Cape Town is a fantastic introduction to Africa from a Western city. If you're making your first foray to a continent which, let's face it, can be a little scary for unseasoned travelers, a great place to start is in "The Mother City". Perhaps the most Westernized city in all of Africa, Cape Town has a modern infrastructure for public transit (although we were super hyped to Uber again!), an interesting and varied foodie scene (after being in East Africa for two months, we brunched at our earliest opportunity), and some of the most beautiful scenery of any city in the world within city limits (Table Mountain and Lions Head, I'm looking at you). I continually compared South Africa to California; working in that analogy, Cape Town is San Francisco. Hilly, neighborhood-y, progressive, and offering day trips to some of the most beautiful areas in the country.
We were lucky enough to partner with BazBus, a local company who has been shuttling backpackers around the beautiful South African coast at decent prices for over two decades for our entire time in the country, and one activity we couldn't help but indulge in was their Cape Peninsula Day Tour from Cape Town. While a lot of companies offer tours of the Cape Peninsula, we found BazBus to be one of the most affordable, and we knew we would get great service with like-minded travelers. Almost all of our fellow tourists were backpackers in our age range, and it was a great way to meet some new friends for our time in Cape Town. TRUTH ALERT: Did we hang out that night with the couple we met on the tour after exchanging emails and promising to grab drinks later? NOPE. We went to sleep early instead. We're the coolest.
We were a little nervous that this tour would be too much time in the van (BazBus has a 20 passenger van they use for both their trips along the coast (more on this later (IS THIS A PARENTHESES INSIDE A PARENTHESES THIS IS LIKE BLOGCEPTION)) and their day trip), but each stop on the above map proved to be within spitting distance, and the time passed quickly with our local guide Mark giving us fun facts as we drove and our driver Freddie yelling hilarious Dad Jokes the entire way. The longest leg was getting out of Cape Town after they picked us up outside a hotel next to our AirBnB (Yes, they pick you up, another reason we chose BazBus) to Hout Bay, and that was only an hour, and we pretty much napped the whole way.
Our first stop was at Hout Bay for a ferry ride over to Seal Island, where hundreds of Cape Seals sun themselves on the rocks. PRO TIP: If you get seasick, take some Dramamine BEFORE you start the day tour, the first stop sneaks up on you, and then you have to deal with a bumpy (but super fun) twenty minute boat ride trying not to vomit. And your husband will take pictures of you while you do.
Seal Island was cool, but if I'm being totally honest, the best part of Hout Bay/maybe my entire life were these buskers playing music while we boarded and exited the boat :
Oh, and did I mention (maybe we were just lucky?) there were some seals lounging directly off the dock with some locals feeding them fish, which led to this:
Seeing the seals lounging and playing in the water on Duiker Island in Hout Bay is a lot like seeing the Sea Lions at Fisherman's Wharf in WAIT FOR IT San Francisco. Since you're probably curious, here's a SUPER BLURRY picture I took while the boat was stopped for a few minutes:
Our next leg was the beautiful stretch of Chapman's Peak Drive which took us along the Pacific Ocean and offered us beautiful views of the coast as we hugged the mountains. A gorgeous stretch of drive which reminded me of other beautiful coastal highways we'd driven like WAIT FOR IT the Pacific Coast Highway outside San Francisco or along Maui's North Coast. We pause at a scenic overlook (Do they even have non-scenic overlooks?) for some snacks and photo opps where you can get a new Facebook profile pic, and then it was on to the penguins in Boulders Beach.
There are a lot of animals to see in Africa, but I never expected to see penguins. Especially not JACKASS penguins (Yes, I'm an eleven year old at heart, and I did laugh when I first heard their names), called this because of the donkey-like bray they make. If you're a collector who enjoys being able to say things like "Ever seen the Jackass Penguin? There's really only one place to see them, and it's Southern Africa." then Boulders Beach is a must, and you can get up close and personal with these guys. Well, not that personal (obviously, you can't interact with them and funnily enough, selfie sticks are banned because people are the worst and were badgering the penguins with them), but they are all over the beach and the boardwalk area, even crossing the path directly in front of me at one point. And they waddle real cute. We spent about a half hour just watching these guys interact, although if you're there in October like we were, bring a jacket, it's nippy down there.
We then headed to Cape Point Natural Reserve where we had the option to strap on our helmets and ride some bikes around (we passed on this, remember Amsterdam? I'm not a great bike rider.) before having what can only be described as a hilariously large-portioned lunch. Seriously. I eat a lot, and I had to tap out after a few helpings of seconds/thirds at what turned out to be a small but very interesting museum about the Cape Peninsula.
The Cape Of Good Hope is the most southwestern point in South Africa, and there's a cool sign saying as such. Many people return from their trip to Cape Town with a picture behind this sign as their most treasured memento. Unfortunately. As with many cool, once-in-a-lifetime photo opps, you're not the only one that wants to take it. So in order to end up with this picture:
You end up waiting in line for about ten minutes.
After taking a photo (I know you're making fun, but let's be real, it didn't happen if you didn't take a picture, how will our grandchildren know?), we headed on a short hike up the hill to the actual Cape Point, where there were hyraxes rustling around in the bush, and were even able to see a whale hanging out in the waters below! Plus this happened:
It was then time to start the 90-minute drive back to Cape Town, which we again took the opportunity to nap during.
If you're spending time in Cape Town, the trip down to the Cape Of Good Hope is a must-do, and if you're backpacking without your own mode of transportation like we were , we had a great time with Baz Bus, and we think you would too!