Perched between the ocean and the mountain, with a national park as its heart, there is nowhere like Cape Town. Cape Town, the “Mother City”, is the oldest city in South Africa and has a cultural heritage spanning more than 300 years.
It is widely believed that it was Bartolomeu Dias who named the peninsula Cabo Tormentosa (Cape of Storms). This name was later changed to Cabo da Boa Esperanca (Cape of Good Hope) to signify that the rounding of the Cape brought hope that a sea route to the East was possible. European settlement in South Africa started in Cape Town, which is why it is still called the Mother City to this day. After the British had decided against establishment of a colony at the Cape of Good Hope, it was the Dutch who realized the strategic and economic importance of the Cape. On a commission for the Dutch-East India Trading company the merchant Jan van Riebeeck anchored in the picturesque bay at the foot of the Table Mountain on April 6, 1652.
He was accompanied by 82 men and 8 women, his own wife amongst them. They had been instructed to establish a strong base to provide the Company’s ships with fresh groceries, mainly meat and vegetables on the long journey from Europe to Asia.
With the rapid development of the port the need for labour increased dramatically. Firstly, slaves and politically banned people were imported from Indonesia (Java and Sumatra), but soon Dutch settlers arrived and immigrants from all over Europe followed. In 1688, a large group of French Huguenots who were fleeing religious persecution at home, settled at the Cape. Gradually this little settlement in Table Valley began to assume the character of a town. No longer was it referred to as Cabo de Goede Hoop, De Caab or De Kaapse Vlek, but during the last quarter of the eighteenth century it acquired the name of De Kaap or Cape Town.
Because the demand for agricultural land, especially pastures, grew continuously, the settlement steadily spread from Table Bay towards the north and north-east. The Khoikhoi, also called Hottentots, were forced to recede, although they strongly resisted the expansion of the Cape settlers. In 1659, a Khoikhoi uprising resulted in complete defeat, and they had to retreat to the north.
The power struggle between citizens and administration ended with the landing of British ships at the Cape and the annexing of the colony to the United Kingdom in 1795. After the Napoleonic wars, Britain experienced a serious unemployment problem. Therefore, encouraged by the British government to immigrate to the Cape colony, the first 1820 settlers arrived in Table Bay on board the Nautilus and the Chapman on 17 March 1820. From the Cape colony, the settlers were sent to Algoa Bay, known today as Port Elizabeth. Lord Somerset, the British governor in South Africa, encouraged the immigrants to settle in the frontier area of what is now the Eastern Cape. This was in order to consolidate and defend the eastern frontier against the neighbouring Xhosa people, and to provide a boost to the English-speaking population.
Cape Town became a municipality in 1840. A liberal constitution was granted to the Cape Colony in 1853 and the first elected Parliament met on 30 June 1854. On 28 November 1872 a complete self-government for the Cape Colony was promulgated by a proclamation of Sir Henry Barkley, who laid the first foundation stone of the present Houses of Parliament in 1875. In the second half of the century the building of railways, the opening of diamond and gold mines in the interior, and all their manifold and far-reaching economic consequences added enormously to the commercial importance of Cape Town. The sleepy settlement awoke and began to grow as never before. A railway was completed to Stellenbosch and Wellington in 1863. The discovery of diamonds in Griqualand West a few years later demanded its extension to the distant diamond fields. In 1885 it had barely reached Kimberley when the Witwatersrand goldfields presented a still more distant goal. Within the next decade the opening of gold mines in Southern Rhodesia lured the railhead still farther northward. Cape Town was transformed within a generation from a roadstead on Table Bay, to one of the major ports serving a rapidly developing sub-continent.
Today, Cape Town is a mid-sized city that ranks roughly in the middle of most international indices concerned with economic performance. It is often described as South Africa’s ‘second city’ after Johannesburg, both in terms of its size and the scale and concentration of economic activity. It accounts for around 11% of economic activity in the country as a whole and a full three-quarters of all economic activity in the province of Western Cape. Cape Town is truly desirable as a leisure vacation destination, with much made of its beautiful scenery and multi-cultural vibrancy.
Characterized by craggy terrain, its geography showcases the topographical features of the city. Encircled by numerous mountains including Table Mountain, Devil’s Peak, Lion’s Head and Twelve Apostles. The Table Mountain sets a wonderful background to Cape Town. Sometimes a thin layer of clouds, often described as ‘table cloth’, covers the sky above the Table Mountain. The Cape peninsula comprises a rocky and steep spine extending towards the south up to the Atlantic Ocean. More than 70 peaks with average height of 300 meter are situated within the official territory of Cape Town.
Population Size: Estimated to be 3 750 000 people
The most common languages in Cape Town are English, Afrikaans and Xhosa. Afrikaans is the most widely spoken home language with more than 40% of Capetonians speaking the language.
Situated within a national park, reaching the pinnacle of the Table Mountain is an thrilling experience that offers phenomenal, birds-eye views overlooking the city of Cape Town, Robben Island to the north, and the Atlantic seaboard to the west and south. Peaking at 1,086 meters (3,563 ft), the top can easily be reached via an ingenuous cableway, and each Rotair car features revolving floors allowing passengers to enjoy 360-degree views during the trek to the top.
