Table Mountain hiking – Hoerikwaggo Trail

Table Mountain hiking – Hoerikwaggo Trail

Hoerikwaggo Mountain Trail in 2011

I had the good fortune to hike part of the Hoerikwaggo trail a few months back. I always say I live in the most beautiful city in the world. And then I get to experience something like this hiking trail and I am awestruck. What an amazing experience. Not to be missed, even, if like me, you only do part of the trail. The full hike is 75 kilometers and takes 5 days and four nights.

The hike takes place along the length of Table Mountain finishing at the magnificent Cape Point.

Table Mountain is bang, slap in the middle of Cape Town. Or rather Cape Town grew up around the mountain. The city has over 5 million people living below the slopes of the mountain, yet on this hike, you scarcely notice human settlement.

What you do get to see is beautiful plant life, creatures and critters, blue skies, mountain slopes and breathtaking views. At night you sleep in an eco tented campsite. Space is limited to 12 at the campsites keeping the atmosphere cosy and relaxed.

You can do it yourself via SANParks or go with one of the guided mountain hikes. Some of the guided options allow you to slack pack. Your bags are sent to the huts and all you need carry are your provisions for the day. It may be worth considering the slack packing idea as this hike is rated as moderate to difficult depending on the section you are walking.

I have to say I didn’t find this hike easy. I suspect our guide took us on a slightly different route to the recommended one. A couple of people in our party were battling with their knees going down the slopes. But the views of Cape Town were so beautiful that is was well worth it.

We struggled to complete the distance and only just made it to our campsite before dark, but again, our guide added quite a bit extra distance to our walk. I think it fair to say our guide was a serious mountain junkie. You get them.

The campsites are simple but comfortable. You have a proper bed and a shower with hot water. But you do need to pack your own sleeping bag and pillow. They have equipped kitchens that you can use to prepare food and drinks.

The weekend we chose to do the hike was not the best for weather, but luckily for us the rain held off and it was dry. I would not attempt this hike in inclement weather.

Doing this walk made me realise that I do not get out and enjoy the natural environment enough. There is something about being up close with nature and in such peaceful surroundings that is so relaxing and refreshing.

The usual safety precautions apply. See the Ridgeway Ramblers safety tips. My general safety tips for visiting Cape Town are at the top of this page.

To find more links should you wish to find out more about the hikes. Use these search terms to Google –

Hoerikwaggo Trail, Table Mountain walks, SANParks, Venture forth.

Go to – My Holidays and Trips – at the top of this page to read about other places we have visited. Or just click on – this link.

Airport transfers from Cape Town International Airport

Airport transfers from Cape Town International Airport

Walkway entrance to Cape Town International Airport

Cape Town International Airport is situated well out of the centre of  the city of Cape Town. The coordinates are 33° 58′ 10″ S, 18° 35′ 50″ E.

Here is a handy link to the official website where you can find arrival and departure information, maps and more – Cape Town Airport. Another useful link is from South African Tourism. They give statistics and useful, as well as useless, but interesting information – Cape Town International Airport.

Arrivals and Departures Cape Town Airport

Cape Town Airport is a good 20 – 30 minute drive from the airport to the centre of Cape Town. Depending on the traffic. During peak hour traffic, the trip can take even longer. Be well warned, if you need to get to the airport for a flight, and you make the journey during heavy traffic, allow extra time.

The front of the airport

Arranging a transfer from the airport to your accommodation in advance is a good idea. You can catch a taxi from the airport, but taxis are usually the most expensive way to get about and there are far better options.

If you do opt to use a taxi, negotiate the rate before you get in the cab. And make sure the driver has change should you need it. I tend not to trust taxi drivers no matter where I am in the world.

MyCiti bus stop Cape Town Airport

By far the best way to get from the airport to the city and surrounding areas is the MyCiti bus. It runs from the airport to the Civic Centre in the heart of the Cape Town CBD. It costs R57 per person and you cannot beat it for comfort, price and speed.

You can roll a wheelie suitcase right onto the bus and the bus has it’s own dedicated lane for a swift transfer.

Read more about the MyCiti bus service. From the central bus stop in town, you can catch another MyCiti bus or a taxi to your accommodation.

