Even though Day 73 marked the end of the fantastic overland that was The Absolute Safari, I had 4 more glorious days to explore what Cape Town had to offer! Each day I said goodbye to some of the lifelong friends made, but counted down the days until I would be at home for Christmas with my family.
Day 71: Stellenbosch
Getting up this morning and hauling my hungover ass onto the truck was serious #struggletown. It was supposed to have been the last night that we used the tents, but predictably I had passed out on my mat under the stars. Somebody fed me breakfast, and helped Manuela clean my tent while I made the long and difficult journey up 3 stairs and onto the truck floor for a nap. Let's just say I wasn't in a good way, the picture to the right probably says it all...
We trucked on towards Stellenbosch, and by the time I came to, there had been a fair share of drama during the traditional 'long drive day happy hour'. When we arrived at the Stumble Inn backpackers, some of the crew weren't talking and dorm arrangements were being shuffled around to accommodate those that were still talking. I was too hungover to give any fucks really, but it was a shame to have such drama right at the end of the trip. After bumming around the hostel all day and a fresh shower, I was ready to check out Stellenbosch. The group plans to hit the town on a pub crawl had sort of gone out the window, so Manuela and I treated ourselves to a nice Italian dinner and a few drinks afterwards. We ended up bumping into some of the group but I went home early, apparently I missed out on one hell of a night! Unfortunately on a 73 day overland tour, there's inevitably going to be times when you miss a good night. Just be warned: you will get unavoidably massive FOMO!
Day 72: Stellenbosch
This morning, Claire and I headed out for thee most DIVINE brunch (FUCKING BACON JAM MAN, NEED I SAY MORE?!) before our ultimate Stellenbosch wine tour. Stellenbosch is a legendary town in the Cape Winelands, and a wine tour is a must do when you're there! Being relatively young still, and an avid Moscato drinker, I was really excited to sample and hopefully develop a taste for Reds (because that means your ‘palette’ has matured and you're sophisticated AF right?).
The tour was everything I'd hoped for and more... we had a witty South African tour guide, gorgeous gourmet cheeses paired with our wines and a bucket of laughs! All up we visited 4 different wineries, and I sincerely wish I had kept a better record of where they were, but don't worry I'm sure I'll be back some day! I made sure to buy the total capacity of wine I was allowed to bring back into Australia as gifts for my favourite gals. The best part about the tour was that I didn't overreach my threshold this time, and maintained the perfect buzz all day.
We stumbled back into the hostel and immediately I needed to soak the day up with something deep fried and delicious! Manuela and I found the best burger joint in town and got stuck in, with a cocktail to match of course. By food and drink alone, Stellenbosch had already captured my heart! After a big day of fun, again I was feeling burnt out and decided to have a night on my own, knowing full well that Cape Town was going to be a BIG few days. I went to the movies by myself, one of my favourite independent pasttimes (a solo female traveller must be BOSS enough to go to the cinemas and enjoy her own company) and then wandered back to the hostel, soaking in the magic that was Stellenbosch at night
Day 73: the end of The Absolute Safari
We drove away from Stellenbosch, nostalgic, and ready to get stuck into our last ever happy hour on the truck. Rolling into Cape Town was like a dream, seeing the first big city I had seen in months, by the bay and encapsulated by the most magnificent mountains. It was bedlem unpacking our lives out of the truck and into Ashanti Lodge Hostel, making sure not to leave anything behind (naturally I forgot like 3 or 4 things).
We were left to our own devices for the afternoon before meeting for our official farewell group dinner. We were raring to go and explore all that Cape Town had to offer. Naturally, the first thing that we thought of was climbing Table Mountain, but already we had overhead things around the hostel that the cloud coverage over the mountain was pretty bad and the view was almost non-existent. We opted to climb Lion's Head instead and save Table Mountain for another day. I'm so glad we asked around too, because it was quite a hike to get from the hostel to the mountain itself, so we swung a cab! Not being much of a hiker, and only having completed my first ever hike in Kenya a few months prior I thought I would struggle but it was actually a really enjoyable hike.
The views were incredible, you could see everything in Cape Town from Camps Bay and the Waterfront, but the best part of hiking Lion's Head was that you could get a view of Table Mountain itself and I could not freaking wait to get up there!
