South Africa

Scott and Sam's Great Big Table Mountain Adventure

2 May, 2011 - 09:18

A few weeks back, Rob*, Scott and I visited the Getaway Magazine Travel Show which was held in Somerset West at the Lourensford Wine Estate. It is huge, if you know what I'm saying.

This was exciting for a few reasons:

  • We got to take a beautiful drive out there, in gorgeous weather too, and explored a little after the show, visiting which we left with some beautiful red wine (the Lourens River Valley which is a Bordeaux-style red blend and has long since been polished off), black olive paste and a bottle of their white truffle oil which I have been daydreaming about ever since I tried it at a show a few years back
  • The goodie bag of unadulterated awesomeness we got at the door, including: a copy of Getaway Magazine which I have always enjoyed, countless flyers and advertisements (ok maybe not quite as awesome), a Bic disposable razor (could come in handy in a pinch, I suppose?), some Holts Quick Wash & Wax (it adds a protective wax as it washes and lifts away road grime and corrosive deposits. I've been looking for a product just like this!!1!), a Jungle Oats Energy Bar (yoghurt and berry flavour), a box of Imana mutton flavour soy mince and a sachet of dehydrated Turbo Energy. Friends, I am not making this up.
  • Table Mountain had a booth at the show with a lucky draw for a set of return tickets to go up the mountain on the cable way valued at (I think) R360 (about $50). We all entered, and Scott won! Imagine our excitement. Scott has never been up the cable way here and we've been planning for ages to take a trip up.
View from the Table Mountain Cable Car
Precarious parking on a perfect day

Sunday was one of the most perfect days I can remember there ever being of anywhere ever, and so we (and many tour buses of other people, and hiking mobs, and some buskers, a few casual vendors and some street kids) decided to head on up the mountain. During the World Cup soccer last year the Cable Cars got painted to look like large (they hold 65 people each) soccer balls. There's another remarkable thing about these large soccer balls: the floor rotates (don't worry, it is very gentle and at a pace that won't have you reaching for your gag bag). This means that everyone gets a fair turn at each piece of the view.

Table Mountain is amazing for many reasons, and the first that comes to mind is its proximity to the city centre. It's only a few minutes drive from where we live, and teeming with unique plants and animals. When you walk across and away from the cable way it's almost impossible to believe that you're in the middle of a city.

There are these lizards on Table Mountain that look just like miniature crocodiles.Protea flower on Table Mountain

We got a little information booklet with our tickets and it explains that at 600 million years old Table Mountain is believed to be at least 6 times older than the Himalayas (though our mountain is old never let it be said that it is not with it: follow it on Twitter @TableMountainCA). According to the geologists it was formed under the sea and then forced up by tectonic movement, and was originally an island until the sea backed out and left it on dry land for us and the dassies to use.

This is one thing I'd highly recommend visitors to Cape Town do, whether they choose to spend the 2 to 3 hours and hike up, or take the cable way. The scenery is phenomenal and if you venture away from the cable way when you're up there, a highly refreshing break to take.

Earn some good karma!

Take a moment out to vote for our maintain to be included in the list of the New 7 Wonders of Nature, which it is a finalist for. If you have not yet visited it, take our word and vote anyway :-)

Us as seen from the cable station at the top :)

* Rob is our imported house pet who left us to go live on a boat. The couch is a much emptier place since he's gone. And our hearts. Shame.

Open letter to our Foreign Media friends by Peter Davies

11 June, 2010 - 12:35

My friend Kathleen emailed me this open letter this morning. I'm not sure really if I'm allowed to re-post this here, I hope they don't mind. Please also visit the original posting by Peter Davies on Super Sport at

This is a perfect time for him to have written this, and I hope that the patriotism and excitement that are running so high now continue to do so for a very long time. I hope that our foreign guests go home and tell their friends and families back home just how friendly most South Africans are, and what a pretty country we have. I hope our reputation changes to something more positive, and I believe that it deserves too. I am happy that we've been given this opportunity to invite the rest of the world over to our place.

Open letter to our Foreign Media friends

Dear World Cup visitors,

Now that you are safely in our country you are no doubt happily realising you are not in a war zone. This may be in stark contrast to what you have been bracing yourself for should you have listened to Uli Hoeness or are an avid reader of English tabloids, which as we all know are only good for wrapping fish ‘n chips and advancing the careers of large-chested teens on page three.

As you emerge blinking from your luxury hotel room into our big blue winter skies, you will surely realise you are far more likely to be killed by kindness than by a stray bullet. Remember that most of the media reports you have read, which have informed your views on South Africa, will have been penned by your colleagues. And you know what journos are like, what with their earnest two thousand word opuses on the op-ed pages designed to fix this country’s ills in a heartbeat. Based on exhaustive research over a three-day visit.

Funnily enough, we are well aware of the challenges we face as a nation and you will find that 95% of the population is singing from the same song-sheet in order to ensure we can live up to our own exacting expectations.

