[Day 1] Cape Town - Shark Cage Diving & Lion's Head Sunset Hike
Shark Cage Diving
The number one thing I wanted to do in Cape Town was go Shark Cage Diving. The coast of South Africa is known for having an abundance amount of sharks, especially during June - July months because they swarm around baby seals who are barely just learning how to swim. They pray on them those winter months in an area called "Shark Alley." This was the first thing I booked for the first full day I had in Cape Town just in case we didn't see any sharks, I could go back the next day, the company guaranteed it.
I booked with Great White Shark Diving Co. and came out to be 2,000 Rand (including transportation, breakfast, lunch, boat, wetsuit), which is about $142. This wasn't too expensive for the experience of seeing great whites and being inches away from a shark plus the food they gave us were pretty decent. The only issue was that I had to be picked up at 3:30am... I set two alarms and heard them but didn't get up. The receptionist actually had to come into my room and wake me up. Whoops! But all good, I got up and ready in 10 minutes so they came back around after picking up other people to get me. We drove to Gansbaai, a city about 1.5 hours away from Cape Town. We were served breakfast, which consisted of eggs, cereal, fruits, juice, all the basics. Then we hopped on a boat and sailed out 20 minutes or so.
They baited the sharks with a big tuna head that they attached to a string and threw out into the water. It took a bit before we saw any sort of action from the water. While we waited we got into our wetsuits and half of us went into a 4x1 meter cage that got dropped into the water. Oh man the water was freezing even in my wetsuit! The visibility underwater wasn't that great that day so we could only see sharks underwater if they came really close to the cage. A good number of them came around but we couldn't see anything underwater.
We were in the cage waiting for awhile and then switched with the other group. I was able to see a good number of them from the boat but none underwater the first time around. I think we saw a total of 7 or 8 different sharks that day. When I went into the cage the second time, I was able to see TWO sharks underwater. They swam really close to us! The second one actually smashed against the cage with its tail. It was soooo cool! You can see a video of it on my personal instagram: @chibacca.
To be honest, I would have been pretty disappointed to have paid all that money and not have seen any sharks underwater. The other group didn't see any at all so if I were them, I would be upset with the experience and not deem it worth it. However, for me, it was an amazing experience and worth every penny!
For lunch we were served lasagna while watching a video one of the crew member made. In my opinion, I'm not even sure if I'm allowed to even have an opinion about this, the video was pretty poorly made. The video didn't go well with the music nor were there any parts that made it worth the money they charged. I think if they are going to be selling it, they should put more effort into making a good video instead of it looking like a 10 year old put it together, sorry no offense...
Bo-Kaap Walking Tour
I did a free walking tour of the Bo-Kaap area of Cape Town. It's most well known for all the colorful houses up and down the streets. There have been many stories and theories of why these houses are painted so many bright colors but one that made the most sense to me was that back in the day a lot of people couldn't read so the only way they knew how to identify each building was by painting them different colors. Either way it has stayed around and gives Cape Town a unique edge.
Lion's Head Sunset Hike
This is a famous hike in Cape Town, especially during a full moon since it shines the whole path down the mountain once it gets night time. However, I heard that it could get pretty dangerous going down since it's a bit steep and people have gotten mugged at the bottom. So I found someone at the hostel who also wanted to go and we went together.
The taxi there was so cheap! At 1.5x surge, driving for 22 minutes, it only came about to be about $6.70... HOW IS THAT EVEN POSSIBLE? The hike up took us about 50 minutes, it can range from 45 minutes to about an hour. There are some steep parts on the way up where you have to hold on to a chain to climb up but it's not strenuous at all.
At the top, you get a great view of the city, harbor, mountains, and of course the sunset. People packed wine, snacks, etc to enjoy while watching the sun go down. We didn't plan for ahead enough to do that... but nonetheless it was still as beautiful.
On the way day, it did get a bit scary since it got dark pretty quickly. But we lucked out and met a few people who had headlamps so they helped us get down. We had to take the long way down, the path not involving the chains since it was pretty backed-up with people wanting to go down and others wanting to go up. Who went up at that time, I'm not even sure...