excursions a couple times a year. You can check out this group @gosomeplacenow or @everydayglobetrotter on Instagram. I knew someone who frequently traveled with this crew, so I was like, “What the hay?! I might as well join ‘em!” And the rest is history at this point.
Overall, everyone in this group was really fun and carefree—just really good folks. Of course, group travel is never “perfect” though. When you mix various individuals of varying ages, beliefs, and backgrounds, you’re bound to have some tension. But luckily for me, we didn’t experience any major conflicts. It was great to network with millennials from different professional backgrounds as we explored a new City together. While a lot of us did room together for the sake of cost-cutting lodging expenses, the rooming situation wasn’t completely unbearable.
This restaurant is all the RAVE apparently according to its reviews, so I was definitely eager to try it out myself. The multi-encompassing theme of this restaurant is a fusion of various African cultures through a 14-course dining and entertainment experience. To further add to the ambiance, attendees are ushered into the spirit of the Mother continent through theatrical performances featuring traditional African dancers, music, and ensembles.
I’m not gonna lie, some of the costumes were so tall and exaggerated that even I was getting nervous about the performers getting too close. I was not feeling that dust/ powder being sprinkled over guests with all that chanting. Look, I’m old fashioned and a religious person. I’m not with chants when I don’t know what they mean.
Other than that, everything was really lively and cool. I enjoyed all of the food–all 14 courses. My favorite dishes were probably the Morrocan Zeilook dip and the Zambian sweet potato cakes.
After a full morning of wine tastings at Lanzerac, our travel group had lunch at the estate’s deli. I’d imagined this restaurant to be something like a traditional American deli line, but this spot was a lil too fancy. My smoked chicken sandwich took a while to be prepared. And while it was pretty, it didn’t taste fabulous, just good.
Located in the Mojo Market, this is one place that I made a habit to revisit for my smoothie shop fix. If you’re into fresh juices, health elixirs, and smoothies, you’ll love to visit.
Bootlegger Coffee Company
Love inventive breakfast creations and coffee? The Bootlegger Coffee Company might just be your spot. With a location conveniently near the Mojo Hotel, you can enjoy breakfast menu items such as “Banana Bread French Toast” and a DIY breakfast plates.
Aquila Dining Hall
If you’re like me and love a great (bougie) buffet with plenty of options, just know that Aquila’s dining hall won my heart with their great variety of food. From breakfast to dinner, I enjoyed being surprised by the great selection of freshly cooked seafood, meats, and veggies. It was here that I tried Hake (a native fish in the area) and Paw Paw (a fruit) for the first time.
Motherland Coffee Company
This hipster spot downtown has everything a millennial could need: caffeine, WiFi, and freshly prepared food. I tried the “Hoisin Chicken Wrap”. It was a quick savory sweet bite that kept me energized for all the walking that I had ahead. I also enjoyed the shops in the storefronts near this cafe because of all the beautiful trinkets and affordable gold jewelry that I found here. So, if you have a moment before your Cape Town Free Walking Tours tour starts, you should take a look around this area.
Mojo Hotel- Sea Point
Do you love totally Instagram-able lodgings? Well, this contemporary hotel is it. Filled with so much artwork and interconnected to the lively Mojo Market, you’ll enjoy access to so much shopping, entertainment, and food in one spot. While the beds, if you’re in a 5 person room, are smaller than other western hotels, it was quite comfy.
Beware that the walls here are paper thin. So, if you’re planning to travel with a rowdy bunch, this might not be the best lodging option for your group. Also, I’d had a hunch that the hotel was once a dormitory and that idea was confirmed by an employee, so don’t be surprised at the layout of the rooms. They feel very much like being back in college, just prettier.
Aquila Safari Cottage
So, for a quick Big 5 Overnight Safari, the group headed to this lodge on a Breede Valley property. “Quaint” and “cozy” are words that I’d use to describe this spot, full of modern western vibes.
For me, shopping is totally recreational. Here, you get a high off the many beautiful things (clothing, accessories, home goods, etc.) you see and a workout from walking too. The Mojo Marketplace is filled with several multicultural shopping and food vendors. There’s a place for everyone here. You and your crew want to dine after a long day of exploring? This place is perfect to meet new people and listen to local musical artists.
Cape Town Comedy Club
One night. 4 comics. And a LOT of Afrikaans. This comedy club felt really quaint and intimate during our Savanna Cider sponsored event. Apparently, the event featured an all-star comedic lineup from all over South Africa. The female comics (Nathi Maki and Mel Jones) were my favorites of the night; however, the host was pretty funny too. The ladies’ jokes about how Black and middle-aged women interact were super relate-able. Unfortunately, a lot of the jokes were race related in the Afrikaan language, and so I didn’t understand all the Afrikaan phrases or words that were referenced. Overall, the vibe was really cool and inviting though.