There is only one slight snag with the MyCiti bus service – it terminates around 21.00pm. If your flight is coming or going outside of that time you will have to make an alternate plan.

Runway at Cape Town Airport
There are probably hundreds of airport transfer and airport shuttle service operators in Cape Town. When you consider the MyCiti bus costs R57, these services do seem rather expensive. A shuttle bus can cost anywhere from R200 to R2000. Visitors are sometimes overwhelmed at the airport with drivers trying to score trips and and tours at a later date.
I used to have a bunch of links to various airport shuttle services but the websites die and the links don’t work so I’m not going to include them. But basic search terms like airport shuttle or airport transfer or Cape Town Airport services should help.
Tourism information desk Cape Town Airport
If you plan to self-drive then you can arrange to collect your car at the airport. The usual operators are to be found such as Avis, Enterprise, Europcar, Budget etc. Don’t forget to look for price comparison site too.Make sure to check rates with car hire operators before you leave home. Early bird bookings and loyalty programs may help you get a better deal.

 

Elephant statue at front of airport
If you don’t plan to hire an car. And if you intend spending most of your time in the city, then Rikkis Cabs is probably your best bet for getting about. They have free phones all over the city and you can call a share cab to collect you at a nominal rate.
They also do airport transfers. Find Rikkis on this link – rikkis.
Most tours operators collect you on a tour bus so you may well find that you don’t need a car and using Rikkis cabs will be the best option.
For moving about between the regions of South Africa, there are a good few long haul bus companies, trains and flights. I would not use the trains as I am not convinced they are safe. My preference is for a domestic airline. I also like the Baz Bus. Read more about Baz Bus here – Baz bus. For price comparisons on domestic flights in South Africa visit these three web sites – sa flightssky scanner and best flights.
There should be plenty info for getting to your accommodation in this post. Happy traveling!Click here for more on Cape Town.

Go to – My Holidays and Trips – at the top of this page to read about other places we have visited. Or just click on – this link.

 

 

Why you shouldn’t give money to beggars

Why you shouldn’t give money to beggars

Cape Town

You are likely to find a fair amount of beggars in Cape Town and most of South Africa. They are usually homeless people who turn to begging for survival. Their sad appearance makes them hard to ignore. And circumstances that drive people to the streets can be heartbreaking. But before you give money to a beggar or street urchin, consider the following.

Our mayor – Patricia De Lille – is committed to keeping her election promise and is doing her utmost to improve the lot of displaced people in Cape Town. That is aside from the many NGOs and religious organisations who work tirelessly to uplift homeless people.

Here are just a few NGOs –

  • Straatwerk
  • The Haven
  • The Homestead
  • Girls Town and Boys Town 
  • Onsplek
  • Salesians
  • The Salvation Army
  • The Carpenters Shop
  • SANCA
  • The Big Issue 
  • The Caring Network

Even the CCID which is an organisation that coordinates core functions, are involved in initiatives to help displaced people such as Give Responsibly. In essence, if someone doesn’t want to be on the streets, there are many avenues they can follow to secure help.

Why then would people remain on the streets and continue to beg? Because many homeless people have substance abuse problems and a place of safety requires them to be sober. But the biggest reason, is because people keep giving them money. Street people are unlikely to address their problems and find alternate income if they obtain money easily from begging.  Each time you reach out and give a beggar money, you are actually helping them to remain trapped in their miserable life. Not only that, it encourages even more people to beg on the streets.

But . . I will admit, I always give money to Congolese car guards. Now why after all I have said, would I do that? They have no social status in South Africa and they are refugees with very little other opportunity to make money. Many of these guys are highly educated, polite and provide a service. I wish the opportunities offered to South Africans was extended to these refugees.

Image sourced from Google images

Go to – My Holidays and Trips – at the top of this page to read about other places we have visited. Or just click on – this link.

20 Best Money Saving Travel Tips

20 Best Money Saving Travel Tips

1. Visit the local tourist information office and get brochures for the tours they have on offer. Then do them yourself for free. Walking tours are also usually cheaper than bus tours. Sure, they take a bit longer, but you get to explore a city or the countryside up close and personal, and you get some exercise.
  
