Known for its extraordinary beauty, Cape Town, on the slopes of the all-encompassing and imposing Table Mountain, is a travel destination that offers such a wide assortment of sports, adventures, wild life, shopping, cuisine and nightlife that you would find it hard to match. Boasting a Mediterranean climate, the weather is pleasant for most of the year, and prices are reasonable.
The mountain, one of the seven Natural Wonders of the World, dominates the entire city, literally falling into the ocean in the South. The city and the surrounding towns are a rich reflection of the cultures of those who initially settled in the area. Cape Dutch buildings stand proudly alongside Victorian architecture, and in the Cape Malay area, cobbled streets are surrounded by brightly coloured homes, alongside the towering minarets of the mosques.
Venture Up The Mountain
No trip to Cape Town would be complete without a trip up Table Mountain. The views from the top are spectacular. Take a cable car or hike. Make sure to leave early if you hike, as the mountain is quite steep and it is not advisable to hike in the dark. Indulge in some lunch on top of the mountain and just enjoy the view.
If you’re up to it, take the world’s longest commercial abseil down the side. At one hundred and twelve metres it is quite a trip.
Hire a mountain bike and take the simple mountain trails up the south side of Table Mountain. The mountain forms part of the Table Mountain National Park, and you will find species of plants and flowers found nowhere else in the world. If you’re lucky you may run into some mountain zebra or other wildlife.
Wine Tasting In The Beautiful Cape Winelands
Take a bus ride or hire a car to the Cape Wine-lands. On the other side of Table Mountain, and only an hour outside of Cape Town, this picturesque area surrounds the lovely historic towns of Franschoek, Stellenbosch and Paarl as well as many smaller towns. Most of the towns around the area contain quaint historic shops and homes boasting Cape Dutch architecture.
This is one of the oldest areas in South Africa, and some of the buildings date back to 1679 when the governor invited French Huguenots to the Cape region to help set up wine production. Spend the day sampling award winning wines, craft beers, brandy and specialty cheeses in the tranquil gardens of the centuries’ old farms.
One Hundred And Fifty Kilometres Of Pristine Coastline
Hire a scooter to travel along the coastline. Cape Town boasts one hundred and fifty kilometres of beach. You’re bound to come across baboons along the way. Stop and watch them. They really are amusing but don’t feed them and stay out of their way. They can be dangerous and they steal.
The peninsula south of the city offers pristine white beaches where you can surf or paraglide. Head to Table Bay for some of the best windsurfing in the world or to Lion’s Head and paraglide down to Clifton Beach. A must see is Boulders Beach, home to more than three thousand African penguins. These animals are listed as endangered as there are only twenty six thousand of them left on earth. Pay a visit to Cape Agulhas, the point where the warm Indian Ocean meets the icy Atlantic.
Stop along the way. The little fishing villages are well worth a visit. Each town and village has its own feel and character. Old fashioned and bohemian shops line the streets right beside the ocean. The restaurants and fish shops along the beachfront offer a variety of great food with ocean views.
Cape Town City Centre
Cape Town has several hop-on-hop-off buses with open tops. They are inexpensive and offer the tourist the perfect way to explore the city. There are several routes available. Take one to the inner city. Hemmed in by the mountains and the harbour, the city centre is compact and easy to walk. It is full of coffee shops and boutiques. A visit to Green Market Square is a must, as there are all manner of African curios and craft markets available. Make sure to bargain.
Visit the lush lawns of the company gardens that date back to 1650, and of course the Castle built by the Dutch East India Company at the same time.
A walking tour through the Bo-Kaap is a very popular, as it has a flavour all of its own. As you climb the slopes of the Bo-Kaap, views of the city are revealed. The streets are lined by brightly coloured little homes populated by Cape Malay inhabitants. Not actually Malays, these people are descendents of slaves from Java, Indonesia, Ceylon and Madagascar.
The Alfred and Victoria Waterfront boasts some of the best restaurants, bars and retail stores in the city. Elegantly perched over Cape Town’s beautiful harbour it offers entertainment and fine cuisine in a setting that is hard to beat.
Book a boat ride. There are a number available including trips to Seal Island, along the coast and champagne cruises. You can also book your cruise to Robben Island.
The Two Oceans Aquarium is located here and is worth a visit. It is home to more than 3000 sea creatures. If you have a PADI under water certificate you can book a scuba dive with the predators in the Predator exhibit.
For The Adrenalin Junky
Come face to face with sharks. Book a shark cage diving trip in Gansbaai. Just outside of Cape Town, Gansbaai is home to the world’s largest population of great white sharks. Expect to see more than just Great White’s, South African waters are home to ninety-eight of the world’s shark species, forty of them are present in Cape waters.
The Fairest Cape
It’s been described by Sir Francis Drake centuries ago as “the fairest Cape we saw in the whole circumference of the earth”. Cape Town has lost none of its natural beauty, and for the traveller, mountains, ocean, exquisite plant diversity and modern facilities offer a holiday destination that should tick all the boxes.
Are you up to facing a shark?
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