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Rugby & Rambling in Cape Town

Our family actually missed the main sights in Cape Town – and we didn’t really care.

That’s because our trip to the southwestern tip of Africa had two main objectives: 1) Relax and balance out the safari half of our South Africa vacation, and 2) Make a pilgrimage to the birthplace of one of our family’s favorite sports: rugby.

So even though high winds grounded the ferries to Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned, and low clouds dampened the views from famous Table Mountain, we spent an unforgettable four days in Cape Town.

We enjoyed exploring Camp’s Bay, the charming beach neighborhood where we based our stay. We rode bikes around and walked down the beach to local restaurants.  The chill-out time helped us all adjust to jet lag, especially our youngest son who nodded off at dinnertime every night for the first few days we were in Africa.

We opted against day-after-day of organized tours during because many ran from morning ‘til night, but we did take a trip to the Cape of Good Hope. The Peninsula tour allowed us to see the rugged coastline, local villages, and the penguin colony at Boulder’s Beach.

Best of all, Cape Town is home to the South African national rugby team, the Springboks. When we realized the Boks would be taking on England during our stay, we immediately got tickets. For our family, attending a match at Newlands stadium was almost as religious an experience as it is for the locals: The action. The fans. The facepaint. Epic!

 

The ROAM Report – Cape Town, South Africa

Travelers: The Janowsky Family (parents plus two boys age 16 and 13)

Date: June 2018

Travelers: The Janowsky Family (parents plus two boys age 16 and 13)

Date: June 2018

Itinerary: Part of a 17-day trip to Dubai (2 nights),  Cape Town (4 nights), and two South Africa game parks – Sabi Sand (3 nights) and Mokulele (3 nights)

Budget: Approximately $30,000 for the entire vacation, including international and domestic flights, safaris, lodging, and tours

 

The Good Stuff

Rugby Mothership South Africa’s national team is the Springboks. Check the schedule before your trip to be sure you can get tickets if there is a match while you’re in town. It’s easy to buy tickets online. Fans shouldn’t miss the Springbok Experience Rugby Museum, either.

Camp’s Bay This seaside neighborhood reminded us of Sausalito, a small town on the San Francisco Bay, near our home in California. We loved this location as a base, especially compared to the touristy waterfront area. It was a quick and cheap Uber ride into the city proper, but it was great to be on the water and hear the ocean. It had a very beachy vibe despite being low-season and being much more crowded during their summer months.

South Beach Hotel  We had two very large suites, each with a bedroom, bath, sitting area and kitchen. It was a modern, clean boutique hotel with great service.

Cape of Good Hope Tour companies run day trips to the famed meeting spot of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, and to villages and penguin colonies along the way. We joined the African Eagle tour recommended by our hotel and really enjoyed it.

Robben Island This Alcatraz-like, former island prison is where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated for 18 years. Our June visit was during high seas so ferries were grounded for both of the days we could have gone. We were able to get a refund on the tickets we’d bought in advance. Advanced purchase is recommended since this is such a popular destination.

Table Mountain  A tram takes visitors to this famous vista point. We were able to visit the base of the mountain but unfortunately, windy conditions closed the tram service during our June visit as well.

Hop On/Off Bus  Because of the weather closures, we jumped on this bus tour and had a great time seeing more of Cape Town.

 

Not So Good

Winter in June  While winter didn’t dampen the safari portion of our June trip to South Africa,  poor weather did keep us from visiting Robben Island and the top of Table Mountain. We still had a great time in Cape Town but if these attractions are your main reason for visiting, it is probably better to pick a different time to visit.

Good to Know

City Safety We used normal “big city” cautions while traveling around Cape Town and never felt unsafe. That said, we did avoid the main waterfront area, which is known to be more problematic for tourists.

Fly Domestic  You can fly direct from Cape Town to the safari areas near Kruger National Park. We flew South African Airlines direct to Skukuza, near Kirkman’s Kamp.

 

by Emily Janowsky, November 2018

 

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