Cape Town is a city like no other. It's a contrast of vibrant activity and meditative relaxation. Cape Town is often compared to Rio de Janeiro, Sydney and San Francisco. Many travellers, however, find Cape Town the most beautiful city in the world. The position of South Africa's "Mother City" is at the foot of the mighty Table Mountain, amidst a National Park of extraordinary beauty and surrounded by two oceans, with stunning expansive beaches that enchant innumerable visitors every year.
This is a must see for all visitors to Cape Town! The V&A has a total of 483 retail tenants occupying over 67,100 sq m. It's a bustling area, perfect for people watching, lazy lunches, movies, harbour cruises, pub visits, live music, free concerts, romantic dinners and shopping!
The southern tip of the African continent is the meeting place of two mighty and bountiful oceans, the Indian and the Atlantic. The Two Oceans Aquarium on the V&A Waterfront, Cape Town is ideally positioned to showcase the incredible diversity of marine life found in these two oceans. The Aquarium features over 3000 living sea animals, including sharks, fishes, turtles and penguins in a spectacular underwater nature reserve.
For those seeking some thrills, you can book to dive with ragged-tooth sharks (sand tigers), shoals of large predators, rays and a turtle in the I&J Predator Exhibit. Or feed the multitude of fishes in the Kelp Forest Exhibit, one of the best displays of its kind in the world.
Table Mountain Cableway
Your ascent to the top of Table Mountain takes just under 10 minutes and offers you a 360 degree view of the city. Once on top there are over 2km of pathways leading you to views over Cape Town, Table Bay, Robben Island the Cape Flats and the Cape Peninsula.
There are also short walks available or you can join one of free guided tours daily at 10h00 and 12h00.
Offers you spectacular views north, west and south.
This popular route has been specially chosen to give you spectacular 360 degree views of Cape Town and Cape Peninsula.
This walk offers wonderful views, along the plateau edge to above Platteklip Gorge. In summer you can see the sunshine conebush in full flower.
A jacket, water and good shoes are a pre-requisite - even in summer, it can be very cold at the top of the mountain.
The City Centre has much to offer and exploring it on foot is the best option.
Visit the Flower market between Strand and Darling Streets - freshly cut flowers have been sold here for more than a hundred years. The upper part of Adderley Street is characterised by a number of historical buildings and leads into the Company Gardens. The Company Gardens was laid out by Cape Town's founding father, Jan van Riebeeck, on order of the Dutch-East India Trading Company to provide fresh vegetables for the colonists. Today the Company Garden is a large public park and botanical garden. You can also explore the South African Museum with Planetarium, the National Gallery, the Jewish Museum and the Parliament from this area.
Long Street is one of the oldest streets in Cape Town with a length of 3.8 kilometres. In years gone by, it was really the longest street in the town centre, reaching from the harbour up to Tamboerskloof. There are still numerous Victorian buildings with cast-iron balcony railings, which have been well restored over the past years and it makes for an interesting, albeit long walk!
A colourful market is held in Greenmarket Square, offering African curios, paintings, clothes and leather goods. The City Centre has many coffee shops and restaurants where one can rest those weary legs after a bout of sightseeing!
This is another attraction worth seeing if you are interested in the South African history scene and our ex-President, Nelson Mandela.
Robben Island has not only been used as a prison - Robben island was a training and defence station in World War II (1939-1945) and a hospital for leprosy patients and the mentally and chronically ill (1846-1931). In the 1840s, Robben Island was chosen for a hospital because it was both secure (isolating dangerous cases) and healthy (providing a good environment for cure). During this time, political and common-law prisoners were still kept on the Island. As there was no cure and little effective treatment available for leprosy, mental illness and other chronic illnesses in the 1800s, Robben Island was a kind of prison for the hospital patients too.
Indigenous African leaders, Muslim leaders from the East Indies, Dutch and British settler soldiers and civilians, women, and anti-apartheid activists, including South Africa's first democratic President, Nelson Mandela and the founding leader of the Pan Africanist Congress, Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe, were all imprisoned on the Island.
