The day has finally arrived. Today we’d be starting the first of our four day tour with the kids from Kayamandi. It’s been almost a year since Dan and I first began discussing a return trip and today has been much anticipated. There has been much preparation but I think we both arrived at today feeling there was little more we could do.
I woke up about half past 6 with no alarm. I think my body just knew that today was going to be a big day. I hadn’t planned on getting up for another hour but I was feeling pretty anxious and wasn’t able to fall back asleep. I started getting a few things together and jumped in the shower sometime after 7. Our shower has a window looking out front our flat and I could see and hear the first few kids arrive. Over the next half hour all eight of the guys showed up with Athabile being the last. This wasn’t much of a surprise as he was coming from the furthest part of Kayamandi and is generally the last one to show up somewhere.
Isaac pulled up sometime around 8:30 and we were greeted by both him and his daughter. Mimi, Isaac’s daughter, would be joining us on our first day. It was my first time meeting her and it was a bit last minute, but I’m glad she came along. Isaac is so busy with his touring that I don’t think he sees her too often and it was nice that she was able to accompany us. Mimi is 11 years old, making her the same age as our youngest travelers. I was happily surprised to see everyone get along for the entirety of the day!
Once everyone was on-board we started the drive to Hout Bay where we’d be taking a boat to Seal Island. The drive took us through Cape Town and along the coast. We passed by Table Mountain, the 12 Apostles, Camps Bay, and much more. Driving through this part of South Africa is a true sensation. The views have to be some of the most scenic in the world and with the recent weather the surrounding mountains were still peaked with white caps. Lucky for us the weather has been prime since midday Saturday and we only had a few clouds in the sky to begin our day.
By the time we got to Hout Bay we still had nearly a half hour before our boat would depart. Along the docks were a few seals that were extra friendly and would do just about anything for food. A local man was chopping up pieces of fish for them and placed one in his mouth for an enormous seal to retrieve it. It’s pretty amazing how large these seals are but yet how gracefully they move through the water.
If anyone remembers the first night of Shark Week, it featured an opening story where a group was fishing. As they were fishing they were rammed by something that eventually capsized their boat and took the passengers down with it. For any believers out there, they blamed this feat on non-other than Megladon; a shark more enormous than anything this world has to offer. This incident took place in Hout Bay and that’s exactly where we were launching out of.
Whether or not you believe in Megladon , you can’t argue the fact that great whites roam the waters. With Seal Island just around the corner this place is a prime feeding zone for hungry great whites. Today would also be the first time that any of the guys have ever ridden on a boat and the excitement and anticipation was palpable.
When our boat arrived we pushed our way to the front of the ship. There was no way I was going to let a few tourists stand in the way of our adventure. The trip to the island was a bit bumpy and the waves were tall but no one got sick. I can tell you that a few of our riders struggled to stay on their feet and found the floor of the boat a bit more suitable, but we made it to our destination. Along the way we took loads of great pictures and the guys all posed like well-practiced professionals.
We saw thousands of seals on our trip but no sharks. I didn’t expect to see any as it’s still a rarity to catch a feasting but I was still hopeful. On our journey back a strange thing took place. The other tourists on board our vessel started taking pictures with our students. I’m pretty sure they just wanted to seize the opportunity to take a picture with a local African child. It was completely harmless and the kids felt famous so we just let it happen. I also snapped a few pictures of the scene because I just thought it was so strange.
Once back on soil, we boarded our van and proceeded to a coastal eatery where we ordered fish and chips for everyone. Everyone… except myself and Dan. I probably would have eaten the fish and chips but given the opportunity for something else, I took it. While I played lunch monitor Isaac quickly drove to the nearest KFC. After eating the guys made their way down to the water where they found a few more seal friends looking for some free handouts.
Before leaving Hout Bay we drove around to one of the peaks and took a few pictures. It’s so easy to get a great picture when you have such beautiful surroundings and such a great group of people!
With Hout Bay behind us we made our way to the infamous Table Mountain. Table Mountain is the focal point of Cape Town and has recently been declared one of the new 7 natural wonders of the world. Go there or check out the pictures and it’s easy to see why.
With the long day ahead of us we opted to take the cable car up to the summit. From high up above we could see all of Cape Town and its surrounding cities. The way the mountain is situated makes it so that you are almost constantly in view of the ocean and everywhere you look is postcard material. We spent a couple hours walking around the top stopping anytime we saw a photo opportunity. Dan and I were behind our cameras for most of the day but I wouldn’t have changed it for a thing. Our group was radiating with joy and to me, that’s what this trip is all about.
Originally, we had planned to tour the Cape Town Stadium today but we found out last week that it would be closed (we’ve since planned a later date where we’ll try and take the kids. I really wanna give them the chance to see their stadium up close and personal). The new itinerary had us going into town for a bite to eat and then heading back to Kayamandi, however, Dan and I had other plans.
With the weather cooperating so well we decided that we wanted to take the kids up Lions Head for a sunset hike. Lions Head is located directly next to Table Mountain and is just a fraction of its size. The mountain still processes incredible views and is the perfect hike for late in the day. I remember doing this hike two years ago and I was keen to take everyone up today.
After a quick dinner Isaac drove us to the start of the trail. The hike takes an average person about an hour to get up but we were moving at an above average pace. We wanted to get to the top before the sun would set and we weren’t positive when that would be. The 10 of us trudged up this mountain and got up there in record time. I think we stopped once for a couple minutes so that we could regroup and finish the hike as a whole. Along the way I found myself pulling along a few stragglers due to the exhaustion that was setting in. I’m just glad I didn’t have to carry anyone!
At the top we were rewarded with an epic view of Cape Town, the ocean, and the beautiful Table Mountain which was now catching all the rays the sun had to offer. Because we got up there so fast we ended up having about 30 minutes before the sun would be setting. We used this time to relax and take some photos. The day had gone perfectly up to this point but I did make one minor mistake. In the rush to get up the mountain I had completely forgotten to stop and pack water for our ascent. As we hiked I thought about this, mainly because I wished I had some for myself and knew the kids would be feeling the same way. After resting for a bit on top I think everyone shifted their focus towards the falling sun and seemingly forgot about how thirsty they were. We made the most of our trip and continued capturing as much as we could on our many cameras. I’m a fan of sunsets and sunrises and when you throw in a scenic location where the sun slowly drops over the ocean horizon I think few things are better, especially when you’re talking backdrops of group pictures to conclude an already awesome day.
As the sun disappeared behind it left behind a sky of beautiful colors that helped guide us back down the mountain. We didn’t need flashlights for our descent and made our way back to the van. Somehow, the kids found the energy to essentially run down the mountain because they finished long before Dan and I reached the start.
Our ride home was filled reminiscing about the day and talking about what the next days would bring. Before getting back to Kayamandi I asked Isaac to stop at a McDonalds so we could buy everyone some much deserved ice cream. With our our hot fudge Sundays in hand our first epic day was over. Now we just had to prepare for the next three days, update our blogs, import our pictures, pack, and try our best to get some rest. I’m wiped out already, but so far things are going amazingly.