Blue waters to swim in, sandy beaches to sun bathe, delicious food to indulge, rugged terrain to exercise your muscles – I am not talking about the Mediterranean coasts. Get your focus off the famous countries in the Northern Hemisphere and move your attention to the jewels in the Southern Hemisphere.
I am talking about Cape Town, the crowned and famed city of South Africa. Let not rumour mill make any negative impressions on your mind – it’s a safe city with lovely locals. The city is crowned by the Table Mountain that drapes a table cloth of white clouds. The Atlantic Ocean washes it’s coasts and offers dramatic settings to marvel at. There is a buzz and a happy vibe in the city, which makes you want to stop and spend an additional day to soak in its charms.
Cape Town was one of our ‘longer’ stays during the Western Cape road trip. We spent three nights romancing the city. Here is a list of the top five sights and activities, in and around Cape Town, that we recommend if you have 48 hours here.
You can either trek up the Table Mountain or take the cable car. The return ticket in the cable car costs approximately USD 20. We chose the latter and enjoyed the sights as the cable car was gently hauled up to the top. Everyone in the cable car cabin went crazy trying to click picture during the ascent – we were part of the crazy gang! I would recommend that you don’t join the gang and wait till you get on top. The views from the top are awesome. We spent about two hours on top of the table mountain clicking pictures and enjoying lunch in the Table Mountain Cafe at the top. As always, vegetarian food was limited but there was a well stocked salad bar that let us create our vegetarian salad.
Boulders Beach at Simon’s Town
You don’t have to sail to Antarctica to say a hello to the penguin family. You just have to drive for less than one hour to the Boulder’s Beach at Simon’s Town (distance of approximately 35 km). These little beings weren’t shy at all. In fact, I got pecked a couple of times! There is a walking trail, which has an entrance fee that will lead you to the area that has been cordoned off for our black and white friends. However, after having received the two ‘kisses’, I wasn’t too enthused with the idea of getting any closer.
We got a few good pictures of the penguins as most of them were in pairs – it was mating season in December. What the pictures cannot transfer is the smell! The penguins are not toilet trained and the place does not smell too pleasant.
Chapman’s Peak Drive
I know that I rave and rant about sunsets in many of my posts. I can’t help it… I can’t get over the shades of red and orange as the Sun sets. The most beautiful sunset that we have seen till date as been the one from the viewing point at Chapman’s Peak drive. I would rate it higher than the famed Santorini or the Dead Sea sunset.
The Chapman’s peak drive extends for 9 km between Hout Bay at Cape Town to Noordhoek. The winding road lets you feel the surf and the waves splash against the rocky seas side. Summers herald long days. The December sunset that we witnessed was a 8pm!
Stellenbosch, Paarl and Franschhoek
If you love wine, I am sure that you are already geared up with information about Route 62, South Africa s wine route. Stellenbosch, Paarl and Franschhoek offer the wine tasting and vineyard experience as a day trip from Cape Town. If you are a nature lover and want to soothe your eyes with a vast expanse of green, head to this area and have an easy day.
We did not visit any of these towns as we spent a day in Robertson and another day in Tulbagh, both on the wine route. However, the tour was highly recommended by our hotel staff.
Waterfront at Cape Town
Who doesn’t enjoy a meal by the water? The waterfront has an array of restaurants that will let you have a conversation as you watch the boats go by. There is a footbridge that is raised to let the larger boats and yachts go by. The little child in me urged me to walk up and down the bridge each time it was lowered, until Ankur finally decided to stay on the restaurant side!
And oh, I missed shopping! The waterfront is a good place to shop, though a little on the expensive side.
Two cents from my end… Some tips
- Recommend booking the cable car to the top of the table mountain online. There is a long line for the tickets, especially on weekends. There is also a discount if you book online. Please call/check online to confirm whether the cable car is operational. It may not be operational on account of windy weather conditions.
- Reach early to enjoy view from the table top. It is quite common for a cloud cover to develop in the afternoon. You can walk in the clouds, but you will miss the gorgeous views of the ocean and city.
- It’s windy and cooler on top of the table mountain. Suggest carrying a fleece.
- Check online whether the Chapman’s Peak Drive is open before you set out.
- There are a few museums in Simon’s Town, which typically close at about 5pm. Manage your time well if you want to visit them.
- As always, send me an e-mail if you need any further details. Glad to help!
Let the travellers’ tribe grow!