So back home and all now and slowly getting over the post holiday blues.
Would say that South Africa has now gone to the top of my list of holidays so far - even allowing for recency bias. Cape Town as a city probably slides in second favourite behind Melbourne of all the cities I've visited. It would actually be top except for one issue that kind of clouds the trip.
So what we did -
5 days in Cape Town to start out. Hiked up Table Mountain (a very, very difficult hike in parts). Got lucky that we got a really clear day with little wind at the top. We also went up via the Cable Car another time. It's definitely worth getting to the top for the views:
Visited Robben Island - tour led by a former inmate. Very interesting. Got quite a bit of political insight from this which was interesting in comparing how things have gone there to how they're going here in NI in a similar enough timescale.
Took a trip down to Boulders Beach and the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point which is where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet and you can actually see the different colours of the two seas where they meet
Watched a sunset from Signal Hill in Cape Town
Visited a few of the apartheid museums and also spent some time in one of the Townships which were really interesting - every house had a sky dish despite being made out of corrugated iron and not having a proper flushing toilet. A lot also had Solar hot water systems built into the roof so basically getting free hot water.
Spent the next 5 days out driving round the Garden Route so stopped off in loads of little places. Drove a total of about 1200KM out and back round to Cape Town. Spent a couple of nights in Oudtshoorn where we mostly chilled by our pool and visited some pretty cool caves (The Cango Caves)
Next day we drove down to stay at Botlierskop Game Reserve and TBH this was easily the highlight of the trip for me. We paid a fairly hefty sum of money for it and when I was booking it I have to admit I was a bit dubious but it was worth every penny and more. We arrived and were met at the door, car taken away, bags sent to our tent and we met with our host who talked us through the itinerary for the stay. Had breakfast, lunch and a 7 course dinner included along with 4 safari drives although I swapped one of those for a bush walk instead.
We managed to see all but the lions, though they spent ages hunting for the lions for us. No complaints - saw all sorts of other stuff:
And our "tent" was epic:
And the absolute highlight of the trip. During the night I woke up about 4am or so and thought I could hear noises outside. A few minutes later Emma woke up as well and she agreed there was some kind of noise. So I went over and opened the doors to the balcony and there were 2 rhino standing at the bottom of those steps. about 7 or 8 feet away casually munching away on the grass. And they kept doing so while we sat and watched them for about ten minutes. Absolutely surreal.
We then drove back to Cape Town for one final night staying down on the Waterfront which is pretty cool. Big things to note - restaurants and food is so so so cheap. We went to 2 different 5* hotels (The Silo and the 12 Apostles) and at both of them I had steak while Emma had different things. At both we had starter, main course, desert and at least one beer/wine each and in both the final bill came to under £40 in total. Petrol is also quite cheap and comes in around 80pence a litre. The roads are fantastic. Much much better than a lot of Irish rural roads. Driver are also very friendly - if they see you approaching them quickly they'll move into the hard shoulder to let you past and also appreciate it if you do similar.
Anyway, so the one thing I mentioned at the start that knocks Cape Town was the people who come up to you in the streets asking for money. Some of them were grand, you said no and they left. Others were persistent to the point of being intimidating/scary. We had one guy who tried to sell us a painting. I politely declined and he followed us for over 5 minutes. It was early evening and we were in a part of the city near the business district so not many people were about. Thankfully we found a shop after that 5 minutes but he was genuinely getting very frightening.