Travel Diary | Cape Town & South Africa

reading time: 5 min




I'm such a travel monkey.

But now I'm back home, guys! And I feel weird. My room still looks like an explosion and I miss the warmth of South Africa, the fruity breakfasts by the pool and the freedom of being on holidays.

To be perfectly honest with you, i never felt the urge to go to Africa. I feel more connected with Asian culture, especially Buddhist countries and ancient legends, and the things i associated with African countries were things like war, poverty, oppression, apartheid, and a land of many scars. However, since my boyfriend's mum moved to South Africa earlier this year, we decided to visit her and her husband over Christmas and travel Western Cape Province with two of our friends. And now, after almost 3 weeks of sunshine and adventure, it's quite hard for me to get back to a rainy, gloomy, everyday life Germany -.- 

But I will get used to it, right? I will feel at home again after falling in love with this sunny country, right? And I mean, the next vacation is right around the corner: Thailand in spring. But I hope I will settle in very soon.

When travelling to Africa (or any other warm country), your PACKING LIST should include:

- first aid kit
- vaccination record
- foreign health insurance
- scarf (protection against wind and sun)
- sunglasses
- sun hat
- sun blocker
- disinfectant
- cross body bag
- drug store products such as tampons, sun blocker etc.
- flip flops
- sturdy shoes
- mosquito repellent
- swimwear
- knife and spoon
- water bottles (the tap water is usually not clean enough to drink)
- light jacket for the evenings
- depending on the country you're travelling to, 2 wallets (1 "fake" wallet filled with a small amount of cash and some unimportant cards - this one you can give away in case you get mugged)
- an app or something to convert the currency

In review of this wonderful vacation I put together a big collection of photos (all in all we only took 600 and something photos over the course of 2 1/2 weeks, which i then tried to condense to only 200 pictures) that i want to share with you.

So lean back and brace for a wave of wanderlust!


GROTTO BAY
- Our Home Base -

 

This is the residence of my boyfriend J's mum and her South African husband in the private nature reserve Grotto Bay. It's a very nice bright house with bay windows, from where you can see the ocean, an herb and vegetable garden and a pool and a 2 minute walk down to the beach.

Unfortunately you can't really go for a swim in the sea because it's the Atlantic and it's frickin cold, but it's got a beautiful view and an amazing soundtrack of waves and seagulls :)


J + M

The funny thing is, this wasn't made by us. We found it at some hidden bay like that and it just happened to fit the initials of me, Maisy, and my boyfriend J. :)


can you spot the butterfly? 
i love butterflies. they're possibly my favourite animals, along with kangaroos and squirrels.


This plant in the picture above is a wild fig, and it's a great home remedy for treating mosquito bites! 

In the pictures below you can see aloe vera, which is one of the best substances to cure a sunburn! (along with St John's wort oil and cucumber - i got a really bad sunburn in our second week, so i know!) Just cut open one of the leaves and drip their syrup-like sap onto your burnt skin.


That's me sitting in one of the bay windows, having breakfast (papaya & milky black tea) and reading my current book, a collection of 50 Great Short Stories. Also, this is my new favorite dress that actually used to be a jumpsuit but I turned it into a dress last month because it looks waaayy cuter this way.

Isn't their house beautiful though? They are actually turning it into a retreat centre named Samadhi, so if any of you happen to be in Western Cape and are looking for a neat accommodation with space to relax your mind and be to yourself, go to Grotto Bay! Here's the link to their facebook page where you can take a look at their finished rooms! So pretty :)


BUFFELSFONTEIN
- Safari -

 

For J's birthday we went on a safari tour in Buffelsfontain, where we saw a lot of wildlife: giraffes and rhinos and zebras and wildebeest and lions and buffalos and antelopes and lots of ostriches. However, we also saw another animal. Which was caged, but our safari guide offered us to accompany him inside the cage, and so we did...


