Cape Town Diaries: Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens & Gold of Africa Museum

October 30, 2013
This will be my last installment of my Cape Town Diaries series describing what I did on the study tour I took to Cape Town, South Africa.  At this point in the trip, the study tour was officially over so all of the students besides myself and three others flew back to the States.  The four of us decided to extend our trip a little and spend an extra day in Cape Town and then head on to spend some time in Johannesburg.

Since our study tour ended, we were responsible for covering the cost of our hotel and finding our own accommodation.  We tried to continue our stay at the Breakwater Lodge by the V&A Waterfront, but for some reason they would not let the four of us share a suite that had two rooms with two twin beds in it.  Instead they told us that we had to book two separate suites, which was getting to be a bit pricey considering there are plenty of other options in Cape Town.  We thought about staying at Vicky's Bed & Breakfast in Khayelitsha because one of our instructors at OSU recommended the place to us.  Khayelitsha is a township outside of the city that was formed when blacks were forced from their homes by the government under the Group Areas Act.  Vicky sought to educate foreigners and tourists who stayed in her B&B about what life was like in the township.  She used her connections to give back to the community.  Vicky was reported to have been a lively, welcoming host, so we were pretty sad when we found out that Vicky was stabbed to death supposedly by her own husband in the B&B.  In the end we chose to stay at Parliament Hotel, which is located right in the city center.  The experience was a bit different for us because while we were staying in the Breakwater Lodge, we were a bit sheltered.  Since the Parliament Hotel is located in a more urban setting, we were exposed to a few things that we did not encounter in the V&A Waterfront, such as seeing a woman shooting up drugs into her arm on the street. 

On our last day, my friend Scott and I decided that we would visit Kirstenbosch Gardens.  It had been something we had been wanting to go and do, but on the days that we had free time, it was pouring rain, so we keep putting it off.  Unfortunately, we were in Cape Town for the start of their rainy season and it was pouring and cold by the time we arrived at Kirstenbosch.  We found out that there was a small tram that had a roof over it, so we decided to buy a ticket for that since walking around the gardens in a downpour would have made us miserable.  Our guide had a very thick accent and I had a lot of trouble understanding him.  I could tell my friend did as well judging by his responses which were, "Oh, that's interesting," "Uh huh, right," and "Oh, really?"  The gardens are located right at the bottom of Table Mountain, which makes for some pretty scenes.  Also, the gardens are different from other botanical gardens I've been to because at Kirstenbosch they try to stick to growing only plants that are indigenous to the region.  My two favorite things on our tour were seeing the national flower of South Africa, which is the protea and also seeing some guinea fowl.


After being outside in the cold, we headed over to the cafe and decided to warm up with some Rooibos tea, which is quite famous in South Africa.  Tea is rarely just tea in South Africa and usually "having tea" with someone means not only drinking tea but also having a bunch of different snacks ranging from mini sandwiches to pastries.   Happily for my group, many of my professor's contacts hosted several teas for us.

After our Kirstenbosch excursion, Scott and I decided to check out the Gold of Africa museum.  We are both not really that big on museums, but figured we might as well check it out since we had some extra time.

The next morning we were off to Jo'burg!
2 comments on "Cape Town Diaries: Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens & Gold of Africa Museum"
  1. It sucked that it was raining so much while you were visiting, but I like how you guys tried to have a good time regardless of the weather conditions. The pictures are beautiful and I'm glad you guys had a nice trip! :)

    -B ♡ MsBerryStylish 

    1. Yeah, there was a ton of stuff that we wanted to do, but the rain really limited us. The first week there the weather was perfect, though, so I'm thankful for that.