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Visit Cape Town, the Cape of Good Hope and the Southern Tip of Africa

Updated on April 29, 2012
Cape Town Flag
Cape Town Flag

Cape Town

Cape Town is an amazing place to visit and one of the greatest cities on Earth. With Table Mountain as a backdrop, the Atlantic Ocean at its feet and the Indian Ocean close by, Cape Town is perfectly placed at the Southern tip of Africa.

Add to this a temperate Mediterranean climate and incredible coastal scenery, superb vineyards and amazing wildlife and you have the perfect holiday or business destination. I was fortunate enough to visit on business recently and stayed near Simons Town further down the Cape of Good Hope.

It is great to visit the Southern Hemisphere when it is Autumn or Fall in the North and encounter Spring six months early! One unexpected drawback, however, was I started sneezing (Hay Fever in November!)

Lets begin with Capetown. A good start to appreciating this great city is down by the Victoria and Alfred (V&A) Waterfront. This is like Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth in the UK (for those of you who have been there) but around 10 times the size. It blends the renovated original port buildings with modern resturants, cafes and shopping malls. From here you can travel to Robben Island by boat and see where Nelson Mandela was imprisioned.

Aerial View of Cape Town with Table Mountain in the Background
Aerial View of Cape Town with Table Mountain in the Background

Table Mountain and Tablecloth

From the Waterfront you get a spectacular view of the rest of the city with Table Mountain as a dramatic backdrop.

The top of Table Mountain is often covered by a horizonal layer of cloud, known locally as the 'Table Cloth'. If you have time you can either walk to the top of the mountain or take the easy way up via the cable car.

Cape Town was also one of the host cities for the FIFA World Cup held in South Africa in 2010.

Mape of Cape Town and Surroundings

Map of Cape Town and Surroundings - click to enlarge this or any photos in this article
Map of Cape Town and Surroundings - click to enlarge this or any photos in this article

A Little Geography

Capetown lies on the Atlantic Ocean and Cape Point at the tip of the Cape of Good Hope is where the Atlantic meets the Indian Ocean.

This causes dramatic storms and high seas where the warmer waters of the Indian Ocean meet the cooler waters of the Atlantic.

False Bay, that lies to the Southeast of Cape Town is so called because those originally attempting to sail around the tip of Africa from the East assumed they had reached the Atlantic because the Bay is so large.

Simons Town, the home of the South African Navy and the Naval Base is located in False Bay.

Cape Town with Table Cloth over Table Mountain
Cape Town with Table Cloth over Table Mountain
Cape Town and Table Mountain
Cape Town and Table Mountain
Chapmans Peak Road View, Hout Bay Near Cape Town
Chapmans Peak Road View, Hout Bay Near Cape Town
Cape of Good Hope, View from Mountain Road
Cape of Good Hope, View from Mountain Road
Southern Right Whale Information Sign
Southern Right Whale Information Sign
African Penguins at Boulders Beach Cape of Good Hope, SA
African Penguins at Boulders Beach Cape of Good Hope, SA
Penguin warning sign at Boulders Beach South Africa
Penguin warning sign at Boulders Beach South Africa
Board Walk for Penguin Viewing at Boulders Beach South Africa
Board Walk for Penguin Viewing at Boulders Beach South Africa
View from the Boardwalk at Bolders Beach, South Africa
View from the Boardwalk at Bolders Beach, South Africa

Spectacular Scenery and Wildlife

The scenery around Cape Town is breathtaking. The whole of the Cape of Good Hope is mountainous. Spectacular mountain roads offer amazing views of both the Pacific and Atlantic coastlines.

I was really impressed by the Chapmans Peak Road along which you find place names from the UK such as Scarborough or Llandudno but where the scenery is much more spectacular than around the original UK towns.

From these coastal mountain roads you can often see marine life such as whales surfacing or schools of dolphins. You can also sometimes see shark watchers who scan the oceans with binoculars and call the local lifeguards in order to clear the beaches should a hungry shark be seen heading towards a tourist beach for lunch!

Baboon in the Room

Stopping places on these roads are also frequented by baboons. Unfortunately tourists are often tempted to feed them in exchange for a quick photograph. The result is many baboons have become 'humanised' and become dependant on humans for food. This makes them dangerous and aggressive and they will often attack humans picnicking or dining 'al fresco' in order to steal a lunch.

A business colleague of mine had a baboon in his room. The staff had found it while we were away working in the dockyard and they were cleaning the room. The problem was the staff liked to leave all the windows open during the day. I'm afraid we didn't let our coworker forget it and suggested that he was engaged in an extra-marital affair with the poor creature! (I won't mention his name as I wouldn't want his wife to find out!).

Penguins

The African Penguin, sometimes known as a Jackass Penguin, because of its donkey-like call, nests in only 3 places in mainland Africa. One of these is at Boulders Beach just outside Simons Town. The colony established itself in the 1980s, the first pair arriving in 1983, and until the penguins arrived it was and still is a popular tourist beach.

Why the penguins chose an area frequented by so many humans is something of a mystery although good local fish stocks could be one reason. There are currently around 2500 pairs although the numbers are currently in decline and the breed generally is an endangered species.