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden is world-renowned for the beauty and diversity of the Cape flora it displays and for the magnificence of its setting against the eastern slopes of Table Mountain. It's a lovely spot to visit - you can choose to walk or hike up the mountain from Kirstenbosch, picnic on the lawns, watch the guinea fowl, soak up the beauty of the surroundings, enjoy a lunch or tea at one of the restaurants in Kirstenbosch. Don't rush this one!
Kirstenbosch grows only indigenous South African plants. The estate covers 528 hectares and supports a diverse fynbos flora and natural forest. The cultivated garden (36 hectares) displays collections of South African plants, particularly those from the winter rainfall region of the country. It was founded in 1913
The magnificent Memorial to Cecil John Rhodes stands on the slopes of Devil's Peak, on the Northern flank of Table Mountain. It was built in 1912 on the very place where Rhodes used to sit and contemplate his future. It was a short ride on horseback from his town home, Groote Schuur. Groote Schuur Hospital was the scene of the first heart transplant in 1967 and made the late Dr. Chris Barnard famous.
Today Rhodes Memorial is a national landmark, providing a magnificent view of Cape Town as far as the Helderberg and Hottentots Holland Mountains. Enjoy the views, take lots of photo's and then indulge in a breakfast, lunch or tea at the restaurant. Or take a hike up to the block house if you are feeling energetic!
Simonstown, a Navy town, is an olde-world kind of place. It is well worth a saunter down its Main Street and Quayside Waterfront. Take a short harbour cruise or an "African Shark Eco-Charter" Trip which departs almost every morning, weather permitting to Seal Island, False Bay. During Peak season trips to Seal Island will give you the best opportunity to see the breaching great white sharks, perhaps one of natures' most awesome spectacles. Trips are geared towards the serious nature and shark lover. Or take a kayak out into the beautiful bay for some exercise or visit the South African Naval Museum.
A famous resident of the town was Able Seaman Just Nuisance, RN, the only dog ever to be enlisted in the Royal Navy, to whom a statue has been erected in Jubilee Square. The sailors' had a favourite Great Dane who was a resident in the town, and request was sent to the British parliament asking for him to be enlisted in the Navy. Permission was granted and the dog was brought to the Recruiting Officer, who inquired: "Name?" "Nuisance, Sir", the sailor replied. "First name?" "Just Nuisance, Sir," the sailor stated, giving birth to a great legend.
A visit to the penguins is a must - they are a pleasure to watch, whether they are sunning themselves, protecting their chicks, diving into the water or just looking plain scruffy during the moulting season. Although the African penguins are clumsy on land, and waddle ungracefully when emerging from the water, in the sea they are extremely skilful swimmers, reputedly reaching speeds of 24 kilometres (15 miles) per hour. Rather than using their feet to swim, as many aquatic birds do, they use their wings that have been modified to form extremely efficient flippers. Their webbed feet are used mainly when swimming on the surface of the water. Their feathers have become very small and waterproofed, overlapping to provide better insulation. The African and South American penguins have shorter feathers than the Antarctic birds, since they do not face such great cold. Penguins also have heavier bones than most birds to enable them to dive. African penguins live an average of 10 to 11 years but sometimes reach as much as 24 years.
The most remarkable of the mainland colonies is Boulders Beach in Simon's Town with over 2500 birds. Boulders still remains the only place in the world where one can actually swim amongst the penguins if you are lucky. They are remarkably untroubled by people but one should avoid harassing them by getting too close. Boulders Beach forms part of a conservation area that is home to the African Penguin and wooden walkways have been constructed to view the penguins in their natural habitat.
Cape Town is blessed with truly superb beaches - if you visit during the summer months you will find the locals out in full force together with the tourists.
Clifton Beach is made up of 4 coves and the beaches are called 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th. When the summer South-Easter blows, the Clifton beaches are usually well sheltered from the wind. All of the beaches are accessible via stairs leading down from the road above. In summer, parking is very limited.
