As much fun as it is exploring other countries, South Africa is a beautiful country in its own right, and my housemates and I took the opportunity to explore it whenever possible. Perhaps my favorite expeditions were as follows: Johannesburg, Cederberg Mountains, Table Mountain, Muizenberg Beach, and Noordhoek (and of course, Signal Hill).

Since Johannesburg was where my love of Africa started, I knew I had to revisit it when I came back to South Africa. Luckily my housemates, Matthew and Ekshika, were also excited to go to Joburg, as the locals it. International Women’s Day, which took place August 9th, was a holiday, so we decided to use that weekend to go to Johannesburg. I experienced nostalgia being there and remembered why I loved it so much, for its vibe is not replicated anywhere else. Additionally, in the spirit of urban renewal, we stayed in an up and coming area, called Maboneng, which is being crafted into an arts district. While in Johannesburg, we went to the Soweto Towers. There, we met South Africans who invited us to join their goodbye party and served us endless meat and chakalaka (spicy South African vegetable mix that is delicious). Another cool thing we got to experience in Joburg, was being featured on a television show. We were eating breakfast at a cafe when we were approached by a film crew. I am hoping to see that footage on the internet soon so that I can finally tell my mom that I made it!

A few weeks after Johannesburg, we went to the Cederberg Mountains. We rented a car and drove about 4 hours to a cottage in the middle of nowhere. It was so cozy and beautiful. Having no wifi or electricity made the experience even more special than it was already set to be. We also watched the most beautiful sunset (I know I say everything is stunning and beautiful, but I am not exaggerating this time). That same day, we explored rock paintings (what my hand is touching in the first picture in the middle row) that were so unique. We also hiked and chilled in an outdoor hot tub. Furthermore, I saw more stars there than I have ever seen in my life and let the sound of geckos lull me to sleep (it was a little jolting to be honest lol). It was truly a cottage to remember.

Muizenberg Beach is known for surfing. Although I am from California, I have never been surfing. Genesis, a friend from NYC, and I, headed out there to go for a surf, but since she can’t swim, she decided against it and became my personal photographer instead. We had a blast, and I that learned surfing is really hard! The beach doesn’t have much of a shoreline, but the cotton candy and colorful houses along the water make up for it.

Lastly, Noordhoek Beach was a favorite spot of mine. Unbeknownst to me until a day before we got there, it has white sand and beautiful views. My friends Julia and Genesis went with me on a sunny Friday afternoon to ride horses on that very beach. We ended the day with a lovely view at Cape Point Vineyards that I reminisce about quite a bit.

In the quest to be global while in Africa, don’t forget to be a local explorer too, for the coolest places could be right under your nose!

Kelli Hamilton studied abroad in Cape Town, South Africa in 2018: