During the summer, I had the opportunity to travel to Cape Town, South Africa, for three weeks, through a program called Student-Athletes Abroad. During my trip, I saw a variety of tourist sights, immersed myself in the culture and worked with a local NGO. Although it was hard to choose, here are just a few of my favorite things that you should be sure to do — if you ever have the chance to go on a South African trip.
Hike Table Mountain
Hiking up to the top lets you see the entire city, including residential areas, the oceanside, one of the 2010 World Cup stadiums, Robben Island across the water and the other neighboring mountains. Although completing the hike felt like a pretty big accomplishment, it did leave my legs sore for about three days, so if you don’t want to hike up, there’s also the cable car that you can ride up instead.
Shark Cage Diving
If you’re interested in a little adrenaline rush, take the opportunity to travel to False Bay and dive into the most shark-infested waters in the world. This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity lets you dive into the Indian Ocean near the famous Seal Island and come face to face with great white sharks. Now before you think I’m crazy, let me say that the entire experience is safe and you’re getting into a cage that floats alongside a boat with professionals watching over you to ensure your protection.
District 6 Museum
To open yourself up to the culture and history of South Africa, I highly suggest taking a tour of the District 6 Museum. This museum honors and tells the story of the once flourishing community that existed before the effects of the Apartheid Era. The museum is decorated with memorabilia from the previous community and tours are given by the residents who were removed from their homes at the beginning of Apartheid.
To continue your educational journey through the history of South Africa, take a trip out to Robben Island and tour the prison where many political prisoners of the Apartheid Era were held. See the prison cells, where many of South Africa’s leaders, including Nelson Mandela, were unfairly held and hear about their experiences firsthand from former political prisoners who come back to give tours.
While you’re in South Africa, you really must see all the amazing wildlife that lives there. However, despite what you might be imagining, they aren’t just going to appear in people’s backyards. You are going to have to go on a wildlife safari to see all the lions, elephants, rhinos, cheetahs, etc. If you’re staying in Cape Town, as I was, you’ll have to drive a couple hours inland, but it is absolutely worth it to see all the unique wildlife in their natural habitat.
Last but certainly not least, I highly suggest getting into the townships to really see the lasting effects of Apartheid. I was lucky enough to work with Project Playground, an NGO (similar to a nonprofit) that uses after-school activities to get kids off the streets and onto the right path. Through my work with them, I was able to visit the inside of the townships in a safe manner and really gain an understanding of what life is like there.
Final Advice …
Overall, I loved my experience in South Africa and highly suggest that you take the opportunity to visit if you get the chance. Wherever you stay, you should visit the local tourist spots, find some fun souvenirs to bring back, eat at local restaurants, and my No. 1 suggestion: Try the milkshakes. They were fantastic!
Ready to have an adventure? Find out more about study abroad opportunities at Sweet Briar.
Did you know you can intern abroad? Check out Sweet Briar’s Career Services Center for more information.
Lacey Tucker is a junior from Swansboro, N.C. She is a student admissions ambassador, an engineering major and a math minor. She also is a member of the tennis and soccer teams at Sweet Briar.