Located just off the coast of Cape Town, Robben Island is not a place to go if visitors are looking only for a good time. Over a span of three centuries, Robben Island was used as a military base, a hospital for those with socially unacceptable diseases such as lepers and as a prison for political prisoners. Its most famous prisoner was undoubtedly Nelson Mandela, who was imprisoned here for 18 years; he went on to become president of South Africa following his release. Today Robben Island is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Cape Town and can be reached by ferry from the V&A Waterfront.
BOULDERS BEACH PENGUIN COLONY
There aren’t too many places in the world where one can walk on the beach, sunbathe or swim with penguins as companions, but Boulders Beach is one of them. Two penguins settled on this beach, an hour’s drive from Cape Town, in 1982. Now more than 2,000 penguins call this beach home. These are African penguins, sometimes called “jackass” penguins because their chirps sound more like a donkey’s bray than a bird tweet. The path to the penguin area is wheel-chair accessible and allows visitors to get within a few feet of the penguins. While the penguins are used to humans, visitors should look, but not touch them, as they may bite if they get scared.
Spectacular scenery is a good reason to visit Cape Point, located at the very end of the Cape Peninsula. Less than 65 km (40 miles) from Cape Town, Cape Point is extremely picturesque with high boulders and stunning ocean views. Part of the Table Mountain National Park, Cape Point is home to about 250 species of birds as well as baboons and zebra. Its tremendous variety of plant life helps make Cape Point a photographer’s paradise. Visitors have a choice of walking a steep path or taking a funicular to the light house atop the boulders.
The Kirstenbosch National Botanic Gardens, established in 1913, is one of the world’s great botanical gardens, and was the first to concentrate on a country’s native plants. Kirstenbosch features not only plants from the Cape area but also from throughout southern Africa. The garden is set against a backdrop of Table Mountain, a fact that offers visitors some pretty stunning views. Hikers may enjoy a walk on the trail that starts in the garden and leads to the top of Table Mountain. Kirstenbosch is the most famous of nine national botanical gardens in South Africa.
CASTLE OF GOOD HOPE
The Castle of Good Hope, shaped like a pentagon, is the oldest surviving colonial building in South Africa. The Dutch East India Company started construction on it in 1666 to replenish supplies for ships; its gate design includes the coats of arms of several Dutch cities. It is a Cape military installation today, as well as home to the Castle Military Museum and the Iziko Museums of Cape Town. The Military Museum tells the history of the Cape, while the Iziko Museum displays historical paintings and antique furniture, known as the William Fehr collection.
The Cape winelands are located some 40 minutes’ drive from the city. The most significant towns in the beguiling Boland region are Franschhoek, Stellenbosch and Paarl, each offering its own unique selection of award-winning wines and historical intrigue. The winelands are replete with striking natural scenery and gastronomic delights.
VICTORIA AND ALFRED WATERFRONT
The Victoria & Alfred Waterfront is considered one of South Africa’s most popular attractions, with its stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean, Table Bay and Table Mountain. Named for the British Queen Victoria and her youngest son Alfred, who tipped the first stones for the breakwater back in the 1860s, the historic waterfront today boasts a variety of shops, restaurants and nightlife. The waterfront also is home to art galleries, an aquarium, an amphitheatre with live entertainment that is usually free, and a ship museum, among other attractions.
1. Stunning nature
At almost any location in or around Cape Town, you only have to look up to see the magnificent Table Mountain. At 1100 m tall, it dominates the horizon around the city and is, without doubt, Cape Town’s most famous landmark. If you ever get tired of seeing it from below, head on up the mountain to see the vista from a different perspective. You can jump on the cable cars to enjoy an easy glide up or take one of a few different trails ranging from 3-10 km that lead up to the top.
2. A rich and raw history
Robben Island, where South Africa’s most famous civil rights activist and former president Nelson Mandela was imprisoned, is a must-see. Coming back to the city center you can learn about the trials and tribulations of what was once the city’s soul – District Six.
3. World-class wining and dining
The Garden Route is arguably one of the most iconic and idyllic places in the world to sample outstanding wines and eat outstanding food.
4. Adventure that’s all around
Adventure is part of the very DNA of this city. You can surf, hike and paraglide off mountains in one single day, and if you’re really, really brave you can go cage diving with great white sharks.
There are several flights that land in Cape Town International Airport from all over the world daily. Locally, flights between Johannesburg and Cape Town run virtually on an hourly basis, with more irregular flights between Cape Town and the Garden Route and one flight a day covers Cape Town and airports close to the or in Kruger.
You will only travel to Cape Town by road if your tour extends to cover Garden Route or Port Elizabeth and tourAfrika will provide overland transport in this case. The distance separating Cape Town and Johannesburg is a very substantial one and flying is strongly recommended so that you spend time undertaking activities you have come to experience.