Oh yeah, a cheetah! Or actually, two cheetahs who were resting underneath the bushes when we entered the cage. It felt a bit like going into Jurassic Park because at first we didn't see any cheetahs, but just the remains of some other smaller animals, chicken or something.

But then they came out, and they were only 1 1/2 meters away from us! Of course they were tamed to a certain degree and used to humans, but still...



BONTEBOK
- Camp Site -


We spent a couple of days at this beautiful camp site at a river in the national park of Bontebok. Such a nice internet free time, and as you can see we had the camp site to ourselves.

We spent our nights there having a braai (barbecue) every night, and during the day we went for a hike in the surrounding hills. And late at night we lay in front of our tents, looked up into the sky and admired the bright, beautiful, glittering carpet of stars up there! I've never seen so many stars and such bright shooting stars in my life before. Unfortunately the camera wouldn't pick it up, so there are no photos of this.


I assimilated a bit and wore my hair in an African-style scarf headband for a while. I think it suits me :)

Since the camp site was located at a river, the vegetation was lush and green and not at all what we imagine to be "African" (like savannah, desert, steppe and such). And there were many birds chasing for insects, and very many mosquitoes as well, so we had to use an insect spray that smelled like glue.


 
KNYSNA
- Beach -


Next stop: Knysna! After two days of driving along the coast, we finally got to the part where the Atlantic merges into the Indian Ocean and where the water is warm and nice for swimming. Look how turquoise the water is!

My standard outfit there was: summer dress, bikini, barefoot. And feeling somewhat ladylike with this new hat i bought on the road for 2 bucks. Could it be any better?


Breakfast at a little farmhouse/café with guava juice (tastes weird but i wanted to try it), orange juice, hot chocolate and cookies.

Even though South Africa is a very "white" country - you can tell it was colonized by the Brits during colonialism -, most of the waiters and workers are black, and the relaxed, timeless, open attitude of the black citizens is very present nevertheless, if i may say so. For example "African time". This has it's advantages (when they say check out time is at 10 o'clock there's no problem if you haven't checked out until 12 o'clock) and it's disadvantages (when you order at a bistro or restaurant, even if it's just a drink, it will easily take half an hour or longer until you get anything).


This colourful thing above is a super dope bar called "Bloo Bistro" with lots of crazy laser lights and hippie decoration. It was actually an insider's tip by a South African friend, and when we came there one night for a drink, the chef of the house joined us and told us that they weren't used to tourists and that they didn't really know how to treat us, haha! 

In the end, he glued some glittery rhinestones onto our faces - mine was the coolest i think, orange-red and silver, and since the rhinestones on my cheeks looked like whiskers and my curly hair looked like a mane, my nickname for the night was "lioness", hehe.


A bright red starfish! Almost looks like a person with spread out arms, don't you think?


On the only rainy day we decided to go hiking in Nature's Valley in the Tsitsikama forest (i don't even know if this is a rain forest? but rain + forest = rainforest, lol) because it was too cold and too grey to lie on the beach, and the ocean actually looked more like the rough Atlantic than the usual turquoise of the Indian Ocean.


*can you take a picture of me walking on this forest hiking trail*

We went for a swim in the Indian Ocean after our hike (mainly because I bought 3 bikinis the day before - for only 50 Euro altogether!! - and was determined to wear a new one each day, haha!) and it wasn't actually as cold as i thought. Quite nice, but very rough sea, and you could really feel the tide pulling you in and out - i actually got washed away and swallowed by the waves several times even though we didn't go far out at all.


- Skinny Dipping -


I've always been a wild child, headstrong, adventurous and a rebel at times. But man, this took quite a bit of courage! I actually had to wait until all passers-by were more or less out of sight (there were several para-gliders up in the sky above us that were probably enjoying their sight, lol), and then i had to run down the beach naked until the water of the sea was high enough to at least cover my below parts. Man, never seemed the way into the water so long!


