June 4, 2017
Today we went to breakfast on the club floor around 9:30 before taking off to the Stellenbosch area to go check out the Root44 market. The place was so beautifully set up! We spoke with a man named James who sold art and told us where wild zebras were, about a lion reserve/rescue nearby, and about his country of Botswana (I think). He told us that there are massive bananas and avocados there; however, with the man’s strong accent Joey heard “massive anacondas” and said “nope!”.He was very surprised that my dream was to go to work with cheetahs. Perhaps he’s too normalized to these animals that it doesn’t seem like a big deal.
There were tons of little clothing boutiques that I would have loved to shop in if I lived around this area. (i.e. wasn’t needing to lug it all back with me in a cramped carry-on on an 18+hr flight)
Since it was about lunch time, we decided to stop at the food stands. Joey ended up getting a pizza cone. Yup! The cone was the crust and the scoop part was filling with cheese, bacon, and a little sauce. It was good but really filling. I ended up settling for the next cart over and grabbing a BBQ sticky bun and a spring roll. I know it seems odd to eat Chinese food while in South Africa but we were all still pretty haunted from that first night of meat platters!
After eating we decided to head back to the hotel as Joey wasn’t feeling too well and we decided that seeing captive lions or trying to see zebras at a vineyard that was closed just didn’t seem like the most fun of ideas.
Once we got back to the hotel, Joey got himself a neck and back massage as it was still really bothering him. Not much later we decided to head up to Lions head and go to the aquarium if we had time. We drove 15 minutes to park the car at the end of the trail and began our hike. We decided to take the main trail to be safe. Also, some locals told us it was only a 1/2 hour hike so how hard could it be, right?
Well it was pretty hard. It also took a lot longer than thirty minutes.
We saw some paragliders on the way up which was cool and the views were great during the entire hike. This was the closest to rock climbing or rapelling that I’ve ever gotten! Towards the top, well maybe starting about half-way up, there were ladders and chains to hold on to and lots and lots of rocky steps. There were no fences! (Well, except for a few small/ old barbed wires but nothing useful)
About half way up we met a girl named Victoria from near Toronto who was here to do a summer internship. She is studying law at Columbia actually so it was cool to talk to someone who knows NYC pretty well. We helped her out a little bit through some of the tougher spots but then we went at a bit of a faster pace. There were lots of people with kids and one dad was even descending the steep, rocky, slopes with his two-year-old on his shoulders! I have no idea how they did it. Maybe they’re just in better shape than me.
The view from the top was amazing! I’m glad I’m not scared of heights or I probably would have freaked out around here.
We found Victoria again and headed down after taking a few pictures and drinking some victory water. The way down was definitely scarier to me as you had to be a bit more careful not to slip on the rocks.
Once we got past all of the really steep parts, we asked some people about finding Wally’s Cave. Thankfully some heavily accented girls heard us and gave us directions so that we could see it on the way down. They warned us that it was a lesser-used trail and boy were they right! I’m just glad it was mostly dirt in stead of slippery rocks this time but it was a bit difficult to see where the trail led. So we decided to take two separate paths to try to find the cave more quickly. I ended up finding it on the uppermost path and went up to snap a few pictures. I was really happy because I was able to see a beautiful view of Table Mountain with the sunset through the cave opening. It was not as large as I thought it was going to be but it was still pretty cool. At this point, however, my legs were turning to jello and a few birds scared me half to death as I thought they were bats, so I decided to go catch up at the lower part of the trail.
We quickly found the main path and jogged a bit, seeing Victoria for the third time and heading quickly to the car. The hike took 2 hours total round trip.
We came back to the hotel to shower and clean up before our dinner reservation at 7 at the Gold Restaurant. We joked the entire time that this was going to be our “African Experience” as that’s what they advertise it as. It was really interesting as we got to try foods from a bunch of countries in Africa. I really liked a samosa ( I don’t remember which country it was from) and a lentil + chili dish from Egypt. The entertainment was cool as they sang, danced, and played instruments. One of the dancers had a tall wooden head and wooden hands (almost so that he appeared like a puppet or giant figurine). He actually came over to our table and grabbed my face with the wooden hands (thankfully I wasn’t the only one he did this to) but I did just take a huge bite of food so my cheeks were pretty full. A woman came around shortly before we left and gave us African styled makeup as well. Tribal style was given to men and pretty floral designs were given to women. I also tried some Stellenbosch wine at the restaurant it was a sauvignon blanc named Neil Ellis or something along those lines. It was very good! Not my usual but it was great.
After dinner we very quickly went to the V&A waterfront to try to see if there were any souvenirs we could grab before leaving tomorrow.