Tag Archives: Table Mountain

Get To Know Table Mountain’s Vastly Underrated Neighbor, Lion’s Head Mountain

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Being a self-proclaimed “Capetonian” pro, I often tell people I meet that the hike up Lion’s Head is much more enjoyable than the routes up Table Mountain. And for many reasons.

Table Mountain is one of the new seven natural wonders of the world and deservingly so.  This 1,085m mountain with a relatively flat summit earned its name from the spillage of clouds that cover the top like a tablecloth. It truly is a world wonder.

But.

Directly neighboring Table Mountain is another smaller, more precious mountain called Lion’s Head which stands at about 669m, much shorter than it’s counterpart. Lion’s Head has a unique spiral shape leading up to the apex of the mountain which resembles the shape of a lion laying down. It took me awhile to see it.

Lion’s Head lives in the shadow of the ever prominent Table Mountain, but I actually prefer it over its more popular neighbor.

Unlike most routes leading up Table Mountain, the singular path spiraling up to Lion’s Head is completely out in the open. You literally circle up with the Atlantic Ocean, Cape Town, and Table Mountain always in view. To see the clouds blanketing Table in such a close encounter is simply stunning.

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To get to the base, or the start of the hike, simply take a taxi or a cheaper Uber there. That’s it. It’s impossible to get lost as there is only one route that leads up. No entry fees either. It’s completely free as of this post.

The hike itself is straightforward, but it’s the last twenty minutes or so that I would consider the fun part. You literally have to start using your hands to climb up steady boulders and crevices, along with ladders and chain-links to pull yourself up. You may hear people say that it was difficult, but these are the same tourists who would probably consider botanical gardens and art museums a crazy good time. The joy of climbing overwhelmed any difficulty I may have had. It takes about an hour to reach the top, depending on your pace. Though I guarantee you’ll be stopping a bunch to take photos, which is a must!

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Myself along with a few other backpackers made the climb around 4pm, to give us enough time to relax at the top and enjoy a few beers for the sunset. No, there aren’t any beerstands there. Instead, I filled up a dry bag with ice and cans of South Africa’s best brews and carried it up. Easy as pie. Many people also brought snacks and food to the top. Just make sure you take everything you brought up, back down with you as there are no bins for rubbish,

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While you are up there, every side of the top offers alluring panoramas and magazine-worthy shots. Feel free to explore everywhere!

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You MUST stay for the sunset! 

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But, don’t stay too long, especially without flashlights to guide your way back down. There is an alternate route to bypass all the climbing bits, that leads you back to the spiraling path downward, back to the start of the hike.

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The walk up to Lion’s Head didn’t take nearly as long as it did for Table Mountain, the route is more open, and is much easier on the legs when walking back down as opposed to the many rocky steps on Table. Although Table does have the cable car option.

Also with Table Mountain, sometimes you just never know when there’s an incoming cloud cover to totally block your view from everything. Like this…

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For more posts like these and everything related to ADVENTURE TRAVEL, please subscribe by clicking the Follow button on this page and also follow along on Instagram and Facebook! I’d love to hear from you.  🙂

 

 

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Get To Know Table Mountain's Vastly Underrated Neighbor, Lion's Head Mountain

IMG_9182

Being a self-proclaimed “Capetonian” pro, I often tell people I meet that the hike up Lion’s Head is much more enjoyable than the routes up Table Mountain. And for many reasons.

Table Mountain is one of the new seven natural wonders of the world and deservingly so.  This 1,085m mountain with a relatively flat summit earned its name from the spillage of clouds that cover the top like a tablecloth. It truly is a world wonder.

But.

Directly neighboring Table Mountain is another smaller, more precious mountain called Lion’s Head which stands at about 669m, much shorter than it’s counterpart. Lion’s Head has a unique spiral shape leading up to the apex of the mountain which resembles the shape of a lion laying down. It took me awhile to see it.

Lion’s Head lives in the shadow of the ever prominent Table Mountain, but I actually prefer it over its more popular neighbor.

