Alexandra Township Bike Tour

One of our favorite experiences of our time in South Africa was this educational and inspirational bike tour from Alexandra Tours.   I found this tour of one of Johannesburg’s original townships through a web search and was drawn by the fact it was owned and led by locals. At the very least, it sounded better than the “Hop on- Hop off” bus tour of Soweto. Well, it exceeded our expectations and we can’t stop talking about it!

We met the founder of the operation, Jeffrey, and his right hand man, Papi. These two twenty-somethings have been running tours of their neighborhood since 2010. And they do a great job! We bicycled around with Papi on the 4 hour tour and enjoyed every minute. We learned a lot and were inspired by the people we met.

Alexandra Bicycle Tours
Brian with our tour guide, Papi from Alexandra Bicycle Tours

Papi took us through this crowded township of 6.9 km square, in which, they tell us, over a million people reside. We biked around different sections of the township, stopping to visit people, see historic sites and try the local food. Continue reading “Alexandra Township Bike Tour”

The Garden Route

South Africa’s Garden route is beautiful. We drove from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth, with stops in between, and the views were gorgeous. Technically, The Garden Route is west of Stellenbosch, our first stop after Cape Town. The Garden Route runs from Mossel Bay in the west to Storms River in the east, so we covered that and then some.

The Garden Route
Garden Route map

Between Stellenbosch and Port Elizabeth, there are a lot of beautiful stops to make!

Oak Valley Wines
Oak Valley Estate
Nice view with some wine at Oak Valley

Oak Valley was one of those fortuitous stops because we needed a break from the car. Plus, we had driven to the fringes of the wine region, and we wanted to visit another winery while we could. This was a good choice: the estate has beautiful grounds and some nice wines too!

On the way back to the highway, we stopped at an incredible “farm stand”/tourist attraction, where we stocked up on picnic foods and local craft cider. Continue reading “The Garden Route”

One Night in Stellenbosch

The drive from Cape Town into South Africa’s Garden Route has to be one of the world’s most scenic drives. We spent 3 days driving it, stopped at beautiful parks along the sea, wineries, and a cheetah sanctuary, and determined that 3 days was way too short!

After our kayaking adventure, our next destination was Stellenbosch, located in The Cape Winelands, the wine capital of South Africa.

Remhoogte Wine Estate
Remhoogte Wine Estate Stellenbosch
The view at Remhoogte Wine Estate

The highlight of our visit to South Africa’s famous wine region was our stay in the beautiful guesthouse at the stunning Remhoogte Wine Estate. Overlooking a lake, the winery is home to zebras, wildebeest, impala and quite a few friendly dogs. Continue reading “One Night in Stellenbosch”

Cape Town Attractions

We spent 4 days in Cape Town and there was a lot to do!  On top of the walking tour, MOCAA and the hike up Table Mountain, we explored as much of the city as we could. Here’s a roundup of some other recommended places in Cape Town.

V&A Waterfront

The V&A is an outdoor shopping mall and is very touristy, with a lot of shops and restaurants. There is a good variety of restaurants, and nice views of the harbour and the mountains. We had good service at the V&A restaurants. Continue reading “Cape Town Attractions”

Cape Town Tourist Attraction: MOCAA

We went to one of the most amazing museums when we were in Cape Town. The brand new Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MOCAA) is a marvel in architectural repurposing and home to some incredible 21st century art.

Located in the city’s V&A Waterfront neighborhood, the new modern art museum is in a converted grain silo near the habour. The redesign of this building cost a lot of money and it was well spent. The formerly all concrete tubes now have lots of windows and it looks beautiful from the outside. At first glance, you think the best thing about MOCAA may just be the building, but it’s just as impressive inside.

Interior MOCAA
Inside MOCAA, Cape Town

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Kayaking With Penguins on the Western Cape

One of the most memorable and fun experiences of our South Africa trip was kayaking south of Cape Town. We needed another opportunity to commune with nature and animals, so we took a guided tour of the beach home to cape fur seals and penguins in Simon’s Town.

The two hour tour is called Paddle with the Penguins.  The two hour kayak in the bay allowed us to see penguins and more. We were really lucky with the weather, which was warm and cloudy, and the sea, which was calm.

Our guide, Terry, a marine conservationist with Shark Warrior Adventure Centre, was a trove of information about the penguins. He also led us near seals and sea birds and told us all about these marine animals and their home in Simon’s Town, all while guiding 8 of us through the very calm but busy waters of False Bay.

kayak penguin tour
Getting ready to kayak False Bay

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Cape Town: A Hike up Table Mountain

Cape Town is a beautiful city, located on the shore of Table Bay, and dominated by Table Mountain, Devil’s Peak and Lion’s Head. Since we arrived in Cape Town, we knew we wanted to climb Table Mountain. It’s a Cape Town landmark, and even has cable cars to bring the more sedentary to the peak and back.

We stayed in Cape Town for 4 days and based on weather forecasts and our schedule, the best day to hike to the top of Table Mountain was New Year’s Day. We had a couple days of cloudy skies, and since we wanted views, we waited for a clear day. And New Year’s Day delivered with the weather, so we started the New Year with an early morning walk up Table Mountain.

Table Mountain hike
Brian at the sign marking the start of our hike

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Walking Around Cape Town: Bo-Kaap Tour

When I go to a new city, I like to get acclimated to the place through a guided tour. Bike tours are scarce in Cape Town, probably because of all the hills, but there are good guided tours thanks to Cape Town Free Walking Tours.

Cape Town Free Walking Tours offers 3 walking tour options at 2 different times of day. Our first day in Cape Town, we took the tour of Bo-Kaap.

Bo-Kaap Tour
Bo-Kaap
Photo taken on the Bo-Kaap walking tour

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Kruger Park Accommodations: Skukuza Rest Camp

This is the final installment in posts about Kruger Park accommodations with our last night’s camp, Skukuza Rest Camp.

Night Five: Skukuza Rest Camp

On our last night in Kruger Park, we stayed in the biggest camp yet, Skukuza. This camp is so big, it has car rental and conference facilities, 2 restaurants and a lot more. Despite the size, our rondovel bungalow was charming.  Because Skukuza was so big, we were able to take a guided walk in the afternoon of our arrival, where we saw Rhinos!

Rhino Skukuza Walk
Guided Walk – all looking at a rhino

Continue reading “Kruger Park Accommodations: Skukuza Rest Camp”

Kruger Park Accommodations: Tamboti Tent Camp

This is the fourth in a series about Kruger Park accommodations. We travelled from north to south and booked accommodations in advance.  We spent our fourth night at Tamboti Tent Camp.

Night Four: Tamboti Tent Camp
Tamboti Camp Kruger Park
Tamboti is the star on the map of Kruger Park

Tamboti tent camp is one of the smaller camps in Kruger, remote and peaceful. It’s the only camp we stayed in which doesn’t even have a reception desk – to check in at Tamboti, we had to first stop in at the bigger Orpen Rest Camp a few kilometers east.

Tamboti is a type of tree, and it’s a poisonous tree. Fortunately we didn’t have any experiences with the Tamboti tree; just the camp named for it.

Our lodging at Tamboti was a big tent with a bedroom and bathroom inside, and an outdoor kitchen on a deck, which we quite liked.

Continue reading “Kruger Park Accommodations: Tamboti Tent Camp”