I wouldn’t have dared to call my adventure with introducing Cape Town to my mom and them* the Tourist Way if we hadn’t used the touristiest of the touristy, the Red Bus. It’s a pretty expensive means of transport (R150 pp p day) which aims at showing visitors what must be seen in Cape Town. The ticket is valid for a day and you can choose where you want to get off the bus and how long you want to stay in a given location. There’s a bus every 20 minutes or so which is very convenient. The tickets are valid only for a chosen line and there are two main ones: the red city tour and the blue peninsula tour. The red line has become a joke after the regular Capetonian public transport, My Citi Bus, started to operate properly. It’s much cheaper to use the latter and you aren’t limited by any time frame within which you have to complete your journey. The blue line, however, goes to three places (Kirstenbosch Gardens, Constantia wine estates and World of Birds) that are currently not easily or not at all accessible with My Citi so it’s worth a shot if you don’t have a car and don’t feel like renting one. I must say I was surprised by the high quality of service you get during your trip. The buses are punctual and there is a timeous recorded commentary of the surroundings, available in numerous languages. The red double-deckers with an open top additionally allow taking pictures of places with backs of heads of random people on the bottom.
Unfortunately your favourite author didn’t manage to visit the wine estates in Constantia but will report to you about Kirstenbosch Gardens and the World of Birds.
Blue Route, stop 20. Kirstenbosch Gardens.
The coolest thing about doing activities with people who visit a place for the first time is that you adopt their attitude of curiosity and you learn to appreciate what you usually take for granted. Apparently, I had to go to Kirstenbosch with newbies and listen to their “oh my gods” and “wows” to pay enough attention to that beautiful place. The first time I went there was for a picnic, the second time to see a concert of a local band called “Mi Casa” (which has one song with different titles and words) and on both occasions I was busy with everything but simply looking around.
The Red Bus drops you off next to a side entry so if you want to participate in a FREE guided tour you’ll have to go to the main one. Please double check and call the garden to confirm that the regular tour at 10 am happens on the day you’re planning your trip. Our didn’t happen regardless of a confirmation on a website and when we complained we received an “oh well, sorry about that” and a DIY leaflet in apology. Sentenced to a solitary visit we started our tour with a bonsai tree, a sculpture and an all-you-can-get-in-South-Africa-plants greenhouse. In order of appearance:
In the very back of the greenhouse you can find the entry to the famous pot plantation:
Just kidding. No idea where it actually leads but my mom believed that story when I told her so I decided to try it on you as well. Jokes aside, you’re probably asking yourself, like Roskopp, what else is there (in the Kirstenbosch Garden)? There is this big tree which is pretty:
There are national South African flowers proteas:
There is this plant which I’m not sure whether is corn and yet reminds me of the horror movie “Children of the Corn”:
There are branches pretending to be fish and schizophrenic rocks convinced they’re skulls of dinosaurs:
There’s a plant that allegedly heals cancer:
There’s also a useful plants garden with descriptions of how certain plants can be used (e.g. as protective charms against evil spirits).
When you’re tired with the overwhelming beauty and/or all your ailments are healed you may want to enjoy a meal and a cold beverage at the garden’s tea room restaurant. The venue has prices which aren’t too crazy, good food and fast service.
A meal for three cost us slightly below 300R but I must say that the food was delicious.
Healthy and full you may want to continue to the next stop which is Constantia wine farms. We decided to skip them as the variety of wine estates in Stellenbosch was on our itinerary for the following days.
Blue Route stop 21. The World of Birds.
For starters, WoB is not a zoo but more of a lifelong hospital. The birds which are there are victims of accidents or stupidity of people who took them as pets, got bored and abandoned them. You can save your ecological breath – if not for the WoB the animals would be dead. Still, I had a difficult to brush off impression that they were sad and lifeless. There are all sorts of birds, including many hens and ducks, so it cannot be that I just happened to see the naturally miserable ones. Consequently (?), they weren’t willing to pose and I usually took a picture when they were busy cleaning themselves, eating or just being awkward.
The highlight of that visit was the possibility to “interact” with monkeys and penguins feeding. Although you weren’t allowed to touch the animals it was still nice to see them outside the cages. Just like me, Dear Reader, you may feel confused that there were monkeys in the World of Birds and I’m afraid I can’t say anything to ease your puzzlement.
Apart from odd animals, WoB has surprisingly many owls. It was interesting to observe them, given that my idea of the animals came mainly from “Winnie the Pooh”. The birds are the only truly interactive ones. My mom even managed to have a few pictures standing right next to them.
The visit with the owls made it clear why there are so many hens in th WoB, namely, little chickens are killed and given as food to their bigger cousins. Please be warned that the following images may be considered drastic.
I was less moved by the view of dead little ones that I would have expected to be. The ways of nature are as they are and you may think I’m a horrible person if I tell you that seeing that made me feel better about my decision of coming back to being a meat eater. Ek is nie ‘n vegetarier nie and to finish the today’s post I’ll share with you the only picture I took in the WoB that I actually like.
So long, farewell auf wiedersehen, adieu!
*my mom and her boyfriend according to a South African figure of speech.