Unlike most routes leading up Table Mountain, the singular path spiraling up to Lion’s Head is completely out in the open. You literally circle up with the Atlantic Ocean, Cape Town, and Table Mountain always in view. To see the clouds blanketing Table in such a close encounter is simply stunning.

IMG_9194.jpg

To get to the base, or the start of the hike, simply take a taxi or a cheaper Uber there. That’s it. It’s impossible to get lost as there is only one route that leads up. No entry fees either. It’s completely free as of this post.

The hike itself is straightforward, but it’s the last twenty minutes or so that I would consider the fun part. You literally have to start using your hands to climb up steady boulders and crevices, along with ladders and chain-links to pull yourself up. You may hear people say that it was difficult, but these are the same tourists who would probably consider botanical gardens and art museums a crazy good time. The joy of climbing overwhelmed any difficulty I may have had. It takes about an hour to reach the top, depending on your pace. Though I guarantee you’ll be stopping a bunch to take photos, which is a must!

IMG_0610.jpg

IMG_0646.jpg

Myself along with a few other backpackers made the climb around 4pm, to give us enough time to relax at the top and enjoy a few beers for the sunset. No, there aren’t any beerstands there. Instead, I filled up a dry bag with ice and cans of South Africa’s best brews and carried it up. Easy as pie. Many people also brought snacks and food to the top. Just make sure you take everything you brought up, back down with you as there are no bins for rubbish,

IMG_9115.jpg

IMG_9113.jpg

While you are up there, every side of the top offers alluring panoramas and magazine-worthy shots. Feel free to explore everywhere!

IMG_9200.jpg

IMG_9120.jpg

 

IMG_9174.jpg

You MUST stay for the sunset! 

IMG_9201.jpg

IMG_0628.jpg

IMG_9197.jpg

But, don’t stay too long, especially without flashlights to guide your way back down. There is an alternate route to bypass all the climbing bits, that leads you back to the spiraling path downward, back to the start of the hike.

IMG_0654.jpg

The walk up to Lion’s Head didn’t take nearly as long as it did for Table Mountain, the route is more open, and is much easier on the legs when walking back down as opposed to the many rocky steps on Table. Although Table does have the cable car option.

Also with Table Mountain, sometimes you just never know when there’s an incoming cloud cover to totally block your view from everything. Like this…

IMG_8701


For more posts like these and everything related to ADVENTURE TRAVEL, please subscribe by clicking the Follow button on this page and also follow along on Instagram and Facebook! I’d love to hear from you.  🙂

 

 

Fiona Ellsworth: Queen of South Africa!

Welcome to my 100th post on Sellers Abroad! It’s been one hundred stories of worldly adventures, wild animals, weird foods, cool foreigners, embarrassing nights, extreme excursions, and crazy good memories with crazy awesome people! To commemorate such a milestone, I am dedicating this post to one of the most beloved doggies in the world; her name is Fiona Ellsworth. She’s not even my dog.

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Dan, who the heck is Fiona and why would you dedicate a post to a dog? Well, it just so happens that today, since the trip with the Kayamandi kids is over, Chris and I must start working on the perks we promised to all of our contributors. One of those perks is having your name written on Table Mountain. No we won’t vandalize the mountain in any way, we planned on creating names out of small colorful rocks. Table Mountain has gained the prestigious honor of becoming one of the new seven natural wonders of the world. Its 1085 meters high and it gets its name from its flat, table top like, surface at the top of the mountain. Clouds usually cover the top and drape over giving it the illusion of a table cover. Once we create the names out of stones on the highest point of the mountain, we will take photos and create something wonderful to our donors!

What does this have to do with a dog?

Well, one of those contributors is Kelly Ellsworth, a friend of mine and the nicest human being to ever exist on Earth. She actually suggested the idea that I raise money towards school supplies for the kids last year. Kelly has a dog she fostered and adopted named Fiona, who is possibly the most spoiled dog in the state of Michigan! I’m not even kidding about that…

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Spoiled much?
Spoiled much?