We are also here to look after you and show you a good time. Prepare to have your preconceived notions well and truly shattered.

For instance, you will find precious few rhinos loitering on street corners, we don’t know a guy in Cairo named Dave just because we live in Johannesburg, and our stadiums are magnificent, world-class works of art.

Which is obviously news to the Sky TV sports anchor who this week remarked that Soccer City looked ‘ a bit of a mess’. She didn’t realize the gaps in the calabash exterior are to allow in natural light and for illumination at night, and not the result of vandalism or negligence.

The fact that England, the nation which safely delivered Wembley Stadium two years past its due date, is prepared to offer us South Africans advice on stadium-readiness should not be surprising. The steadiest stream of World Cup misinformation has emanated from our mates the Brits over the past couple of years.

If it’s not man-eating snakes lurking in Rooney’s closet at the team’s (allegedly half-built) Royal Bafokeng training base, then it’s machete-wielding gangs roaming the suburbs in search of tattooed, overweight Dagenham dole-queuers to ransack and leave gurgling on the pavement.

In fact what you are entering is the world’s most fascinating country, in my opinion. I’m pretty sure you will find that it functions far more smoothly, is heaps more friendly and offers plenty more diversions than you could possibly have imagined.

In addition to which, the population actually acts like human beings, and not like they are being controlled by sinister forces from above which turns them into bureaucratically-manipulated robots.

Plus we have world’s most beautiful women. The best weather. Eight channels of SuperSport. Food and wine from the gods themselves. Wildlife galore. (Love the Dutch team’s bus slogan: “Don’t fear the Big 5; fear the Orange 11”).

Having said all that, Jo’burg is undoubtedly one of the world’s most dangerous cities. Just ask those Taiwanese tourists who got out of their hire car to take close-up snaps of tawny beasts at the Lion Park a few years back. Actually, ask what’s left of them. And did you know the chances of being felled by cardiac arrest from devouring a mountain of meat at one of our world class restaurants has been statistically proven to be 33.3% higher in Jozi than in any other major urban centre not built upon a significant waterway? It’s true. I swear. I read it in a British tabloid.

Having recently spent two years comfortably cocooned in small town America, I’m only too aware of how little much of the outside world knows about this country. The American channel I used to work for has a massive battalion of employees descending on World Cup country. It has also apparently issued a recommendation to its staff to stay in their hotels when not working.

Given that said corporation is headquartered in a small town which many say is “best viewed through the rear-view mirror”, I find the recommendation, if it’s true, to be utterly astounding. In fact I don’t believe it is true. Contrary to the global stereotype, the best Americans are some of the sharpest people in the world. The fact they have bought most tickets in this World Cup proves the point.

Of course I have only lived in Johannesburg, city of terror and dread, virtually all my life, so don’t have the in-depth knowledge of say, an English broadsheet journalist who has been in the country for the weekend, but nevertheless I will share some of my observations gleaned over the years.

Any foreign tourist or media representative who is worried about his safety in South Africa should have a word with the Lions rugby fans from last year, or the Barmy Army cricket supporters (lilywhite hecklers by day, slurring, lager-fuelled lobsters by night). They managed just fine, just like the hundreds of thousands of fans who have streamed into the country over the past fifteen years for various World Cups, Super 14 matches, TriNations tests and other international events. Negligible crime incidents involving said fans over said period of time.

Trivia question: which country has hosted the most global sporting events over the past decade and a half? You don’t need me to answer that, do you?

In addition. Don’t fret when you see a gaggle of freelance salesmen converge on your car at the traffic lights (or robots as we like to call them) festooned with products. You are not about to be hijacked. Here in Mzansi (nickname for SA) we do a lot of our purchasing at robots. Here you can stock up on flags, coat hangers, batteries, roses for the wife you forgot to kiss goodbye this morning and a whole host of useful merchandise.

Similarly, that guy who runs up as you park the rental car outside the pub intends no malice. He’s your car guard. Give him a buck or two and your vehicle will be safe while you refuel for hours on our cheap, splendid beer. Unless someone breaks into it, of course.

We drive on the left in this country. Exercise caution when crossing the road at a jog-trot with 15 kilograms of camera gear on your back. Exercise common sense full stop. Nothing more. Nothing less. If you want to leave wads of cash in your hotel room like our Colombian friends, don’t be surprised if it grows wings.

Bottomline. Get out there and breathe in great lusty lungfuls of this amazing nation. Tuck into our world-class food and wines. Disprove the adage that white men can’t dance at our throbbing, vibrant night-clubs. Learn to say hello in all eleven official languages. Watch at least one game in a township. You will not be robbed and shot. You will be welcomed like a lost family member and looked after as if you are royalty. Ask those Bulls rugby fans who journeyed to Soweto recently.

With a dollop of the right attitude, this country will change your life.

It’s Africa’s time. Vacate your hotel room. Join the party.

Waka waka eh eh.

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