"the only man i envy is the man who has not yet been to africa...
for he has so much to look forward to."
- richard mullin
Location: Land-locked by South Africa
Population: 2 million
Fun Fact: Home to the highest ski resort and pub in Africa
Since I had two days off from Cheetah Experience (which I'll write about in another post), two friends and I took a 5-hour road trip through Lesotho, a country completely landlocked by South Africa.
We drove five hours into this country to get to a tiny, little place called Semonkong ("Place of Smoke"). Pretty sure I was able to count how many tourists there were on one hand!
Semonkong was easily one of the most stunning, surreal, and untouched places I had ever seen in my life. It didn't feel real being there. We were completely surrounded by rolling, green mountains, and they went on as far as the eye could see! The main reason we went was to abseil down the Maletsunyane Falls. It's one of the tallest waterfalls in the world, and at 630 ft., it's kinda scary. Our first day was learning how to actually use the equipment, and we abseiled down a 25m cliff, which seemed really high at the time.
On day two, we took a minivan to our starting point - the top of the falls. I wouldn't recommend this to anyone with a fear of heights, it's a pretty big drop. The whole thing only takes about 10-15 minutes, depending on how fast you go. At the beginning, I looked down and thought to myself how crazy this was and that I wouldn't make it, but once I started, it was easy enough.
About half way through, I started to get splashed by the waterfall, and literally a second later I was completely soaked! And let me tell ya, the water was COLD! I had another few minutes to go at this point, and once I reached the bottom, someone was there to guide me to a dry patch where I could watch my friends make the journey down. One of the best parts of this was that as I was going down, I looked around me and there was this massive rainbow going over the waterfall and valley. It was absolutely stunning!
This whole place was just generally breathtaking and truly a hidden gem.
The drive back to Cheetah Experience (in South Africa) was so beautiful because we were literally driving into the sunset. I couldn't have asked for a better experience. Thank you, Lesotho!
(P.S. If any of you happen to venture down to Lesotho, we stayed at the Semonkong Lodge. The rooms are made to look like the traditional huts the locals live in, but with Wifi and electricity/plumbing!)
Location: South Africa
Population: 3.75 million
Fun Fact: Africa's only penguin species is called the Jack Ass Penguin
Before my time at Cheetah Experience (which I'll tell you all about in another post), I spent ten days in beautiful Cape Town and the surrounding wine regions! I went on a ton of adventures and saw some amazing things. I can't wait to be back one day!
I actually stayed with a family friend in Paarl, just outside of Cape Town, one of the most famous wine regions in South Africa. She lives in a gated community with stunning surroundings.
I can't remember if this was in Paarl or Stellenbosch (another wine region), but the views were incredible. It literally did not feel real being there. To be honest, it reminded me of Italy or France, because I definitely wasn't expecting South Africa to look like this!
I made my friend stop on the side of the road to take some photos. I think it's obvious why!
This is one of my favourite views ever. The whole scene felt like a fairytale.
A few days after I had settled in and conquered my jet lag, my friend took me to Table Mountain. This was at the top of my list of things to do. There are a ton of different paths (from easy to difficult) you can take to climb up, or you can opt for the gondola if hiking isn't for you.
It took me roughly two hours to get to the top (I was pretty out of shape) and I wanted to die at least seven different times, but it was SO worth my legs feeling like jelly for the next few days. I know I keep talking about the views, but they're just unimaginably beautiful. Everywhere you look there's something new to take in.
Sitting next to Table Mountain is Lion's Head, which you can also hike up or take the gondola. I didn't get to do this while I was there, but I've heard that watching the sunrise/sunset from this peak is magical.
Definitely on my list of things to do for my next visit!
After our hike up Table Mountain, we had lunch with this view of the beach! I love how the mountains sort of encircle the city and close it off from everything else. It was super windy and the water was way too cold to swim in, but I wasn't complaining because being anywhere where the temperature was above -10C in January was amazing, especially when you're from Montreal.
Something that's been on my bucket list forever has been going cage diving with sharks. I've loved sharks since I had to do a project on them in the third grade, so when I found out this was something I could do, I jumped at the opportunity!
We spent the day out on a boat in the middle of the water and we took turns in the cage in groups. We were supplied with goggles and a snorkel and lowered into the water up to our necks. A man on the uppermost deck of the boat was throwing out bait to attract the sharks and, anytime a shark would approach the cage, someone would shout "Down! Down! Down!" so we could duck into the water to see them.
I saw seven great white sharks (including a baby great white) and a stingray! One came very close to the cage and it really made me realize how huge they are. It was so crazy to see and I'm so happy I brought my GoPro with me because I took a ton of photos and videos! It was a surreal experience that I would 100% do again.
Something everyone knows about me is how much I love animals. When I found out about Boulders Beach and that I could visit the penguins living there, I jumped at the opportunity!
People used to be able to walk side by side with the penguins, but there were too many incidents of people taking advantage of this and trying to pet the penguins, so a deck was built a couple of feet above the sand, from where people can look at the penguins instead.
It's a really great way to view these cute little guys and you can stay for as long or as little as you like. There are SO many of them! And they love to take dips in the ocean and stand and dry off in the sun.
There's another side of the beach accessible for swimming and relaxing. If you're lucky, some of the penguins will hop to that side!
Because Boulders Beach is on the Pacific side of the country, the water here is much warmer and is also a beautiful shade of turquoise.
(Fun Fact: The granite boulders are 540 million years old! How incredible is that?!)
We took the longer, more scenic route back to Cape Town, driving on narrow roads carved into the side of the mountain. One stop we made was at Chapman's Peak, looking over the beautiful Hout Bay.
On my last night in Cape Town, my friends and I went to Grand Cafe and Beach, a beautiful restaurant on the beach with stunning views. I honestly don't remember anything about the food, but the vibe and people were awesome! Not to mention that I watched one of the most beautiful sunsets I've ever seen.
These were only the first ten days of my trip to South Africa and I can't wait to share the rest with you guys soon!