So yeah. This is me, bar naked in the Indian Ocean at Buffelo Bay near Knysna, South Africa. It felt a little strange at first, but then i actually got used to it and quite liked the feeling :) freedom! nature! maybe i am more of a hippie girl than i thought, haha! and a bit naughty perhaps.


Swallowed by the Indian Ocean.

By the way my phone, which produced theses cheeky pictures, was down for a whole day because it got damaged by the sea water!! I was sure that it was damaged beyond repair and all pictures lost because neither the home button nor the charger connection would work. But then we put the phone into a bowl of oats (we didn't have any rice) overnight and the next day it was working again and all my pictures were still there, hurray!




CAPE OF GOOD HOPE


* You're here, there's nothing I fear,
And I know that my heart will go on
We'll stay forever this way
You are safe in my heart
And my heart will go on and on *


Wild figs and baboons! I know they're dangerous, but they're so cute...

By the way, in order to get to the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point, we followed the Chapman's Peak Drive where hundreds of international car commercials have been shot. Neat, eh?


Come! Follow me to the Cape of Good Hope! Which by the way is neither the southern tip of Africa nor is it the dividing point between the Atlantic and Indian Oceans.

We actually went up to both Cape Point with the old lighthouse at the top of the cliffs and the new lighthouse further down, as well as to the actual sign of Cape of Good Hope.


Yeah. I think you can tell it's windy as heck up there. 

*fluff ball hair*


DARLING
- Marmelade Cat -


So many wheat free, dairy free products in South Africa! I ate way too many cookies over there, whoops.



CAPE TOWN
- Christmas Lights -



PARAGLIDING


Weee, look at me smiling. This was just before we took off into the sky from Lion's Head and went paragliding over the coast of Cape Town! (my key chain kangaroo Hopsy was with me of course!)

And it wasn't even as scary as you would think because there is no drop (like when you go skydiving for example), you just run a few steps down the hill and then gently slide into the air, and it's all very smooth and just a little bit scary when you look down at the far away ground or when a gust of wind suddenly takes the kite up a few meters.


This is the hill we flew from, the Lion's Head. The name derives from the upper part of the hill that resembles the shape of a lying lion in profile from the right angle. I don't know if you can see from this perspective, but imagine a sphinx, that makes it easier to recognize the shape.


Such a gorgeous view from up there!


After a few peaceful minutes (and loads of photos with the go pro cam, which were quite annoying because it felt more like a photo shooting and i couldn't enjoy the view as much as i'd liked) things became rather thrilling when i got to steer the kite, and we even spiralled down in a roller-coaster fashion for a heart-racing minute!


So if you happen to be in Cape Town one day and you're willing to wait for up to 2 hours (until the weather conditions are right etc.), definitely go paragliding. It's so much fun! The company we flew with was Parapax, but there are at least 2 other companies that start from the same spot, either Lion's Head or Signal Hill (but Lion's Head is nicer!)


GROTTO BAY
- Bonfire at the Beach -


This pretty scenery is the beach of Grotto Bay at sundown. Since it is quite dangerous to light a fire in South Africa without causing a fire we chose to make only a small bonfire at the beach in a hollow of cold, moist sand where it wouldn't be able to spark a fire.


4 Cowboys in Western Cape.

This hat kinda suits me, doesn't it? :) Country girl at heart.



Luckily it is summer in South Africa at the moment, so it wasn't cold at all. We brought some mats to sit on, blankets, jackets and some cider. 

It was a wonderful night, surrounded by the sound of the waves, which almost drowned out the crackling of the flames, and a very round, almost full moon. Super cosy and romantic ;) 

And of course Hopsy was there too!


If this isn't the most romantic picture - sharing kisses at the beach at sunset - i don't know what is! Even more romantic than the Titanic picture, haha.


- Sleeping under the Stars - 


It was actually the perfect night we finally decided to dare and sleep outside under the stars because it was full moon, and it was actually very bright out in the night. That comforted me because there ARE quite a few uncomfortable animals creeping around in South Africa, such as snakes (especially on pavement and stone after a hot day), spiders and scorpions.

