Occupying one of the world’s most stunning spot
Written by RJ Animo
Lions, cheetahs, giraffes, elephants, rhinos and zebras were roving the vast African land. Explorers clutching binoculars and colonialist armed with riffles. And oh Nixau! The God Must Be Crazy film was so hilarious. The story of Tarzan, remarkable. These were the pictures in my head, of South Africa, when I was a kid. I learned. There’s more of South Africa to see and feel, especially in Cape Town.
On the plane, you’ll see down below a glorious sight. Turquoise waters, white beaches, green landscapes, and the iconic Table Mountain would take your breath away. Table Mountain has near vertical cliffs and flat-topped summit over 1,000 meters high. And with Devil’s Peak and Lion’s Head on either side, they form a striking mountainous backdrop circling the central area of Cape Town. This magnificent setting is the so- called City Bowl. Sometimes, a thin strip of cloud known as the “tablecloth” forms on top of the mountain. The City Bowl is a natural amphitheatre-shaped area bordered by the Table Bay. Cape Town occupies one of the most stunning and best spot on Earth.
Tavern of the Seas
A tribe of hunters, gatherers and pastoralists, the Sans and Khoikhoi people, migrated south, reaching the Cape of Good Hope about 2000 years ago. Then, came the Portuguese who actually had no intention of permanent settlement but just passing by on their search for a sea route to India. By the end of the 16th century the Cape became a regular stopover for the English and Dutch.
Jan van Riebeeck established a trading post. He was chosen by the VOC (Dutch East Indies Company) to lead an expedition of 80 company employees ̶mainly poorly educated soldiers and sailors̶charged with building a fort, bartering with the KhoiSan for meat, and planting a garden. The first European settlers were mainly Dutch, with some French Huguenots that had to flee from religious persecution in their home country. But it was not at all peaceful. And hostilities between the locals and the Europeans were rampant for the longest time. There was a shortage of women in the colony, so female slaves and local women were exploited. The slaves intermixed with the Khoisan, too. The brood of these unions made upthe sections of today’s population.By the middle of the 18th century there were around 3000 people living in the riotous port, known as the ‘Tavern of the Seas’ by every navigator, privateer and merchant voyaging between Europe and the East, and Australia.
The Mother City of Africa
Today, Cape Town is one of the most multicultural cities in the world. It is the second most populated city in Africa after Johannesburg, and the legislative capital of the country. Cape Town is Africa’s most popular destination for immigrants and expats to South Africa.
Everything that a perfect getaway should have is all here; a unique charm, striking sceneries, exciting activities and so much more. Many tourists come to Cape Town for the beaches, which are also popular for the locals. The city’s unique geography makes it so easy to visit different beaches all in the same day. And you will always find every beach different in setting and atmosphere. The extraordinarily beautiful stretch of coast, the Atlantic Seaboard averages annual water temperatures barely above that of coastal California around 13 °C. The False Bay coast, considered by many as one of the great bays in the world, is very much warmer, averaging between 16 and 17 °C annually. This is similar to water temperatures in much of the Northern Mediterranean. No wonder many prefer it over the cooler Atlantic Seaboard.
During the summer, False Bay water averages slightly over 20 °C. Beaches located on the Atlantic Coast tend to have very cold water due to the Benguela current, which originates from the Southern Ocean, whilst the water at False Bay beaches may be warmer by up to 10 °Cat the same moment due to the influence of the warm Agulhas current, and the surface warming effects of the South Easter wind. The two coasts are equally famous, although the beaches on the Atlantic are more developed with restaurants and bars and cafes.
Beaches and Trails
So how do we make up our minds on what to do first? Surfing and kite surfing, swimming and diving are surely thrilling. Even hiking and wine tasting could be a wonderful new experience in this city.
Muizenberg is a wonderful place for starters. This is a good place for beginners. Hout Bay is where the colossal and challenging waves are. The Dolphin Beach in Blouberg Strand, Muizenberg and Langebaan Lagoon are the hot spots for kite surfing. Langebaan lagoon is one of the best places in the world to learn how to kitesurf becauseof its warmer water, shallow sand banks and steady wind. The beaches on the False Bay are the most popular with swimmers because the water is warmer. St James has the most picturesque tidal pool on the stretch between Muizenberg and Kalk Bay, while Clovelly and Fish Hoek beaches wrap around a sheltered bay with soft, white sands.Cape Town is situated near two oceans, the Atlantic and Indian. There is an eminent difference in character between the waters of the two coasts of the peninsula. From a diver’s point of view, the Cape Peninsula may be considered the interface between the two marine biological regions.