Surprisingly, the food was super tasty. I’d ordered a chickpea burger with sweet potato fries. The chickpea and corn patty hailed from Chef Thierry’s recipe. The patty’s texture and consistency made it absolutely a perfect beef substitute. If anybody can find his recipe, let me know!
The Victoria & Alfred Waterfront was really pretty to see. They have a huge air-conditioned Ferris wheel that I was tempted to ride. The gag is I’m afraid of heights, so one day, I’ll have to tackle that.
In the open market area, I finally found traditional South African vellies with modern printed designs. You can definitely see a photo of these unisex style on my Instagram.
So, I also got the chance to visit the famous Silo Hotel located here. Be sure to check the blog, ZA Travel Diaries| I Got To Tour The Silo Hotel, for my in-depth post on that experience.
Aquila Safari Private Game Reserve
This “Big 5” Day tour made me aware of how ignorant I am of these animals. I mean as a child, my parents had us read about African game, but that was years ago. Living in the U.S., I wasn’t too concerned about various wild animals and their environments.
Apparently, the “Big 5” refers the following: the African lion, leopard, rhino, elephant, and Cape buffalo. This approx. 10,000 acre reserve had other animals too like springboks, ostriches, peacocks, and zebras– all of which were guarded 24/7 by legit mountain snipers.
And to see these while on the property, we piled into a couple of uncovered outdoor vehicles twice (during an evening before sunset and the following morning before sunrise) with our ever-hype safari guides, Owen and Maxwell. We saw all of the animals except the leopard. Not only was it terrifyingly freezing because of the strong winds but also really scary as we got really close to the lions in their den. And then, somebody had the nerve to drop their phone near a mama rhino and her baby. That was legit scary!
Cape of Good Hope Tours
So, I had decided that if I travelled over approx. 20 hours to descend upon the Mother City, I was definitely gonna see some sights. I’d already spent more money than I wanted, so I figured that I might as well make my precious green coins count for some memories. My travel buddy and I verged off from the group to tour the Cape of Good Hope, Boulder Beach, Chapman’s Peak, Kirstenbosch Gardens.
To book this private tour, we used Cape of Good Hope Tours. I’d highly recommend our driver & my new favorite Scotsman, Magnus. He was super sweet and patient as he explained every little thing about each place and was more than willing to answer all my questions.
Our first stop was a spot Camps Bay. It was incredibly beautiful. Everything was really too good to be true(real). Every view absolutely looked picture perfect.
You guys, my favorite parts were visiting a pass along Chapman’s Peak drive and the wild African penguins at Boulder Beach. At Chapman’s Pass, there was a vendor who also played this really old instrument called the mbira that’s basically an enclosed kalimba.
It was also still quite strange for me to see those penguins that I’d always imagined to be in colder environments right in front of me in South Africa.
An Historic City Walking Tour
Our boutique travel group was guided by a Capetonian local from the Cape Town Free Walking Tours group who guided us through the central/ downtown area of Cape Town. I learned so much that I definitely needed to receive a like a small pamphlet afterwards because it was so much information. What I liked the most about that tour was that our guide (I can’t recall his name) gave Cape Town’s history through his own experiential lens as a “Colored” man. (*Note his reaction to our visiting the racial classification building as we posed with the “white’s only” bench under the heading.)
Clifton 3rd Beach
While our group had fun with our beach photoshoot socializing and creating a music video, don’t let these images fool you. The water was SOO COLD! Freezing, actually. It was beautiful but COLD!
A Day of Wine Tasting
I just want to note that I’m not a drinker. I just don’t find the taste of alcohol appealing at all, so I was anxious to see whether or not I was going to loathe a whole day just smelling the fermented scent of wine. Luckily, the estates we visited were absolutely gorgeous properties. While a lot of the properties were visibly suffering from the current drought, the natural beauty of each was not overshadowed.
Part of the group package deal included wine tastings at 4 wine estates: Seven Sisters Wine Estate, Neil Ellis Wine Estates, Zorgvliet, and Lanzerac. Seven Sisters as a nice gem to visit. This estate is owned and operated by a “Colored” family. That place was really their baby and such an inspiration to me as a startup enthusiast. Neil Ellis was way too “stuffy” and formal for our large American group. Lanzerac was probably my favorite because their tasting included an inside look at how wine is made, chocolates that were individually paired with the wines, and a pretty attractive guide. Of these though, my favorite part was trying a chocolate called Cabaret Sauvignon.
For me, Cape Town was a whirlwind experience that I wish I could’ve shared with my family. With incredible sights surrounding every corner, it’s easy to mistake every passing day as only a dream. There’s so much more for me to explore in that City, so I’m counting the days as to my return to the Mother City.
Featured Hi-Def Group Photos & Video // Justin Milhouse @j.milhouse
iPhone Photography//Personal Photos