 2. Use local public transport. Catch a bus or train to the furthermost end of the city and back to get a sense of what the whole city looks like. A day pass allows you to hop on and off to explore sections of a city.
  
Simonstown
3. No need to eat at restaurants or cafes. Pack snacks such as dried fruit and nuts in your backpack or buy a sandwich and a bottle of water at a supermarket.
  
4. Save on Wi-Fi costs by having a coffee at a Starbucks or cafe with free Internet access. They often have free newspapers so you can read the local goings-on.
  
5. You don’t need to buy a travel guide. Visit your local library to see if they have a travel book for your destination. You can also try Lonely Planet or Wiki Travel for free on-line travel guidance.
  
Boulders Beach Simonstown
6. If local tap water is safe to drink, then refill your water bottle at the end of every day, at your accommodation.
  
7. B and B’s are often cheaper than hotels and include basics such as Wi-Fi that many hotels consider extras. More often than not, you can stay at a B and B for less, or not much more, than a Backpacker place. And B and B’s are safer than a Backpacker spot, as you are not sharing amenities and rooms with unknown people.
  
Town centre Simonstown
8. You can go online to find out just about everything from where to go, restaurant reviews or weather reports with regard to your holiday location. There is no need to buy local restaurant and wine guides.
  
9. Eat in your room. Get yourself a healthy take out meal plus a great bottle of wine from a supermarket and skip overpriced restaurants, plus taxis and tips, by eating in.
  
10. There are always plenty of free museums. Avoid the ones that make you pay.
  
11. Book in advance. There are often huge savings to be made by booking in the right window period. Think long haul bus trips, train trips, car hire and flights. They all have early bird specials.
  
12. Many credit cards and insurance companies have free health travel insurance. Find out what you are eligible for.
  
Penguins Simonstown
13. It should be obvious but hiring a smaller car is cheaper and lighter on petrol than a big gas-guzzler.
  
14. Avoid travel agents. Booking yourself and booking on-line is always cheaper.
  
15. Don’t look for a taxi when you arrive at your destination. Most major cities have an airport shuttle bus or train service. Use keywords to do an online search for the best one at an airport. We hardly ever use a taxi. Taxis are much more expensive than public transport. Most taxi drivers are surly and unhelpful too.
  
Harbour Simonstown
16. Consider self-catering if you have 3 or more days in one place. You may well find your accommodation comes with a washing machine. You save on laundry costs and its way cheaper to cook for yourself than eating out.
  
17. Travel credit cards and traveler’s cheques don’t always work out cheaper. You are paying twice to change your money. We pre-arrange with the bank to clear our debit and credit cards so we can use them when we travel. We’ve been able to draw cash out of a “hole in the wall” in locations such as Thailand and India. The only thing to remember is your daily limit. 
Do the maths and work out what it will be in local currency. Credit cards are also safer. You can always query a transaction with your bank if things go wrong.
  
18. Look for holiday specials. A Google search will yield some surprising specials. Use keywords like bargain, specials or budget and see what comes up. Many spas have off-peak rates and shipping companies sometimes do specials when the ships travel unusual routes.
  
19. We join all the loyalty programs that we can. It costs nothing to fill in the forms. We have managed to score a few free flights and hotel discounts that way.
  
 20. If you are up to it, camping is by far the cheapest way to see a country. It should be obvious; but make sure you pick warm months and avoid the rainy seasons when doing a camping trip.

Go to – My Holidays and Trips – at the top of this page to read about other places we have visited. Or just click on – this link.

20 Top Travel Packing Tips

20 Top Travel Packing Tips

1. Don’t pack light colours. They look grubby in no time and you don’t want to be worrying about your clothes getting dirty. Pack mostly black or dark colours. They probably also get grubby but at least you can’t see it. Black is also versatile. It goes from day to night easily. And it all goes into one wash load. No one wants to sit waiting for different loads of washing to get done on holiday.

Robben Island – Nelson Mandela’s cell

2. Choose lightweight hand luggage and suitcases. The limit for most airlines is 23 kilograms. If you start with heavy bags, it doesn’t allow you to pack much. Plus you might have to carry your luggage around. Not all destinations are suitable for a wheelie suitcase. Think of the stairs to the London Victoria underground station. Not fun!