Weather & Best Time To Visit
Cape Town is a fantastic destination to visit at any time of the year, with beauty & culture, and many memories to be made. But, remember, if you do visit over “peak” period, you are sure to pay a premium. We recommend you visit Cape Town, in February & March. During this period, the crowds have slowed, and the weather is often perfect. Most visitors are international, and attractions are less busy, as most of the up-country friends have returned home. November, February, March, and even early to mid-April are fantastic times to visit Cape Town, as you will be sure to catch great weather, and not have to compete with the maddening crowds when booking Cape Town hotels, accommodation, restaurants, tours & other activities.
Cape Town has a Mediterranean-style climate: wet and cool winters, dry and warm summers. The annual average temperature in Cape Town is a delightful 17 degrees. Cape Town lies on the 34th latitude South, together with Casablanca, Los Angeles and Sydney. However, as in the city of Cape Town itself, the weather on the Cape Peninsula is quite unique. The weather in Cape Town is influenced by two currents: the warm Agulhas current from the Indian Ocean side and the cold Benguela current on the Atlantic side. Winters in Cape Town are not like winters in Germany, Holland or England. Imagine a spring day in London, Amsterdam or Berlin. That’s what winters are like in Cape Town. Sometimes windy and rainy, mostly soft and breezy.
Cape Town is not posted in an region where malaria is predominant. The only medical considerations that should be observed is to make certain that you are up to date with all your regular vaccinations. Tap water is characteristically of a very high standard in the metro areas, and should only be averted in rural areas. Should you be partial to allergies, note that late August to early October is flower season, so be sure to pack the required medication if you are visiting during this period.
Health & Safety
Cape Town is really beautiful and relatively safe. You just need to stick to the rules. Stay away from crime areas, don’t wander around the city at night unless you are with a local. Don’t leave valuables in your car. If you need to, make sure they are not visible. Don’t be flashy, it will attract attention of undesirable elements. Take just the basics with you. Don’t wander around in isolated areas at night. Stick to the well-managed and well-policed places and you will be fine.
tourAfrika’s transportation requirements in Cape Town’s to the different attractions is assured to be always be safe, comfortable, reliable, private and air-conditioned vehicle. All our vehicles are serviced regularly, adhere to all local safety requirements, legally licensed to carry passengers and hold the appropriate passenger liability insurance. The size of the vehicle by and large depends on the size of your traveling party. For smaller groups or couples, we usually make use of a Toyota Fortuner 4×2 vehicle. Larger groups are transferred in our spacious 7 seater microbus or an appropriate coach. In periods of peak demand, particularly in holiday season, we frequently hire vehicles from a rental companies of good repute that conform to the same high standards as we do.
Is the Cape town safe?
Cape Town is as safe as most big cities. Petty crime is frequent, but generally avoidable. Stay attentive and follow the advice of your guide.
What happens if the weather is terrible?
You may twitch your itinerary to suit prevailing ground circumstances and inclement weather.
Can I swim in the sea?
Beaches on the Indian Ocean, east side of the peninsula are 3°C – 4°C warmer than the Atlantic beaches, and these are great swimming beaches, whilst the west side of the Cape Peninsula, on the Atlantic Ocean and here beaches are cold and very unkind to swimming.
Do I need to make restaurant reservations?
During December it is recommended that make a reservation particularly if you plan to eat out at Cape Town’s more famed restaurants, like Foxcroft, La Colombe, The Test Kitchen. Most restaurants requiring such deposits use an online booking system for your reservation. The cancellation policy is clearly displayed on the site when making a reservation.
Can I go on Safari near Cape Town?
No, the terrain near Cape Town doesn’t lend itself to game reserves, and most properties in the vicinity that claim to offer wildlife viewing within an hour or two of the city are little more than glorified zoos. The nearest game reserve is Sanbona Wildlife Reserve and is just above 3½ hour drive from Cape Town.
Will I have internet access?
Yes, Cape Town is a modern city with good infrastructure, and a large number of hotels (and several restaurants) will extend complimentary WiFi.
Can I go shopping?
Yes – For the international Tourist, shopping in Cape Town is relatively inexpensive due to the favourable exchange rate and comparatively low production costs. Textiles are well priced, in particular leather goods, sports and outdoor wear. The same applies to, jewellery, art works, antiques, books and wine.
When can I go shark cage diving?
Shark cage diving in nearby False Bay is mainly seasonal, consequently we make use of an operator further afield in Gansbaai, where great white sharks occur year-round.
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Visiting Robben Island is one of Cape Town's obligatory activities. You will set-off from the V&A Waterfront on a ferryboat to this loathsome island, and encounter a peek at South Africa's distasteful history, both during …
An extravagant tour that glides through South Africa's most visited attractions - countryside tranquillity, cosmopolitan city life, Big Five, beaches, and prize-winning wineries. Your tour will be led and performed by your own personal tourAfrika …
A two-week private tour in South Africa packed with exciting family fun. Places of interest cover a limited amount of days spent at the Sun City Resort, a safari in the malaria-free Pilanesberg Game Reserve …
Tel: +27 87 702 4480
65 Casa Bella, 247 Sullivan Street, Centurion, Pretoria,South Africa, 0157
Mon – Fri 08.00 – 17.00
Sat – Sun 08h00 – 13h00
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