Thankful that we’d had an early night with a due sleep in we make a lazy start to the final destination of Ashanti Lodge Hostel in Cape Town. Located not too far from the action of Long Street Ashanti is a sprawling lodge that we’re happy to enjoy for the next few days. A front yard allows you to enjoy the days sun as does the swimming pool area. A balcony above comes off a large chill-out room adjacent to a bar with a pool table serving local craft beer.
Emptying the truck we find we’ve collected way too many souvenirs on our journey, from Masai Mara blankets to Malawi chairs and even a 6ft carved wooden giraffe! Posting all of this home was a bitch due to the weekend falling within our stay. We solved this problem by dumpster diving for brown paper in a construction skip, begging for bubble wrap at a handicraft store (which they wonderfully gave us for free) and cheekily handing off the physical posting to our compadres on the tour (thanks guys!).
It had been a long time since we’d drunk any craft beer so we decided to go check out the Beerhouse on Long Street which has 25 beers on tap and 99 bottled, all of which originate in South Africa. Sitting out on the first floor balcony overlooking the street is the perfect people watching perch. Long street is the central location for Cape Town’s grungier backpacker nightlife though you’ll find others in the Observatory and Camp Bay areas. Walking back to the hostel you can definitely sense that Cape Town is a little seedier than Stellenbosch and while it’s colourful vibrancy helps cut through this feeling there’s still the odd crazy around.
Now anyone who’s anyone who has taken the overland journey to Cape Town will agree that a visit to the Overland Famous ‘Arnold’s‘, a short walk from Ashanti, is a must. Their mouthwatering warthog ribs, huge salads and fish and calamari steaks are delicious and there’s other game options available if you missed them earlier on the your trip. We almost went back again the following day.
Following the calorie overload we planned to hike to the top of Table Mountain and waking up for an 8am start we were downhearted to find a blanket of low lying cloud hanging around. Going back to bed for a few hours the cloud eventually thinned so we set out at 11am with the hope that by the time we reached the summit blue skies would prevail. Electing to walk from the hostel to the head of the Platterklip Gorge we underestimated the two and a half hours it would take to reach this point, from which we still had a good hours slog up to the top.
With the cloud only seeming to get worse as we ascended we reached the view point still shrouded in grey fog. Walking around the summit, being sure to keep to the maintained paths, the visibility barely reaches 15 meters making any sightseeing over the stunning Cape Town impossible. Hanging about up top for a further hour in vain we begin our descent on foot only for the clouds to part ten minutes into it. Typical. Still we enjoyed the hike and the chance to get some strenuous exercise after two and a half months on the truck.
The following day saw us heading off for a lower kind of adventure. Cape Town is one of the cheapest place to partake in Great White shark diving so we signed our lives away to White Shark Diving Company for a 6am start, a little much considering the six hours of hiking the day before. Needless to say we both slept soundly for the entire 160km journey along the south coast to Gansbaai. Rolling into the small bay we felt that with all the different cage diving outfits in town we must be in for a real treat. Chomping down on the coffee and muffin breakfast provided we’re safety briefed and onto the boat…while still on land! Strange we know though the bay isn’t too protected and seas were a little rough (our planned dive had been cancelled yesterday due to rough seas).
Bobbing up and down in the bay for the next one and a half hours brings us no joy as buckets of slimy stinking fish muck are tossed overboard. Striking up a conversation with a couple of English lads helps pass the time until we have a sighting. The crew go into overdrive in an attempt to keep the shark interested yet within ten minutes it’s given up and left. Another ten minutes and the big guy returns so it’s full steam ahead as we race to be the first into our wetsuits. With years of surfing practice we’re easily into ours first and are loaded into the cage.
The water is freezing and the seas a little rough making it difficult to keep fingers and toes inside the cage. Tipping back and forth we now know what a lottery ball feels like and after 30 minutes in there the call to get out is a welcome one. No sharks today. Apparently the appearance of a pod of orcas a couple of days ago may have scared them off…if you can picture a Great White shark running scared. We can’t.
Back on dry land we’re served a nice warm lasagna lunch and a couple of vouchers to return gratis within the next two years. The drive back along the spectacular coast with the Hottentots-Holland Mountains tumbling into the ocean was almost worth the journey in itself. And since we can’t wow you with any Great White shark photos, here’s an interesting Great White fact. If you’re in the ocean sitting completely still their sensitivity is so great (half a billionth of 1 volt!) they can sense your beating hear from miles away.
Being the last night on the African continent we thought it fitting to take out the gang from our tour along with some of the new guys beginning where we left off on their journey up to Johannesburg. Having fallen in love with the Ethiopian cuisine earlier in our African odyssey we thought a visit to the local Ethiopian restaurant was in order. We’re happy to advise that Addis in Cape is the real deal. With authentic Ethiopian decor and the sweet scent of frankincense filling the room we sit down to a traditional meal consisting of our favourite, injera, served the traditional way in big sharing platters.
The group is happily content with the feed so we move along to the Beerhouse across the road where on a Saturday night the music’s pumping loudly and the local youngsters are out in force. We spend the night into the wee hours having a dance, drinking some booze and reminiscing over the last three months that has taken us through some of the most breathtaking scenery, meeting some lovely locals and coming face to face (in most cases) with some of the world’s most feared predators.
With only a few hours left on this vast continent, we took a stroll through The Company’s Gardens a highly recommended little gem in the middle of town with several different areas to stroll through. Hunting for a cheap feed we were stoked to stumble upon the Eastern Food Bazaar on Longmarket Street, where the hustle and bustle amid Middle Eastern wooden doorways could trick you into thinking you were at the opposite end of the continent. Our tip, head to Istanbul for cheap shwarma and felafel! From here it’s a short walk to the pentagon shaped Castle of Good Hope,
Goodbye Africa and so long to those big skies, immaculate sunsets, smiling faces and unique and fantastic wildlife. And so long to pitching a tent every night!
If you have any questions about our time with Absolute Africa or in Africa in general hit us up!
Tips for Cape Town
- Ashanti Lodge have several locations in Cape Town. We stayed at the Gardens which has views of Table Mountain, is well located to walk to Long Street, and has spacious clean comfortable 8 bed dorms..
- It’s reasonably cheap to send your souvenirs home from Cape Town and they’ve got a good chance of making it home.
- The Platterklip Gorge is just one of many ways to hike to the summit of Table Mountain. It’s also the ‘easiest’….which is not to say it’s exactly easy!
- The cable car to Table Mountain cost 125 rand (USD$8) one way which was too expensive for us when you can walk it for free. Go get some fresh air!
- We booked our shark diving with White Shark Diving Company for ZAR 1,800 per person including transport to and from your accommodation in Cape Town. They also issued us a free voucher to return within 2 years as we only spotted one juvenile shark from the boat.