One of the first Local Tourist experiences that I had in Cape Town was the absolutely stunning climb up Lion’s Head. I went with my oldest friend Chelsea (we were born weeks apart in the same hospital in Durban). Having never been up Lion’s Head, I assumed that it would be like a fun trail up to an awesome view. Well, I got the second part of that assumption right. As I was so freshly reintroduced to wild South Africa and had come from a very health-and-safety conscious England I had forgotten what freedoms South Africans’ were used to. Half way up the climb I realized that South Africans are pretty fearless, I also realized that I have vertigo. Not wanting to hold the group back I pushed through, clinging for my life onto various steel ladders, chains and handles that had been inserted into the rock. I rock climbed – no harnesses or funky coloured bits of plastic jutting out of faux rock, no no, I climbed up rocks – big rocks. And let me just say what an exhilarating experience it was.
I made it to the top, no martial in sight. I saw people toasting glasses of wine (I almost feel off my chair – that climb and then getting tipsy?! Only in Africa), one guy was meditating, people had brought their dogs and some people had run all the way to the top. Wow. The panoramic view of Cape Town was spectacular. I have subsequently climbed it again, and let me tell you – that view is as spectacular the second time as it was the first!
When my friends and family come to visit me in Cape Town the first thing I will do is take them up Lions Head. First and foremost to show off the impressive Mother City from this birds eye view, but secondly because this would NEVER fly in England! If this magnificent peak were situated in the Queen’s Country firstly you would probably have to buy a ticket from the National Trust just to get near it. Secondly, if you were allowed to climb it, I am fairly sure you would have to wait in a queue for a martial with a rock climbing certification to guide you up. Thirdly, I guarantee there would be boot hire and harnesses involved at some point. And finally, if you made it all the way to the top, most of the peak would be cordoned off because it would be too dangerous and who would be liable if someone died?!
Such restrictions are not even considered in Africa. If you want to do something, you get up and do it, potential dangers aside. South Africans are incredibly lax when it comes to health and safety. Fitting six people in the back of a truck (bakkie) and driving Chapmans peak road just to check the view is all part of life – no seatbelts. What I love most about this attitude in South Africa is the complete sense of freedom that you feel. One of the most wonderful aspects of the South African mentality is that people live to enjoy life. As I continue my travels through life I hope that I can always keep this wonderful disposition.