Capetown is a great city to unwind and re-charge before I had to head back to reality. After our Amazing-Race-like pace while on Safari in Botswana, South Africa; and private concessions around Kruger National Park, it was a treat to be re-introduced back into civilization.
The Mother City, as they fondly call it, was a world of its own. Cape Town has it all – exquisite beaches, breathtaking scenery, wildlife, world-renowned gastronomy and a buzzing nightlife. We felt like it was a warm blend of an Aussie laid back vibe and European charm combined.
It’s no wonder so many visitors have considered this a playground. I highly recommend it when planning your African itineraries (courtesy of Asia to Africa Safaris).
Flying into the City
There’s an airport right in the middle of the bush, which is convenient for travelers who want to go on safari for a few days around South Africa. People can literally leave from work in the city, take a flight and be in the bush before sundown.
There is a well curated Curio Shop for those last minute souvenir items; and there are even rental cars are available for those who opt to self-drive within the parks and private concessions.
We liked that the terminal was built harmoniously with the natural landscape of the park. They made use of indigenous plants for landscaping and the thatched roof structure felt as if we were still in camp.
South African Airways
|Departure (LVI)||Arrival (OR Tambo)||Airlines||Days||Flight No.|
|11:20 AM||13:55 PM||SAA||Daily||8652|
Duration: 2 hours and 35min with lunch served
Looking at it from below is one thing, but it is quite another to be atop Table Mountain. You are greeted with wonderful views of Cape Town, Robben Island, the Peninsula and beyond.
Getting to the top of the mountain is easy. You can opt to walk or to step aboard the 85-year-old Table Mountain Cableway which provides a gentle, quick and vista-full trip up to the summit. The cable car is an exhilarating experience as it rotates while it ascends or descends to the station. Once at the top, over 3500ft above the city, you will find a vast network of well-marked paths to explore as well as strategically positioned lookout points.
Visitors can enjoy wonderful views of the Rock Hyrax (Dassie) scuttling along the rocks, lizards sunning themselves, butterflies flitting past and you might even be lucky enough to spot a porcupine digging for bulbs. The bird life is wonderful too, the species range from the large Verreaux Eagles to small colourful sunbirds. All these creatures live in the fynbos, and hundreds of these plant species are unique to this location.
Lion’s Head forms part of the Table Mountain range and provides a scenic backdrop to the City of Cape Town. It falls within the Table Mountain National Park and rises to a height of 669m (2195ft) above sea level. It is best known for its stunning views of the Mother City and Table Bay on one side, and the Atlantic shoreline on the other, which makes the hour-long walk to the top really worth the effort. Add a little mystery to the walk by tackling it during full moon and be rewarded with a glittering view of Cape Town by night.
Due to its height above the city and the ideal wind conditions that prevail around it, Lion’s Head is a great spot to go paragliding, hang-gliding or micro-lighting.
Geographically speaking, the “table top” of Table Mountain is of sandstone origin, while its slopes are composed of granite. This underlying composition supports the growth of natural fynbos vegetation which, in turn, provides a home for a host of small animals. Many millions of years ago, Table Mountain, Signal Hill and Lion’s Head would all have been joined together, but due to erosion, they are now separate.
Fun fact: recently, Table Mountain joined the Amazon rainforest, Vietnam’s Halong Bay, Argentina’s Iguazu Falls, South Korea’s Jeju Island, Indonesia’s Komodo and the Philippines’ Puerto Princesa Underground River as the newly listed 7 wonders of the world.
The V&A waterfront is a bustling shopping, dining and entertainment area neighbouring the Table Bay harbour. Developed from redundant docklands, this vast property now blends seamlessly and attractively with the working harbour. Vibrant & cosmopolitan, the waterfront is bursting with colour & people, music & exciting events.
There is a surprise around every corner! There are beautiful & bustling restaurants, fantastic shopping outlets, concerts at the amphitheater, boat and yacht trips, and even buskers and mime artists to keep you entertained. There is also the big wheel which allows you to view the city from a unique perspective!
The Dock House
This former residence of the Harbour Master has been wonderfully restored into a sophisticated six-room Boutique Hotel. Despite the buzz of the city’s waterfront district, everything from the palm trees in the garden to the soothing taupe and cream interiors help define this historic hotel as a quiet getaway.
