CAPE TOWN.....No.1 beach city in Africa
Cape Town has been voted the the second beat beach City in the world and the no.1 in Africa. Two years ago we were voted the best city in the world to visit, by National Geographics.
The top attractions in Cape Town are the People, Their cultures, Fauna, Flora, Weather....
Cape Town is a fantastic experience
Here are a few ideas of what's to do in and around the city
There are of course a huge number of things to do in each place you visit but your experiences are sometimes limited by:
- Not enough Time
- not knowing what's on offer
- getting there
I will attempt to resolve some of the problems by at least suggesting places of interest and how to get there.
Some activity ideas:
- Get inside a Daphne Class Submarine; Cape Point; Wine Country Tour;
Sunset Signal Hill viewpoint; The Noon Gun; Table Mountain;
- St. Georges Cathedral and the Crypt; The Slave Church;
- Chat to the "Sisters on Adderley" at the Historical flower sellers
stands in Adderley Street.; Gold of Africa Museum; Holocaust and Jewish Museum;The Maritime
Museum; District 6 Museum; National Art Gallery; South African Museum;
- *Historical Green Market Square for shopping(make a donation of R20.00 inside the Methodist Church on the Square, please. You can make up a food bag, for the homeless, by yourself); Pan-African Market-one street above Green Market
- BoKaap Malay Quarter; BoKaap Kombuis Restaurant; Owal Masjiet (oldest Mosque in South Africa); Visit a Karamat; Malay Cooking Classes
- Simonstown; Naval Museum; Penguin Colony
- The Waterfront; Sunset Cruise; Two Oceans Aquarium; Harbour
Cruise; Seal Island Cruise; Robben Island Tour
- Home Hosted dinner; Home-stay; Southern Line Train Trip; Township Tour
- "Cycle The City" Tour...weekends
- Mountain Biking
- Surfing or surfing lessons
- Thunder City....the largest "private air-force" in the world....and probably the only chance you will have of flying in an ex- RAF Fighter plain, like Buccaneer, Hunter or Strikemaster aircraft
- Snoek fishing
- Shark cage diving
- Climb Table Mountain
- Paragliding form Table Mountain
- Helicopter Flips over the city
- Train at local Fight Club
- Kite Surfing
- Loooooong beach walks
City Tour....full day
This is a full day excursion when Table Mountain is included .....
This tour can be done as a walking tour or part driving and part walking.
Walking through the city is the more informative and more exciting option. You get to see the the
- Cape Castle, built by the Dutch in 1666
- the huge railway station complex which houses the countries first locomotive
- the City Hall from where Nelson Mandela made his first public speech
- The Slave Lodge
- District Six Museum.....a fascinating display of Cape Colored Culture
- The Dutch East India Company Gardens
- The St. Georges Cathedral where Desmond Tutu Preached form and which houses the Black Madonna and Child sculpture. This is one of the "must visit" locations.....YOU NEED A GUIDED TOUR
- The Jewish Museum and the Holocaust Museum
- The South African National Museum
- SHOPPING....Green Market Square and the Pan African Market
- Lunch at the Bo-Kaap Kombuis or similar spot to experience Cape Malay Cuisine
- Bo-Kaap slave settlement and mosques
- Table Mountain....weather dependent
Cape Point Tour....full day
This is a scenic and historical experience
You will see
- Hout Bay fishing Harbor from where you can do an optional trip to the seal island
- Chairman's Peak Drive...said to be one of the most scenic coastal drives in the world
- The Cape Point Ostrich Farm
- Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve
- Cape Of Good Hope...the Most South Western point of the African Continent
- Cape Point...where the Cape Point Lighthouse is situated
- The African "Jackass" penguin colony
- The historic Simonstown which is home to South Africa's largest Naval Base
- Kalk Bay fishing harbor to see fish being off-loaded from the boats and auctioned
- Scenic Buoys Drive which over-looks the False Bay
- Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens...one of the 3 largest natural gardens in the world
Take the Southern Line train to Simonstown Station and meet the tour vehicle which will transport you to Cape Point. This is a very affordable way of getting there. It should be a little less than half the price of a normal Cape Point Tour
You of course have the option of getting off at the penguin colony on your way back and then walking down to the station afterwards. It's about a 15min. walk
You will need to book with the transport for this option.
The Cape Winelands.......
South Africa is home to the longest wine route in the world. It is the R62 which runs through the semi-desert area of the Karoo.
This tour is definitely not only for wine lovers. The scenery is magnificent....
You will see:
- Stellenbosch...the oldest town in South Africa and the capital town of the wine route. This is also a fantastic shopping opportunity.
- Paarl wine district...the KWV WINE CELLARS which has to be one of the most beautiful wine cellars in the world
- Franschoek....which translates into "French Corner". The history of wine making dates back to the arrival of the Huguenot's in this area in 1688
South Africa is the 9th largest producer of wine in the world but the wine region produces probably the most exciting varieties and surprises of any in the world
Signal Hill....by night
This is a Champagne moment.......
You will see
- magnificent views of the City and the Waterfront
- Unforgettable Sunset views...weather permitting
- Stunning views of Cape Town by night
- Dinner at a place of your choice (in the City), Bo-Kaap Kombuis or with a local family
OTHER TOUR OPTIONS INCLUDE...........
The Garden Route Tour........which includes
- Oudtshoorn...the Ostrich Capital of the world and the best quality Mohair production in the world
- The worlds longest wine route
- Cango Caves one of the 3 longest cave systems in the world
- Knysna...which is situated along a 4,2km long estuary
- Tsitsikama National Park
Home Hosted Dinner......
Get collected form your hotel and have dinner with a local family. Afterward you will be taken back to your hotel.
