Touring South Africa’s natural wonders

At the end of my research project in South Africa I visited some of the natural wonders the Cape Town area offers.

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The scenic drive along the coast of the Cape is breathtaking and there is quite a lot to see and do. Several of us chose to participate in a group tour group because of our limited schedule. There are many different packages to choose from including tours of local wineries, we opted for different stops along the Cape including Cape Point, Cape of Good Hope, the Penguin Colony and Hout Bay that offers an optional boat tour to seal island. We finished the tour at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden.

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We were joined by a few other Cape Town tourists and headed off to the coast. It is wintertime in South Africa and a little windy but I didn’t mind, I prefer it to the extreme heat. The ocean has a gem stone green-blue hue and large mountain peaks frame the landscape. I could have sat out there watching the water all day.

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At Hout Bay a few of us skipped the boat ride to seal island and stayed at the little cove, grabbed coffee and snacks and walked around. Seals swim up to and often onto wind up on the docks, so we didn’t feel as if we missed out on anything.

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After that we headed to the penguin colony — amazing. They are adorable, especially the babies. There are two ways to see the penguins – for an additional fee it is possible to walk on to the beach among them, or opt to walk along a pathway for free where they are sleeping or seeking shade under the trees. There is only a short fence along the path, the option the group chose, and we still wound up with great photos.

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We had a heart-stopping lunch at Two Oceans restaurant, which has gorgeous views from the deck as well as the restaurant of the water. The menu has some vegetarian options and the only vegan option is avocado and cucumber sushi, which worked for me. Our group, including several fellow adventures opted for the deck. Though it is gorgeous –- sitting on the deck is not for the faint of heart.

Babboon lunch

The staff walks around with poles to keep the baboons off of the awning and deck but they are not always successful. I was in a chair at the railing closest to the water. We were all in conversation, enjoying appetizers when a large baboon landed in front of me on top of the table. Did I mention they are fairly aggressive…I was trapped. The baboon turned to me, I leaned back, He jumped across the table towards the rest of the group grabbed a large bowl, ran onto the deck, then over the railing. All while people screamed. Needless to say we were a little distracted for the rest of the meal.

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To end our day, we went to the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden. I wish we had more time there but what we saw was gorgeous. The gardens are full of flowers, edible plants, sculptures and roaming birds. An amazing mountain looms over and envelopes the green landscape – definitely worth the visit.

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On a different day, a friend and I took the cable car up to Table Mountain. It felt as if we were at the end of the world. Even with cold and fog the view of the mountains, city and water is spectacular. This is a hikers paradise.

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There are so many more places I wanted to visit around Cape Town but didn’t have the time. It really is extraordinary and worth the trek. And most of the places I visited, I would eagerly return to and experience again.

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