The combination of mountains, beaches and seas has made Cape Town a Natural Wonder of the World. The natural beauty of Cape Town together with its’ sophisticated city lifestyle offers something for everyone. I have had a life-long relationship with Cape Town and have experienced the city as it is to its locals, a kind of home, lovingly nick-named “The Mother City.”
Every year well over one million foreigners visit, “the fairest cape,” as Sir Francis Drake named the South-western tip of Africa, when he rounded it in 1580. Cape Town is highly efficient. A train line runs from the city centre, through the suburbs along the False Bay coastline all the way to the naval village Simons Town, stopping in many places along the way. A fleet of mini bus taxis and the My Citi bus-service connect the rest of the city.
Explore the Natural Wonder
The first inhabitants, the Khoisan, named the mountain, Hoerikwaggo meaning Sea Mountain. When the Portuguese rounded the Cape in the 15th Century they named it the Cape of Good Hope. The old lighthouse, (built in 1860) has beautiful drives and walks that take in the scenery of the meeting of the oceans and the nature reserve. Whilst the notorious scavengers, the baboons live in the rocky outcrops, the clowns of the sea, the seals enjoy the cold waters of the South Atlantic.
The iconic flat-top Table Mountain was also described by former President Nelson Mandela as a “beacon of hope.” He looked to it from the distant jail on Robben Island which is now a World Heritage Site with a museum accommodating many visitors. Today the Table Mountain range is a nature reserve with many hikes and trails that extend across the peninsular. It is a breath-taking beauty like a great mother looking over her children.
Hire a car and drive to these sites or explore additional attractions of the Western Cape. Cape Town is a natural gateway to the Cape Whale Coast, a sanctuary for annual whale visits, the Garden Route which holds a variety of scenic attractions and Route 62, a road trip that travels inland through the semi-desert Karoo in a celebration of space, beauty and freedom. Tankwa Town in the Karoo is the site of the popular annual Afrikaburn festival.
Part of our culture is not to be rigid in living life and to embrace the absurdity that lightens the grind of life. Klonton Whitehead
Enjoy the Coastlines
The sandstone mountain range runs like a ridge down the centre of the Peninsula, separating it into two distinctive coastlines.
The Atlantic seaboard reaches from the V&A Waterfront, the entertainment and lifestyle capital situated on the edge of Table Bay all the way down to the Southern Peninsular. Restaurants, residences, hotels and promenades connect the city coastline, whilst the bays, coves, crescent shaped and long beach’s of the outlying areas are an outdoor attraction. A favourite spot is the surfer’s paradise, Llandudno.
The False Bay coastline is warmed by the Indian Ocean. The quaint fishing village of Kalk Bay is a gem, offering an ever changing experience with a relaxing combination of a thriving arts and crafts scene and an active harbour bringing in the freshest sea-food.
Join the Carnival Culture
Cape Town’s unique history and human diversity has created a magical Creole identity. The tradition of the annual carnival began with the Cape Town slaves who would dress up, paint their faces and dance and perform in a symbolic New Years’ Day celebration. The carnival marches the streets to this day in an eruption of sound and colour.
After the Second World War, Cape Town port became a global meeting place. Musician Abdullah Ibrahim got his nickname “Dollar,” as he used to buy the latest jazz records from visiting American sailors.
The inner city suburb District Six became the cultural hotspot and melting-pot that defined the era. It was tragically destroyed during apartheid, and its history is immortalised in theatre, poetry, novels and music.
The District Six Museum and Homecoming Centre preserves this living culture and heritage. The youth from the families relocated to the Cape Flats are using hip hop to develop their communities. And, the annual International Jazz festival is at the centre of a thriving live music scene.
Feel the creative energy
Visual beauty is a key component of Cape Town making it a centre for fine art, design and architecture. The National Gallery is housed by a grand Cape Dutch building in the heart of the Company’s Garden. The strong tradition of South African fine art is represented by a collection of master works from all over the world. Modern art from Africa received a major boost with the conversion of the old silo on the Waterfront into the impressive ZMOCAA (Zeitz Museum of Contemporary African Art).
Cape Town’s natural beauty, extended lifestyle offerings and world-class hospitality industry have made it a business destination of importance. Traditionally Cape Town is strong in clothing and textile manufacturing and has well defined energy and financial sectors. It is the headquarters of many national corporations.
More recently Cape Town has become a global hub for international innovators and start-ups, particularly in the IT industry. The scenic backdrops, beautiful natural light and established audiovisual industry have made Cape Town a top international destination for models, photographers and film-makers.
1. A day on Table Mountain: There are many footpaths to climb the tough one kilometre ascent of Table Mountain. The cable car to the top of the mountain offers a five minute rotating ride with panoramic views of the city and surrounds.
2. Visit Signal Hill: Signal Hill, the body of the fabulous Lions Head Mountain has the most spectacular sun sets and moon rises. It is the site of the kramat of Shaykh Mohamad Hassen Ghaibie Shah as well as Cape Town’s oldest tradition, the noon-day canon, which has been firing since 1806.
3. Visit Kirstenbosch national botanical gardens: The expansive Kirstenbosch gardens rise all the way up the slopes of Table Mountain in a display of Cape Town’s rich fynbos flora and fauna. In summer the gardens offer Sunday sunset music concerts.