Four Days to Sculpt a Masterpiece in South Africa


Table Mountain - For Travel CompetitionFour days. A mere four days my American friends had to spend in the New York Times’ #1-rated city to visit in 2014, and it was my privilege to be their host and resident tour guide. After living in Cape Town for a decade, my love for the diverse metropolis runs hot through my veins. Though a native to West Michigan, Africa is now in my blood.

With only 96 hours to mold and shape, I was determined to make the most of each tick of the clock, to fashion the minutes into a masterpiece that would not soon be forgotten.

They came in October, my favorite month in South Africa, with skies as blue as robins’ eggs. Summer southern hemisphere temps, but not yet the scorching heat and congested beaches that descend with the December holidays.

As an appetizer, we kicked off the visit with a scenic drive to the rolling winelands of the northern suburbs. Cheese and wine tasting, African sun pinking our cheeks.

Over the course of the next days, we hit the major breath-taking attractions.

Piling into a borrowed VW kombi, we drove the winding coastal roads to the ends of the earth — Cape Point, with 270 degrees of undulating, endless ocean, and lumbering baboons and regal ostriches standing as sentries on the fourth point of the compass. Then home for a dip in the pool and a good ol’ S’African boerewors braai, complimented by the staple pap and spicy chakalaka.

Had the white tablecloth of clouds been cooperative and cleared temporarily, a cable car ride to the top of Table Mountain, one of the ‘new seven wonders of nature,’ would have been essential. Sadly, even a hike up the neighboring Lion’s Head didn’t materialize, but the unseasonable clouds did break enough for the more adventurous to paraglide off its base, soaring over Sea Point and the shallow, chilly Atlantic.

A drive up the curvy bends of Signal Hill was rewarded by panoramic views of the bustling city bowl, the majesty of Table Mountain and Devil’s Peak, the historic Robben Island, and Green Point Stadium, now exhaling unobtrusively after a steady stream of blasting vuvuzelas during the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

We passed through the wooded serenity of Newlands before strolling the cobblestone paths of Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, protea and birds of paradise prominently royal among the diversity of fauna and flora. Many a visitor have mused it must have been the Garden of Eden.

We couldn’t let our friends leave without a romantic outdoor lunch at The Africa Cafe — a bit pricy, but a ‘must stop’ for tourists. The boldly-colored restaurant prides itself on traditional dishes and tapas from all over the continent. A blender of languages as varied as the menu zoomed and swirled on the sidewalk, from Afrikaans to Xhosa, mini-bus taxi drivers rallying up customers with shouts and hollers emanating over pumping Kwaito beats through open passenger windows. Signature Kaapstad.

Inhaling the salty air of Camps Bay, with the peaks of the Twelve Apostles standing tall and proud in the background, like butlers in tuxedos, ready to serve, we savored the creamy coolness of our Sinnfull ice cream — best in town.

Another day without blemish spent to the fullest in the Mother City.

For the grand finale, we ventured along the Garden Route on the southern coast, ninety minutes to Hermanus, the whale capital of S’Africa. Stopping off at Betty’s Bay on the way, camera shutters clicked left and right, capturing both African penguins and southern right whales in one shot from the snaking, wind-blown boardwalk.

Hermanus was gloriously picturesque. After a leisurely walk along the stone paths carved into coastline cliffs, we hugged our goodbyes into the sun-kissed sea air, glossy, frolicking whales waving farewell just meters away.

The time was up; the sculpted masterpiece was complete.

About the Author: Kate Motaung grew up on the shores of Lake Michigan before spending ten years in Cape Town, South Africa. She spends her days relying on the Lord’s grace to support her South African husband in his ministry and homeschool their three children.

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