Started the day with breakfast in the hotel and checked with receptionist on the status of Robben Island ferry. Cancelled. OMG. That was unbelievable. We were really disappointed but there was simply no other choice. Drove our vehicle to V&A to collect our customised towels and also to get the refund on the tickets from the ticketing office. However, I forgot I left the tickets in the haversack that was in the car’s boot but thought I left it in the luggage and so we rushed back to the hotel only to remember after that. Cape Heritage hotel was really close to V&A and luckily we did not waste too much time and it took about 30mins max to travel to and fro. Furthermore, the traffic was light since it was still early on a weekend. After this, we tried our luck with Table mountain again and drove up to the same carpark spot. The heavy mist was still all around and then that’s when we decided to visit Lambert’s Bay, 300km up north from Cape Town, something that we planned as contingency should Robben Island fail.
So it was all highway on the N7 at average speed of 120km/h with 2 lanes till it became 1 as we moved away from Cape Town. One of the amusing behaviour of drivers in SA was that people here were generally courteous. On the 1 lanes, drivers at the slower pace would move to the shoulder so that the faster ones could pass. Once passed, the front driver would turn on the hazard light for about 2 flickers to say “thank you” to the slower driver. Then I learnt to do the same too since we were at a faster pace then some of the drivers and some of them would return my “thank you” with 2 short bursts of high beam flashes to say “you are welcome”. There were also some people who drove really fast, zooming past me even when I was at speeds of 140km/hr already.
When we moved onto side roads off from the main highway, the traffic became a little more congested. We even met a roadblock for road works that last some kilometers and they had to do the 10mins roadblock for each direction in order for the construction work to carry on and concurrently traffic continued usage of the road. Skies cleared as we moved closer inland and away from Cape Town and we were hopeful that Lambert’s bay could present a change of weather to what we have encountered in Cape Town.
Some 3hrs and we arrived at Lambert’s bay. Small town with small buildings with lots of space in between. It was already 2pm and we visited one of the restaurants (not many of them anyway) that was in Lambert’s Bay Hotel and there were only 2 of us. Looked at the menu that consisted mostly seafood, not surprising for somewhere just next to the ocean. The seafood was really tasty!
While waiting for the food, I went to the reception to get some brochures on things to do in Lambert’s Bay. There were some trips that could be arranged earlier for fishing and such. We were interested in a visit to bird island reserve and the receptionist informed that we could walked over to the reserve where we could see the natural habitat of the thousands of birds on the island.
After lunch, we drove closer to the entrance that was just 1 min away. I approached the guardhouse personnel to ask for directions but he gave me a disappointing answer. The island was close due to bad weather. This was really frustrating, 300 km away and still bad weather! He went on to say that the tide was too choppy and we would not be able to walk across the land that was connecting the main island to the bird island. It was the truth and we had to turn back. We came 300km just to have lunch.
It was the same route back, same areas picturesque with landscapes and vegetation. It was an enjoyable road trip. Stopped by a hydrodam to snap a picture too, though it was not like we haven’t seen one before.
When we arrived back at Cape Town, we saw that the clouds at the top of Table Mountain have cleared! A tinge of regret felt as we were contemplating whether to climb or to go Lambert’s bay, looked like we chose the wrong option!
Drove to V&A again for dinner and again we ate at the smaller branch of Simply Asia, which was grouped together with a few other fast food counters. Went back to the hotel feeling disappointed and packed in preparation for the trip back home the next day. Not an ending that we all expected.
Day 17: Home Sweet Home
Our flights was planned at 10ish in the morning and thus we had to leave really early since we had to return the car too. As usual, the traffic was light on Sunday morning and driving to the airport was of no hassle. While on the road, we saw the clear view of Table Mountain and it was like telling us again how unfortunate we were to visit at that time of the year. Took a final shot and continued towards the airport.
Returning was a bit tricky, we had to pump gas till it was full at the station nearest the airport and then returned at the designated location. GPS really came in handy in this aspect even though we still had to go around in circles trying to find the entrance of the car return location. There was one huge parking lot designated for return of rental vehicles for many different companies, and locating the same company sign was not easy. Once we parked the vehicle and handover the keys, we had to cross the road to return the GPS at the main office at which then the whole procedure was completed. Checked in was no drama and we were soon shopping at the waiting area of the airport.
This was unlike Changi, the area was so much smaller and not much to see. My wife wanted to get some safari stuff toys but eventually did not as there were space in the house to place them. They were quite cute by the way, especially the warthogs and rhinos.
Then it was a 12hrs flight back to Singapore, via Joburg 1hr transit. We only arrived at 6am following day due to the time difference.
This travel experience gave us much insight to the culture and lifestyle of South Africa. We experienced the extremes between the insecurity felt in Joburg and the comfort in Cape Town. It was also our first safari experience that we enjoyed thoroughly and having to visit 2 different safaris, it was a good introduction of what to expect for future safari visits. The visit of Vic Falls gave us time to appreciate the beauty that Earth could offer and the grandeur of the falls showed the insignificance of ourselves in the greater environment. Overall a successful trip lest would be more perfect without the constant bad weather.