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Why Cape Town South Africa is the Must See City of 2014

The colors of Table Mountain at sunset with large rocks
A visit to Cape Town, South Africa. Beautiful weather, wine, safari, water sports, nature - Cape Town has it all.
Nicole Voltapetti on March 7, 2014 - 5:03 pm in Historical, Places to visit

Travel to Cape Town, South Africa

A trip to Cape Town, South Africa is the holy grail upon every traveler’s wish list – and for good reason.  South Africa’s spirited culture is one of a kind, and combined with the country’s rare opportunities for sightseeing and adventure, it’s no wonder why this jewel has been garnering so much attention lately.

The best place to indulge in South Africa’s travel opportunities:  Cape Town.  This lively metropolitan, also known as the Mother City, is ideally located along the southern coast of South Africa and bubbles with exotic adventures including shark diving, safari excursions, and whale watching.  The area’s globally renowned vineyards and fine dining establishments will also have you grinning from ear to ear.  Cape Town’s attractions alone are truly exceptional and being able to enjoy them while experiencing South Africa’s vibrant culture makes this city an incomparable travel destination – at least that was verdict at this year’s World Travel Awards.

African Safari Adventures

Travel to Cape Town and “taste the rainbow” with the Mother City’s wide range of attractions.  You could be relaxing on a sandy beach, breezing across the ocean on a kiteboard, or settling your nerves as you prepare to dive in to shark-infested waters – perhaps in the same day.  Whether you want to enjoy the city’s creative opportunities and exciting night life, or be captivated by once-in-a-lifetime wildlife excursions, one visit to Cape Town and you’ll see why it’s in a league of its own.

Wildlife Safaris

Take a walk on the wild side with a signature African adventure:  Safaris.  Cape Town boasts many 5-star game reserves that will leave you in awe as you admire the African lion, elephant, giraffe, hippopotamus, and leopard – to name a few.  Whether you’re looking for a half-day excursion or a multi-night retreat, Cape Town has a reserve to meet your needs.

The Aquila Game Reserve and Inverdoorn Game Reserve are roughly two hours from the Mother City and offer an unforgettable “big 5” tour.  Both Sanbona Wildlife Reserve and Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve & Wellness Retreat are about 2.5 – 3 hrs. outside of the city and are distinguished by their luxury accommodations.  If you’re schedule is too packed to spend hours in the car, Fairy Glen may be a good option for you.  It’s only an hour outside of Cape Town and maintains affordable touring packages.  Cape Town’s tourism board also provides a list of reputable reserves and offers information on each one.

Seal Snorkeling

Endemic to South Africa’s coast, cuddly Cape fur seals zip and zap through the crisp waters of the Atlantic Ocean.  Only in Africa can you get nose-to-nose with these playful pups – and only in Cape Town would you want to.  Conveniently located in Hout Bay, Animal Ocean invites guests on a 3 hr. excursion to a shark-free site where a colony of Cape fur seals dwell.  Adventure seekers are able to jump in the water and splash around with spunky seals in their natural habitat.  Seal snorkeling is offered during the summer months of Cape Town, December – May, so plan accordingly!

 

Table Mountain

Table Mountain is a well-known highlight in Cape Town, inviting guests to hike, bike, climb, or ride a cable car to its summit.  The flat-topped mountain towers over the surrounding area, providing stunning views of the Cape Town city centre and the Atlantic Ocean.  The view isn’t the only thing that’s picture-worthy though:  Beautiful, rare, only-in-Africa flora blanket the mountain.  A photographer’s dream, the mountain and surrounding area maintain one of the most unique and comprehensive displays of plant life in the world, so much so that it was awarded a prestigious World Heritage Site title in 2004.

The colors of Table Mountain at sunset with large rocks

Even if you don’t take one of the many hiking and biking trails up the mountain, you can still enjoy the diverse plant and animal life by strolling through a nature trail at the top.  The trails are easy to navigate through, but there are guides available – free of charge – to accompany you if you’d prefer.   Guests to Table Mountain will also find a cute bistro and gift shop at the summit.

For the fearless explorer, the top of the mountain also provides an abseiling opportunity – an experience that definitely earns you bragging rights. Abseiling is repelling down a mountain with ropes.  Thrills range from average to the extreme.