The Cape Grace
We were lucky to experience what many consider the best hotel in Capetown.The Cape Grace is one of the most prestigious hotels in South Africa. Interiors were meticulously designed with the aim to create a walk-in story book depicting Cape Town’s heritage and cultural diversity. Such was the depth of the work, that no two of Cape Grace’s 143 bedrooms is the same.
The room layout, amenities, décor, and ambiance are first rate. Staff service from check-in, concierge, and dining staff was flawless. The location at the V&A waterfront allows great views, dining options, and shopping too. Center city dining options are within 5-10 minute drive. The hotel even has a free BMW 750 with driver service to transport you to your dining reservations.
Specific themes were chosen for each space ranging from Botanical Species to the Dutch East India Trade route. Local artists were commissioned to illustrate these themes, creating bespoke hand painted fabrics and tapestries, hand-thrown ceramics, beadwork and crafts. The result is a unique hotel with a real sense of place, showcasing a superb collection of Cape Antique furniture.
Their pool was designed to resemble a yacht deck. Complete with a sunken lounge, rim pool and fashionable bar with nautical elements to heighten the experience of being “at sea”.
Cape Grace also boasts award-winning restaurants such as Signal Restaurant. It offers creative Cape cuisine that’s fresh and inventive. The menu draws on influences from the many nationalities and customs that have shaped this region since being settled in 1652 – namely Dutch and British settlers, French Huguenots, Asian traders and African cultures. Another popular venue is the Bascule Bar – Whisky, Wine & Cocktail Bar.
We were pleasantly surprised by our Relations Officer to this luxury of a 3 Bedroom Penthouse unit. I thought it would be a great idea for the whole family to enjoy together in the near future.
Market on the Wharf
At the Old Power Station is Market on the Wharf, founded by entrepreneur Greg Anderson in December 2012. His passion for food, hospitality and retail led to the creation of a leading artisan retail store with a distinct market feel. It was launched to afford South Africans and foreign visitors a one-stop-shop where they can purchase the finest that local producers have to offer.
This decision was guided by the substantial growth of food markets in this country, a deeper consumer understanding of quality, the passion to preserve artisanal skills and protection of entrepreneurs in smaller business enterprises. Added to this mix is a showcase of a cross-culture, authentic street foods, an artisanal beer bar, a state-of-the-art demonstration kitchen used for “foodie” workshops and the perfect setting looking over the working marina.
Since we were by the Marina, we also decided to enjoy something fresh off the sea.
Shopping at the V&A Waterfront is a treat because you can find absolutely anything your heart desires. In the Victoria Wharf Shopping Centre, you will find all the major retailers as well as international brands. The Alfred Mall and Clock Tower Shopping Centre is where you’ll find a range of art, jewellery and specialty shops. Watershed, the new home for African craft and design, offers over 365 brands from 150 tenants.
Everything was so adorable! I was having fun indulging, but my partner was relieved to see that it was closing time – so we could carry on to dinner.
Victoria Wharf Shopping Center
Shopping isn’t the only activity that can be enjoyed at the V&A Waterfront. You can also find two cinema complexes which feature the latest released films, housed within the Victoria Wharf Shopping Centre. The 123 hectare size property also has a world-class aquarium, the Two Oceans Aquarium and two museums (the Maritime and Chavonnes Battery). There are also historical walking tours which the whole family can enjoy. The Cape Wheel is where you will be able to have an unsurpassed 360° view of the city.
For the sports fan, the Springbok Experience Rugby Museum celebrates the history of the Springboks and South African rugby. This museum can be found on Portswood Ridge, outside the croquet lawn.
The outdoor Amphitheatre plays host to music, dance and theatre throughout the year. Right next door is the nautical-themed play area for children. The working harbour is also part of the V&A experience. Not only can you watch tug boats tow large cruise ships in and out of the bay, but there are a number of boat trips regularly available. The ferry that shuttles visitors to Robben Island leaves from Clock Tower Square. If you don’t want to miss out on your daily exercise, you will enjoy the variety of cycle rental options on the property, walk or jog on the 2.5 or 5km running route or just go for a relaxing walk on the beachfront board walk.
The V&A Waterfront has over 80 eateries so there is bound to be at least one that will serve up something to your liking but be sure to make a reservation. We did not think ahead so we ended up at our second choice, Balducci’s. Our first choice was the Harbour House which is popular for its seafood specialties.