Cape Town is a beautiful city. The most beautiful in South Africa for sure – and one of the most beautiful in the world. Picturesquely set around Table Mountain (one of the 7 wonders of nature), with wonderful sandy beaches and towering cliffs. Blue of sky and ocean, golden of sunshine, green of the nearby wine bearing hills…
They call it Mother City. Some say that that’s because first settlers arrived here and that’s how it all started… Others that this is because it takes 9 months to do anything here 😉
South Africa is visited every year by more than 9 million tourists – half of them fly into Cape Town. And this is only those that fly in – not counting those that hire a car in Johannesburg do a full tour of South Africa. It is second time that Cape Town achieved title of „best city” awarded by UK Telegraph. It was also rated highest in New York Times ideas for 2014
Maybe we won’t only see real Africa here that travel writers write about, but surely we won’t be bored!
Below few suggestions what to do in Cape Town.
1) Hike Table Mountain
Or take a cable car… One way or another this is not to be missed. If you are planning to hike, start early, before it gets hot – especially in summer. The most popular trail, Platteklip, takes about 2 hours (only 3 km, but steep, so allow more if you get tired easily). If you want to take cable car, be prepared for a wait – usually 30-60 minutes, but it can be longer in high season (December/January). Not to miss out on the experience got down in a different way to how you got up. If you hiked, take the cable car down. And vice versa. Nice idea is to go up in a cable car and take the route to Kirstenbosh Gardens on the way down. Get your tickets on Cableway.
IT GETS COLD UP THERE, especially in the evening…. Take a fleece jacket!
2) Swim with penguins in Boulder’s Beach
You don’t have to go to Antarctica to see the penguins. You can also see them in Africa. In Cape Town in Boulders Beach (Simon’s Town), you can find one of the colonies and a rehabilitation center.
In the beginning of last century there was 1.5 milions of African Penguin in Africa – unfortunately the number is decreasing fast and only 10% of theme still exist. If the trend persists, they will completely disappear from Africa in 15 years 😦
African penguins are lazy and not scared of people. In Boulders Beach you can take a close look at them and even swim with them.
3) Try shark cage diving
This is Cape Town classic! There are many companies organising such events – they will provide all equipment. You take boat into the ocean, in the same time sharks are tempted with chum (meat, fish and blood). Once there are few of them, you jump in the cage. Cage floats around and don’t be surprised to see your boat few hundred metres away ;-). Some of the companies organising shark cage diving: Shark Cage Diving Gansbaai, White Shark EcoAdventures, Sharkbookings. This photo is from Internet – I did my dive in Umkomaas (KZN).
4) Visit Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point
Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point are two out of the three most south-westerly points and are also most scenic. Rugged cliffs plunging into the waves of the Atlantic – most spectacular. Once, when Bartolomeo Diaz was conquering the world, Cape Point was one of the most difficult places to pass – due to frequent fogs, dangerous currents and rocks. Even now with little imagination we can picture „The Flying Dutchman” the famous ship that became a ghost of the legends after it apparently crashed into the rocks of the Cape of Good Hope. This is the place where you truly can see the force of the ocean and for a short time feel the emptiness and loneliness that the sailors must have felt years back…
5) See colorful Bo-Kaap
Bo-Kaap lies centrally on the sides of Signal Hill, so getting there should not be a problem (even if you are short of time). This is where you can see the houses in all colors of the rainbow that you so often see on the Cape Town photos and taste the Malay curry. Feels asian but a lot tidier and prettier (maybe I know wrong Asia…). This is area of the Malay settlers – you will find a lot of islamic influence here – mosques and colorful minarets, some as old 300 – 400 years…
6) Walk the “Golden Mile”
Golden Mole is the stretch between Muizenberg and Kalk Bay. Many historic buildings from the colonial era can be found there (i.e/ Muizenberg station) s well as plenty restaurants and caffees and of course beautiful beaches. All of them together create a feeling of relaxed port town come tourist resort. The beach is adjourned with the famous colorful beach huts – so well known from so many photographs. There is a walking path all the way from Muizenberg to Kalk Bay. Beautiful place, best visited outside the crowded tourist season.
7) Have a meal or a drink in V&A waterfront
Victoria & Alfred waterfront ia a hedonist dream come true! You will find there everything that’s beautiful. Beautiful people walking around on beautifully decorated streets, dressed in beautiful clothes… Beautiful boutiques selling those beautiful clothes at exorbitant prices… Beautiful buildings, wonderful little caffees and street stalls and trendy restaurants – where we can buy simple fish (I recommend snouk in Cape Town) and chips as well as most sophisticated products of international cousine. I even bough polish beer in Quay Four (!). Be warned… It’s not a good place for shopping… You will spend your entire holiday budget in a day!
8) Tandem paraglide from Signal Hill
If you are looking for breathtaking scenery with a bit of adrenaline, why not try paragliding? As with shark cage diving many companies offer this activity, so shop around. You will experience 20 (or so) minutes of beautiful bird eye views of Cape Town and Table Mountain – photo from Internet (on my wish list currently). Companies that offer tandem paragliding are Downhill Adventures, Fly Cape Town, Cape Town Tandem Paragliding but there are many more.
9) Experience sandy beaches and dunes
There are so many scenic beaches in Cape Town that I can’t mention them all. The most known are Blouberg (famous for it’s view of the Table Mountain), Nordhoek i Muizenberg (where you can try surfing), Camps Bay i Clifton (african version of California or Miami). Further west Mylkenbos and Atlantis where you can try sand boarding or sand quading. Try it – another place for sand quading is Walvis Bay in Namibia bit far). Word of warning – sand gets in everywhere… I mean EVERYWHERE!
10) Cruise alongside the coast on motorbike or ride on historic Altalntic Rail train
Last but not least thing to do on Cape Town iscrousing along the coast. Best way to do it would be on a motorbike. If you don’t ride one yourself, you can hire a motorbike with a side car and a driver from City Sight Seeing or Side Car Adventures. Most spectacular part of the tour is Chapman’s Peak Drive – the stretch between Nordhoek and Hout Bay. If motocycle is not your thing you can do somi;ar trip in a historic train. Locomotive and wagons of the train are from begining of XX century. The scenic route leads through the suberbs of Cape tOwn with the last part, from Muizengerg do Simon’s Town runs paralel to the ocean.
– if you are looking for „real Africa” go on one of the township tours. As with all others big choice of tour operators. Lonely Planet recommends Camissa Township Tours, but there are many more. Ask for details in your hotel.
– wine and whisky lovers: try wine, whiskey and brewery tours. You will be able to see beautiful wineyards, see the brewery and taste their products.
– if you are interested in heritage and history of South Africa, visit Robben Island the place of imrisonment of Nelson Mandela.
HOW TO TRAVEL AROUND CAPE TOWN
– Tourist bus: City Sight Seeing
– Bicycle – with plenty of cycling routes Cape Town is most cycle friendly city in South Africa. Many hotels and lodges offer bicycle hire. It’s worth to remember though that there are lots of hills arround Cape Town – so you need to be fit if you are going to cycle long distances.
– Public buses – Cape Town is one of few cities in South Africa that offer relatively good network of local buses that are used not only for locals but also tourists. Routes and schedules can be checked on MyCiti
– Taxis – 1 km will cost you 10-12 randów, more on Sundays and at night. Taxis have meters, but some drivers might take chances and extend the route – so watch their GPS or know your route and price in advance. One of the recommended taxi companies is Rikkis, but we hailed taxis on the road without any problems.
EVEN MORE ON CAPE TOWN