Today’s guest post comes from Jools, an English expat who is working and living in Cape Town, South Africa with his girlfriend, Kate, who had recently shared about her life in Cape Town.
I moved to South Africa almost four years ago, and during my time here I’ve lived in several different locations around the country. I’ve experienced life in the urban jungle that is Johannesburg, rural life on a nature reserve in the Robertson Wine Valley, and have now settled in Cape Town.
I work as an electrician for a local company that services the whole of Cape Town – meaning I get to work in a different locations around town every week. For me, this is a great way to see parts of the city I probably wouldn’t get to experience as a tourist – and I get to meet interesting clients from all different backgrounds as well. It’s also relatively flexible, and the varied work schedule certainly keeps things interesting and allows me to meet plenty of different people.
As much as I enjoy my job, weekends and free time are what I look forward to the most. Although Cape Town isn’t a huge city, there is plenty of exploring to be done – and the range of activities to try is massive. An average weekend for me starts with a leisurely breakfast at one of the many fabulous farmers’ markets, such as this one run by the Oranjezicht City Farm. If the weather is good then I might head down to the beach – my personal favourite is Camps Bay beach where you can relax, enjoy a frozen grenadilla ice lolly and admire the stunning views of the Twelve Apostles mountain peaks. This stretch of coast is a perfect place to watch the sun set over the Atlantic Ocean, either settled on the Camps Bay beach or strolling along the promenade through Mouille Point.
I really enjoy walking, and luckily for me Cape Town has plenty to offer a keen hiker. There are literally thousands of routes in the Table Mountain National Park – my personal favourite is the India Venster Route, which takes you up the front face of Table Mountain. There are a few gnarly bits of climbing, which, combined with absolutely stunning scenery make for a challenging but rewarding hike. The whole hike provides you with a breathtaking view of the ocean and city centre – close to the top of the mountain, the path winds around and gives you an alternative view of Lion’s Head and Camps Bay beach. There are routes to suit all fitness levels – so if you’re a seasoned climber or fancy a more gentle stroll then you’ll find a hike that’s right for you.
Once at the top I like to take a walk around to admire the amazing views, stop in the café for a drink or sit and watch the cute little Rock Dassies that live at the top. You can then choose to hike back down again, or take the cable car instead – a one way trip costs R125 (approx $9 USD). The cable car is pretty unique in that it revolves slowly as you descend, giving you a fantastic 360° view of the mountain.
Cape Town is unique in that it allows me to combine a modern, urban lifestyle with the great outdoors – the ocean and the mountain are all within walking distance of my apartment, which I love. There are wineries to enjoy just a short drive from town as well, and if you’re happy to take a longer drive or perhaps a short flight then you can be out in the wilderness or on safari.
My favourite safari spot is the Addo Elephant Park in the Eastern Cape. A typical holiday for us is to take 10 days out of work and drive the Garden Route – stopping in some stunning spots along the way. The Crags is a highlight as there is just so much to do in the area, including canyoning and the world’s highest bridge bungee jump at Bloukrans, which I finally worked up the nerve to do myself earlier this year.
Addo itself is a great option for me as I enjoy a self-drive safari – with over 600 Elephants in the park as well as the rest of the Big Five, you just can’t beat it. Spending an afternoon at Harpoor Dam surrounded by hundreds of Elephants is an experience like no other. I usually spend a few nights at the main rest camp before heading out to one of the tented, remote camps like Spekboom. This is an isolated rest camp, with no facilities and has a fantastic view from the hide out over a watering hole – a favourite with a cackle of Spotted Hyenas that like to prowl around at night. Hearing their whoops and cries from your campfire through the night is terrifying and fantastic all at once.
Other than friends and family, I don’t really miss much about the UK – South Africa is a such a vibrant, exciting place to live that right now I can’t imagine wanting to be anywhere else. It’s not perfect of course, and at times I’ve been incredibly frustrated with certain aspects of life here, but I wouldn’t swap it. I’m looking forward to exploring more of Southern Africa from my base here in Cape Town – after an amazing trip to Namibia last year, I can’t wait to see Botswana, Lesotho and Mozambique. In the meantime though, there is still plenty of South Africa left to discover, and I can’t wait to get started!
Hey! I'm Alana and I've spent nearly the past decade living in Chiang Mai, Thailand, working as a writer and photographer. I started Paper Planes as a place to share local insight, special places, and how to travel well through a range of experiences — from hostels to high-end hotels, street meat to multi-course meals.
New places are always calling my name...
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