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bineba Cape Town - A travel report by Sabine
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Cape Town,  South Africa - flag South Africa
5138 readers

bineba's travel reports

Cape Town – The most beautiful end of the world

  20 votes
Page: 1 2
I expect all of us have a list of places they would like to visit at some point. Cape Town has always been at the top of my list and in August I got the chance to spend 10 days in this beautiful city and also see some of the sights nearby. report of the month contest
Sep 2007


Approaching Cape Town from Robben Island
Approaching Cape Town from Robben Island
The end of August turned out to be the perfect time to travel to Cape Town: I got a cheap flight, accommodation costs only half of what it does in high season, it’s not to crowded with tourists, it’s spring flower and whale season and as an extra bonus the South African winter turned out to be better than the English summer. Add to that the favourable exchange rate and the fact that a South African friend of mind had time to show me around and timing couldn’t have been better. Cape Town has a very colourful and sometimes violent history and you are well aware when you get there, that this is a city and country still very much struggling with its past, 13 years after its first free elections. As you arrive at the airport and make your way towards the city you drive past miles and miles of townships, many still just shacks made out of wood and corrugated iron. Just a few miles away people live in million Rand homes nestled against the mountains in Clifton or in huge historic houses amongst the vineyards of Constantia. Yet, despite all this, I found Cape Town to be an extremely pleasurable experience. I felt safe walking around (at least in the day light), it is very clean, you don’t get constantly hustled by beggars and its people of all races and creeds were laid back and very friendly. Cape Town is a strange mix of Africa/Europe/Asia, which makes it a fascinating place to visit. I spent the morning in the Bo-Kaap, the Muslim area of town with its colourful houses and mosques, wandered around the African crafts market in Greenmarket Square, strolled through the Company Gardens surrounded by colonial architecture. While I visited the Castle of Good Hope, I had a chat with an African lady about shoes and I could hear the muezzin calling for prayer Add to that one of the most sunning settings on earth and can’t help falling in love with this place. I haven’t crossed Cape Town of my list yet, I definitely want to visit again.

Favourite spots:
The V&A Waterfront and Table Mountain
The V&A Waterfront and Table Mountain
If I have to pick one, it’s Table Mountain. From the first glimpse of it as you fly into Cape Town you are aware of its omnipresence. It is just about visible from everywhere, all of its 1,086m sitting right on the edge of the African continent. It seemed to change in colour several times a day, the rocks changing from grey to blue to orange and there is also the famous ‘table cloth’ effect when the clouds cover the very top of the mountain and seem to roll into the city.. You must watch the mountain if you are planning to take the aerial cableway to the top. You must go at the first opportunity, otherwise you might never go as the mountain is often covered in clouds all day long and the cableway doesn’t operate in high winds. The R120 for the return ticket are really worth it, the views are stupendous and there are some easy hikes at the top. There are also several hiking routes to the top of the mountain, but muggings have increased recently, so hiking is not recommended.

What's really great:
Cell in Robben Island prison
Cell in Robben Island prison
A must for every visitor should be a trip to Robben Island, the notorious prison island where Nelson Mandela and many of his fellow political prisoners where held in the most gruelling conditions. A 30 min boat ride from Nelson Mandela Gateway at the V&A Waterkant (R150) takes you to this desolate place which has also served as a leper colony. After a 45 min bus tour taking you around the island and past many points of interest, like the lime quarry, the island village where 180 people live and the house where Robert Sobukwe was kept under house arrest; you are then taken on a tour of the prison by a former inmate who not only tells you about the daily life in the prison, but also his own, personal story. It was very moving. Please note: you have to plan your visit well ahead and can’t just turn up expecting to go the same day. I went on Monday and the first available visit wasn’t until Thursday (and this was off season). Crossing may also be cancelled due to bad weather.

Sights:
Colourful houses in the Bo-Kaap
Colourful houses in the Bo-Kaap
Cape Town has some excellent museums that are well worth a visit. The District Six Museum on Buitenkant Street tells the story of approx. 60,000 people who lost their homes in District six, which were destroyed in 1965 to make this area a white only zone, through their own testimonies. The Bo-Kaap Museum in the district of the same name is dedicated to the history of the Muslim community in the Cape.
Near the Company Gardens in the centre of the City Bowl are several museums worth visiting: the South African Museum, the National Gallery, the Slave Lodge Museum.
The Castle of Good Hope is reputedly the oldest colonial building in South Africa and was completed in 1679. Today it houses an art collection and museum. There’s also a nice café in the courtyard.
The V&A Waterfront is quite touristy, but still worth a visit. Apart from restaurants and shops, you can visit craft markets and the Two Oceans Aquarium.

Accommodations:
Camps Bay as seen from Table Mountain
Camps Bay as seen from Table Mountain
There is plenty of accommodation to choose from in Cape Town, from backpacker hostels on Long Street to luxury hotels on the V&A Waterfront, you can stay with a family in one of the townships or in one of the boutique hotels that have been cropping up all over the place. My friend and I rented a holiday apartment in Berkley House in Camps Bay complete with wonderful views across the bay and only 3 minutes walk from the beach, restaurants, cafes and shops. The apartment had 2 double bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, everything else we needed, was serviced daily and even had its own pool. The cost? Off season it costs R600 a night, which works out to around £10pp if you go with four people.