Kelly contributed to Reaching Out 2 The World and wanted the Table Mountain perk. She mentioned how it would be great if I could put Fiona’s name on top along with maybe a picture of her. She came up with the idea of a makeshift flag of Fiona for me to stick up there. I thought it was a joke at first but then I realized how serious she was and I thought it would be kinda fun for me to do once I got back to South Africa. Kelly sent me a picture of Fiona that I took to a photo shop in Stellenbosch and blew up into a larger size. Before we went up the mountain, Chris and I went to a local supermarket to buy supplies to make a flag. We found a bug catching net and some tape. Perfect! We took the train to Cape Town and then hopped on a cab to the bottom of Table Mountain. All we needed were rocks to use for the names. Preferably rocks that would stand out that you could see from a distance. On the base of Table Mountain, were a few trees that were surrounded with small orange rocks that would be perfect for name building! So we grabbed our bags and stole a few while we kept watch that security wasn’t looking. A guy, who I presumed worked for the mountain, came by and told us we can’t do that. We quickly said it was okay, we had “permission”, and that we would return the rocks once we were finished. He believed us, so we gathered more rocks!

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Both Chris and I have hiked Table Mountain multiple times in the past already, so there was no urge to hike it again, especially since we were on a time limit, we decided to just take the cable car up. A decision that proved to be smart because my bag was pretty heavy with all of the rocks we put in it. There was no way I’d want to carry this bag up this mountain! Once we made it to the top, Chris and I immediately went to go look for the perfect place to create our donors names. We went past the crowds of people and found a place that had an excellent view of Cape Town and the ocean. From the spot we chose, you could see the Waterfront, Lions Head Mountain, Robben Island, the Cape Town Stadium, Long Street, and so much more! We found our position!

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We started crafting the names out of the stones, but we didn’t realize how long it was going to take! We thought we would have enough time to walk across the table top and take some shots of our own once we were finished with the rocks. We brought a frisbee, a couple of flags, a deck of cards, and even some juggling balls to get some creative photography going! Instead, we were busy spelling names out of stone which took about 20 minutes or so for each name. At points when Chris was busy compiling a name, I was busy crafting a flag of Fiona.

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It was pretty simple. All I did was tape the bug catcher’s net to the back of Fiona’s picture and presto! The Fiona Flag was complete. Once that was complete, I continued in helping Chris craft everyone’s names on the cliff.

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After we got most of the names done, and took photos of them from about every angle imaginable, we went up to a higher part of the mountain with the Fiona Flag in tow! I found the perfect place to set the flag, situated between a few slabs of rock on a boulder that overlooked Cape Town.

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There she was…Fiona’s face high above Cape Town, South Africa! I’m not gonna lie, as we were putting together the flag and carrying it around for pictures, we had waves of bystanders looking at us like we were absolutely nuts! What are those two guys doing with a giant photo of a dog??

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Nonetheless, we continued on creating more names out of rocks. It took us a few hours but we got the job done!

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If you are reading this and were promised the Table Mountain perk from us, we decided to not show it on here so your surprise won’t get ruined. I put one of MANY Kelly and Fiona’s photos here because, well…it’s only fitting for this post. Chris and I had a train to catch at 5:30 so we didn’t really have much time left to wander on top of the mountain taking awesome photos like we planned, but we did catch a few anyways.

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We walked around with the Fiona flag while people stared and wondered what that was all about. It would be too long of a story to tell people why we have a flag of a dog, so we came up with something a little more interesting we would tell people when they asked. It’s our dog that we hiked up with here before, but she fell off the mountain. This is a flag in her memory. We took the cable car back down the mountain, returned the rocks that we stole, and found a cab. This was my fifth time on the mountain and it was Chris’s fourth. I don’t plan on coming back to Table Mountain anymore unless I HAD to! We took a cab back to the train station and saw there was a train leaving fifteen minutes earlier than what we were told. It was headed our direction, so we took it to save time. THAT turned out to be a huge mistake! The train was the most crowded I have ever seen! I could barely move and my elbow was jammed in poor Chris’ stomach most of the way. We realized we were on the wrong train when it zipped past our stop. We ended up in Strand and took another train that took us somewhere else we didn’t need to go. It was dark and there were no more trains running! Fortunately, Zulu’s son came and picked us up from a station a few towns away when we called and asked for help!

