14.05.2008 - 21.05.2008 23 °C
After a long journey, I arrived into Cape Town airport late at night and was thrilled to be met by my parents who had taken a short holiday to visit me.
After catching up with each other's news, our sightseeing around Cape Town began in earnest the following morning. We travelled by the luxury of a hire car (no bus for me this time!) to the Cape of Good Hope - the most south westerly point of Africa. Here we enjoyed the views and crashing waves, before stopping off at a penguin colony on the way back.
The next day was spent at two of South Africa's famous vineyards - Vergelegen in the morning and Spier in the afternoon. Although less exlusive than Vergelegen, Spier offered an incredible lunch buffet with different types of game (for example springbok and antelope) - all served to us in a private tree house! In addition to the expected wine tasting options, Spier also differs from other vineyards by hosting a cheetah reserve.
Waking up to the best weather of our stay in Cape Town the following morning, we decided to ascend Table Mountain by cable car - only to find it had broken down. Determined to reach the peak of Cape Town's most famous monument, we began our climb from the botanical gardens of Kirstenbosch. Despite taking a wrong turning that led us (and the Americans following behind) up a steep ravine, we eventually reached the summit. Table Mountain's flat appearance is deceptive though and it was with tired legs that we descended. Having returned to the botanical gardens, we took a well deserved tea break - one of several during my parents' short stay. The problem now is that I am finding it difficult to get throught to my stomach that now my parents have gone, the days of scones and cream are over...
On the penultimate day before my Mum and Dad returned home, they took me to their first, and favourite, winery which they had visited the day before I arrived. After some more wine tasting (for the first time ever I am now beginning to appreciate wine...) we enjoyed a tasty lunch and drove to one of Cape Town's nearby beaches. After paddling in the cold Atlantic waters, we watched a spectacular sunset - made all the more atmospheric by the threatening sky and crashing waves.
On the day of my parents' departure, we fitted in a quick tour of Robben Island where we saw the infamous lime quarry and the cells occupied by Nelson Mandela and his collaborators. Indeed, our tour was led by a guide held as a political prisoner during the 1980s.
Sadly my parents then left me at my hostel (voted the best in Africa) as we shared an emotional goodbye before they continued onto the airport. I look forward to seeing them again in 6 weeks time. I soon adjusted back to the hostel routine though and, having made some friends, joined them for a dinner of warthog...as you do.
Up at 4am the next morning, I began one of the highlights of my trip - shark cage diving. After a sleepy journey down the coast, and the inevitable seasickness, I began to wonder whether the experience could justify the hype. This feeling developed during a long, nauseating wait for the Great White sharks to appear, and then again as I dropped myself into the icy water.
No scuba diving equipment is used as (believe it or not) sharks are wary of the bubbles. Consequently, you stay in the cage, head above water, shivering, until someone sees a shark, then you throw yourself down to the hole in the cage and, holding your breath for as long as possible (almost as long as required for this sentence) you watch the sharks close in on the bait within touching distance of you.
Great White sharks must be considered the most perfectly designed killers on Earth - the way they come from deep and bite with such force is a sight to behold. We saw numerous sharks from 2m to 4m in length. My personal highlight was when the man beside me had just got out and, with attention elsewhere, a shark came towards the bait from deep and jumped substantially out of the water almost on top of me - whilst the top of the cage was still open! Staying in the water long enough to witness that was worth taking the next few hours to thaw out...
I have now joined up with my tour group, with whom I will travel north to the Kenyan capital of Nairobi.