Camps Bay is generally more family friendly as it is bigger and there is more space for games and sandcastles for children, and the young at heart.
Llandudno Beach - one of the most beautiful beaches and a favourite for sundowners. The houses that hug the steep road down to the beach have breathtaking views.
Originally a small fishing village, Hout Bay is now a favourite with visitors with its traditional harbour and many restaurants and curio shops. The beach is flanked by the harbour on one end and the cliffs of Chapman's Peak on the other. It's a favourite amongst windsurfers, paddle skiers and surfers and is ideal for walking.
Noordhoek can be accessed via the spectacular Chapman's Peak Drive or the scenic Ou Kaapse Weg and has undoubtedly one of the longest, widest and most beautiful stretches of beach in the Cape. The "Long Beach" extends over 8 kilometres to Kommetjie. It is too vast to ever be crowded and is ideally suited for long walks. In winter, when the waves are higher, a lagoon forms in front of the dunes.
The False Bay coastline is generally quieter and more laid-back than the trendy Atlantic beaches.
In its heyday in the 50's and 60's Muizenberg was a town of glitz and glamour. Today it has become a sleepy sea-side town although many of the elegant mansions of days past still adorn the mountainside. The sandy beach is extremely long offering plenty of space for fun and games. Surfers Corner attracts surfers throughout the year.
Between Muizenberg and Fish Hoek there are a couple of smaller beaches and tidal pools - ideal for exploring and offering safe swimming for children. These include St James beach and Dalebrook tidal pool.
Further along the coast, towards Cape Point, lies Fish Hoek Beach, a favourite with locals and a popular family beach. The long stretch of sandy beach is ideal for walking as is the walkway at the far end of the beach that wanders past rock pools and offers long views out to sea.
The Castle of Good Hope is the oldest building in South Africa. Built between 1666 and 1679 by the Dutch East India Company, better known as the VOC (Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie), this pentagonal fortification replaced a small clay and timber fort built in 1652 by Commander Jan van Riebeeck, founder of the maritime replenishment station at the Cape of Good Hope.
In 1664 there were renewed rumours of war between Britain and the Netherlands and they feared a British attack on the Cape. During that same year Commander Zacharius Wagenaer was instructed to build a five-pointed stone castle. On 26 April 1679 the five bastions were named after the main titles of Willem, the Prince of Orange. The western bastion was named Leerdam; followed in clockwise order by Buuren, Catzenellenbogen, Nassau and Oranje.
Inside the walls of the Castle there were, among others, a church, bakery, workshops, living quarters, offices, cells and numerous other facilities. The yellow paint on the walls was chosen because of its ability to reduce heat and glare from sunlight. A wall divides the inner courtyard of the Castle. The division was initially intended to provide protection to the inhabitants of the Castle in the event of an attack. The well-known Kat Balcony is an outstanding feature of the dividing wall. The original balcony was built in 1695, and then rebuilt in its present form by the VOC between 1786 and 1790. From this balcony proclamations and announcements were made to the soldiers, slaves and civilians at the Cape. This balcony leads to the famous William Fehr Collection of historical paintings and period furniture, which have a special relevance to the Cape of Good Hope.
In 1936 the Castle of Good Hope was declared a national monument. As a result of an extensive, ongoing restoration programme launched in the 1980s, the Castle of Good Hope remains the best preserved fortification of its kind built by the VOC in regions where it had interests.
Situated at the junction of two of earth's most contrasting water masses - the cold Benguela current on the West Coast and the warm Agulhas current on the East Coast , the Cape of Good Hope is popularly perceived as the meeting point of the Atlantic and the Indian Oceans.
Geographically, however, the Indian Ocean joins the Atlantic Ocean at Cape Agulhas.
The lighthouse at Cape Point is the most powerful on the South African coast. It has a range of 63 kilometres, and beams out a group of three flashes of 10 million candlepower each, every 30 seconds.
