Adventures in South Africa Part 1 (The “Fun” Part)
Throwback…errr…Monday- to my international trip to South Africa in April! What a whirlwind and amazing trip! If you aren’t already aware, part of the MBA program requires that students travel to an international destination to learn about all of the inner workings of the country of choice. Prior to departure, we research cost, laws, the political and cultural landscape and how it weighs in on our hypothetical company, and “pitch” the business idea to our peers based on industry within the country. I’m happy to report our pitch went off swimmingly (#nailedit) and why wouldn’t it, we focused on wine and who doesn’t love all the research that is required for an in depth presentation on wine.
But, before descending on Johannesburg to join roughly 30 other Professional MBA students to discover the city, I spent a week exploring Cape Town and all it had to offer with a few of my classmates. After all, Travel and Leisure did name it the number one travel destination of 2014. Why not take a little extra time to knock off some bucket list items?
I’ve never jam packed so much business and pleasure into a trip internationally so I’ve done you readers a solid and decided to split my trip up by weeks into two blog posts. Both weeks were amazing, but for very different reasons, so I hope you’ll come back and read my part 2 when I get around to posting it [so maybe check back in 3 months? ;)]
The country is just absolutely beautiful, and I just had to share, so here goes a basic photographical timeline of my first week gallivanting around South Africa –pic heavy!
Let’s just start at day 3 (after two days of travel): A full day of animals…
We begin the day with a slow boat ride to Duiker (Seal) Island
Seals are fat and lazy. That is all.
Did you know there are penguins in Africa? The Boulders Penguin Colony in Simons Town is home to the endangered land based African Penguin. These guys were amazing to watch and so neat to see walking around in their tiny tuxedos on the beach.
Now let’s get to the baboons. Of all the animals in South Africa to be feared, none are feared worse than the baboon. Lions? Nah (we’ll get to that later) Sharks? Nah (We’ll also get to that later). I heard more warnings daily about baboons than any other animal, in the two weeks I was there. Why? Because they are crafty as hell. They are smart, and can open car doors, and are strong and angry little creatures. They realize that they can spend the day foraging for food, or attack a human carrying a sack and it will most likely contain a chocolate bar or something else that’s going to make it go bonkers and want to attack another human the next day. We weren’t allowed to have our car windows down when driving slowly because the little buggers LEAP INTO YOUR VEHICLE. Anyways, behold…the mighty baboon.
After visiting penguins, we were able to hike a few hours all around the Cape of Good Hope, the Southeastern most point of Africa. This area is gorgeous, with multiple bluffs overlooking the green and blue waters where the Indian and Atlantic Ocean meet.
What am I pointing at? I dunno. The guide told me to point, so I pointed. I’m assuming it’s Antarctica.
The original Cape Point Lighthouse was built in 1859.
Lounging like seals at the Cape of Good Hope
On day four, I had the pleasure of hiking one of the eight natural wonders of the world, Table Mountain. It was easily 100 degrees outside and with no cloud cover. Most of the hike through the Platteklip Gorge that cuts through the main “table” (aptly named as the mountain is 2 miles of flat surface when you reach the top) is naturally shaded by the bluffs that surround you, but that’s only after hiking for roughly an hour uncovered in the sun. But it was ABSOLUTELY worth it. Check out those views…
Up, Up, Up
View of Capetown from the top. The gold ring in the top left corner is the stadium where the World Cup was held in 2010.
The next morning we hopped in the car and cruised the coast 2 hours to Gansbaii, some of the best whale and great white viewing in the region. For a small fee, paid both in South African Rand and life years, you can swim in a small cage, loosely attached to a boat while “qualified” fisherman goad Great White Sharks toward you using chum and large, smelly, fish heads. Did I mention they throw in a free on-boat lunch? Yum. Still, it was one of the most unique experiences seeing these misunderstood creatures up close and personal, and as you hear the boat operators speak fondly of these smart animals you develop a great appreciation for them. I sort of fell in love- no, seriously. It’s those Bull sharks you have got to watch out for and luckily we were very far from them…I think. These pictures were taken from a viewing area at the top of the boat after the actual swimming in the cage. It’s a completely different rush seeing these things start to circle the boat from yards away, as you try to quiet the Jaws theme that’s playing as background music in your head.
I’m just gonna take a second here to talk about the best food I had while in South Africa. It was at a little place called Mariana’s, in the small “crafty” town of Stanford. The owners grew their herbs in the back yard, and served only 10 tables a day…you arrive when you want, they serve you when they want- what an amazing concept! The food was outstanding!
And onward, we drove three hours into the mountains to go on safari. It was one of the most gorgeous drives I’ve ever been on. Much of the land is used as vineyards, and we could go an hour without seeing a town.
And finally, the game lodge. Not much explanation necessary here, just lots of amazing animals in their habitat. I took about a thousand pictures, but since I’ve already bored you with so many, I’m just dropping in a few.
Can I pet you?
What about you in the back?
Point of this entire post is to tell you to try to take a little bit of extra time on your own to visit the country while on your international trip. You’ll get to see plenty of amazing things while with the group, but there are just some things you won’t see while being shuttled around on a greyhound bus. Namely, a lion this close.