Kalk Bay water and boats

Three Random Days in Cape Town: Mountaintops, Beer, and Big Fat Seals

Last week I went to Cape Town for an Instagram campaign, to attend a single two-hour event on a Wednesday evening. My friend Kate was invited too.

Cape Town being one the most beautiful cities in the world and all, Kate and I decided it was silly to fly down for just one evening. We extended our stay to two nights and three days. This decision resulted in two Jozi blogger chicks Ubering madly around Cape Town, meeting up with blogger friends, stuffing our faces, drinking lots of beer and wine, walking our asses off, doing yoga poses on mountaintops, and laughing at big fat seals.

It was so random and so fun. Here are some highlights.

Random Cape Town Activity #1: Climbing Lion’s Head

Lion’s Head is the second-most famous mountain in Cape Town — dwarfed in size and fame by its neighbor, Table Mountain.

View of Lion's Head from Cape Town studiosView of Lion’s Head from Daylight Studio, where I hung out on Wednesday evening.

Kate and I had never climbed Lion’s Head and this was our chance. We convinced a few other bloggers to join us: our old friend Di and our new friends Cassandra and Jane. Di picked us up at our hotel at 6:30 a.m. and we reached the base of Lion’s Head at 6:45.

View from the base of Lion's HeadLooking out over Cape Town from the base of Lion’s Head.

Looking up at Lion's HeadLion’s Head, a little way up the trail. 

Lion’s Head is known to be a relatively easy mountain to hike, but easy isn’t the word I’d use. It was a heck of a lot easier than my near-death experience in the Golden Gate, but a heck of a lot harder than climbing the Melville Koppies.

Kate and Di hiking Lion's HeadDi (left) and Kate (right) work their way up the mountain.

Cassandra and Jane hiking Lion's HeadCassandra (left) and Jane (right) lead the pack.

Top of Lion's HeadClouds rolled in as we reached the top and I worried we wouldn’t be able to see anything. But the view was great.

Heather on Lion's HeadHere I am doing fake yoga moves on a rock at the top of Lion’s Head. (Long story.) Side note: These hiking shoes are from Hi-Tec. They gave me a pair to review for short day hikes, and I love them so far. I’ll do a longer review in a future post. (Photo: Kate Els)

Hiking Lion’s Head took about three hours altogether. I recommend doing the hike in the early morning as it’s apparently much more crowded in the afternoon. It’s helpful to have good hiking shoes, to be reasonably fit, and to not have vertigo. The paths are steep and narrow in some places, and people die up there from time to time. Take your safety seriously.

Random Cape Town Activity #2: Staying in Woodstock

Kate and I scored a stay at the Doubletree Upper Eastside Hotel in Woodstock, which was lucky for us. Woodstock is a great neighborhood and the hotel was wonderful.

View from my room at Upper EastsideThe view from my room at Upper Eastside. I struggled to get a good shot of the room itself but trust me, it was beautiful and avoided all of my hated hotel room quirks.

Bar at Upper EastsideThe bar area at Upper Eastside.

Herb garden at Upper EastsideUpper Eastside is one of only two hotels in South Africa with a 5-star green rating. It has a rooftop herb garden, where the hotel chef harvests 80% of the kitchen’s herbs.

Doubletree cookieThe best thing about staying at this hotel: unlimited chocolate-chip walnut cookies, which are served warm (!) on demand from the the front desk.

If you’re looking for a luxury Cape Town hotel that is slightly off the beaten track but still convenient, I recommend Upper Eastside. The service is great and the beds are like clouds.

We didn’t have much time to explore Woodstock. But we did manage a quick visit to Devil’s Peak Brewing Company, which is next to Woodstock in Salt River.

Beer taster at Devil's PeakA beer taster at Devil’s Peak Brewing Company.

Craft beer has gone crazy in South Africa over the past few years and Devil’s Peak is one of the reasons why. Kate and I had lunch there with our friend Lucy, the Brewmistress, and enjoyed the beer, the food, and the ambiance of the restaurant.

