Cape Town in South Africa is often mentioned in the same breath as Rio de Janeiro, Sydney or San Francisco. And rightly so! The symbiosis of big city flair, the enchanting location on the ocean, the interesting history and the beautiful and varied hinterland is perhaps even more appealing here than in the other metropolises. This is due to the location between two oceans, the history, the climate, the diverse art and cultural offerings and the uncomplicated friendly nature of the inhabitants.
Admittedly, Cape Town is smaller, and apartheid and its consequences still cling to it. With the political turnaround in the 1990s, much has changed, even if not everything is still right. But the 2010 World Cup proved that a lot has already changed in the country. That is why more and more vacationers from all over the world come here every year.
Tip 1: Table Mountain
Ever since the first sailors sailed around the Cape of Good Hope, the 1,086 m high Table Mountain has been a landmark that could be seen over 100 km in good weather. Even today it is as famous all over the world as Sugar Loaf Mountain or Big Ben.
From its 1,086 meters, a sandstone wall more than 500 meters steep forms a stark and striking southern termination to the “City Bowl” of Cape Town. Below, the mountain gradually runs out to the harbor. Most people will prefer to take the expensive but much more comfortable cable car up the mountain. The 1,224-meter ascent takes about 7 minutes, and during that time the gondola rotates 360°. So you don’t have to pay attention to which window you are standing at.
Today, more than 500,000 visitors alone take the cable car to the top, from where they can enjoy a magnificent view from the Cape in the south to the mountains of the Bokkeveld series behind Ceres. And the view of the Atlantic Ocean and little Robben Island is also impressive. Mountains, such as Lion’s Head and Signal Hill, are also at the viewer’s feet.
Tip 2: Kirstenbosch
The “Kirstenbosch National Botonical Garden” offers an impressive and very extensive insight into the fantastic diversity of South African flora on an area of over 600ha at altitudes ranging from 100m to over 1000m.
Because of the different elevations over which the site extends, there are a variety of specific habitats for specific plants. Particularly recommended is a visit to the Protea fields, the Kirstenbosch Heath Gardens, the Fern Valley, Mathew’s Rock Garden and the Comptom Herbarium, where some 200,000 different subtropical plants are collected.
Almost all year round, but especially in spring, the botanical garden presents itself as a colorful sea of flowers, shrubs and trees.
There is a special “Braille Trail” (path for the blind) for the blind and a fragrant garden with aromatic plants.
In 1913 it was founded by Prof. Pearson (d. 1916) on the eastern slope of Table Mountain on over 500 ha, after the Premier of the Cape Colony Cecil Rhodes had already acquired the former farmland in 1895 and donated it to the country 7 years later.
Tip 3: Waterfront
In the evenings and on weekends, half of Cape Town meets at the former harbor area, the Cape Town Waterfront. From a dingy area bordering the city center, the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront has become one of Cape Town’s most important tourist attractions.
A multitude of stores, restaurants and cafes are arranged around 2 huge harbor basins. Visitors stroll through the hustle and bustle while being entertained by African music groups. Dozens of excursion boats are moored at the harbor’s wharves, where tourists can take boat tours of Table Bay.
Anchored at some quays are large cruise ships that make a stop in the Cape Town harbor on a grand tour of Africa.
Numerous seals cavort in the water in front of them and on special pontoons.
The marina is located in the inner harbor. In parts, ships are even still being repaired in docks. There is so much to see on a tour of the huge harbor area of the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront.
If you were lucky enough to get one of the coveted tickets for Robben Island when you made your reservation, you are now in for a journey into African history. Many opponents of apartheid were imprisoned on Robben Island, including Nelson Mandela. The starting point of this tour is the Nelson Mandela Gateway on the V&A Waterfront.
Tip 4: Boulders Beach
One of the top attractions in Cape Town is the penguin colony in Simons Town on the shore of False Bay. In this part of the coast there are many rounded granite rocks, which gave the beach its name.
A single pair of these African penguins was discovered here on the beach section in 1983. Since then the colony has increased extremely, today there are about 2,100 animals living in this protected area. However, this is a decrease from the peak of 3,900 in 2005. In 2010, the African Penguins, also known as “Jackass Penguins” were upgraded from vulnerable species status to endangered species.
In South Africa, populations remain only at Lambert’s Bay and Betty’s Bay.
The birds, which weigh about 2 – 4 kg, have adapted well to the local living conditions. The entire beach area is covered by bushes where the penguins can hide. Their nests with the chicks are either dug into the sandy ground or built in hollows. Everywhere you can see the openings to the caves, in which a pair of penguins lives. The whole park is completely fenced so that the animals have some protection.
Within the area there are wooden walkways everywhere, where you can reach the whole area. From this elevated position, you get a nice view of the droll little animals that make a decent amount of noise. In the area of the granite rocks you can move freely and approach the penguins. Some of the animals are extremely curious and dare to come within a few centimeters of the tourist. Despite their droll appearance, however, you should be on your guard, because a bite from them can really hurt.
Tip 5: Cape Point
The drive to Cape Point is part of the must-do program of a visit to Cape Town. The southern end of the Cape Peninsula can actually boast two peaks, the Cape of Good Hope and the even more southerly and higher Cape Point. For the early sailors, the Cape of Good Hope was the turning point. Only when one had passed this “Cape of Storms,” as Bartholomeus Diaz called it in 1488, had one made it.
Both capes are located in the 7800-acre Good Hope portion of Table Mountain National Park.
The last meters to Cape Point Peak you have to walk or take the rack railroad. A staircase of natural stone leads over 120 steps to the old lighthouse on Cape Point Peak, 250 meters above sea level. From here you can see Cape Point. You can also see the Cape of Good Hope to the west. A hiking trail of about 60 minutes length (each way) connects both capes.
In the national park there are many beautiful bays with hiking trails and picnic areas. Especially popular is Buffels Bay, where there is a wonderful beach and a protected tidal pool.