At the bottom of the world - Cape Town, South Africa

African penguins at Boulders Beach, near Cape Town, South Africa.

After weeks roaming the African bush for wildlife, our last week was decidedly urban.  We landed in Cape Town, had dinner with a local family, took a gondola to the top of Table Mountain, visited the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden and an active township, headed down to the Cape of Good Hope, watched nesting PENGUINS, and finally visited the Cape's wine country.

Arriving in Cape Town!

The drinking age is 18.  "Keep walking, South Africa."

Concerns about excess plastic isn't just a US thing.

We had a few hours before dinner.  Caroline and I spent it in the hotel's gym on the 15th floor.  Here, Caroline is pointing to our destination for the next day, Table Mountain. 

You can climb up Table Mountain, but most people take a gondola to the structure on the edge of the mountain.

There's a bit of wind at the top of Table Mountain.  The island in the background is Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 18 years.

During our four days in Cape Town, you could see pronounced changes in the weather conditions on Table Mountain.  These views are from our hotel.

There are articles claiming that more people die trying to ascend or descend Table Mountain than on Mt. Everest.  Although this is a nonsensical comparison, there have been at least 251 deaths recorded on Table Mountain (mostly falls, rockfalls, and medical issues). 

Next was the world-class 
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden.

A boardwalk through the forest canopy.

We did keep an eye out for cobras and puff adders.  They probably saw us, but we didn't see them.

Back in Cape Town, we walked around the wharfs.  Table Mountain is in the background.

Of course, the history of South Africa cannot be told without acknowledgement of the institutionalized racism known as apartheid.  We visited the District 6 museum, and had a tour of one township.  I was uncomfortable about being a "poverty tourist," but the local guides always replied to my questions about tourists in the townships by stating that everyone knew the importance of tourism to the township's economy.  We never observed any signs condemning tourist buses, and I never saw a single gesture or heard a single shout that was anti-tourist.  Regardless, I did feel uncomfortable, and I do think there were areas we were allowed to visit, and other areas where we were appropriately excluded.

Below are some images of the edges of one township.  We saw nice, middle-class homes, government housing, and shacks.  People made their lives here.  You have to look at the decision to live here thorough the lenses of economics, family, and history.  My photos tried to document patterns, people, and place.


We spent two days touring the Cape Peninsula area. First, a huge shout out to our local guide, Charl Fourie, with Hylton Ross Exclusive Touring, for fabulous commentary and company.  He made our visit really special.

This is as far south as we could go!

Then, it was time to visit Boulder Beach and see... penguins!

African penguins nesting at Boulder Beach are a boon to the local economy.  It was one of the clearest examples I've seen of locals going all in to protect animals, knowing that they are your bread and butter.

Here's a local delicacy I haven't seen before... lamp chop-flavored chips!

The next day was spend touring the South African wine country.

"And how do I get a taste of this one?"

And finally, a sobering visit to the last prison that held Nelson Mandela before his permanent release, the Victor Verster Prison near Paarl.  There is a statue of Mandela at the entrance.


After all of this, we had a day of rest before we left Cape Town that night for our return trip.  Memories!

And a big mahalo (thank you in Hawaiian) to our OAT guide who was with us throughout our adventures!   Manuel Joao, I hope our paths cross again!

SFO International Airport, and all in one piece!


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