Here’s a great find, guys, and my first ‘Cape Escape’. Beaverlac is an unassuming camping spot just 2 or so hours outside of Cape Town in the Cederberg. Please don’t freak out – I’m not the biggest camping fan but I can do it for a few nights if it’s a beautiful spot and the facilities are good. This spot has both, so we’re all good. There are chalets to rent as well, if you can’t bring yourself to do the tent thing. I won’t judge you.
The main attraction at Beaverlac is their beautiful natural rock pools.
The Main Pool is a great swimming and ‘lounging around on a lilo’ spot. The best part about this pool, though, is the sheer rock face that allows for fantastic fun jumping into the pool. It’s more of a mind game than anything else and it looks easy from the bottom, but when you get up there and peer over the edge, it starts to get a bit hairy. It’s not that far to jump and the pool is so deep that you won’t hit the bottom, but it’s still a game of coaxing yourself over that edge because your mind all of a sudden tells you that you have rocks in your head.
The Secret Pool is not that much of a secret, but if you’re wanting a free natural massage, the secret is to head on to the waterfall and let the water give you an organic head, neck and shoulders massage (trust me to find a way to have an exclusive spa treatment in the middle of nowhere!).
The Totem Pool provides a nice adventure too. I didn’t manage to get to these (because of my stooopid back preventing me from hiking), but a hour or so hike and you get these pools all to yourself with even higher and crazier jumping opportunities, if you feel that those rocks in your head weren’t heavy enough the first time. (Image cred: cape-hike.co.za)
It’s great for a weekend getaway and cheap as chips. Note that booking is required and you can also bring your pooch along for an extra R50 per day! All info here.
I often find myself muttering that I’m not a fan of humans and run off to the stables to be loved by horses and the stable yard dogs instead. Animals are the best.
It’s on this note that I introduce Buster.
This sweet guy is about 4 years old and is in need of a loving home. He is a Labrador X breed, and by the look of his regal nose, possibly some greyhound heritage. He was rescued from a breeder and is currently in kennels in Cape Town until 10 December and so needs a home quite urgently!
Buster has overcome some hard knocks in life, and now he would like to settle with a human or human family who will appreciate him for all he has to offer. Buster is committed to people, he loves his foster Mum to the point that he would defend her against anyone who looks suspicious. But sadly, Buster does not appear to get on with other animals, and needs to be an only pet. He would be perfect for a single pet home, a person or a family who will manage a walk, provide a place to splash in a kids pool, and generally be committed to a big “softie” who prefers his own company with his human family. He is thriving on Positive Reinforcement and clicker training, so he won’t suit a person or family who train with chocker chains or other harsh methods. Buster gives unconditionally, and would appreciate an owner who will do the same for him. Buster is young, vaccinated, neutered and has a team of behaviour experts, a foster mum and Labrador rescue looking out for him at the moment.
He is big and strong, smart and loves with all his heart, but has just had a really crap time so far with life.
If you know anyone who is interested in fulfilling Buster’s Christmas wish list (it’s only one item, really), please pass this on and contact the Lab Rescue guys as soon as possible to arrange a meeting.
House of Machines and El Burro host a Sunday brunch every weekend with the El Burro food truck and House of Machines as hosts. They’ve got 4 delicious Mexican-style breakfasts (breakfast burritos are a thing) and space out in the Sunday morning sun on the streets of beautiful Cape Town.
Woodstock is an interesting place in Cape Town. I’m never quite sure how I feel about it. It looks at you with those old, dirty eyes and then smiles sweetly as it hands you a sweetie out of nowhere, for no reason. At least that is how I see it.
Woodstock handed me a little sweetie the other day in the form of Raw and Roxy at the Woodstock Co-Op in Victoria Street. Having played around with vegetarianism for the past 7 years or so and recently added loads of fish and seafood back into my diet (because Cape Town), I’ve become lazy with my creative vegetarian cooking.
I popped into Raw and Roxy for lunch to try out their ‘vegan special’ displayed on the chalkboard outside and was very pleasantly surprised. All fresh, organic and raw, each dish is a treat in itself and a health kick of note. A dollop of each dish is piled onto your plate and called a ‘vegan special’.