Back in the 1980s the newly arrived penguins became a nuisance, invading local gardens but they are now largely prevented from straying in land by a low fence and a boardwalk has been provided giving visitors an excellent view of the colony.

The beach is still open to the public and arguably it is about the only place in the world where penguins are so accessible you can easily swim with them. However there are warnings not to swim too close as they bite!

Dassies

The Dassie or Rock Hyrax is a peculiar creature. It is apparently the African elephant’s closest living relative and this close evolutionary relationship is deduced from similarities in the structure of the feet and teeth. Dassies are similar in appearance to a Guinea Pig but at around 2 feet long, much bigger. Like guinea pigs they are vegetarians and typically eat grass or leaves from trees.

As a lover of Guinea pigs I was keen to see one and was delighted to find that a family of Dassies have moved into the penguin colony at Boulders. My favorite, I called him Roger, typically sat sunbathing in a tree next to the boardwalk and happily posed for pictures.

Great Eating and Drinking

The Cape of Good Hope is full of really good unpretentious restaurants, bars and cafes. Seafood is an obvious speciality given the coastline and local fish stocks.

South African wine is mainly grown on the Western Cape and both reds and whites are superb and very reasonably priced. Restaurants are also very good value with a much smaller premium for ordering wine at the table than in Europe or the US.

If you don't fancy Cape Town prices then there are loads of reasonably priced superior guest houses that do a great bed and breakfast located all around the Cape of Good Hope.

There is also lots to see further afield. Why not head out East towards the wine growing country around Stellenbosh and visit the many vineyards? Spier have a kind of wine theme park with free entry and pay as you go for the various attractions such as wine tasting.

So what are you waiting for? Check out direct flights to Cape Town and find out for yourself what a fabulous destination it is!

African Penguin at Boulders Beach, Cape of Good Hope, South Africa
African Penguin at Boulders Beach, Cape of Good Hope, South Africa
Roger, the Dassie in a tree at the Boulders Beach among the Penguins
Roger, the Dassie in a tree at the Boulders Beach among the Penguins
Whale in False Bay, near Simons Town, South Africa.  You have to be quick to photograph them!
Whale in False Bay, near Simons Town, South Africa. You have to be quick to photograph them!
Fabulous rocky beach near Simons Town South Africa
Fabulous rocky beach near Simons Town South Africa
Beach with mountains near Simons Town South Africa
Beach with mountains near Simons Town South Africa

Dassie (Rock Hyrax) takes on a Baboon!

Cape Town

A
Simonstown:
Simon's Town, South Africa

get directions

Comments

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    • jeanihess profile image

      jeanihess 

      6 years ago from Cape Town South Africa

      Glad you enjoyed Cape Town:)

    • profile image

      sibo 

      7 years ago

      south africa is realy beautiful country

    • profile image

      Yuval 

      7 years ago

      Cape of good hope is one of my favorite places in the world. It's really worth the long distance walking and the view on the way to the famous lighthouse is amazing!

    • Rik Ravado profile imageAUTHOR

      Rik Ravado 

      8 years ago from England

      Maita - glad you enjoyed - I'd love to go back there again!

    • prettydarkhorse profile image

      prettydarkhorse 

      8 years ago from US

      all I can say is WOW, very nice feature I like the Cape of Good Hope, and the Cape Town city is very nice too, breathtaking sceneries as you said it, Thank you for featuring these places, Maita

    • Rik Ravado profile imageAUTHOR

      Rik Ravado 

      8 years ago from England

      Greenheart - Happy New Year to you too - Cape Town is certainly a city to be proud of!

    • Greenheart profile image

      Greenheart 

      8 years ago from Cambridge

      Hi.

      Love the hub!

      I am from Cape-Town and loved the photos.

      Happy new year.

      Gavin

    • Rik Ravado profile imageAUTHOR

      Rik Ravado 

      8 years ago from England

      Tony

      Glad you liked and thanks for stopping by!

    • tonymac04 profile image

      Tony McGregor 

      8 years ago from South Africa

      As a Cape Town born South African I love this city - thanks for your write-up!

      Love and peace

      Tony

    • Rik Ravado profile imageAUTHOR

      Rik Ravado 

      8 years ago from England

      Many thanks - will add a link to your informative Hub!

    • cindyvine profile image

      Cindy Vine 

      8 years ago from Cape Town

      Hey Rik, you did my beautiful city justice! Well done and thank you!

    • Rik Ravado profile imageAUTHOR

      Rik Ravado 

      8 years ago from England

      Donna - glad you enjoyed this!

    • donna bamford profile image

      donna bamford 

      8 years ago from Canada

      My you do get around. Love to be there. Got itchy feet again. Excellent travel piece. Armchair travel for now too.

    • Rik Ravado profile imageAUTHOR

      Rik Ravado 

      8 years ago from England

      robie2 - thanks for being the first to comment. I would love to have my own Dassie!

    • robie2 profile image

      Roberta Kyle 

      8 years ago from Central New Jersey

      Delightful travelogue-- would love to see those penguins and dassies for myself, I must say, but armchair travel comes in a close second. Thanks

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