Spoiler Alerts: It’s great!
Working remotely can get lonely and you want to reach out to more like-minded peeps. Digital nomad retreats sound like a good idea but there are so many of them out there, which one to pick? I’ve searched through several options: Wifi Tribe, Unsettled and more. At the end I decided to go to Cape Town with Work Wanderers. At the end, I couldn’t be more pleased with my choice, and here’s why.
Top notch accommodation:
We stayed in an incredible house situated in an exclusive and safe neighborhood of Camps Bay. The view it offers is just stunning, we’ve got the ocean in the front, Lions Heads on one side the Table Mountains on the other. I know Work Wanderers put a lot of thoughts into picking this house.
I never expected anything more than average but they really went an extra mile here. Rooms are private and spacious unless you come specifically with a friend or a partner, then they can be easily shared. The kitchen is fully equipped. And you think this might be frivolous but let me tell you, the kitchen brings people together, not the living-room.
The house got multiple working spots around the house. Even if everyone stays home on a work day, it never felt clustered. Some could work in the living room, on different tables, some could be in the garden, by the pool (Yes, a nice functional pool)! On top of everything, we had a wonderful house keeper, Tampi, Mon-Fri who kept our house immaculate. She event did our laundry and went an extra mile to fold the clean clothes nicely. She spoilt us big time!
Even if somehow this accommodation is no longer available and Work Wanderers have to find other alternatives, I have no double their pick will always be on point.
We had an excellent group aged from 26-36 and everyone got along well. I liked that WorkWanderers had kept it small. We were independent from each other but enjoyed each other’s company. We’d cook together, share food, sometimes work out, do yoga, take a walk, go shopping together, etc. I love that everyone looked out for on another. I enjoyed exploring the endless possibilities of a remote worker / solo-preneurs / freelancers / digital nomad with the new like-minded friends. None of us had the same story getting ourselves into this lifestyle and how we chose to carry it out. Yet all of us accepted and supported each other and shared the values of “work hard play hard” – cliché but couldn’t be more true.
By activities I mean both fun and educational. Fun activities included kayaking, wine tour, sunset boat, etc. Educational could be master classes or skill share sessions on different topics. Andrae – the head honcho of the retreat – squeezed in some volunteer hours with a soup kitchen for us as well which we appreciated.
Many of these activities were planned but flexible enough so we could find a good time that fit everyone’s schedule. The retreat offered us a lot of space to do our own things which I appreciated a lot, as all of us worked full time.
Inclusive Co-working place:
The co-working is central and very freelance-friendly. Having been to a fair share of co-working places in different countries, I liked this one a lot. It’s small but has great facility: 24/7 access, equipped kitchen, meeting rooms, phone booths, video games, books, you name it, they got you covered. Next the co-working place you can find many food vendors, cafes, the mall, the gyms, etc., overall convenient. I ended up going to the co-working place a lot more than I thought I would. It helped my productivity and I got to go to an awesome gym a block away. Andrae shared that she had visited many co-working places to pick out the absolute best for us, and I believe her.
Let me be clear, digital nomad retreats or however you call them are not cheap. I wouldn’t become a full-time traveller hopping from one retreat to another, it would do some serious damage to my savings. But I love occasional changes and enjoy being with a group every here and there. I chose Cape Town with Work Wanderers for that they are among the most affordable retreats out there. A lot of retreats charge the same price for shared accommodation and/or without co-working place. Moreover, the values they provided really did justify the price tag. They also have different options of duration for you to choose from. I have zero complaint about pricing. You may want to sign up early because they have early-bird special discount.
- Airport pickup. The driver waited for me at the airport and held up a sign with my name on it. I wouldn’t have a problem leaving the airport alone like usually do. I must admit though, it really saved me a piece of mind to have an assigned pickup ride.
- Bus card, with loaded credit that can get you through the few rides. But we got lazy and took Uber everywhere, it’s super cheap and efficient.
- Phone sim card, although with no credit included. Topping up can be easily done at any supermarket or convenient shop.
- Other spontaneous activities like doing the braai (BBQ) at the house.
Life in Cape Town in a Nutshell:
- IS IT SAFE? I think this is probably #1 frequently asked question for Cape Town / South Africa. My answer? Do your own research and decide if it is safe for you. Tourists get mugged daily in Europe, some situations are even critical but Europe is still considered “safe”. Back to Cape Town, certain neighborhoods are not recommendable to go by yourself looking obviously an out-of-towner, others are okay to explore during the day but better avoid during the night. There were some refugee and taxi riots at some part of the city during our retreat. But where we lived, hung out and had our day-to-day activities were intact.
- Gorgeous is an understatement. Cape Town can take your breath away in so many ways. You’ve got the ocean on one side and the mountain on the other. Hiking, walking along the beach, doing other water activities and beyond, Cape Town got you covered. Lion’s Head, Table Mountains, Botanical Garden, the list of places to visit seems endless.
- Uber is efficient and affordable as already mentioned above. We never had to wait for long for an Uber ride at low cost. We met a lot of drivers from Zimbabwe, Congo, Tanzania and other part of Africa and all were super friendly. Beware though because you’d get lazy like us, prefer to skip the public bus for a no-brainer Uber ride.
- City activities: I’m a sucker for cool colorful markets and Cape Town has tons of them. Weekends are for chilling under the sun munching some perfectly seasoned grilled mushroom at Oranjezicht City Farm Market. Evenings are for grabbing beers and international bites and enjoying live music at Mojo Market. But my absolute favorite is hands down the Water Shed – get ready to be mesmerized by the beautiful local arts and quality hand-made products.
- Abundant day trip options: hanging out with penguins in Simon’s Town, learning about Nelson Mandela history (other than reading his book Long Walk to Freedom) in Robben Island, kite surf in Sunset beach, you will not have a dull moment in Cape Town.
- Exchanging money wasn’t the easiest thing but you can withdraw money from local ATMs. Most places take cards anyway or use SnapScan that allows you to pay by your phone. I must say it’s very convenient. Bring your passport for the first exchange.
- Andrae is a proud Capetonian and that made a difference. Not only is she a local, she’s incredibly passionate about South Africa and it really shines through. She offered some great perspectives and knowledge about the city and country. She also worked extremely hard on ensuring that our stay was perfect. Basically, for every question we had, she’d got an answer. So, she was a great deal for making Cape Town our home for a short while.
Ok, enough good things, what’s the catch?
I mean, like most things in life, there’s always space for improvement. Some peeps might think the house was far from the co-working, and that it was not “walkable” to the city center. In case you’re an inexperienced traveler or prefer a more structured tours, you may find the retreat too laid-back or two few activities. But hey you win some and lose some. For me personally, it was a 10/10 experience.
Going to South Africa wasn’t a straight-forward process for me as a Vietnamese passport holder. I needed to plan ahead and apply for visa in advance. Of course, a whole paperwork process came with it. I share my visa process here if you’re curious. But Work Wanderers made everything else a breeze for me. I seriously can’t wait to join the next chapters.
If you have any more question about the retreat and cannot find an answer on WorkWanderers website, the best person to talk to is Andrae at contact[at]workwanderers.com. Tell her I send you, she may be willing to give you a discount, maybe! 😉