The thing with cooking without meat is that you need to take texture, interesting flavours, taste combinations etc. a whole more seriously in order to create a delicious and satisfying meal. This is even more so in raw vegan food preparation and the creativity levels shoot through the roof. E.g. How would you create a lasagna without meat, eggs, dairy and without any cooking?
Well Raw & Roxy did it quite majestically and it was incredible. Add some fresh juice to your lunch and you’re well on your way to food heaven. This was my ‘small’ vegan special (more than enough for a hungry, healthy human):
Also, kale chips are a thing. They’re incredibly high in protein, carb and fat free and yum. They’re also stupid to try and make at home as you need a dehydrator or about 12 hours oven time. Raw & Roxy pump out bags of them and they’re delicious.
*Side note: What really baffles me is that people always say to me that they would really love to have a healthy vegetarian diet, but it’s just too difficult to cook delicious meals. Yet this banting bullshit comes along and they’re suddenly spending over an hour on a meal, transforming every day veggies into carb replacements and buying expensive ‘banting-friendly’ goodies. Apparently being part of a craze is more appealing than clean eating that doesn’t involve animal slaughter. Baffled.
Another thing worth trying (mostly to see how crazy you can get) is the Hot Tonic. This is a nutrient rich drink created as an alternative to caffeine. They should rather call it the Hot Rocket because you will shoot off into outer space, I swear. You can buy it ready made or grab a bag of the mixed powder to make at home. It’s mad.
In usual PopcornCandi style, my first time up Table Mountain in daylight where I can actually see the view (the first time up was a 5am trek up Platteklip Gorge in the rain and mist to try find snow. There was no snow. And no view.) was for the sole purpose of attaching myself to a rope and tipping backwards off of it to abseil off Table Mountain.
Abseil Africa host daily abseil trips off Table Mountain and offer a 112m abseil at just over 1000m vertical, making it the highest commercial abseil in the world. At a cost of R750 and the priceless adrenalin rush, you get to experience the mountain in a very different way.
It’s not so scary until you are tipped off the edge at 1000m, putting your life in the hands of some ropes and some crazy guys at the top. One of the reasons I decided to do this was to experience the literal sense of letting go and placing trust in someone/something else. And that is exactly what you have to do. When you tip over the edge, they ask you to release everything and lean back, arms in the air. Trust the rope, trust the people operating it all at the top and just let go. It’s all about accepting it all and just letting go. It was a fantastic feeling.
Granted, I spent a lot of the time on the abseil focusing on the rock face, trying not to look down and remembering to breathe, but once I jumped past the overhang and knew that there was a ledge somewhere underneath me (still pretty far away, but not 1000m!), just hanging out and looking around at the crazy views was unreal.
Looking back, it was a walk in the park. Table Mountain National Park, but just the mountain bit. And literally a walk down it.
*If you’re afraid of heights, this is NOT the activity for you!
If you’re going on a weekend, go at least 2 hours before the time as the queues for the cable car up can be excruciating and you could miss your slot, particularly in peak season. Alternatively, try and book the earliest slot to try and get in before the mad rush. Book your tickets for the cable car online and use that queue as it moves quicker.
Wear lots of sunscreen. When you get to the ledge at the bottom of the abseil, you still have a 20-30min walk back up to the top in full sun.
Wear pants that are quite thick. The harnesses they use are not padded and not very comfortable, so will cut into you if you’re hanging around too long with thin pants. If you’re a rock climber or that kind of guy, you can take and use your own harness
Take your own food and have a picnic afterwards. The restaurant at the top is overpriced and busy busy busy. Annoying when all you want is an ice cold drink and to sit and chill after your adventure.
Exploring this beautiful city does not need to cost you money. We are lucky enough to have all of this nature and culture and opportunity around us constantly, so it’s easy to tap into when you’re on month-end 2-minute noodles (or anytime, really). Since I moved to Cape Town just under 7 months ago, I have managed to explore the crap out of it without even making a dent. What is even more exciting is that a lot of what you do here doesn’t have to cost you much, or can cost you nothing at all.
