What happens when two solo travelers meet with no plans that evening? You get instantaneous travel companionship and spontaneous adventure—that's what!
My Polish dive buddy in Cape Town turned out to be a solo traveler looking to hang out. It started with me gladly accepting his offer to drive me into Cape Town. When he suggested we take the "scenic route," I gladly accepted again!
The route we took led us to epic coastline scenery, beach sunset views, and a lookout point over Cape Town at night. This perfect evening spent between two random, solo travel companions marks one of my favorite memories from this trip.
When Solo Travelers Meet
I love traveling solo because it always leads to unexpected meetings and experiences. This is the beauty of traveling with loose plans and nobody to please but yourself!
I met Tomasz while diving with Pisces Divers in Simon's Town. One of the first rules of diving is to dive with a buddy (even if you have a guide). As a solo diver, I typically get paired up with another solo diver. My dive buddy this time was Tomasz.
Tomasz is from Poland. Back home he has a family—a wife and 2 young kids. He travels a lot for work which is why he was there in Cape Town. What's nice is he still gets to experience some fun while he is not working in all the places he visits. Lucky for me, my plans that day happened to coincide with his day off.
As the boat was returning from False Bay, Tomasz asked me about my trip. This led me to explain that I was going to be taking a cab into the city of Cape Town after we returned.
Tomasz asked, "Want a ride into town?"
"Really? That would be awesome! But I have to go to my guesthouse to get my things first."
Tomasz was nice enough to drive me back to my guesthouse after we finished back at the dive shop. He waited for me outside to gather my things and say goodbye to Muriel, my guesthouse host.
This probably took no more than 20 minutes. But seriously, how nice was he to wait for me like this?!
Views Along Chapman's Peak Drive
When I got into the car, Tomasz asked me if I'd like to take a longer route into the city. The route would take us along Chapman's Peak Drive—a route that he said would have some awesome scenery.
How could I say no?
I texted my couchsurf host to say I would be getting in later than expected. And off we went along Chapman's Peak Drive. The route we took brought us along the gorgeous southwestern coast of Africa.
The first stop we made was at a ledge behind Monkey Valley Resort. This upscale, thatched-roof hotel costs under $100 USD per night and is architecturally unique among the rest of the buildings in the area.
The design sort of reminds me of a Hobbit hole! Tomasz said he will stay there next time he visits Cape Town. For the price, I would consider it, too!
The next stops were to take photos from the road along the almost-vertical face of Chapman's Peak. Chapman's Peak is over 1900 ft tall. The drive was chiseled out through what was considered a feat of engineering between 1915 and 1922.
The drive was closed in the 1990s after a motorist was killed by rock fall. Reopened in 2005, the roadway was upgraded to protect drivers. From what I could see, the protection includes some heavy-duty metal netting along the cliff ledges.
Between the steep cliff ledge and the crumbling rocks above, Chapman's Peak Drive is definitely an exhilarating road to travel!
As we drove along, the sun began to set. Views of the coastline west of Table Mountain National Park were bathed with the setting sunlight.
This was perfect for photography. Tomasz had a nice DSLR to shoot the scenery. I didn't know until later, but he is an talented photographer (@tomasz_sawczuk).
Our next stop was the beach at Hout Bay. I loved this whole area because of the almost 360-degree views of cliffs and peaks. Summers at this beach must be gorgeous!
Sunset Dinner in Camps Bay
Eventually, we made it to Camps Bay (or Kampsbaai in Afrikaans). This suburb of Cape Town is a popular summer tourist destination. The white sand beach is the major attraction. Behind it is a clear view of Lion’s Head as a backdrop to a strip of hotels, restaurants, bars, and shops.
We decided to eat at Ocean Basket.
This is a chain seafood restaurant around southern Africa. I ate at one in Windhoek, Namibia on my first night staying with Navi. While I enjoyed it that first time, it would not have been my first pick this time. But we were starving and they had a table available for us outside.
We sat there eating our seafood dinners and watching the sun set over the beach.
Normally, I would think this was romantic – it was nothing but platonic. We were two basic strangers simply sharing a meal and a gorgeous view. We mostly sat in silence just taking it all in!
Night Views of Cape Town at Signal Hill
After dinner, Tomasz drove us up along steep, twisty roads behind Camps Bay. The route took us beyond Lion's Head all the way to Signal Hill.
At this point, the sun has almost completely set. The lights of Cape Town turned on to the north and east of Signal Hill. From up there, we could see the entire city and bay.
This was a great view as my introduction to Cape Town!
Top Notch Couchsurfing
On the way to dropping me off, Tomasz and I exchanged WhatsApp information. We decided to keep in touch since we would both be in town for a couple of days.
He took me over to the Devil's Peak area of Cape Town where I met Radhesen. Rad is a friend of Roo. You may remember that I met Roo in Germany in 2014 and then and road tripped Australia with her in 2015!
Roo stayed with Rad when she visited South Africa and felt confident that I'd enjoy my stay with him. I felt confident, too, especially after she made the great recommendation to stay with Navi in Namibia! You gotta love the couchsurf/traveler connection!
Rad's place was a beautiful 2 bedroom in an apartment complex with gorgeous views.
This was definitely an unusually comfortable couchsurf stay. I had my own bedroom and lots of great interaction with my host. Rad offered tea and biscuits as soon as I walked in. We sat in his living room chatting for hours. He asked me a lot about my travels and political views and he was very open and willing to share his perspectives and information about South African life and culture.
Couchsurf exchanges are often the best exchanges and this one was definitely up there!
Dinner With Strangers
Rad gave me lots of tips for getting around Cape Town while he would be at work that week. He dropped me off where I needed to go in the mornings and he met up with me in the evenings.
For instance, on my last night, Rad suggested we go to Kloof Street House for dinner. I loved everything about this restaurant—from the aesthetics to the food. The Victorian-style Kloof Street House has outdoor seating in a beautifully lit garden with heat lamps for the cool winter night we were there.
We ordered a bottle of wine as we waited for the arrival of Tomasz! Tomasz was staying walking distance from the restaurant—so of course I invited him. Now I was eating with 2 wonderful strangers—who were becoming fast friends—for my final night in Africa.
I had the grilled ostrich fillet. Only in Africa, ya know? It was delicious with a butternut, walnut & apple salsa. Yum!
A solo traveler's dream come true is when spontaneous travel companionship turns out this well!
Tomasz got me to my couchsurf destination after observing gorgeous views on a scenic drive near Cape Town. We had a great time together and even met up again with Rad, my couchsurf host, for dinner.
Both of these strangers turned out to be amazing people and wonderful company for my final night in Africa!
But I skipped a bunch of stuff! I went on an epic hike and even learned a bit about the history of apartheid. I did this all in a span of 2 days. Check these stories out in my next and final 3 posts!