Our four full days in Cape Town were much too short. We really fell in love with the place and hope to go back — so much more we wish we could have done.
The city has a rich yet troubled history, and since the apartheid era ended (1994) it has generally experienced robust economic growth. Still, what you see in the City Bowl — the more affluent main city area between the sea, Table Mountain, and the mountain’s surrounding suburbs — exists in horribly stark contrast to the “townships” (slums) sprawled throughout Cape Flats. In the townships you’ll find hundreds of thousands of blacks (natives) and “coloureds” (half black half white, and an official distinction in Cape Town), still living unofficially segregated in apartheid’s shadow. The township tour we took deserves its own post – coming soon.
The City Bowl area is generally stunning. The V&A Waterfront is vibrant, the restaurants on Kloof Street are diverse and exceptional (we ate amazing Vietnamese, seafood, authentic African game, delis, and more). The architecture is picturesque throughout. The Company Gardens, a large park area with various museums, schools and government buildings is quaint as well. And behind it all, the face of Table Mountain, with it’s perfectly flat top, provides a stunning backdrop.
While crime is still definitely an issue — though night and day better than Johannesburg, so we hear — almost all the people we came across were warm, friendly and honest.
Our hostel, The Backpack (which was awesome) helped us arrange a bunch of activities and had some great recommendations.
On our first full day we took a tour down to the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point, the southernmost tip of the African continent. Oddly for us Californians, the Atlantic Ocean sits to the West and the Pacific Ocean to the East.
Along the way we stopped in the Hout Bay Harbor, Chapman’s Peak, and then in Simon’s Town to see the penguins — who woulda thunk there’s a whole bunch of penguins on the hot coast of South Africa?
The next day we hiked Table Mountain. We went with a fantastic guide, Binny, who took us up the much more scenic route on the backside of the mountain, starting in the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens and then up Skeleton Gorge. Great hike and amazing views of the city, False Bay and both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
A few more posts on Cape Town to come.