Intro – Two Premium Flying Experiences On A Second Visit To Africa
Part 1: Getting To Mauritius On My New Favorite Airline
Part 2: Spending Time In Southern Africa – Mauritius
Part 3: Spending Time In Southern Africa – Cape Town
Part 4: Spending Time In Southern Africa – Zambia
Part 5: The Long Luxurious Ride Home
Because my flight landed close to midnight, I booked a private airport transfer to my hotel, the Hilton Cape Town. My driver was waiting for me when I landed, and around 45 minutes later, I was checking in.
I found the location of the Hilton to be perfect, close to table mountain, and walking distance to central downtown and the V&A Waterfront. The views from my modern spacious room were spectacular!
My room was well appointed, and the bathroom huge. It looked as if it had been recently refurbished.
As a Hilton Honors Diamond guest, breakfast each morning was complimentary. The spread was pretty good, with several made to order options available along with a decent buffet.
After breakfast, I set off to do a bit of exploring around central downtown Cape Town. Historically, it’s typically not been the safest of areas to wander around in, but these days, so long as its during daylight hours, the addition of special security guards on most corners has improved things. I never once felt unsafe.
I eventually found my way to the super trendy and touristy Victoria & Alfred Waterfront. The waterfront development was designed and built as a central shopping and entertainment area for locals and tourists.
The whole area is rather interesting, in that it’s built around a working harbour. I spent about an hour watching tugs pull a huge old rusted out ship in for refurbishment.
There are also high end residences, hotels, a crafts market, a food market, a big shopping mall, and plenty of night life.
The Nelson Mandela Robben Island museum is also located in the development. Since I was there, I inquired as to whether I could take the four hour tour that afternoon, but they were sold out. Except for one day, the weather looked pretty good so I decided to book a trip later in the week, my last day in town.
After getting my bearings around town, I headed back to the hotel. It was winter so daylight hours were limited, and I had been cautioned not to be out alone wandering the city at night. The Hilton has a pretty nice executive lounge, with afternoon sweets followed by hot evening snacks and drinks. So that’s where I planted.
There are two large screen TVs in the lounge, so along with some other guests, hung out there for a while for some World Cup viewing.
The following day I decided to take a gondola ride up Table Mountain. The sun was shining and visibility perfect. Since I knew it was supposed to pour the following day, I decided to purchase a two day hop on hop off bus pass, which would get me to Table Mountain and also give me the rest of the day to venture outside of downtown. I would also have a full day to explore the following day, on both routes the bus traveled.
There are several walking paths to explore around the top of the mountain, along with a restaurant and gift shops. It was a beautiful day, though a little cold up top. I wandered around for about an hour then headed back down.
I caught the hop on hop off bus at the bottom of the mountain, and continued along the southern coastal route, which was stunning.
As predicted, I woke up the next day to pouring rain. Luckily, this would be the only bad weather the entire week. I wasn’t too disappointed since it had poured for a solid week before my arrival and I felt lucky to only have one day. After a late breakfast, I headed back to the bus stop to make the circle on the other bus route, which went through wine country and made a stop at the botanical gardens. It really was too soggy to do any real exploring, so I hopped off at the famous Mount Nelson Hotel for the afternoon high tea service.
The hotel has a very long and storied history, and is world renowned for its afternoon tea service. It’s not cheap, but was the perfect late afternoon indoor activity on this ultra soggy day.
The next day I woke up to sunny beautiful skies. I really wanted to do a shark cage diving trip, but with the previous week’s bad weather, all slots were booked solid to make up for cancellations. Instead, I went with a highly rated full day Cape Point peninsula tour with Rob at Cape Convoy. And it didn’t disappoint. We started off along the coast, with the same sweeping beautiful coastline so prevalent in this area.
And of course no trip to South Africa is complete without going to the most South-Western point of the continent!
Along the way we passed wild ostriches, which looked so out of place running along the beach!
And later we visited a penguin colony. They were smelly, but very cute!
We stopped in Simon’s Town for a bit of shopping and a super delicious late lunch at a local fish and chips place called The Salty Sea Dog. I had my freshly caught South African Kingklip grilled. It was divine.
After a day filled with interesting history, short hikes, and beautiful scenery, I arrived back at the hotel in time for evening drinks and hors d’oeurves in the executive lounge before calling it a day.
The final activity on the agenda was a trip to Robben Island. I boarded the late morning ferry for the 45 minute ride, which went pretty quick even though it was a bit rough.
The first part of the tour is with an actual former inmate of the prison, which offered interesting insight on what it was like to be imprisoned during the time of Apartheid. He also took us through living quarters, including the cell where Nelson Mandela spent many years as a political prisoner.
After a tour via bus around the rather large and still inhabited island, we boarded the ferry back to Cape Town. The sea didn’t seem as rough this crossing and we made it back in just over half an hour.
I headed immediately back to the Hilton, where they had given me a late 3pm checkout. I took the downtown airport bus back to CPT, and checked into the Hotel Verde airport hotel for the night. My flight was at 7:30am the next morning, so in this case the hotel property made sense. It was budget friendly, but super nice! A good choice.
My British Airways 737 lifted off for JNB just in time to watch the sun coming up over Cape Town.