Cindy Aiello's Cape Camino Journal
Cindy Aiello, USA living in Switzerland
Walked 14 days of West Coast and Peninsula sections. Distances were shortened (between 10-15km per day). She walked with her husband, Robert, a South African couple and a few individual pilgrim-joiners.
DAY 1 : 7km
Laaiplek to Veldrift
Day one (9Feb) of our Cape Camino (the
team provided shorter stages because of my back injury).
A short 7 kms Laaiplek to Velddrif to start (with a bit of sand walking as well).
"What a warm and wonderful experience!!!"
DAY 2 : 15km
Alegria to St Helena
Today was definitely a trial by fire (or really by the sun). It was in the low 30s today.
Fortunately there were places where I could get a bit of a rest and catch a ride or the distance would have been more as it was for the rest of the group.
The majority of the day was on sand, though there were intervals where we needed to walk inland to go around fish processing plants. The coastline is beautiful and the water so clear.
Thank goodness for Debbie and Anne who came down and walked with me (us) today, as well as Étienne who let me know what was ahead so I could decide to walk or ride. As I said before starting, I am slow but I get there in the end.
"Walk your own Camino!!!"
DAY 3 : 13km
St Helena to Paternoster
Today the group split in two, the early birds that walked from Maggie’s house with Maggie and the others of us who wanted a bit shorter distance were treated to a ride to our starting point.
As yesterday, today is again all along the coast. It is slightly cooler, there is a bit more breeze and we started a bit earlier. So it was an easier day for me. As you see we had a bit more mix of rocks and sand and a bit of fynbos as we walked. It’s been a while since I had climbed any rocks and I slipped at one point in time.
My backpack slipped forward and I couldn’t right myself because I was balanced between rocks. Fortunately Henry was looking for me to come through the rocks and when I didn’t he came back looking for me.
He offered me a hand, but I asked him to instead just lift my pack. I felt a bit like a marionette, but it was just what I needed. As we arrived in Paternoster there was a fishing boat just clearing their nets so we stopped and watched for a bit.
Our Camino family had lunch at a restaurant on the beach. They had crayfish and we were lucky enough to get the last two they had.
"Boy were they wonderful!!!"
DAY 4 : 28km
Paternoster to Jacobsbay
Today I elected to ride with the bags. After slipping yesterday I was concerned whether my back was okay or not (I didn’t want to risk it). We stayed at Sea Shack last night so I just took my time and enjoyed the location.
It was a lucky choice. When we picked up the rest of our Camino family (they chose to do partial), they said
"it was the most difficult day, but beautiful."
They all said I had made the right choice to skip the day. We look out for each other. But the fun continues. To pick them up, we had driven along dirt roads in the bakkie (4-door pickup truck). After getting them as we got to the highway, the clutch in the truck went out.
No luck in fixing it, so Peet our chaperone hitchhiked back to Paternoster, got a car and brought it back to us. So the five of us (our Camino family) piled in with our bags and we drove to the guest house. They then came later and picked up the car
"…another special Camino moment…"
DAY 5 : 12km
Jacobsbay to Saldanha Bay
Today we started in the fog. But it wasn’t long before it burned off. While we were near to the coast because of the shorter distance requested, we only saw the ocean at the end. It was an interesting walk in the Fynbos, with a tortoise moving only slightly slower than me .
We stopped for a rest in a Boma. Then we attacked the hill to cross to Saldanha Bay. There were several large flocks of sheep to either side of the path in the distance. As usual, I was the end guard. Heading inland a bit we didn’t have the same breeze and it was pretty warm. I was very happy to have Johan offer to carry my pack the last push up the hill. Once we hit the crest, it was much fresher as the breeze off the bay was felt (and we were going downhill). The end of the walk was a bit sad as one of our Camino family was leaving.
"We were the Fantastic Five but from now on, we would be the Fabulous Four…"
DAY 6 : 8.5km
Saldanha Bay to Paradise Beach
Again today we started in the fog.
The fog stayed with us throughout our walk just to our pick up point. We started by the bay, then walked inland, along streets today. Because we chose the shorter distance we were picked up just where we would have cut through a
refinery for a short cut into the fynbos.
The fog certainly made it an easier walk
(the pavement helped as well ). Paradise
Beach is lovely! We arrived with plenty of time to enjoy the area.
DAY 7 : 8km
Paradise Beach to Langebaan
How is it possible that it is ALREADY day
SEVEN!!! The time is flying!!!
Today we started with the overcast patchy sun and THE WIND. We walked down to
the bay and walked along the water.
Unfortunately the timing was such that
we really didn’t have hard sand to walk on. That and the blowing sand definitely made
it a bit more laborious than other days. At
one point in time it was such that we went
inland and walked along the road.
Still a lot of wind but less blowing sand. We
met up with our Camino family for lunch
at the beach with the bonus of a delicious
ice cream for dessert. Then onwards to
the enchanting Pumpkin House.
DAY 8 :
Rest Day/Transfer Day
Today we sadly bid farewell to the West Coast and all the beautiful places and wonderful people who have welcomed us and helped us on our way.