We left early today to go to Table Mountain and got back so late, but we got the hard part of the Table Mountain perk finished. Now all we have to do is some editing and printing (which we will do once we get back to America). Tomorrow we have a big day planned! After our first failed attempt at visiting my old school near Muizenberg a couple of weeks ago, Chris and I will try again in the morning to reunite with the kids I became so close with last year. A perfect way to begin another 100 posts around the world for the long run!

This one was for you Fiona Ellsworth, who became the 8th natural wonder of the world for that day on Table Mountain!

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Spoiled dog. 🙂

Day 1: Reaching Out 2 The World

The name “Reaching Out 2 The World” essentially is what this blog is achieving. This blog has reached out to over 100 different countries and counting. But more importantly than just that, Reaching Out 2 The World is also about showing less privileged kids what else is out there on this big planet of ours. Our mission was to come up with a way to take a few deserving township kids on a big trip outside their home. Our second focus is to deliver those stories and footage from the trip to everyone in the world via our blogs, Facebook accounts, and many other social media vehicles. The idea alone seemed difficult to pull off at first, but when you combine two powerful minds together and with the help of our families and friends, it’s something Chris O’Sullivan and I made possible.

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We initially hatched the idea way back in October of 2012, when I went to meet Chris in his home state of Pennsylvania. Over the course of the next few months, we decided the best way to fund the money was to put together a campaign to tell everyone what we were up to. Even though we were separated by a few states, we kept in contact coming up with ideas and working on different things and relaying them back and forth to get each others input. We worked for months on videos, logo designs, shirts, perks, and travel plans. Chris contacted Hotspots2c, a touring company he went through before in South Africa, and told them about the plan. Happily, they were on board to help us in any way they could which was great news for us! They loved the idea and thought this would be an amazing opportunity for the kids. All we needed to tell them was how many kids were coming, when we would take the trip, and things we might be interested in doing. It took a lot of back and forth communication with people we knew in South Africa, people we knew at home who could help us, and all of the people that graciously donated to our cause for the kids. In May 2013 we launched the fundraising campaign which lasted for 60 days and were able to raise about $3,500, which we thought would be more than enough to totally fund these kids on this trip! All the money left over we would use to donate to special causes or schools in South Africa. As of this post, we haven’t decided yet who to give the money to but I promise you’ll know as soon as we do.

We already knew which kids would be coming. The core eight kids we both bonded with minus Fudo who has moved from Kayamandi. We wish we could take as many kids as possible but we decided to just take the ones who stuck with us since the beginning: Avela Lisa, Rethabile Mofama (RiRi), Mawande Mcinjana, Athabile Nowa (Atha), Aphiwe Ngemntu, Simamkele Mtshotame (Ski), Kanyisa Peter (Chester), and Lupho Sitole. If I’m spelling any of those names wrong, then it’s because of the kids handwriting!

The trip would take place over five days. The agenda for the first day, 23 Monday 2013, was to drive the scenic route from Kayamandi to Hout Bay and from there take a boat out to Seal Island. Afterwards, we would take a cable car up to Table Mountain, and then hike up to the peak of Lions Head Mountain and then return to Kayamandi for the night before we set off on the southern coast the next day. We told all the boys that they MUST be by our house by 8 am or we would have to leave with out them! The great Isaac was our tour guide and driver and would be picking all of us up in his Hotspots van. All eight kids arrived before the van came, even Atha who is always usually late. If you recall, when I took the kids out to Cape Town via train last year, Atha came running down the train tracks to catch up with us!

