The most local of our meals was during our stay at the fabulous Babylonstoren, back in the Winelands. It was our big splurge, at about how $500 a night.

Our cottage was something out of a home design magazine (think: Wallpaper, not Ladies' Home Journal). It riffed on the traditional Cape Dutch architecture, all whitewashed walls and clean lines, but it got playful with the vernacular, adding a glass cube of a kitchen.

Waiting for us on the kitchen table was a box of produce picked that day from the extensive gardens a few steps away. After we explored the beautiful grounds, we roasted the vegetables and tossed them with a good Parmesan and some pasta. And then scarfed it down with the local wines that came with the room. Ahhh ....

Not everything was so expensive on this trip. One of my favorite stays was at a self-catering cottage in the slightly boho fishing village of Kalk Bay, on the eastern, False Bay side of Cape Town. It was a rambling 100-year-old family home with four bedrooms and a view of the harbor from the classic South African veranda, and it cost about $100 a night. It was lovely.

We had two more locally sourced meals in town: at the trendy but laid-back Olympia Cafe and a legendary fish-and-chips joint called Kalkies. My vote goes to the former, my mom's the latter.

Kalk Bay is the ideal base for exploring the peninsula south of Cape Town, including the penguin preserve at Simonstown. On a trip with lots of signs about protecting nature, or protecting yourself from nature, this was my favorite: Warning — please look under your vehicle for penguins.

Down the road, you reach the most southwesterly point in Africa, Cape Point, a craggy outcropping that seems to look out to eternity.

But not so fast if you think it's the southernmost tip of Africa. That honor goes to Cape Agulhas, about a three-hour drive east. As an added bonus, it's also the point where the Atlantic and the Indian oceans meet. So cool.

My sister and I, both swimmers, have a fondness for what we call ocean bagging. Just wading doesn't count — you have to swim least a few strokes. Because I'd already swum in the Indian, this time I played the role of documentarian.

As I watched her wade slowly into the still-cold water, I thought about my family and traveling to the end of the Earth together. And yes, I thought about the last time I had stepped into the Indian Ocean, to say goodbye to a man who belonged to this beautiful land.

He was lucky. And I was lucky.

I am still lucky.