On Christmas Eve, only 24 hours after arriving in the United Arab Emirates, I headed back to the Abu Dhabi International Airport with my family for a “trip of a lifetime” as my mom calls it. We were on our way to South Africa for a ten-day vacation to Cape Town, Kruger National Park and the wine country. Since we arrived in Cape Town, I’ve learned a lot about the long, colonial history of South Africa starting with Dutch colonialism in 1652 and the proceeding British takeover starting in 1795, but also the country’s tragic history of apartheid.
We spent an afternoon at Robben Island, an island that housed many political prisoners starting in 1961. This is where Nelson Mandela spent 18 years of his life before the end of apartheid in the country. It is also where two other Presidents of South Africa were inmates: Kgalema Motlanthe and the current President Jacob Zuma. Robben Island is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and holds a museum where one can tour the old prison grounds to see where history was made.
The other half of this day we went to Table Mountain, one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature. Table Mountain is known for the shape: its flatness reminds viewers of a table-top and clouds that cover it seem to look like a table cloth.
Our third day was spent experiencing the beautiful mountainous and beach scenery of the coast. We not only visited the most South-Western point on the African continent, Cape of Good Hope, but also hiked to the top of Cape Point where there were great views of the crashing waves and greenery (and also a few baboons). Cape of Good Hope was first named “Cape of Storms” due to notorious bad weather when it was discovered by Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias in 1488. However, in the 1450’s, Vasco da Gama opened up a new trading route there for Europe with India and the Far East, leading to the eventual re-naming of the cape as “Cape of Good Hope” to represent the optimism brought by this trading route. The summit of Cape Point, Da Gama Peak, houses the old lighthouse that poorly tried to navigate sailors through mist and fog, and now offers beautiful views of the water and surrounding green landscape.
Today, December 29, was my last day in Cape Town and was spent outside in the warm Summer sun. With its rocky mountains, strong sun and gorgeous ocean landscapes, this city is easily one of the most beautiful places I’ve been to. The next few posts will be photographs of the places we’ve been on our trip, all taken with my new GoPro (thanks Santa).