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When Isaac pulled up, he presented us and the kids with complimentary Hotspots travel bags filled with snacks and sunglasses which the kids wore immediately from then on. I could tell by the looks on their faces, that they were excited yet filled with not knowing exactly what they would be doing. I don’t think they fully grasped the concept yet, but still they were roaring to begin! Isaac also brought his eleven year old daughter Mimi with him today to join the boys for their first day. I had no idea Isaac even had a daughter! She was welcomed into the group quite easily though.

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We started off by driving to Cape Town around the scenic route of Seaside to Hout Bay. I forgot to take my motion pill and started to feel a little bleh during the drive, but fortunately soon we made it to Hout Bay. Hout Bay is known for its spectacular seaside views of the mountainous landscapes surrounding. It is also the hub port to Seal Island. Once we got off the tour van, we realized we were a little early before our scheduled ferry would depart to Seal Island, so we walked with the kids around the dock.

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Here they saw seals which the kids aptly referred to as “water dogs” eating fish bait thrown in by locals who worked at the harbor. One of the locals stuck a fish in his mouth, just as a water dog leaped up out of the water to bite the fish from his mouth! The kids thought it was pretty cool!

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At the harbor, was a banjo band that would strum jivey tunes as passengers disembarked the ferry. They wore yellow suits and top hats with red ties. Some of them even had mustaches and beards painted with glitter. The kids didn’t want to admit it, but I think they were digging the tunes, especially Mawande who I caught dancing on video!

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Finally, it was about time for our ferry to arrive soon so we went and stood in line behind iPad welding tourists. The ferry pulled up and I saw that the best place for us would be in the front of the boat, to capture excellent footage. Plus, I think the boys would have more fun outside in the front than in the cabin in the middle. Once we were let on the ferry, we made way to the front and had the prime position! Most of the boys have never been on a boat this size before so there was no way of knowing if any of them would get boat sick! The ferry started to move and we were on our way to Seal Island! I underestimated the size of the waves and the rockiness of the ferry. It’s so big that I didn’t think the boat would rock and jump so much but boy was I wrong! I also saw that Mawande started to get a little dizzy. As the boat was in motion, Mawande crouched down on the floor with his head hanging. We discovered that Mawande can get boat sick, as he was on the floor for almost the entire time. Don’t worry buddy, I feel your pain! I eventually joined him for a bit on the floor. Mawande is 13 years old and attends Kayamandi High School as a freshman. His name “Mawande” means “growth” which is ironic because Mawande has always been the runt of the group! Even though he is one of the smallest, he has a big heart and is very smart. I would say that he speaks English very well compared to the others. Mawande lives in a small shanty home in Kayamandi with his parents and younger brother Onge who usually also comes over to hang out with us at the Zulu residence. Out of all the boys, I would also consider Mawande one of the most well behaved of the bunch. He always listens to us and he never gets out of hand, which is probably why we never mind having him over. He is a pretty awesome kid! If we ever go on another boat, I’ll be sure to give him a motion sickness tablet to help him out. Although, he did feel dizzy, it didn’t completely stop him from enjoying his time at sea. Once we made it to Seal Island, he and the others stood on the deck to gaze at the hundreds of seals that claimed this small island as home. You could smell the seals stench where we stood and it wasn’t anywhere near pleasant. The boys look on their faces from the smell was pretty funny!

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Once we viewed the island for about ten minutes, we went back towards the harbor. On the way, a group of Asian tourists also on the ferry, wanted to take pictures with the boys! It was probably because since they were in Africa, they wanted to take a picture with an African child. This was something I have grown used to in Southeast Asia as a lot of the Asians there wanted to take pictures with me because I looked so different from them. The boys, who aren’t camera shy at all, didn’t mind it either and were loving the attention!