After a delicious breakfast we prepared our bags for the transfer from Langebaan to Newlands. As this is a free day, we had planned to visit Table Mountain in the afternoon, but as we got closer to Cape Town, we saw the blanket covering the mountain and a quick check showed that the cable car was closed.
Once we got to the guest house, we discussed options and our Camino family decided to do the Hop on Hop Off bus together and go around the part of the peninsula that we wouldn’t be walking (convenient that the line closest to the guest house ran that way).
"It was a beautiful day and fun to be together. Lots of good times!!!"
DAY 9 : 16km
Newlands to Constantia
While I am a bit sad to be starting on the peninsula (it means we will soon be done ) I am very happy to be walking paths that are not sand based and with trees for shade. We started by walking up the hills a bit to then walk trails in the hills that had beautiful views. Lots of dog walkers and folks out and about. We quickly arrived at Kirstensbosch Botanical gardens.
It was absolutely beautiful !!! Unfortunately the Boomslang was closed as they were refinishing the wood. So we walked the dinosaur path. Faizel was a wonderful guide and chaperone showing us beautiful proteas, local plants and silver trees (the leaves were so soft)! It was a fabulous day! We stopped for a delicious lunch (and
Henryshared a taste of his milk tart ).
We ended the day with a wine tasting at Groot Constantia. This distance was much easier for me than the sand as much as I loved being along the coast. Another magical day.
DAY 10 : 15km
Constantia to Tokai
Today we walked along and through the vineyards for much of the first part of our walk. First stop was the Kramer of Sheikh Abdurahman Shah. I hadn’t know what to expect. It was a beautiful setting. We removed our shoes and entered.
There were thick carpets on the floor and his tomb was in the middle. After paying our respects we walked back down the hill and stopped at a ‘Farm Stand’ coffee house to have a cup. We eventually joined a lovely trail/ bike path, which we traveled along for quite a while.
We came to a labyrinth that was made up of all thé different plants that make up fynbos. It was a very special day for so many reasons!
DAY 11 : 10km
Tokai to Muizenberg
"Day Eleven, NO!!! It’s going too fast!!!"
Today was a quite interesting day as leaving Tokai, we walked past Pollsmoor Prision. This is where Nelson Mandela was transferred to after Robben Island. I was especially interested by the murals at the entrance giving COVID rules and encouraging vaccination.
The other interesting thing about today, was that even I was walking faster than the traffic. They had been hosting a track and field competition in Cape Town. Today was the marathon. The main road was closed and all the traffic rerouted. Fortunately it was Sunday, but still the back-ups were significant.
We then started our climb up the hill to get around to the descent down into Muizenberg. Coming into Muizenberg we visited another Kramat (but no pictures taken this time). Arriving in Muizenberg there were a lot of people surfing and enjoying their Sunday afternoon. Another beautiful day!
DAY 12 : 12km
Muizenberg to Glen Cairn
Into every life some rain must fall…all the predictions said rain around 10, so we were hoping we could beat the rain…but Mother Nature had the last word.
The rain started while we were sleeping and continued throughout our walk. This means very few photos. The rain slowed while we were having breakfast but by the time we were ready to head out it was coming down pretty hard again.
But on we went. We were soaked through within the first five minutes. When we got to Fish Hoek we knew we needed something warm to help us keep going. The coffee shop we stopped at was fabulous and so welcoming. We were totally like drowned rats, but they encouraged us to come inside puddles and all.
Best Dirty Chai I’ve ever had!!! (Chai tea with a shot of espresso)…and at the end of our break, the rain was at best a drizzle and by the time we got to our stopping point, the sun was almost out (by lunchtime it was beautiful)!
"What a day!!!"
DAY 13 : 6km
Glen Cairn to Simon's Town
This morning since breakfast was behind us, we left our backpacks and all in our rooms and walked back to have breakfast.
We then stopped picked up our backpacks and headed to Simon’s Town. The 6 kms went quickly and we were at our destination before 10:30…now what do we do???
Our family went our separate ways today. Originally we had planned to go to Cape Point on Thursday but with essentially all day ahead of us, we decided to go today which would allow us an earlier departure to Cape Town on Thursday. What a day!!!
"We saw wildlife- Baboons, ostriches, eland, elephant seal and more baboons!"
We hiked between the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point! (Well, really climbed up Vasco da Gama peak and then walked to Cape Point.)
DAY 14 : 14km
Simon's Town to Smitswinkel Tented Camps
All the months of planning and wondering about our time on the Cape Camino and today is the LAST day!!!
The time has flown and it has been so wonderful that I just want to stop time and savor the entire experience! But, the Camino calls…today we started with penguins…Faizel says we weren’t so lucky but we did see some. The path along the coast was lovely, no sand but views that were fabulous!
Then we started our last leg, single file along the road. This was where we saw the first baboons the previous day. But today, we must have scared them away because they never joined us. On we went, with the last part being more protected we missed our sea breeze companion. And then we were there!!!
After 21 months of back pain and not being able to even walk at the beginning, the Cape Camino team provided the perfect opportunity to go back in a safe environment to walking distances. Maybe not the normal distance, but from a wonderful and loving experience it makes us ready to take the next steps…new friends!!!