Did you know that the Safari Journal Blog has a sister publication? Tales of Africa is written by our own Mahree Fowler, who first visited Africa as a child, and it changed her life forever. Tales of Africa is the story of a girl who fell in love with an entire continent, who longed for and dreamed of this special place. Mahree shares stories of her childhood and also great information and tips on African safari travel. Today, we’re sharing her top 10 list of what to do when visiting Cape Town – enjoy!
1. Table Mountain: Table Mountain is both one of the new 7 Natural Wonders of the World and a World Heritage site. The mountain stands at 1,086m and rises up from the crystal seas of the Cape Peninsula. Its name comes from its flat surface which is often covered by a layer of clouds that seem to drape off its sides forming, what is often referred to as, the “tablecloth. If you’re feeling adventurous, the summit can be reached on foot, or mountain bike. If you feel like relaxing, take the efficient cableway to the top and back while soaking in the spectacular view.
2. The Victoria & Alfred Waterfront: The V&A Waterfront is a historic, cultural, and scenic treasure. Set in an actual working harbor are walkways offering both indoor and outdoor shopping, dining, and entertainment for all ages. At night, the waterfront is one of the most romantic places in the city. There are 22 official landmarks to be seen with panoramic views of the ocean and Table Mountain standing as a backdrop to this iconic site.
3. Cape Point Nature Reserve : This is a National Park and a World Heritage Site. There is much to take in here with the incredibly diverse landscape, cliffs overlooking the vast Atlantic ocean, rolling hills covered with fynbos (one of the six floral kingdoms), over 200 different species of birds, and an abundance of wildlife. If you’re thinking of taking your children to South Africa, I recommend taking a peek into these family-friendly adventures: South Africa Family Safari -Bronze, South Africa Family Safari – Gold, or South Africa Family Safari – Silver where kids go along for free!
4. Chapman’s Peak Drive: This breathtaking road winds it way between Noordhoek and Hout Bay on the Atlantic Coast on the south-western tip of South Africa. Chapman’s Peak Drive is one of the most spectacular marine drives in the world. The 9km route, with its 114 curves, skirts the rocky coastline of Chapman’s Peak.
5. Greenmarket Square: Not far from the waterfront, in the heart of the business district, you’ll find this bustling open marketplace filled with arts, crafts, clothing, curios – really about anything you could want. You will also find street entertainment and some great people watching.
6. Robben Island: From the 17th to the 20th centuries, Robben Island served as a place of banishment, isolation and imprisonment, and is where Nelson Mandela served 18 of his 27 years in prison on Robben Island. Today it is a World Heritage Site and museum, a poignant reminder to the newly democratic South Africa price paid for freedom.
7. District 6: The apartheid nationalist government took over District Six in the 1960s, when it declared this a “whites-only” area by law. By the early 80’s more than 60,000 people had been displaced, families were split up, and the community was destroyed. District six has risen up as a place of vibrant culture that will stay with you forever.
8. Bo-Kapp: This is a multi-cultural neighborhood in the center of Cape Town known for its brightly colored houses, Cape-Malay culture, and divine cuisine. Many of the residents are descendants of slaves from Malaysia, Indonesia and various African countries, who were imported to the Cape of Good Hope by the Dutch during the 16th and 17th centuries. There are museums, restaurants, shopping – a must see.
10. Winelands: For any wine enthusiast or “foodie” and for those who love history and beautiful scenery, the Winelands is a must-see. The stars of the Winelands are Paarl, Franschhoek, and Stellenbosch and they can be visited in a day or spread over a week. No matter what the pace, visitors are sure to enjoy the many varietals produced here—be sure to try local favorites such as sauvignon blancs—and some of the best meals they’ve ever had. Several Winelands restaurants have been rated tops in the world. Accommodations choices include quaint bed & breakfasts and luxury hotels. A great place for romance and relaxation.Photo 1 courtesy Mahree Fowler, Bo Kaap photo courtesy Cape Cadogan, remaining photos © Gretchen Healey