I’m constantly doing something fun (and posting my pics to Instagram as proof – ha ha) and my Facebook album “Exploring Cape Town” has become too full to manage anymore. It’s time I started sharing this stuff with you in categories, I guess! So here’s the top things to do in Cape Town for under R100, based on my experience in the past 7 months of living in and loving beautiful Cape Town!
Picnicking on Chapman’s Peak
Here’s a familiar scenario for you. Sunday afternoon, lazy, month-end and no money. Bored.
Option 1: Catch up on series and eat home made popcorn
Option 2: Nap
Option 3: Grab a book, a picnic blanket, a bottle of wine and a friend and go chill on Chapman’s Peak. You’re likely to see something in that water. I’ve often sat and watched dolphins playing in Hout Bay and on this day, caught a pair of whales having a frolick in the bay!
Cost: Nothing. Only a bottle of wine out of your wine rack.
One of my favourites! There are so many hiking trails to choose from that you can find one to suit your specific needs and abilities quite easily.
If you don’t have buddies who are into that, join Meetup and join a hiking group already organised, planned and ready to rock.
Cost: Nada, zilch, niks.
Failed at running due to back issues and trying to strengthen up again with regular walking, biokinetics, blah blah blah. That doesn’t stop me from joining the local races. My favourite is the Park Runs, which are timed 5km runs in various spots all over SA. It’s at 8am every Saturday and if you’re on Discovery, you earn Vitality points for them too! Walkers are welcome and so are dogs. It’s super-chilled. I mean, that is not even my dog. And I just met that other person at the run.
Grab your bike and go somewhere
Another favourite thing to do is just grab my bicycle and ride somewhere pretty. This is Lower Tokai Park and the route is about 6km and flat. Easy to peddle around a few times and easy to jog around. Kids and pets and horses and bicycles all welcome.
Cost: Zero again. See, I wasn’t lying!
Hit the waves!
Cape Town water is fecking cold. And I’m a little scared of waves. But there’s only so much I can keep myself occupied with on the beach so I decided to try body boarding! Blouberg’s Big Bay and Muizenberg are great places to rent some gear and get into the waves. It’s so much fun, I thought my heart was going to explode. I don’t care that I was partying it up with the 7 year olds in the sea, I was happy as a pig in mud.
(I’ve since upgraded to “real” surfing and the fun factor increased substantially)
Cost: R100 for wetsuit and body board rental for 1,5 hours at Surf Emporium in Muizenberg. Surf board hire: R70.
Picnic in Kirstenbosch Botanic Gardens
Kirstenbosch Botanic Gardens is breathtakingly beautiful and their new Boomslang Walkway is pretty rad too. Take a walk and picnic basket and have a nap on the grass.
Cost: R50 entrance for adults
Get your culture on at the National Gallery
You really should get all that culture on if you’re going to be in Cape Town. A good start is the South African National Gallery in Company Gardens. Take a journey through the years with art.
Cost: R30 for adults
Chill with the squirrels in Company Gardens
They’re so cute. Daring, but cute. I try and chase their tails because they feel like fluffy bottle washers. I probably shouldn’t but I do.
GREAT spot, guys, GREAT spot. Super chilled and beautiful. You can braai here too, which is pretty cool. And also tan without getting covered with sand, if that’s what you’re into. The rock pools are freezing, but worth a daring dip.
Cost: R30 for adults. Free for Wild Card holders
Visit the local seals in Hout Bay and devour the fish and chips
Hout Bay has their own little seal community, who hang around the harbour waiting for fish offcuts from the fishing boats. They’re pretty cool. Often angry at being disturbed, but mostly just pretty cool.
Fish on the Rocks is a great spot for some local fishy goodness and the outside area has a beautiful view of the bay. You’ll probably have some seals swimming around in front of you there too.
A glorious day out also calls for a boat trip out to “Seal Island”. It’s heavily touristic but is actually quite fun being out on the open water, seeing the bay from a different perspective. As a bonus, you’ll feel like you’re in another country because you’ll be the only South African on the boat 😉
Cost: Your fish and chips will cost you under R100, I assure you. A Seal Island cruise on the “Calypso” is R65 per adult.
Walk/jog on the Sea Point promenade at sunset
Because if you don’t, you are wasting your life. Just saying.