On the other hand, there are also so many trails to feed your adventurous spirit;the Cape of Good Hope Trail, Hoerikwaggo Table Mountain Trail, The Orangekloof Hiking Trail, Table Mountain, Chapman’s Peak, and The Amphitheatre in the Kalk Bay mountains.
After a long day of walking and swimming, check out the impressive variety of vineyards in Cape Town and the surrounding Cape Winelands.Both offer exquisite sights and wine, making it very difficult to pick which one to experience first.
Whale watching is popular among tourists. Southern Right Whales and Humpback Whales are seen off the coast during the breeding season, usually from August to November, and Bryde’s Whales and Killer Whales can be seen any time of the year. The nearby town of Hermanus is known for its Whale Festival, but whales can also be seen in False Bay. Heaviside’s dolphins are endemic to the area and can be seen from the coast north of Cape Town; Dusky dolphins live along the same coast and can occasionally be seen from the ferry to Robben Island.
Places and Stories
The city has several notable cultural attractions. The Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, built on top of the docks of the Port of Cape Town, is the city’s most visited tourist attraction. It is also one of the city’s most popular shopping venues, with several hundred shops and the Two Oceans Aquarium. Other sites to see are; the Bo-Kaap, The Castle of Good Hope, Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden, Robben Island, Rhodes Memorial, and the South African Parliament.
The colorful buildings, quaint streets, mosques of Bo-Kaap are worth checking out. This neighborhood offers a majestic view over Cape Town with great foodbeing sold on the side of the street, making it a popular location for films. It is also called the Malay Quarter for it is inhabited by Muslim descendants of slaves from South-East Asia. The Castle of Good Hope, or simply called by the locals as “The Castle”, is South Africa’s oldest surviving building. There’s an art collection, a history of the castle, and an exhibit of military effects. The huge diversity of plants and flowers of the Cape were displayed at the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. There are also several museums and galleries to visit, and theaters too. During the apartheid days, the scenic Robben Island located just off the coast from Cape Town held political prisonersincluding Nelson Mandela and the late Walter Sisulu.
The rich architectural heritage of Cape Town could be observed by the many Cape Dutch style buildings. The style combined the architectural traditions of Netherlands, Germany, France and Indonesia. You can find it in Constantia, the old government buildings in the Central Business District, and along Long Street.
Bush fires are part of the mountains’ life cycle but surely it is not welcomed. For years, fires posed great threats to the flora and fauna of the region’s National Parks. The Fynbos,or a rich green lands located in Cape Town, in particular can become very dry and burn easily. Many fire incidents had almost destroyed the slopes of the Table Mountain. So when visiting the parks you should very careful not to start a fire. You wouldn’t want to be the cause of devastation of such beauty. Cape Town is serious with fire prevention and protection.
Take out your umbrellas
Throughout the year this city is busy with organized events such as The Cape Town Flower and Garden Show, Cape Argus Pick and Pay Cycle Tour, Two Oceans Marathon, Cape Town Jazz Festival, Kirstenbosch Summer Sunset Concert, Mother City Queer Project, Spiers Summer Arts Festival and the City Harvest Festival.The yearly Cape Town Minstrel Carnival, also known by its Afrikaans name,“KaapseKlopse”, is a large minstrel festival held annually on the 2nd of January or “TweedeNuweJaar” (An Afrikaans word for Second New Year). Competing teams of minstrels parade in brightly-colored costumes, performing Cape Jazz, either carrying colorful umbrellas or playing an array of musical instruments. The Artscape Theatre Centre is the main performing arts venue in Cape Town.
Go on a Safari
After kayaking and sunset cruises you wouldn’t want to miss the exotic fauna and flora of Africa. Although Cape Town is more known for its stunning beaches and amazing landscapes and mountains, you would never want to leave South Africa missing the wild life safaris and game reserves that are just near the city. There are walking safaris where you will be able to come face to face with the lions, leopards, elephants, buffalos, rhinos and other animals. The traditional African camps that provide tents for touriststruly offer a unique African experience.
Walking through the city’s streets and meeting thelocals, you will fall in love with Cape Town’s natural beauty and creative spirit. Amidst the history of violence, apartheid, and poverty, there lies a city of rich cultural experience and incredible people.