I have already posted a trip on the first two days of our 6 days stay in Cape Town last week. The following report is all about the three days where we were fortunate enough to have Mark September of Small World Tours (http://www.smallworldtours.co.za/) show us around.
Since I don't drive a car myself, I had been looking for a tour guide to show us around on the points where we could not get without a car. Based on some reviews that I read here on tripadvisor, I got in touch with Mark September and arranged for him to guide us for three days. If you have read my other trip report, you'll know that I spent last week in Cape Town together with my two children, who are 11 and 15 (16 next month) years old.
Mark met us in the lobby of the guesthouse at 9 am on tuesday morning. He turned out to be excellent company for all three days, both on a personal level and as a guy who could take us anywhere in and around Cape Town and always be relied on to tell us something we didn't know. As you can tell from what I write here I can only give him my warmest recommendations. If you need somebody to get you around in CT, You will be happy to let Mark guide you. He really loves his job, and he loves Cape Town - and it shows. He was also very good with the children and in meeting the challenge of taking us to places that both the kids and I could enjoy.
On tuesday, we went on the Cape Point tour with Mark. We were able to drive out there on Chapman's Peak Drive, stopping in Hout Bay for some shopping at the market. Since Mark was aware that we were doing both a whale watching and a shark diving trip later on, he suggested that we did not take the boat from Hout Bay out to seal island, so instead we went on towards Cape Point directly after that.
Mark stopped anywhere we asked him to so that we could take pictures and admire the stunning views. We saw our first whales out at Cape Point, looking down at the sea from the parking lot. When we enjoyed the views from the lighthouse, sure enough we spotted the same big male whale again, and we also saw a female with her baby down below us. The scenery at Cape Point is very beautiful and high on the list of must-sees near Cape Town. We had lunch at the restaurant at Cape Point. It was totally crowded with tourists, but the food was decent enough.
At Cape Point itself, we saw a Bonte Bok and an ostrich grassing together right next to the sea. Another great photo opportunity. That day we also saw the penguins at Simon's Town and we had ice cream at Kalk's Bay. Boulders Beach was not as touristy as I had expected, and Kalk's bay has a lot of hippie-style charm. Be warned that the ice cream scoops at the parlour on main street there are huge! When we got back to the guesthouse, we were quite exhausted and not very hungry, so we just ordered a light takeaway meal from Saigon around the corner.
Day 2 of our three days with Mark September was dedicated to the wine country. It was another blistering hot day. Before heading out towards Stellenbosch, we made a detour to the aquarium and the V & A waterfront. We were very impressed. The aquarium is a nice place to take the kids, both if the weather is bad, or as in our case you wish to get away from the heat for a while. The shopping malls at the waterfront are also good, and there are so many places to eat.
Mark then took us out to Spier Wines. That place is huge and totally dedicated to tourists. Not really a wine-lovers paradise, but the wine tasting was actually quite good, and the bird show at 2 pm was ahuge success with the kids and also fun for me. We also paid a huge sum to be with the baby cheetahs. We felt a bit restricted by the watchful companionship of the staff. We we allowed to touch the cheetahs only on their guidance, and we were not allowed to play with them. Visiting the grown up cheetahs is much cheaper and could perhaps have been just as fun. We did get a bundle of nice pictures of the baby cheetahs, though.
After Spiers we went to the town of Stellenbosch, which was much less touristy than I had imagined. A very charming town with many old oak trees and with lots of historical houses. We also drove out to Backsberg, the wine farm that my husband was writing a thesis about as part of his stay at Stellenbosch University. The wine country is beautiful with all the green fields and the imperial mountains always in the backgróund.
After Mark had dropped us off at 51 on Kloof Nek, we went down to Saigon on Kloof Street for some nice, inexpensive asian food. Again, it was good value for money.
Day 3 with Mark was set aside to walk with the baboons. I am aware that many South Africans regard the baboons as a pest. There is an organization based in Franshoeck called Baboon Matters who see them differently. They employ men from the local villages to monito the baboon and keep them out of areas habitated by humans. They also have tours out in the natural habitats of the baboons, where we humans are allowed to sit with them and watch them for hours. Please read more at www.baboonmatters.org, if you are interested. We found the tour extremely rewarding and very learning. It is not until you have been able to watch the baboons that you realise how very much they behave like humans :-)
We drove back to Cape Town via Chapman's Peak, but in reverse order of the tour to Cape Poin two days before. Amazing to see all the sights again, but from a different angle than the first time.
It was both with great sadness but also with high levels of satisfaction that we had to say goodbye to Mark September. He made us so much wiser on Cape Town geography, biology and geology, not to mention sociology.
In my third and final trip reprot, I will write about our last day in Cape town and our trip to Hermanus and Gansbaai for the whales and the Great White sharks.
If you have any questions regarding our trip to Cape Town, please feel free to ask. I have gotten so much good advice from tripadvisor.com, and I will be glad to give something back.