We slept very peacefully though on our thick mattress with a blanket underneath, with pillows and a sleeping bag. And the next morning we woke up with the sun (okay, i still slept even after the sun had risen as you can see, haha), which was around 5 o'clock. And even though it was full moon that day we saw several shooting stars! I love the South African sky at night. So bright and beautiful.


The only things on my check list we didn't get to do are: (hiking up to) Table Mountain, Horse Riding (at the beach) and looking at the beautiful lilac Jacaranda trees (which weren't blooming at that time). Well, next time :)


- Christmas - 



Getting dressed for Christmas. Festive dark red. (can you see the speckled skin on my arms from my sunburn though? i'm a spotted hyena, hehe) And yes, i'm using the present for my boyfriend as a clutch in this photo, haha!



Christmas dinner sushi! Homemade Avocado maki and LOTS of other foods.


FOOD I ATE IN SOUTH AFRICA


fresh fruits and oats with rice milk for breakfast // porridge with fresh kiwi and the fruits from the air plane


chocolate mint nicecream with coconut milk // the best coconut water ever!! soo sweet and hydrating and tasty


super ripe and yummy papaya & porridge with soy milk, super ripe banana and super ripe kiwi slices // watermelon snacks


another papaya (or paw paw as it's called here) breakfast // super ripe mango and papaya & a rice cake with peanut butter and banana slices


papaya & peach porridge with peanut butter


home made potato wedges with home grown rosemary, guacamole, hummus, coleslaw and a "chakalaka" chutney // home made sushi, baked potato, guacamole, spicy banana tabasco salad thingy, cucumber jelly salad thingy and coleslaw


vegetable California roll & avocado maki roll (sushi is a big thing here in South Africa, they have it everywhere) // vegetable rice pasta with chunky tomato basil sauce


vegan version of the South African dish Bobotie made of lentils, tofu and veggies served with salad and rice at Bloo Bistro // VEGAN GLUTEN-FREE PIZZAAAA! Butternut with avocado, rocket, balsamic reduction and a super tasty basil pesto sauce instead of tomato sauce! Lecker!! (as they say in South Africa)


fresh papaya, cantaloupe melon, pineapple, mango and mango juice // mango & papaya cubes with passion fruit


WATERMELON BUBBLEGUM NICECREAM using frozen watermelon chunks, coconut milk, vanilla extract and shredded coconut


I might be a vegan and concerned with  my health, but i do enjoy a bit of alcohol and sugary sweets every now and then such as these "Crunchie Carob" cookies for allergic people (free from wheat, eggs, lactose, nuts, corn and chemical preservatives - made of oats, rice flour, syrup, raw sugar, vegetable palm oil, coconut, carob and xanthum gum) // my new owl jar with reusable straw (filled with my go-to black tea with soy milk) and a Primm's cocktail with lotsa fruits in it


How vegans do junk food : spiced rice & potato wedges // potato chippies with hummus


diced papaya & black tea (or rather white tea since i drowned it in soy milk, haha) // and breakfast by the pool - I'm sorry my breakfast photos are rather repetitive! but sun ripened papayas are just the easiest and most delicious breakfast


Christmas chocolate banana pancakes with raspberries, pecan nuts, peanut butter, maple syrup and coconut flakes // Boxing Day brunch with home made vegan spelt scones, milky chai tea, coconut whipped cream, jam and fresh raspberries


one last sun ripened papaya with passion fruit // fruit salad (mango, banana, passion fruit, apple) on porridge with soy vanilla custard


Now look at these big ass watermelons here in South Africa! I think I found paradise :) and they're only 40 rand each, that's like 2.50 euros for a giant watermelon baby!!

-

That was a crazy sh'tload of pictures to take in, so i will leave you with just 5 words: 

Happy Sunday and take care!



Maisy



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