Let’s talk about South Africa, specifically Cape Town.
There aren’t many places you go where you know when you come back, you won’t be the same as you were before you left.
Cape Town is one of those places.
It has this cultural dichotomy thing going on, where the old meets new, all in one place.
It was a lifelong dream to visit South Africa because I looked up to Nelson Mandela growing up, and wanted to learn what happened during apartheid from the source, rather than a book or documentary.
The moment I stepped off the plane in Cape Town, I could immediately sense the sensory overload. The immigration officers were among the nicest I’ve encountered. Once passport control and customs were cleared, I get the biggest welcome with a message that says “Welcome to the Mother City”.
My main mission while in Cape Town was to visit Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela spent 18 years during apartheid. While on Robben Island, you learn that your guide is actually a former political prisoner, giving you more of a hands on experience. During your tour, you’re taken to places like the lime quarry, where bathing and hard labor were done, the cafeteria where they ate, and even Cell number 5, which is the very cell Nelson Mandela was housed in.
Being there is arguably the most powerful experiences of my life, and I’m glad I made the journey. It was like a spiritual awakening! Grasping the same bars that one of the world’s most influential people did for 18 years is an experience that I’ll cherish forever.
Let’s talk about what you need to know:
Contrary to popular belief, immunizations are not needed for South Africa, UNLESS you’ve been in the Yellow Fever Zone(pretty much all of West, Central, and East Africa, and parts of South America). Check the CDC website for more information.
The U.S dollar goes VERY far there. I got a bottle of South African White Wine for 37 Rand(equivalent to about 2.50 USD)
South Africans are some of the most hospitable people ever. From customs agents to locals, everyone is very welcoming
Get your tickets to Robben Island in advance. It’s the number 1 thing to do in Cape Town. It sells out quickly.
Go up Table Mountain! It can be seen from anywhere. You can either hike, or take the cable car. The view from up there is incredible.
Explore the V&A Waterfront. This is where a lot of street performers are, as well as many shops. This is also where the ferry for Robben Island departs.
Check out Camps Bay. This place is magically relaxing.
Go wine tasting in Stellenbosch, which about 30 miles away from Cape Town. It’s the Napa Valley of Africa. Some the best wine I’ve ever tasted was here.
I will definitely be visiting again sooner than later!