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Kites by the sea

Cape Town and Kitesurfing

Time for another adventure!  South Africa has long been on my bucket list, so Cape Town seemed like a perfect choice.  I’d heard such great things and immediately fell in love with the place. A country girl at heart, I’m not usually a fan of big cities, but Cape Town has been designed with so much green space that it doesn’t feel like you’re in a city half the time.  The iconic Table Mountain is a constant dominating presence, looming over you in the background.

Cape Town has so much to see, but just hanging out is also a lot of fun.  Road-trips, long lunches, coffee and cocktails were the order of the day.  We did also manage to get some kitesurfing action though, to fuel my love of adrenaline sports!

We stayed in Bloubergstrand, which is a short drive up the coastline and a haven for kitesurfers.  Big Bay, where they host the Red Bull King of the Air competition, was only a 10-minute push along a stunning coastal path, exactly what I needed to feel healthy again after a 12 hour flight.  There were plenty of skillful kiters to watch practicing tricks, while we sat and drank cappuccinos.

Number one on the sightseeing checklist has to be Table Mountain.  It’s one of the oldest mountains in the world, and now officially recognised as one of the new Seven Wonders of the World.  The cleverly designed revolving cable car allows panoramic views of the city as you ascend.  The views you get from walking around the top are even more spectacular.  We decided to stray from the official ‘suitable for wheelchairs path’ – this turned out to be an extreme off-road wheelchair challenge, which gained us many bemused looks and high fives! (I only fell out of my wheelchair once!)

Next was a road-trip – in a 1960s gold Mercedes called Mandy - no better way to travel.  We turned heads at every traffic light!  Our friend drove us around the city, first calling at ‘Truth’, a fascinating steampunk inspired artisan coffee shop.  We then explored the beautiful Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, set against the eastern slopes of Table Mountain.  The gardens showcase indigenous South African plants, intermingled with streams and ponds and well laid-out pathways for easy walking/ wheeling.  A fantastic picnic on Signal Hill watching the sun set could not have been a better end to an incredible day.

As Cape Town is known as one of the best destinations for kitesurfing, I was really pleased it was possible to organise a couple of sessions for myself.  I had a secondhand adapted kite rig with me and knew an instructor out there who was willing to take on the challenge!  We drove an hour north to stunning Langebaan, then hired a boat for the day to access ‘Shark Bay’ - a spectacular lagoon with flat water.  It’s perfect for beginners, and an extremely safe environment for a disabled sit-kiter.  They assured me there were no sharks, despite the name, but two Orca whales had been spotted there just a couple of days earlier!

It’s a pretty challenging sport, but I definitely got the bug.  I can’t thank Tom from Kitekahunas, our lovely Captain Henk and my friend Clare enough for providing the support I needed to really learn and progress.

We decided to take a drive down to Cape’s Point another day, taking in some spectacular sights on the way.  First up was breakfast in Camp’s Bay – all the palm trees and sunshine gives it a real Californian vibe.  We stopped off at Llandudno Beach - a popular surfing spot is surrounded by large granite boulders and overlooked by mountains.  Chapman’s Peak drive is spectacular, with breathtaking views of the sandy bays.  Next up was Simon’s Town via Fish Hoek.  After a quick lunch stop we headed to Boulder’s Beach to check out a large colony of the endangered African Penguins.  These penguins are hilarious to watch, and they can surf!  Finally arriving at Cape Point, the most southwestern corner of the continent, the funicular takes you to the top where there’s wheelchair access to good vantage spots with breathtaking views.  It feels like you’re standing (sitting!) at the edge of the world.

All that was left to do was soak up some of the exciting Cape Town nightlife and say goodbye to new friends. An unforgettable experience.