Let me just start by saying this: One week is not NEARLY enough time to experience South Africa. However, a few days is no doubt better than none. The flight alone is 15 hours from NYC to Johannesburg, and then another two-hour flight into Cape Town.
The journey there was quite long, but my friends and I were nothing short of psyched once we arrived.
Naturally I expected to be dropped straight into the Lion King–surprise, surprise–Cape Town is nothing like that and I’m slightly embarrassed for thinking so.
Instead of boring you with a play-by-play of my trip I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves and leave you with a running list of do’s and don’ts if you ever find yourself in South Africa. The first being…
DO: GO TO SOUTH AFRICA!!!!
DO: Take a helicopter tour…it will never be this affordable anywhere else!! The views are incredible and you’ll spot places you never knew existed (ahem, go explore those places).
DON’T: Take too many selfies in the helicopter because they won’t nearly be as cool as what’s right before your eyes.
DO: Hike Table Mountain (don’t wimp out and take the cable car if you are in good health. There’s no feeling like reaching the top knowing how hard you worked for that insane view). Also, if you meet a mysterious music man on your hike, DON’T let him convince you there is no water at the top…THERE IS.
DON’T: Hike Table Mountain on the hottest day of the year (over 108 degrees) with less than two liters of water. Yes, the water is heavy, but you will fear for your life when you run out halfway to the top..
DO: Track down the man who feeds the wild seals in Hout Bay. For a small tip he will share his fish scraps with you and lure the seals to the side of the marina.
DON’T: Let this man pressure you into feeding the seals with your mouth (I didn’t)…it’s much more entertaining (and sanitary) to watch him do it instead.
DO: Stop at the Cheetah Outreach center en route to Stellenbosch for a quick Cheetah encounter.
DON’T: Pet the Cheetah’s anywhere but their backs…belly rubs are simply out of the question.
DO: Visit Ernie Els winery in Stellenbosch and request a fellow named Ollie to lead your wine tasting. Until this moment you will never know just how much a bottle of wine truly contains.
“Notes of leather, wild asparagus, optimism and the touch of a friendly fall breeze grazing your cheeks.” All in a single sip? But, of course.
DO: Try the local cuisine. South Africa is all about the meats. Springbok carpaccio was by far my pick of the trip. Melts in your mouth.
DON’T: Book your wine tour with a group or tour bus. Having a private driver (really affordable) means you can drink and pine after the sommeliers on your own time
DO: Bring your best camera with you on Safari AND binoculars. Not every animal is just hanging out on the side of the road waiting for you to pass by.
DON’T: Expect to get any decent photos with your iPhone.
DON’T: Withhold elephant sightings from the rest of your group on Safari…they will not be pleased when you confess later to hoarding such information.
DON’T: Leave your snacks unattended in your safari vehicle while you’re at lunch. Guaranteed a band of small monkeys will ransack the truck and take bites out of your candy bars.
DON’T: Hesitate on booking a crazy trip like this. It could turn out to be the best trip of your life. My friends and I knew very little about where we were going when we booked the trip initially, but somehow we made it to the “end of the world” and back in one piece. I’d jump at the chance to go back again.