My previous project ended in Johannesburg (South Africa), I had about a week to get to my next project in Namaqualand (Western South Africa). I took a Greyhound bus from Johannesburg to Cape Town. My next plan was visiting a friend in Stellenbosch.
Against all recommendation, I took a train from Cape Town to Stellenbosch (Apparently, it’s not done as a ‘white guy’). So, I started off my journey very cautious and made my way to the railway station with all my belongings close to me. I had my large backpack on my back, a small one in front, one hand in my right pocket holding my wallet, one hand in my left hand holding my mobile phone… 5 mins in my walk, arriving at the railway station, 2 guys were looking at me and laughing. I suddenly realised I must have looked a bit strange/weird/afraid, which was definitely not the way to approach this challenge. Thanks to these guys I started to relax a bit more, exploring the railway station, buying my ticket, getting on the train, all without any problem at all. I even encounter a couple of people asking me if they could help. But I never felt unsafe and it was a great way to experience some ‘local life’ in South Africa.
After my arrival, I spend a couple of days exploring Stellenbosch, including a wine tour and a tour along the coast. I stayed a couple of days in the hostel Banghoek Place and a couple of days at my friends’ place. One of my favourite days was the day my friend took me along the coastline to Betty’s Bay and Hermanus.
The coast is very rocky with some hills next to the coast. Our first stop was Betty’s Bay to have a look at the penguins. These penguins are called the Jackass penguins or African penguins. Together with the ostriches, these penguins are the only flightless bird species found in Africa. Around this colony, we also saw some other birds and there were a lot of Rock Dassies (Hyrax). These are actually very closely related to elephants.
Our next stop was Hermanus. This place is quite popular for tourists to do some whale watching. We got lucky, as we weren’t in prime whale season. We got a couple of glimpse from a whale which I recall to be a Southern Right Whale. Hermanus was very touristy, but a nice little town.
The Jaguar book
But one of my greatest discoveries still had to come… After seeing these whales, the ocean went pretty quiet from whale watching point of view, so we went into the little town. While I was wondering around I got into a second-hand book store where I got lost in the ‘nature’ section. Suddenly I came across a very old book of (at that time) my wildlife conservation hero ‘Alan Rabinowitz’. It was the book “JAGUAR: One Man’s Struggle to Save Jaguars in the Wild” from 1987. As you will see later this has partly led to my adventures in Belize (Belize 2015, Belize 2016)
My days in Stellenbosch were coming to an end as I had to go to Cape Town to organise my visa extension. I filled in some paper work and applied for an extension of my visitor’s visa for another 3 months. During my time in Cape Town, I stayed at ‘A Sunflowers Stop Backpackers’ hostel, very nice hostel with pool, bar and nice and informative staff.
Soon it was time to head north to my next adventure with the Cape Leopard Trust. I took an Intercape Bus from Cape Town to Springbok, where I would be picked up.
Read more about my experiences in Southern Africa:
1. Summer 2014: it’s time for Africa!
2. Botswana: Strikes, missing flights, waiting, free hotels, …
3. Chobe National Park: first experiences
4. Wild dogs and more leopard stories
5. Botswana: More pictures
6. Bye Bye Botswana, but first more lions, leopards and wild dogs
7. Moving between projects: Johannesburg – Cape Town – Stellenbosch – Cape Town ….
8. Volunteering with Cape Leopard Trust in Namaqualand, South Africa