Day 74: SHARK DIVE & Bar Crawl - Cape Town
Awake at 4am and it was the moment I had been waiting for ALL TRIP... Heading to Gansbaai to do a cage dive with great white sharks. I can barely begin to explain this experience. We were picked up bright. It was about a 2 hour drive so naturally we snoozed the trip away. When we arrived, we were provided breakfast and a short brief about Gansbaai, great whites and what to expect. I was so unbelievably nervous and could not wait to get onto that boat! They provided wetsuits for us to change into while we headed out to sea. The seas weren't too rough, but it was a small boat and a few instantly got seasick. I felt slightly nauseous but was determined to push through and keep my mind occupied. Once we'd stopped, the crew chummed the waters and kept on the lookout. As soon as they spotted a juvenile shark, it was time to hit the cage! Unfortunately, by the time the first few had jumped in the cage it was already too late to see anything, and the second group didn't have any luck either. I was in the third group and just hoping that we would have better luck. The water was freezing, but luckily for me it hadn't even been a minute before A GREAT WHITE SWAM RIGHT BY THE CAGE AND FLICKED IT'S TAIL PAST! The visibility in the water wasn't the best but the shark was right up against the cage, it couldn't have been any better. Just as with skydiving, I was instantly hooked... I could do this again and again every day of the week!
I spent the rest of the day literally just exploring. We were in a really cool hub, surrounded by cafes and restaurants and ventured further by foot into the heart of the city. Market stalls lined the pathway of the park between _ and the city itself. I shopped til I dropped trying to find an outfit to wear for a night on the town.
It was Jason’s birthday and the whole crew was still in town for a friggin’ epic bar crawl! We hit up Beerhouse, a funky bar with 99 beers and ciders on tap and featured a dance floor that turned into a club at night. The vibe was unbelievable, walking out onto the balcony only to see the party across the street on another bar balcony and pouring out onto Long street below. We continued on through the night, stopping for a drink (or two) at every bar we could find and an obligatory Maccas run. For once, I lasted the entire night out!
Day 75: Bo Kaap and Table Mountain
This morning we went out for a super cute hangover group breakky. This is what happens when you make Kirstin wait for her food:
I had noticed a free walking tour the day before and made sure to register to explore Bo Kaap, Cape Town's most colourful city. I had actually never heard about City Sightseeing, who operate free walking tours worldwide, and if you like your guide then you tip them! We had the most knowledgeable and passionate guide with terrible dad jokes, it was terrific! I highly recommend checking them out in Cape Town to learn about the rich history of Bo Kaap and you better believe I'll be looking out for them in every other city now too!
Since arriving in Cape Town, I had been absolutely ITCHING to get up to Table Mountain, and finally it was time. After a long couple of days however, we took the quitters way out and caught the cable car up the mountain, rather than hiking. I do not recommend this if you're on a budget! It was the equivalent of almost $30 (for current rates, see here). I do, however, recommend this if you seriously can't be assed walking up a big ass mountain at the end of a long day... WORTH IT! (Also highly recommend if you want to get nice sunset pics for the 'gram without being a sweaty mess).
Day 76: Cape Town Waterfront
*Insert silent whimpering here*
My last full day in Cape Town and I had no idea where to start. I decided today would be a pampering, splurge day before beginning the long journey home. Manuela and I hit the town for a mani-pedi and a spontaneous tattoo to mark the occasion! We leisurely strolled around the Waterfront, squeezing in some Christmas shopping and a beautiful seafood dinner with Alanna at Cape Town Fish Market. Fresh sushi and sashimi paired with wonderful white wine and ridiculously good dessert!
We returned to the hostel only to realise it was almost everybody's last day before going separate ways. We had gradually said goodbye to a few here and there but the masses were outta there the next morning. It called for one last celebration so naturally we went bar hopping again! We tried to start at the same pub with the multitude of craft beers on tap again, but the taps were all out of order so we re-evaluated. We were after somewhat of a more classic feel pub and began the search. We had an awkward encounter. After growing up in one of the most multicultural areas in Australia, and travelling Africa for three months I wouldn't describe myself as culturally naive. And after such wide welcoming and acceptance throughout Africa, little did I know that the disparity between black and white is still very much alive in South Africa. We drunkenly stumbled into a bar, and it was like the scene of the movie... I mentally heard the record scratch and the music come to a blaring halt as everybody in the place turned to look at us. And they kept looking. After a few moments contemplating (I admit, it may have taken me longer to realise than it should have after a fair few wines at dinner and some pre-drinks at the hostel)... I realised we were the only people in the room of a certain shade. It was uncomfortable to say the least. It was surprising, and upsetting, but we hightailed it out of there and continued on our night to an Irish bar where happily, people of all shades danced and drank the night away!
Day 77: Home Sweet Home
It was a bittersweet morning, packing my bag, saying our goodbyes and organising an Uber to the airport. It's hard to put into words how life-changing this trip really was, all I can say is get onto an Absolute Safari of your own!
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