The Great Outdoors

Elizabeth Atwood is a student at University of Denver, and is an ISA Featured Blogger. She is studying abroad with ISA in Cape Town, South Africa.

After spending 6 weeks in Cape Town, South Africa, I can easily say my fondest memories have been made exploring the stunning scenery and outdoors.

The most well-known mountain in Cape Town is called Table Mountain. The mountain is known for its flat top (hence the name) and scenic views of the surrounding city and ocean. There are numerous trails to hike with various difficulty levels. My friends and I took the “Platteklip” trail and were completely taken aback by the views not only at the top, but along the way. The following pictures demonstrate the beauty of this hike: the city of Cape Town is visible on one side, and nearby beaches such as Camps Bay can be seen on the other side of the mountain. Tired hikers can choose to take a cable car down the mountain, but my friends and I opted to hike.

Before the start of classes, the University of Cape Town offered a free Peninsula Tour to International Students. My favorite stop was the Cape of Good Hope, the most south-western tip of the continent. The vibrant blue hues of the ocean and sky next to nearby mountains were absolutely breath-taking.



This past weekend, ISA took students on a trip to Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, a fifteen-minute drive outside of the city that is home to an enormous variety of flora and fauna. The following pictures are taken from Snake Bridge, an architecturally impressive structure in the middle of the garden.


One way I have been able to explore nature in Cape Town is through the UCT Mountain and Ski Club. On South Africa’s Women’s Day (August 9), the club took its female members to a quarry in the middle of Cape Town suburbs. The club provided climbing gear and the day was spent getting to know one another, learning how to climb, and cheering on the other women. I loved making new friends while climbing for my first time among a group of caring and compassionate women—it was extremely empowering to say the least.

Last Sunday morning, my good friend Emily and I decided to attempt a sunrise hike up Devil’s Peak with the UCT Mountain and Ski Club. Devil’s Peak is the highest point of Table Mountain and is known for its intense difficulty. Devil’s Peak was not for the weak; the club leader, Ali, guided us along Mowbray Ridge where we clung to the sides of the mountain with spectacular views of Cape Town below us.

I urge everyone studying abroad to take the time to visit local hiking trails and to explore the natural beauty around you. To study abroad in Cape Town and not hike places such as Table Mountain would be to miss out on such an integral part of the city. Joining the UCT Mountain and Ski Club has allowed me to make local friends and explore Cape Town in a completely different way. Hiking and spending time outdoors not only opens up an opportunity to get to know other students, it additionally grants time to slow down and reflect. It is in these slow-paced, serene moments that the mind can reflect, process, and grow.


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