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Once we made it back to the harbor, we were greeted by the funny banjo band. I got footage of Ski and Atha dancing when they weren’t paying attention. Soon we will put together a video montage of their trip, showcasing some of their moves! Isaac soon picked us up to take us to lunch nearby the Hout Bay Harbor. The place that was already reserved for us was called Fish On The Rocks.
20130927-090031.jpgIt was all fish. Nothing but fish. Great for the boys but not for me. As the boys chowed down on fish and chips, Isaac and I went real quick to KFC to pick up some real food. When we came back, the boys were already done with theirs. We hung around and took pictures near the harbor for a bit and then afterwards made way to one of the new seven natural wonders of the world, Table Mountain!

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All of the kids have been here at least once on a field trip with their school prior, but you can’t do a trip in South Africa without visiting the mountain, no matter how many times you’re on it! The idea of hiking with them up the mountain, which would take at least two hours, didn’t sound appetizing at all, so instead we took the cable car to the very top to save time. This is my fourth time on the mountain and I can tell you firsthand that it hasn’t gotten old yet. The views of the oceans, mountains, and even Cape Town itself is always fantastic. I strapped my GoPro to Chester so when we make the video montage, we can get a first-person perspective of what he saw on the table top. We walked with the boys for a bit before we found a few boulders, perfectly placed, to take a few great pictures. Chris brought his American and South African flags with him for the boys to take pictures with. Of course, they put them on as if they were capes and pretended to be superheroes!

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I don’t think there was any place on the mountain where they didn’t think they needed a picture taken! Take Avele for example. There is no place where he won’t do his typical arms crossed, backwards peace sign pose! Avele is 13 years old and he currently lives in the Eastern Cape, which is a far drive from Kayamandi which lies in the Western Cape. The name “Avele” means “to arise”. Avele was the first one of the group that I met last year and he helped me find the others with ease. Avele and Mawande are cousins and just like Mawande, Avela speaks English just as well. He is a little quieter than the rest of the crew but he’s also one of the most creative. He drew me tons of pictures last year of random things out of the blue. I didn’t expect to see him again but I’m glad we were able to work out his return! He had a new New York baseball cap that he had with him this time and would constantly pose for pictures on top of the mountain with it. We stayed on Table Mountain for about an hour or so before we took the cable car back down. We planned on hiking Lions Head Mountain next, which is smaller than Table Mountain and lies adjacent to it. But first Isaac took us to the Eastern Bazaar in Cape Town for food. The Eastern Bazaar is known for it’s extensive amount of curry related options which I loved! But I didn’t think most of the boys would like it much and since it was their trip, I let them pick out whatever they wanted. The majority of them just wanted pizza! The pizza took a little longer to come out and I felt a little bad that they waited so long while I chowed down on Chicken Tikka Masala. It eventually came out and they stuffed themselves!

The plan was to hike Lions Head to see the sunset over the ocean. It was a little past five and we weren’t quite sure when the sun would set and how long the hike would take all of us, so we decided to just go to the mountain early to be on the safe side. We didn’t want to miss the sunset! Isaac drove us to the foot of Lions Head; at the start of the trail. This mountain is called Lions Head because the peak of the mountain is shaped like…well… a lions head. I never saw the lion before until this trip when I finally could make out a “lions head”. The trail up to the peak is relatively easy for the most part and we thought it would be suitable for the boys where they won’t get completely bogged down by all of the hiking and climbing. We started off the trail with a sprint! Thats how energized they all were. It wasn’t long before the sprinting turned into walking, accompanied by a few huffs and puffs. RiRi, Chester, and a couple of others led the pack the whole way up!

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I was all over the place taking pictures and video of everything. My camera was put to some good use today as I was constantly looking through it capturing everything that I could of the trip to share with you all! The trail turned from a simple pathway to rock climbing which I think might of been everyones favorite part.

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It wasn’t long until we made it to the peak! It took us under an hour which was great considering there were ten of us! We got to the top around 6 pm and realized we had plenty of time before the sun would set, which worked out fine because there were loads of opportunities for some sweet shots!

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We made ourselves at home on the peak, walking from edge to edge amongst the boulders and cliffs, reveling in the stunning backdrop of the cape. It was maybe an hour or so until the sun began to descend beyond the horizon. We gathered everyone to sit right on the cliff as we witnessed the sun slowly disappear into the ocean.

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It wasn’t long after when the kids started to make their way back down the mountain! They still had tons of energy and left Chris and I in their dust as they blazed back down. Along the way, other hikers would ask if we were responsible for these kids and if this was a field trip or something. I told them what we were up to and they thought it was the coolest thing! As a matter of fact, there were tourists at Hout Bay and on Table Mountain who noticed we were with a group of Xhosa speaking kids and asked us all about it. When I told them, they all seemed generally pleased and loved the idea of what we were doing.

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It was completely dark and time to go back to Kayamandi. On this trip, tonight would be the only time we would return to Kayamandi to stay the night. Tomorrow we would tour the coast but stay at accommodations that Hotspots have already booked for us. Once Isaac pulled up to Zulu’s, he let us know what time he’d be picking us all up. The kids had to be over a little earlier tomorrow than they did today, which meant that we should get some sleep because we would be out and about all day! Day 1 of the Reaching Out 2 The World trip was a massive success! Hout Bay, Seal Island, Table Mountain, and Lions Head – all just the appetizer to everything else we had in store for these Kayamandi kids. Stay tuned! 🙂

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Falling With Style

I have been trying to sky dive since way back in June, and there was always something that intervened, mainly the weather. However that would all change today; I finally will be able to jump out of an airplane! And the weather couldn’t have been any more perfect, absolutely no cloud in this blue sky. It was sunny, the temperature felt great, and no sign of rain. Today was the day my friends. 🙂

I missed school again, but this time my teachers had no idea I would be absent. I wasn’t able to tell them yesterday because I was abseiling. But I’m sure they’ll be fine, maybe not Zuki. She is probably going insane right now because I’m not around to help with their computer troubles haha! I’ll be back tomorrow to set things straight. In the meantime, I took a train to Cape Town in the morning to meet up with some volunteers from the Rec House who were also going to jump: Larry, Jess (U.K), and three new volunteers I haven’t met yet who are from somewhere in Europe. Isaac was nice enough to take us to sky dive initially, but he had an important tour that came up, so instead he sent his friend Maude to take us. The drive was about 45 minutes north of Cape Town, just below the Sands of Atlantis over a scenic, almost deserted route. We pulled up to a warehouse that held two small planes, the same planes we would all be going on, three at a time. None of us has ever sky dived before and there’s no better place to do it than in this beautiful panorama of the Western Cape. I didn’t care if I went first or not, but I was asked to go with the second group of three because the first group was the lightest or something. I wasn’t too nervous yet, and I figured I wouldn’t be until the moment before I jumped.

The first group left and I watched them as they all squeezed into a tiny plane. They were extremely nervous, but brave enough to finish their task at hand. My group was next. We put on our harness and met our tandem partner. The fact that my guy showed no ounce of nervousness made me feel relaxed and not as uneasy as I thought I would be. I had more butterflies bungee jumping than I did here.

The dive crew.

I was more excited than anything! We walked to the tiny aircraft and my tandem partner hopped in and said to me, “Come and sit between my legs.” Haha! I was laughing then, and laughing now just thinking about it. But sat between them I did. I never been on a plane so small before. We were pretty much jammed inside as we lifted off into the sky. The pilot announced that it would be a 20 minute plane ride to about 10,000 feet into the air; at least I think he said 10,000 feet, I was too excited to comprehend. On the way up, we could see all of Cape Town and then some. Table Mountain, Robben Island, all of the beaches, farmlands, vineyards, skyscrapers, the ocean, everything!

Amazing

Soon our tandem partners attached themselves to us. And then the moment came – the pilot shouted, “Open the hatch!”

I watched Larry jump out first; as he was the closest to the hatch.

Bye Larry haha!