Cape Town Watersports

Whether you’re an experienced surfer looking for the perfect wave or just beginning your journey into watersports, Cape Town is the place you want to be.  Surrounded by various beaches, the city is an epicenter for those who yearn to be out on the water.  Many visitors leave Cape Town with exciting memories of surfing, stand-up paddle boarding (SUP), kiteboarding, and windsurfing.

With the diverse range of beaches in Cape Town, there’s a watersport hot spot for your unique experience level.  Some beaches seem to be more geared towards professionals whereas others are more appropriate for those dipping their toes into their sport of interest.  For information on lessons, rentals, and the best areas for your skill level go to CapeTown-Watersports.com

Shark Diving

Shark diving?  Yes, shark diving – it’s no joke.  Many Cape Town thrill seekers get their adrenaline fix by locking eyes with one of nature’s most revered predators:  The Great White Shark.  A shark diving tour allows you to get up close and personal with this legendary creature within the safety of a protective cage – an encounter you’ll never forget.

Two hours from the Cape Town lies a small fishing town called Gansbaai, an area known for its high concentration of Great White Sharks, where the diving tours take place.  Though the tours take place in Gansbaai, many of the touring companies will personally pick you up from your Cape Town accommodations and return you after your adventure. Gansbaai’s Visitor Bureau lists a few trustworthy companies offering this unforgettable ocean outing.

Cultural Cravings

The rich, multicultural heritage of Cape Town and its current standing as a South African economic center affords the city a dazzling array of cultural gems.  One day you could be perusing art galleries and iconic historic sites, while the next you may be giving your senses a wakeup call with rhythmic African song and dance.

V&A Waterfront

V&A Waterfront is to Cape Town what Time Square is to New York – it’s the heartbeat of the city.  This harborside paradise bubbles with the best of Cape Town as cultural museums, African eateries, entertainment venues, and unique boutiques line the streets.

Tourists are often seen zipping in to the popular Two Oceans Aquarium – where you can interact with rockhopper penguins and swim with the big fish in the shark tank – the South African Maritime Museum, and the Cape Town Diamond Museum, while residents enjoy the harbor’s creative opportunities and the lively happenings at Market on the Wharf.  V&A Waterfront also brings smiles to Capetonians with its wide range of shopping destinations – yes, you can have upscale African home and jewelry retailers in the same area as “mom and pop” curio stores.  Travel to V&A Waterfront and you’ll see why it’s South Africa’s most popular tourist destination.

Cape Town waterfront

Robben Island

Robben Island is one of the country’s most frequented cultural sites and a hallmark of South African history.  As the political prison where civil rights activist and former President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, was incarcerated for 18 years, Robben Island reflects the tumultuous political past of the country and serves as a shining example of how strength of will effects change.  Other notable inmates include former Presidents of South Africa, Kgalema Motlanthe, and current President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma.  Tours of Robben Island are led by past inmates, adding a personal touch to the visit.

Township Tours

The Mother City courses with beauty, adventure, and privileged opportunities – at least that’s one side of Cape Town, South Africa.  Ask any Capetonian how to genuinely connect with the city though, and they’ll advise you to take a township tour through the areas where non-white South Africans were authorized to live during Apartheid.

With an experienced guide, visitors embarking on township tours are given the opportunity to attain a deeper understanding of this fascinating city and the ubuntu spirit that makes Cape Town a standout among the rest.

There are half-day trips and even overnight trips to the townships, but whatever option you choose, expect a memorable and eye-opening experience as you meet township residents and hear their stories expressed through the artistic lens of music, dance, and crafting.  Trips can also include visits to the local schools, church services, community healers, and shebeens (pubs).  If you want to bring gifts for the township children, you’re welcomed to do so, but be sure to first give them to your guide.

Cape Town Wine Tours

Wine aficionados around the world have long been aware of South Africa’s legendary dessert wines.  Though the country may have entered the scene with its delicious sweet blends, thanks to much anticipated social reform in the 1990s, South Africa has been shaking up the wine market with its premier Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Bordeaux-blends – with the majority of wine production located around Cape Town.