Random Cape Town Activity #3: Muizenberg to Kalk Bay

On our last day in town Kate and I rode out to Muizenberg, a beachside suburb about 20-30 minutes from downtown, and walked from there to Kalk Bay. There is a oceanside path between the two towns, which takes about 30 minutes to walk if you aren’t in a hurry.

This was my favorite part of the trip.

Surfers at MuizenbergSurfers on Muizenberg Beach. This beach is beautiful — I can’t wait to go back when I have more time.
 Path from Muizenberg to Kalk BayThe path from Muizenberg to Kalk Bay.

St. James BeachThe famous colorful bath houses on St. James Beach (the bath houses are on Muizenberg Beach too), between Muizenberg and Kalk Bay. 

Train passing through Kalk BayWhen we reached Kalk Bay, we stopped at a coffee shop and watched the trains for a while. The tracks pass right along the shore, providing a great opportunity for graffiti-watching. The three most visible pieces here are by Toe (purple and white), Deal (green), and Erak (red). (Thank you Ray for your graffiti expertise.)

Kalk Bay HarborBeautiful Kalk Bay Harbor.

Fish and chips at KalkysKate and I went for fish and chips at Kalky’s, a legendary food shack on Kalk Bay Harbor. I can’t overstate how much we enjoyed this meal. Kalky’s is totally unpretentious, full of tourists and locals of all colors, shapes, and sizes. This giant plate of fried deliciousness cost R55 ($4).

Funny signs inside the Kalky'sFunny signs inside Kalky’s.

After lunch we strolled to the pier, which is famous for attracting fish-begging seals. Watching the seals made me sad at first. One of them floated in the water next to the pier, his (or her?) head leaning against the side, looking overfed and kind of sick.

A swearing fisherman walked across the pier with a box of fish guts, and the fat seal was up in a flash. (S)he flopped after the fisherman, barking, leapt up onto the opposite pier wall, and dove into the water after the fish guts.

Kate and I were nearly trampled by the seal. I managed to get one photo.

Seal chasing fishermanNeither this photo nor my accompanying story do justice to the actual experience.

Dear American family members: Please come visit me in South Africa soon so I have more excuses to go to Cape Town and do random tourist activities. Y’all know who you are. My inbox awaits you.

My hotel stay at the Doubletree Upper Eastside was complimentary. My shoes from Hi-Tec were complimentary as well. Everything else in this post was paid for with hard-earned cash. Opinions expressed are mine.

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9 Comments

  • Reply canuck5461 October 4, 2016 at 1:44 pm

    Heather…have quietly followed you for 4 or 5 years from the solid frozen north (aka Canada). Always look forward to your pics and posts. Have NO idea why this post in particular prompted me to write…but I do know that we spent two 3 month periods in SA over the 4 years – both happened to be over our Canadian winters. We fell in love with it….period. Cape Town is lovely and we too loved Kalk Bay, Simonstown and area. Travelled from Cape Town to Durban by car and through Swaziland to Joburg both times. The second trip we had 2 Cdn couples visit us while we stayed in Gordon’s Bay for 6 weeks – just bragged too much about Cape Town and surrounds on our return the first trip I guess! Without further ramble, just want you to know that with every photo and every post we get to relive some of our special time in SA…so thank you for that!

    • Reply 2summers October 4, 2016 at 2:05 pm

      What a lovely comment. Thank you so much for leaving it and for reading my blog all these years. I really appreciate it.

  • Reply autumnashbough October 4, 2016 at 7:38 pm

    Love the places that have their own gardens. As for hiking shoes, well, might be doing some winter hikes. Taking recommendations. 🙂

    • Reply 2summers October 5, 2016 at 11:27 am

      Do they sell Hi-Tec in the US? These shoes are super nice.

    • Reply 2summers October 11, 2016 at 4:05 pm

      Thanks Lisa, glad you enjoyed it.

  • Reply Rebecca October 15, 2016 at 4:30 pm

    Cape Town… one of my most favourite cities in the world. It has to be one of the most beautiful. Glad you had a great trip! 🙂

    • Reply 2summers October 20, 2016 at 1:47 pm

      Thanks Rebecca, it really is an amazing city.

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