5 Experiences you should Never miss in the Western Cape – South Africa
5 Experiences you should never miss??
That seems a little silly because, to be honest, there is sooo much to see and do in the Western Cape area of South Africa that this blog could be titled 45 things to do and we still wouldn’t have made a dent in it. As our time there was limited, we only got to a very small section of the area. Not a problem because we obviously have to return to experience the rest … maybe again and again. What a beautiful place!
VISIT AN OSTRICH FARM
There are a number of ostrich farms in the Oudtshoorn area of the Western Cape. Did you know that the Ostrich is the worlds largest flightless bird?
We chose an ostrich farm in close proximity to the Backpackers we were staying at (Paradise Backpackers) so as to fit in the Crocodile Dive on the same day. We had such a lovely guide … with this lovely lilting Cape accent and such a good sense of humour. The tour started with a talk on the history of the Ostrich Barons and farming and some exhibits of the birds (touch and feel) feathers, eggs, “leather” for the making of handbags etc.
We then moved on to examining the eggs for fertility and a description of how they are tested and incubated and then were introduced to the birds!
Rich was the bravest of our bunch and stepped into the enclosure with the bird first … even stretching out to touch … lol. So, I had to step up to the plate too. Obviously, if he can, so can I!
Next was climbing aboard to ride one … really? Not everyone tried that and it is not easy or even comfortable but they have “jockeys” who ride these birds in the regular ostrich races!
And then for the neck massage ….. this was so funny.
Basically, the ostriches know that their food is in that bucket so if you stand with your back to them holding the bucket, they will all stretch over your shoulders and round your neck to get to the food! Not my kind of neck massage. hahaha
Well worth the visit peeps! When you make the trip to South Africa …. because it surely has to be on your bucket list … right? Go check out the ostrichs!
DIVE WITH CROCODILES
Just down the road from the ostrich farm is Cango Safari wildlife Park. Loads of animals to see and the guided walk around the park with all the interesting facts from the knowledgeable tour guides is awesome. We thoroughly enjoyed the whole tour but the crocodile dive was what we went for so …
Now let me tell you that I am petrified of crocodiles and if Richard hadn’t been there to hold my hand I would probably not have taken part in this particular little adventure! In the end it was an awesome experience to be so close to one of these scary creatures from the dinosaur age. The water was cold so he was not as active as he would have been had the water been warmer. We would definitely recommend the experience.
The evening at Paradise Backpackers was amazing and we had an awesome meal of ostrich and homemade bread cooked on the open fire! It was a good night spent with some lovely interesting people from all over the world. We left Oudtshoorn the next day, both with serious hangovers (Rich was worse than me lol ) after being introduced to Witblitz by the barman, to make our way back to Hermanus for the Whale watching and shark dive.
WHALE WATCHING BOAT TRIP
This is a must on anyone’s bucket list! Such a wonderful and humbling experience being so close to these huge gentle beasts. Every year between June and September, the Southern Right Whales come to this coast to breed and have their young, called calves. They are quite inquisitive, playful creatures and so come wondering in towards the boats filled with us just as quizzy humans to investigate and show themselves. Some getting in really close and others swimming around with their young in tow. Showing off their tails which they sometimes use as sails to let the wind push them along when feeling lazy. This was the highlight of our trip.
We stayed in Hermanus Backpackers Hostel to experience both the Whale watching trip and the Great white shark cage dive, both of which can be booked through the backpackers website when you make your accommodation booking!
Owned by Braam and Hayley, it is a wonderfully friendly and helpful place to stay with a variety of fantastically decorated rooms from dorms to doubles and a choice of en suite facilities.
GREAT WHITE SHARK CAGE DIVE
Well, this was the main reason for our choice of the first place to visit. We started out at the office of the cage diving tour operator for our pre-dive talk. Everyone was pretty nervous and also worried about being sea sick as the sea was still a tad bouncy plus the visibility was not good. Only about a metre. First thing we had to do was eat! lol … seems strange when you’re worrying about being sick but the guys who run the operation insisted that we would fare better with a good breakfast before hitting the high seas! They were right!
After breakfast, we were taken onto the boats and given the safety rundown and then headed out to see sharks! The boat crew kept throwing out chum on the way to the cage to entice the sharks to come to their boat. The sea was cold and because of the visibility being as restricted as it was the sharks who came to visit were only visible when they were virtually on top of the cage so you couldn’t see them coming in or up from a distance. The view was way better from the top deck of the boat and that is where we got our best shots. You could actually see them rising up to the surface from literally the bottom of the ocean until they broke surface in an attempt to get the bait that was on offer.
VISIT HOUT BAY
On our last day in Cape Town, we took a drive to Hout Bay. I have fond memories of a trip there many years ago. We sat on the wharf having lunch, drinks and watching the many seals that frequented the harbour, popping their noses out the water to watch the humans watching them and hoping for some food. I remember it being so quaint and special.
Needless to say things have changed over the years and it is much more commercialised, but it is still beautiful and one of my favourite places. The colourful boats, the changing blue hues of the water, from turquoise to almost deep navy blue, the “flea market” with all the local traders, the seals or in this case … the one seal named John! Being fed by one of the locals … mouth to mouth … as a tourist attraction and a way of earning and putting food on his table or perhaps a bottle of Paarl Perle wine? hahaha
The view from Chapmans Peak coming down into Hout Bay is fantastic. Richard took a stunning panoramic pic from the harbour wall, which has become my absolutely favourite photograph of the trip!
A MUST DO is to have a meal of lobster tails in the Seafood restaurant that overlooks the beach on the side of the harbour entrance … with a nice glass of something alongside of course. What a wonderful ambient way to spend our last day.
What wonderful places have you visited in South Africa? Please share your experiences with us.