These inter-active dinners facilitate many interesting discussions about the local people and gives a deep insight into local customs and cultures.
Night Life.......for the young at heart
Long Street, in Cape Town offers great night life experiences with it's many bars, clubs and restaurants.
Another fantastic option for those who love RAP and Hip Hop is the Open Verses sessions in Observatory just outside of Cape Town. They have open mic. sessions and live music every Wednesday night.
Cape Town offers world class accommodation in Hotels, B&B's, Guesthouses, Holiday Accommodation and Backpackers in and around Cape Town. Other options are Home Stays and holiday accommodation
The more expensive accommodation would be in areas such as Campsbay, Houtbay and Constantia.
The accommodation closer to the city and the V&A Waterfront area are not as expensive. These are areas like De Waterkant, Bo Kaap, Oranjezicht, Vredehoek and Tamboerskloof. Long Street, in and around the City center. It is also closer to areas which offer a lively nightlife experience for the young at heart. There are Hotels and Backpackers in that area as well.
Other fantastic places to stay are Simonstown and Fish Hoek which offer excellent value for money and borders some of the most beautiful stretches of beach on the Peninsula. I don't agree with always looking for the cheapest option but for the best value
The most popular shopping area is the V&A Waterfront complex. It is full of modern shops and at least 50 Restaurants.
Most of the curios you find on the streets are African and not necessarily South African.
The second most popular is one of the largest in the Southern Hemisphere. It's called Canal Walk and is about 15 min. drive form the City center.
Curios are everywhere and in huge variety. Other great places for curios are Green Market Square and The Pan-African Market, on Long Street, in the City center. The latter is a 3 story building full of great bargains.
You may bargain at the stalls in the street but not in the shops
There are other fantastic shops such as Woolworths for top quality Kosher foods and clothing; Cape Storm and Cape Union Mart for outdoor equipment; Pick&Pay and Spar for food and delicatessens.
Bars and Restaurants
There are plenty(and i mean plenty) of excellent restaurants all over Cape Town. The Gourmet Capital of South Africa is undoubtedly Franschoek, in the Winelands. Many of those Restaurants rank amongst the top ten in South Africa.
The V&A Waterfront and the Cape Quarter offer the biggest variety of restaurants in the closest proximity to each other. The latter is situated in an area called De Waterkant which is also famous for it's Gay Bars and Clubs.
My idea of being on tour does not include spending hours at lunch. I want to experience as much of the place i'm visiting as possible. Therefore i recommend eating at the small roadside cafes of which there are plenty, if you're on a City excursion.
There are a few local breweries in and around Cape Town...Paulana Brauhaus and Mitchells are situated in the V&A Waterfront. Some of the other local micro breweries are:
- Darling Brewery
- Jack Black
- Camel Thorn
- Napier Brewery
- South Yeasters
- Boston Breweries
The most popular local beer, at least for tourist on my tours is Castle Lager. The most popular/consumed beer in South Africa is Carling Black Label. These are produced at the South African Breweries just outside the City.
Pubs and Clubs
These can be found all over Cape Town. The popular spots for clubs and Pubs are in areas like Long Street in Cape Town and Observatory just outside the City. My favorite pub spot is the Woodstock Torchbearer in the Suburb of Woodstock, about 5 min drive from the City.
if you purchase curious from a shop, you will be charged 14%Value Added Tax. Hold on to those invoices as you can claim back 12.5% at the airport when you leave the country. The till slip should indicate the name of the shop, vat reg. number and the vat portion of the sale indicated separately. You will not get a vat slip if you buy from the stalls on the streets...but you will get good prices.
The public transport system is not well integrated. The Public Buses have been well upgraded and is an inexpensive and adventurous way of getting around.....ESPECIALLY from the Sea Point area into Town and the V&A Waterfront.
MyCiti Airport Shuttles.....is a public transport system which operates between the Airport and the Civic Center Station in the Central Business District, is now running at R50 per trip. It is expected that cheaper, multi-trip tickets will be available soon. The shuttle departs every 20 minutes, and run in both directions.
Taxis... are easy to come by and are charge a standard "per kilometer" rate which is displayed on the side of the vehicle.
Do not use the 10 seater minibus taxi's, when traveling on your own. It's quite an experience though...you may get the opportunity if you do the walking City Tour with a guide
The safest train route......at the moment is the one between Cape Town Station and Simonstown. All the stations along the route are in good condition and well patrolled by Police and Security personal. Cape Town Station is undergoing a major revamp.
Car Hire.....is an easy process and all the major car hire agents such as Avis, Europcar, Tempest, Value Car Hire and Thrifty car hire have a service desk at the airport.
Be aware though that Car Hire companies do not carry a liability insurance. According to our Road Accident Fund the maximum payout for any injuries resulting from a road accident is only R160 000,00
Also, check how much money they block on your credit card as this may limit your spending severely.
Tour Companies carry suitable cover, though. It's often in the region of RI00mill./incident
Use the same common sense traveling in South Africa that you would at home. Much has been written, in the international press, about crime in South Africa. Yes, we do have crime, like all other countries in the world but it is very localized and not widespread.
Always have your valuables locked up in a safe at your hotel and never let your credit card out of your sight. Do not let anyone else handle your card.
Getting Information.....is crucial
Try to get as many options before you decide on a tour company to use. It is true that companies pay a commission for referrals. They do it all over the world.This will not affect you as you do not get a discount for booking directly.
However, you want choices and you do not want your establishment to force you into taking their option....however good it may be.
It pays to gather lots of information, plan well and stick to the plan. This way you avoid disappointment. Remember that you cannot do everything......
The keyword is .........EXPERIENCE!