3. Running shoes are perfect for walking about and the odd run if you are up to it. Wear them on the plane in case your feet swell. Pack flats or lightweight shoes for going out at night or visits. Heels are best saved for when you are at home.

4. If you have over-shopped then pack heavy items like toiletries and shoes into your hand luggage when you fly home. The limit on hand luggage is on size, not weight.

5. A cloth tote bag is perfect replacement for a handbag or in-flight bag. It’s squashy and you can fit lots into it. It’s also light.

6. Weather can be unpredictable so pack clothing you can layer or clothing that is versatile. A tank top can be worn alone on a hot day or as a pull-over on a cool day. You can also sleep in it. Cardigans are light and fit snugly under a jacket on cold days.

Robben Island – prison cells

7. Use your casual wear to sleep in. Why pack pyjamas as well?

8. Pack drip dry and easy hand-wash fabrics. You can rinse your clothes at night and they will be dry in the morning.

9. Scarves are light and an easy way to give a repeat outfit a fresh pop of colour.

10. Don’t pack heavy gold or silver jewelry. Rather take lightweight plastic for a bit of fun; or pack rope and string type accessories. Plus, you don’t want to have to insure your jewelry. You are going on holiday to relax and have fun.

Robben Island – guard tower in distance

11. Always, always, make sure you can manage your luggage. As in, don’t take tons of suitcases. You just might have to carry your own luggage and if you have more than you can manage, you will not be happy with yourself. Don’t bank on someone else carrying for you. Things do go wrong.

12. Ensure you have copies of all your important details with you at all times. Think flight details, addresses of accommodation, medical insurance, passport, etc. Not everyone is welcome when they arrive at a destination and immigration officers can ask some really obscure questions. If you have all your information on you, you can refer to it. You could get lost or have an accident. Then you will need it. Keep it all in a clear plastic Ziploc bag or water proof file and – keep it on you.

13. You have to accept that if you are travelling, perfectly styled hair might be a challenge. Practise easy hairstyles before you go so you can relax and enjoy your holiday rather than getting hung up about hair. Think easy pony tails or a classy chignon.

14. Pack products that do double duty. Some soaps double up as shampoo. Hair conditioner can also smooth dry skin. And pack your toiletries in clear plastic Ziploc bags. Toiletry bags are bulky and don’t always contain leaks. With clear plastic bags you can see at a glance where your toiletries are.

Robben Island – prison

15. Pack make up that works harder. Lipstick for example can be used as blush. Avoid heavy powdery make up on holiday. You will either be on the beach or working up a sweat walking about. Face powders can look a mess in no time and touch ups aren’t easy on the move. Plus you are likely to be wearing lots of sunscreen so cream based make up is your best bet.

16. Do pack plenty maximum factor sunscreen and a lightweight sun hat. Chances are you will spend a lot of time outdoors and you don’t want to get burned.

17. Keep a spare set of underwear, wet wipes and a toothbrush with you, along with your important documents. Flights run late; baggage goes missing; tours end far later than planned. Stuff happens. You might have to wash and freshen up in a hurry and you will want fresh underwear and clean teeth.

18. Slip slops are super handy. They double up as slippers, plus are a really good idea when walking around in communal areas such as on the beach or at a spa. On a hot day they can be worn out. They are light and take up very little packing space. Haviannas come in a range of fun colours and they last forever.

19. Yet one more thing to consider carrying is a lightweight, water resistant windbreaker. Umbrellas are a nuisance to carry and they get confiscated at the airport. At least if the heavens open, you are dry with a windbreaker. And if it gets chilly it keeps you warm.

20. Never, ever pack valuables such as cell phone, camera or lap top into your main luggage that goes into the hold of an airplane. Keep that sort of thing on you. You luggage will be scanned and insider thieves might help themselves to your new I-Phone or inheritance jewelry. Always lock your suitcases if they are out of sight.

Go to – My Holidays and Trips – at the top of this page to read about other places we have visited. Or just click on – this link.

Pin It on Pinterest