I think my jaw was just about on the floor the whole time as I saw him fall into the abyss. The other volunteer I was with went out next (I forget her name, but I know she’s from Luxembourg). I wish I could have seen the expression on my face as I watched them leap off! I’m sure I looked funny. I was next up, and the last to jump. I shuffled towards the hatch until my legs were dangling off the plane. Alright, NOW I was nervous haha! I clutched my harness and tilted my head back, as I was instructed to, and before I knew it, I was free-falling in the sky.

#%#@*$$^@^(^@%$!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I got a tap on my shoulder, which meant I was free to let go of my harness and spread my wings. I don’t remember what I was shouting but I know they were certainly shouts of excitement pumped full of adrenaline. It looked as if the landscape below me wasn’t getting any closer, as the wind pummeled against my body. I loved every single micro-second of it. Suddenly, my partner pulled his cords and a parachute shot out of his backpack. Soon enough we were cruising in the air. And at that same moment, I didn’t feel too good.

I think my face says it all lol

I felt like I was going to vomit any second, in midair. Mr. Vertigo paid a visit to me (again) in the middle of the sky. I can’t say this was totally unexpected, because if you’ve read any of my previous blog posts, you’d know that everything EVERYTHING that moves seems to make me feel queasy haha! I didn’t eat anything that morning because I didn’t want to risk puking. It didn’t work, my stomach was uneasy. My tandem partner had no idea I felt like crap because I was laughing and bursting shouts of joy as we were falling. I bet if he could have seen my face after he pulled the cord he would have got the hint. I didn’t want this to interfere so I pretended I was fine. He gave me the handles to the parachute and let me guide for a little bit. “Pull your right arm towards your stomach!” he shouted. I did that and found that maneuver twisted us rapidly, spinning us round and round. He was laughing behind me, but my stomach was churning even more. There was really nothing I could do. It’s not like he could pull over real quick, let me stop to vomit, and then continue parachuting down. I had to wait until we made our proper landing.

I had to put my ‘wanting to vomit’ feeling aside for the camera!

I could see the Luxembourg girl a little down below me land, but there was no sign of Larry. Eventually, we made a perfect, smooth landing in the middle of the sand target, much to my relief. But I tell you, as soon as I landed, I felt perfectly fine again. Even with that brief queasiness, that was one of the most exhilarating things I have ever done in my life! Larry came down and landed right after me. I asked my tandem partner how did I land before Larry? He said it’s because I weighed more.

We met up with the first group who jumped and we were all still pumped about what we have just accomplished. I told the guides I felt like was going to vomit up there and I asked if it was normal to feel that way. He said it usually happens when people don’t eat. Go figure. I didn’t eat, to prevent just that but it turned out it worked against me. I would definitely sky dive again, but not on an empty stomach! Overall, the thrill of it overshadowed my queasiness. I love this.

After all was said and done, Maude dropped the Rec House volunteers at the train station and he was nice enough to take me home to Kayamandi. Good thing because I did not want to get on another train. When he dropped me, I saw two kids down the block playing with my soccer ball. Now was my chance to take back what’s mine! I walked toward the kids, and as I got closer, it turned out to be a girl and a boy, about nine or ten years old, playing with my ball by themselves. When I got close to them, they kicked the ball towards me and I felt how deflated and soft it was. It was definitely my ball, but it was now brown instead of white and there were cuts and scrapes all over it. I kicked the ball back towards them. Even if the ball looked like it did when I had it, I wouldn’t have the heart to take it from these two kids. It would have been a different story if it were the older kids who were playing though. So long soccer ball.

The two kids were were innocently playing with my ball.
It was nice knowing ya Wilson.

The Spanish girls time in Kayamandi was just about up, but before they departed, they wanted to make a special dish from Spain for the whole family and us volunteers. It was very tasty and I was just glad they didn’t make me cook anything or otherwise I would have ruined dinner for everyone haha! I went and laid in my bed right after that. All I kept thinking was, “Could I squeeze in another dive before I leave Africa?” Possibly…:)