However, mariners have not always been lucky at this notorious spot before the present lighthouse was built. On the night of 18 April 1911, the Lusitania, a ship of 5 500 tons, with 774 people aboard, struck the Bellows Rock below the lighthouse.
The T Tucker was an American Liberty Ship, built in 1942 and was intended for carrying troops and supplies during World War II. Relying on a faulty compass, she hit a rock in thick fog near Olifantsbos just off the Point.
The Phyllisia, 452 ton Cape Town trawler, struck the jagged rocks just 100 m off the rugged coast of the Cape Point Nature Reserve at about midnight on 3 May 1968. Eleven of her crew reached the shore in life rafts, but 14 still remained on the trawler. Two South African Airforce helicopters lifted them from the craft.
Cape Point is indeed an awesome spot - ponder on the history and lives lost in years gone by as you ride the "Flying Dutchman" , the funicular that will take you up to the uppermost view site at Cape Point (Actually, the old, retired diesel bus used to bear this name). The name is derived from one of the Cape's most famous legends, of a ship named the Flying Dutchman. In 1680, the vessel foundered whilst rounding the Cape in heavy weather. The Captain, Hendrik van der Decken, swore while his ship was sinking that he would round the Cape if it took him to doomsday. Some believe that he has kept his word, as over the years the Flying Dutchman is said to have been sighted on many occasions.
Kalk Bay has to be one of the quaintest villages in Cape Town. The Main Road teems with shops galore - of the browsing variety, antique, art and bric-a-brac.
It has a working fishing harbour, fresh fish sales straight off the boats, many good restaurants, all with the mountain backdrop and the sea in the foreground. Take some time out and explore.
Of all the towns and villages in South Africa there must be very few, if any, who have a more interesting and fascinating history than Kalk Bay. Its modern day history started when the Dutch East India Company proclaimed Simon's Bay a winter anchorage for their ships from May 15th to August 15th each year from 1742.
The difficulty of getting supplies to these ships in Simon's Bay and the building of the town of Simon's Town was severely hampered by the inadequacy of a proper road especially at Clovelly and Sunny Cove where the mountain reached the sea and the quicksands of Fish Hoek and Glencairn halted oxen transport. Kalk Bay became a mini-port for the Dutch and all victualling requirements as well as anchors, masts, sails, etc, were sent by ox-wagon to Kalk Bay and thereafter loaded onto barges which took the goods over to the ships in the bay as well as construction materials needed for the building of Simon's Town. Returning ox-wagons took lime (Kalk) and fish, the staple diet of slaves, back to Cape Town. This mini-port boom where warehouses were built to store the goods lasted from 1742-1795 hereafter the British took over the Cape and the Royal Engineers built a proper 'hard' road to Simon's Town. Kalk Bay fell into disuse, but not for long, and by 1820 it was again the hive of activity as the whaling boom brought much enterprise to Kalk Bay, especially as whaling was prohibited in Simon's Town due to the complaints by residents and the garrison that the repugnant smell of both burning blubber and rotting whale carcasses was unhygienic and unacceptable. Whaling was the third biggest income earner for the Cape Colony after agriculture and wine making, and Kalk Bay housed three of the main whaling stations at the Cape.
The whaling boom was, however, short-lived as killing the female Southern Right Whale who had come to calve in the warm waters of the False Bay, soon resulted in almost total extinction of the whale population around these shores. By c1835 Kalk Bay again became a 'backwater' but this stagnation again did not last long for in the mid-1840s a Filipino crew who were ship-wrecked at Cape Point settled at Kalk Bay. They found the climate most favourable but above all the abundance of the fish in the False Bay was almost too good to be true.
They persuaded fellow Filipinos, who crewed on Yankee sugar ships that lay at anchor in Simon's Bay to desert their ships and join them in Kalk Bay where their leader, Felix Forez, would provide them with shelter and fishing gear. The Filipino populations of Kalk Bay slowly grew and the anti-Spanish riots in the Philippines in the 1850s resulted in thousands of refugees fleeing the Philippines, and a good many joined their countrymen in Kalk Bay. Their numbers were reduced somewhat in 1898 when America took possession of the Philippines and many returned home.
