Excursions & Adventures in the Western Cape

Authored by:
Alexis P.

Alexis P.

I’ve somewhat discussed my courses and a little about organized events, but I’ve yet to cover the fun I’ve experienced in Cape Town. This six weeks has flown by! As I reflect on what I’ve accomplished and a little on what I wished I’d prioritized, I realized I’ve completed a lot. In no particular order, I’ll list a few highlights of my time here. 

First, the beach! Unfortunately, when I decided to study abroad in South Africa, I didn’t take into account the season in which I’d visit. I came at the end of the winter season (which is lasting a little long this year), so I’ve had very few warm days. I’ve done a pretty good job at making the best of the few I’ve had though. I’ve visited two beautiful beaches: Boulders Beach and Clifton Beach. Clifton was fairly warm and presented beautiful photo opportunities. Boulders was a must-see on my touristy itinerary. Who doesn’t want to see the iconic SA penguins? Walking out to a beach covered in penguins was well worth the moderately lengthy Uber to Simons Town. 

Another necessary activity for me was to climb one of the three peaks. I had never gone on a hike prior to Cape Town, so I was a little apprehensive at first. I chose to climb Lions Head since it was one of the easiest hikes. If I could describe my first hiking experience in one word, it would be anxious. The hike itself wasn’t too physically exerting, but other contributing aspects had my nerves a little uneasy at times. At one point, you climb up a ladder on the side of the mountain with nothing to keep you from falling off. Also, it was super muddy which made climbing occasionally slippery. Going up wasn’t too bad but climbing down was a little scary. I also didn’t have the right type of hiking shoes so I’m sure that didn’t make it any easier. The view at the top, after an hour and a half of climbing, was worth all of my anxiety and excitement. Looking over the beautiful ocean and city of Cape Town was breath taking. If I wasn’t so lazy, I’d attempt another climb before leaving, but I’ll just save that for next time ;) 

Even though this activity was organized by CIEE, it was so cool that I have to include it.  One evening we participated in an event called Food Jam. I would compare it to a more inclusive version of Food Network’s Master Chef. You’re divided into a few teams randomly and are provided with ingredients and a set of instructions. With your teammates, you are tasked to prepare a tasty meal for the entire group. I loved this event because, I personally like to cook, but some things I’ve never made from scratch (for example, fresh pasta). I was able to learn a few cooking techniques while having friendly competition and good company. All of the food turned out great and everyone left super full. Some of the things we cooked were lamb chops, ravioli, stuffed chicken, numerous salads, ribs, fish, samosas, halloumi cheese kabobs, and so much more. We had a complete meal and topped it all off with homemade ice cream and chocolate crumble cake. This was definitely an experience for the books and I’d love to do it again. 

The next day my flat mates and I got up bright and early to venture out to Stellenbosch. There we visited Cheetah Outreach, a preservation center for cheetahs and other predators. I really enjoyed this experience because of the awesome encounters I had. We received a brief tour of the facility and had individual interactions with meerkats and cheetah cubs. All of the staff and animals were friendly and enjoyable. This was a very affordable activity and is a great photo opportunity. 

I’m not the most athletic, but I was adamant about attending either a rugby or soccer game while in South Africa. Luckily, my program was one step ahead of me in organizing that experience. We recently attended a soccer match between the Kaiser Chiefs and Cape Town City Football Club. It was a really cool experience to be in the environment at the stadium. Team spirit was at an all-time high and everyone was very friendly. The Kaiser Chiefs won with a three-point game giving our section a high influx in energy. I am so happy I was able to check that off of my bucket list. 

My last hoorah in Cape Town consisted of a wine tasting and tour at Constantia Glen. It was so cheap, and the winery serves as a great place to host intimate gatherings and great conversation. We had an arrangement of charcuterie and an assortment of wine to taste. It was a little chilly at the vineyard but, nevertheless a great experience. Also, if you visit you MUST taste the Austrian inspired goulash. 

I’ve had so many memorable excursions and experiences within South Africa. These are some of my favorites and I’d highly recommend them all. Great company and the influence of South African culture made these events all unforgettable.

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