Wine tasting in Constantia
Okay, so this one barely makes the cut merely because you won’t go to a place for just one wine tasting. You’ll likely order something to eat as well (I highly recommend the cheese board at Constantia Glen) or move on to another farm for another tasting. If you’re clever, you can make it work nicely for you, though.
Most people head out to Paarl, Stellenbosch or Franschhoek for wine days, but the Constantia Wine Route holds some gems as well and is nice and close for those in the Southern Suburbs. Beau Constantia‘s tasting room view is phenomenal.
Cost: R30-R50 for tastings. Beau Constantia charges R30 for three wines, Constantia Glen charges R50 for 6 wines.
And there it is, folks! I will explore some more and write another one of these in the near future I’m sure! If you have any ideas of your own, please send them my way too by commenting on this post.
Okay, so I know that Cape Town is having some crappy weather for the next few days, but as soon as the sun comes back out to play, you should do this!
Oudekraal is a protected area just past Camps Bay along the beautiful Victoria Road costal drive. It’s a picnic/braai/beach area nestled just under the 12 Apostles mountains, with beautiful views at each little spot. Entrance is R30 for adults and R15 for kids (or free with a Wild Card as not is part of SANParks Table Mountain National Park) and you can chill there the whole day (until 6pm) with your picnic stuff/braai stuff/whatever. The water is kak-cold, but that’s expected, and worth a dip or two in the calm rock pools during the day.
Turquoise waters, white sand, big boulders… it’s a hidden little paradise.
Tip: Go early (like before 10am) to pick the best spot and also to get a parking! Also, it is an alcohol free zone, so take this time to detox while you chill.
You start your journey at Kaskazi Kayaks in Three Anchor Bay and paddle around at sunset at your own pace with a guide. It’s so easy and breathtakingly beautiful. On our trip we came across seals, penguins and a whale up close! Nevermind the reflection of the sunset off the water for 2-2,5 hours of bliss!
As much as I love traveling and exploring, it’s always good to come home.
Although this is true, leaving the life you are comfortable with from time to time is essential to a healthy life and gives perspective (else you get stuck in your little bubble and forget that there is a world out there.)
Here’s some of what I’m happy to come home to:
Exercise and healthy eating. My Spanish holiday diet of oily tapas, pastries for breakfast and tinto de verano/clara (half beer, half lemon sparkling water) all day has taken its’ toll
South African men. Except the skinny jeans, full beard and strange half-shaved heads ones in Cape Town – what exactly is that about?
My mountains and my sea
Grabbing my bicycle and riding out somewhere beautiful, just on my doorstep
Rain and moisture in the air (the rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain. I clearly wasn’t on the plain.)
A decent schedule that involves getting up before 9am and going to sleep before 2am. Dinner before 10pm will also be nice.
I also miss my work, my clients, my colleagues (yay!)
Understanding the language of the city I live in! If you travel to Spain, you’ve got to learn some of the language else you don’t fully take in the culture
I miss the tiny little beaches of the Cape southern peninsula – the sea that takes your breath away when you get in and tingles your skin when you get out.
I miss hipster restaurants where chairs don’t match and the menu oddly always has some beetroot.
Vegetarian food that doesn’t have canned tuna in it
South African cheese and wine
My home, my stuff, my bathroom, my wild lavender, fynbos, my takkies and my beauty therapist (she’s got a big job ahead of her after this trip!). Am sick of airports, planes, trains, busses, someone else’s house, my suitcase.
Overpriced, completely incorrectly made coffee. I’m lying about this one, I miss proper European coffee already (around €1,10 for the best coffee, made correctly and enjoyed on a street sidewalk cafe under the trees, chatting away). Truth coffee can kiss my ass.
I’m home baby, and it feels GOOD! I heart South Africa and I especially heart Cape Town. Muchos gratitude.
One thing that Cape Town has taught me is that we should look around every day and appreciate what we have. We should experience, every day, a moment when we just stop for a second and say ‘wow’. I want to share these moments with you from time to time, with Project Snap Happy. (*Warning – there may be plenty of sunsets and view shots for this. Possibly all there will be…)