The families who stayed, some 60 odd, still have descendants in the village to this day and the names of de la Cruz, Fernandez, Menigo and Erispe still appear in St James catholic School register.
The population of Kalk Bay was further augmented when many emancipated slaves at the Cape who originated from Batavia, Java and Malaysia joined the community at Kalk Bay. Fishing was their life-skill and it was not long before they played an important role in the community. When the railways arrived in 1883 the population of Kalk Bay grew rapidly and the way of life changed dramatically in this small fishing village. It was now possible to work 'up the line' in Wynberg or Cape Town and live at the seaside, a phenomenon that was previously not possible. This population growth resulted in more homes, boarding-houses, hotels, schools and shops, and an economic infrastructure which the Kalk Bay municipality (1895-1913) successfully created.
The Kalk Bay fishermen survived the abhorrent Group Areas legislation, but they could not survive the dramatic reduction of fish in the False Bay, which occurred steadily from c1955 onwards as 'over-fishing' reduced fish stocks considerably.- Michael J Walker, Kalk Bay Historical Association
This is the largest Bird Park in Africa and one of the few large Bird Parks in the World. Over 3 000 birds (and small animals) of 400 different species are uniquely presented in a spacious landscaped walk through aviaries, allowing you the most intimate closeness with nature.
Enjoy a fascinating glimpse into the private lives of birds.
Get a close-up view of them as they feed, sing, display, socialise, build nests, incubate eggs and feed chicks right before your eyes - an unforgettable experience which changes with the seasons. Give yourself time to wander and observe - this is not a place that you can rush through.
Bo-Kaap is a small residential area above the City Central Business District. It has a population of over 6000 with more than 90% being Muslim.
It is called Bo-Kaap, the Malay Quarters and Slamsebuurt. With the bright colours and friendly atmosphere, this area has a fascinating history and it is worth taking a walking tour to explore it in depth. It's also a very photogenic area!
The residents of Bo-Kaap are mostly descended from slaves who were imported to the Cape by the Dutch during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. They reigned from Africa, Indonesia, Java Malaysia, and elsewhere in Asia. They were known as "Cape Malays", which is an incorrect term as most of BoKaap's residents are not entirely of Malaysian descent. There are still traces of Indonesian vocabulary in BoKaap's dialect such as "trim-makaasi" thank-you and "kanalah" please!
The Cape Malay Cuisine is not only delicious but unique and has played a huge role in South African dishes. The dishes are a combination of Asian, Arab and European
No. 71 Wale Street is today known as the Bokaap Museum. The land on which the house stands was granted in 1763 and constructed and owned by Jan De Waal who also built a number of small houses for hire/letting (huurhuisies). The "huurhuisies" were the first constructed houses in Bokaap. The house was restored to represent a "Malay dwelling" of the 19th Century. An unmistakable uniqueness about Bokaap houses is the "stoeps" (front porches). The height of the stoep is usually elevated from the streets and built up from solid bricks finished with tiles or "klompjes" which is a hard brick from the Netherlands. Some stoeps have iron railings. But the stoep best serves the purpose of being a place where family and friends meet and socialize. In the old buildings of the Cape yellowwood, stinkwood, teak and pine were imported from Norway Indigenous Timber was scarce.
No visit to the Cape is complete without a visit to one or more of the wine routes. Choose from Stellenbosch, Franschoek, Durbanville, or Constantia or do them all, if time allows! Even for non-wine drinkers, the estates are beautiful, the restaurants are good and you may be converted to enjoying our South African wine! Perhaps take a bottle or two home?Read more about the Wine Route: www.wineroute.co.za www.durbanvillewine.co.za www.franschoekwines.co.za www.constantiawineroute.co.za
Guests on the complimentary Diamond Experience Tour are treated to a glass of South African wine or freshly brewed coffee as they explore Shimansky signature collections
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Contact number 021 421 2488.