Constantia

As Constantia is perhaps the most historic wine region in South Africa, it’s well worth a trip to sample some of the pioneering blends that put South Africa “on the map” during the 1600s.  Klein Constantia is one of the many vineyards in the area and boasts the incomparable, Vin De Constance – a wine sought after by the likes of Napoleon, Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, and Louis Philippe to name a few.  This area is also earning increasing recognition for its Sauvignon Blanc whose quality rivals top New Zealand brands – but is often sold for half the price.  With so many vineyards in the area, it might be worth your while to glance over the Constantia Valley Wine Route so you can make the most out of your trip.  Oh, it’s also nice to note that Constantia is roughly 10 miles outside of the centre of Cape Town, so you won’t be traveling far for extraordinary wine. 

Stellenbosch

Stellenbosch is South Africa’s main region of wine production.  The many vineyards located throughout this oak tree-lined oasis are frequented by locals and tourists yearning to sample some of the best reds and whites the country has to offer.  Rustenberg has earned a reputation for outstanding Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, while Rust en Verde draws a loyal following for its esteemed Bordeaux blends and Shiraz.  Simosig is another crowd-pleaser with delightful Cabernets, Chardonnay, and Chenin Blanc.  If you want to sample South Africa’s iconic Pinotage – a blend of Cinsaut and Pinot Noir – a trip to Kanonkop will tantilize your taste buds.  The Stellenbosch Wine Route is a great way to plan your venture into South Africa’s oldest wine route and suggests various touring companies for those that are interested.

If you’re looking to do some research first, I suggest this book.

Cape Town Restaurants for Foodies

A blissful haven for foodies, the eateries in Cape Town vary like the wide range of tourists that come to enjoy the city.  From the more customary seafood dishes of kingklip and prawns to exotic fare including ostrich, giraffe, and crocodile; it’s no wonder why Cape Town cuisine is known as “rainbow cuisine.”

Though chefs take advantage of fresh seafood and wild game from Cape Town’s neighboring oceans and hunting grounds, many of the city’s staple dishes are a mixture of Indonesian, Dutch, and African heritage.  Think along the lines of scrumptious sausage dishes, spicy curry creations, and comforting maize and meat dinners – all with a lively South African twist.  Yum!

Shisa Nyama

A South African staple, shisa nyama’s are a must for anyone visiting Cape Town.  A shisa nyama is the African way to do barbeque, where people buy meat from a butcher and then mingle as it is braaied (barbequed) over an open flame.  Mzoli’s Place is probably the most raved-about shisa nyama in the area and offers lively entertainment in addition to its delectable meat dishes.  At Mzoli’s Place you don’t have to braai the meat yourself; you simply purchase your cut of choice from the butcher inside and let the skilled team at Mzoli’s do all the rest.  As a traditional African shisa nyama, you are expected to bring your own cutlery and beverages though.

Cape Malay

Imagine the savory, spicy flavors and skillful culinary techniques of Indonesian cuisine fused with Africa’s bold and meat-focused cooking style, and you have what is known as Cape Malay.

In the 1600s, the Dutch East India Company brought over laborers from Southeast Asia to help develop Cape Town.  The laborers, known as Cape Malays, began blending their cooking skills with neighboring African cultures.  What resulted was a toothsome union known as Cape Malay – a cuisine that would grace Cape Town with tantalizing boboties, samosas, and bredies for centuries to come.

Identified by their flavorful curries and sweet & spicy dishes, Cape Malay restaurants are continually sought after by tourists and residents alike.  From casual diners to upscale eateries, Cape Malay is here to stay.

Fine Dining and Exotic Fare

Many fine dining establishments have sprung up all over Cape Town to meet the demands of international tourists on the hunt for exceptional African fare.  The Savoy Cabbage continually earns praise for its inventive dishes with exotic African game, such as warthogs and eland lion.  Aubergine is another crowd-pleaser that delights guests with its ostrich tandoori.  For those looking for outstanding seafood dishes, you might want to try Beluga.  Their sushi and dim sum have been “making waves” since it opened.  Here’s a list from Cape Town’s tourism board pointing out a few more delicious diners.

 

With wild outdoor adventures, a sparkling social scene, and relaxing beaches and vineyards, it’s easy to see why the travel world’s abuzz with Cape Town.

For more information visit capetown.travel

Cape Town South Africa Map

Cape Town South Africa Map


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