Nightlife:
Sunset in Camps Bay
Sunset in Camps Bay
Your evening should kick off with a sundowner in one of the numerous bars on the Waterfront or on the Atlantic Seaboard. The sunsets we had in Camps Bay were spectacular.
After that, you can either stay there, the bars are open until late, or head back to Cape Town where you’ll find plenty of watering holes to choose from on Long Street. Some are a bit rough and ready, but that adds to their charm and authenticity. If you crave metropolitan chic and sophistication try the M Bar at the Metropole, bathed in red light you’ll drink some killer cocktails.
There is also plenty of culture on offer: cinemas, theatres, comedy and concerts. Check out the Cape Times (morning paper) and Cape Argus (evening paper) for details and venues.

Hangouts:
Vergelegen
Vergelegen
Not exactly a hangout, but it ticked all my boxes: fantastic wines, great food, historic houses and beautiful landscapes. Spend a day or two in Stellenbosch and you’ll see what I mean. There are tours available from Cape Town, but it is far better to have your own car as long as you don’t overdo it with the wine tastings and have a good lunch (I recommend the Volkskombuis). This way you can discover some of the lesser known of the 130 plus wineries and don’t just get shipped to the big commercial ones. I liked Bilton who offer a wine & chocolate tasting and Muratie which has a very atmospheric tasting room and enthusiastic staff, who really seemed to like their wines themselves. Vergelegen is technically in Somerset West but part of the Stellenbosch wine route and you can easily spend a few hours here exploring the tranquil gardens and the historic homestead in the knowledge you are treading in the footsteps of Nelson Mandela, Bill Clinton and the Queen, who have all visited.

Restaurants:
At the Afro Cafe
At the Afro Cafe
You are spoilt for choice when it comes to restaurants in Cape Town.
My recommendations:
Chai-Yo in Mowbray: excellent Thai food and a lively atmosphere, perfect for a night out with friends.
The Codfather in Camps Bay. If you like seafood – this place is perfect. Either sit down at the revolving sushi bar or pick your own cuts of freshly caught fish and crustaceans at the counter and they will grill them for you with Cajun spices.
The Afro Café on Church Street: Breakfast, African food and one of the best cappuccinos I’ve ever had.
The Veranda at the Metropole Hotel on Long Street: sophisticated atmosphere and food. The ostrich filet in blue cheese sauce was perfection.
Cape to Cuba in Kalk Bay: Cuban food and cocktails in funky surroundings. Everything, including the furniture, is for sale.
Winchester Mansions Hotel in Sea Point: come here for breakfast, either a la carte or stuff yourself at the buffet.
Mr Pickwicks on Long Street: milkshakes and massive sandwiches.

Other recommendations:
Penguins on Boulders Beach
Penguins on Boulders Beach
Make enough time to visit some of the attractions in the area, many of them not even one hours drive away.
Cape Point is a must. The drive alone is worth it (please note: Chapman’s Peak Drive is closed at the moment due to subsidence), make sure to stop in Boulders Beach south of Simon’s Town to see one of the few penguin colonies on the African continent. We also saw several whales swimming close to the shore, more than in Hermanus. You’re also likely to come across baboons, ostriches, dassies, antelopes and springboks. The views are spectacular when you get to the lighthouse and don’t forget to go to the Cape of Good Hope, the most south-westerly point of Africa.
Another great trip at this time of year is to the West Coast National Park near Langebaan as the wildflowers are in full bloom. The Postberg section of the park is only open in August and September. Don’t forget to make a stop at Tsaarsbank, the long, white beach complete with shipwreck and huge breakers is spectacular.

Published on Sunday September 2th, 2007


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Sat, Oct 13 2007 - 07:08 AM rating by joe_schmidt

Excellent report and beautiful pictures. This report gave me a fascinating view of this town and I couldn't stop reading.

Sun, Oct 07 2007 - 01:41 AM rating by zrusseff

love this report. I was looking at the photographs last month & noted I would love to live in one of those colorful houses especially if it is close to the beach. It's a "I-wish-I-were-there" kind of report.

Fri, Sep 07 2007 - 06:06 AM rating by ravinderkumarsi

wonderful report to read ,nicely written and great pictures too.

Thu, Sep 06 2007 - 09:12 AM rating by jorgesanchez

wonderful report!

Thu, Sep 06 2007 - 03:08 AM rating by downundergal

Great report well written and interesting and check o block with info on things to see and do. Well done!

Tue, Sep 04 2007 - 09:42 PM rating by eirekay

Marvelous Report - I hope to see Tabletop Mountain some day! You have described it so powerfullY!

Mon, Sep 03 2007 - 10:14 AM rating by rangutan

Another excellent report full of information and tips. I get all exited reading this one knowing that I will visit Cape Town some time some how again some time in the future. Like you say; why scratch is from a do do list :-) ?

Sun, Sep 02 2007 - 07:51 PM rating by mistybleu

Sabine, an excellent report, full of all the ingredients to make a fantastic trip. Nice one.

Amanda

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