Cape Town International Airport Blog
MUST SEE PLACES TO VISIT OUTSIDE THE CITY CENTRE (July 01, 2016)
Go to the Cape of Good Hope via Simon's Town and the African penguin colony at Boulders. Visit Cape Point in the Table Mountain National Park, maybe have lunch there before taking a hike in a quieter part of the reserve to immerse yourself in the essence of the landscape. Then take Chapman's Peak Drive (if it is open) through Hout Bay and along the Atlantic seaboard via Llandudno and Camps Bay, stopping off at one of Clifton's famous four beaches.
Beaches on the False Bay side of the peninsula are the most popular with swimmers as the water is warmer. St James has the most picturesque tidal pool on the stretch between Muizenberg and Kalk Bay, while Clovelly and Fish Hoek beaches wrap around a sheltered bay with soft, white sands. Fishing boats, hobie cats and kayaks launch from here too. Brave hearts can sun-worship and swim naked in the freezing water of the isolated and breathtaking nudist beach Sandy Bay near Llandudno. Camps Bay and Clifton also have great beaches to visit if you want to try the chillier waters of the west coast.
Cape Town is one of the best places to surf. Muizenberg is a good place for beginners to learn to surf, Don't forget that the False Bay area (where Muizenberg is located in addition to Kalk Bay and Fish Hoek) is known for its sharks! If you're an experienced surfer, try the reef break at Kalk Bay, Outer Kom near Kommetjie or Misty Cliffs on the coast road near Scarborough. You could head up the west coast and sample Milnerton, Table View or Big Bay, although Big Bay is often crowded with people kitesurfing due to the windy conditions. When the swell is really cranking, the big wave surfers gather at Dungeons, near Hout Bay, for some of the biggest surfable waves in the world.
Cape Town is one of the best Kite Surfing destinations in the world. Being on the South Western tip of Africa allows kitesurfers to gain access to two oceans, and the famous Cape Doctor which is also known as the South Easter blows most days from October until April. Cape Town offers great kitesurfing to those just starting in the sport as well as seasoned professionals who often spend their off season training around the Cape. Some of the most popular Kite surfing hot spots are Dolphin Beach in Blouberg Strand, Muizenberg and Langebaan Lagoon. Langebaan lagoon is one of the best places in the world to learn how to kitesurf, with its warmer waters, shallow sand banks and steady wind.
Tour the beautiful Constantia Valley wine estates Groot Constantia  , Buitenverwagting, Klein Constantia and Constantia Uitsig before checking out the Cape Winelands around Stellenbosch, Paarl and Franschhoek. Stellenbosch has the added attraction of being an historical university town and Franschhoek, well established as the food capital of the Cape, is home to three of the country's top ten restaurants. The views are extraordinary. Have a drink and a snack at Dieu Donne estate for an unsurpassable vista of the entire valley, or take your own picnic to the top of a little hill they have by the parking area. Most wineries charge for a tasting session, but usually refund it on a purchase. Your best bet of course is to let someone else to the driving whilst you do the drinking. There are numerous wine tour operators and using them means you will get to see off the beaten track farms and they are often much cheaper then paying for individual tastings. One of the best is operated by SABP Tours as of March 2016 a full day tour cost R800
Exploring the Cape Floral Region
Cape Town is the perfect base for exploring the eight protected areas of the Cape Floral Region, inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004, including the Table Mountain National Park and the beautiful Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden. Mid-August to late-September is an incredible time to visit the area when the normally barren landscape of the west coast north of Cape Town celebrates the arrival of spring by erupting into a blanket of wildflowers. Discover World Heritage specializes in private and small group tours focusing around Cape Town and the Cape Floral Region, including a special spring tour to see the wildflowers. Visit their website for further information.
MUST SEE PLACES IN CAPE TOWN (July 01, 2016)
This neighbourhood, located on a hill south-west of downtown, is the area historically inhabited by mainly Muslim descendants of slaves from South-East Asia (hence an older term for the area - 'Malay Quarter'. It's a common location for film shoots, as there are some very colourful buildings, quaint streets, mosques. views over Cape Town and some great food sold on the side of the street. It's well worth wandering around for an hour or so, as well as visiting the Bo-Kaap Museum (a view of a prosperous Muslim family from the 19th Century).
The Castle of Good Hope
Located on Buitenkant Street, it is South Africa's oldest surviving building. It was built between 1666 and 1679. It is popularly called 'The Castle' by locals. It has extensive displays of historical military paraphernalia, a history of the castle, an art collection and the William Fehr Collection (including old Cape Dutch furniture).You can eat and buy wine inside the Castle at the restaurant or café. Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, Rhodes Drive, Newlands, Created on land given to the South African people by Cecil Rhodes Kirstenbosch is one of the worlds most stunning gardens in possibly the most stunning location set below the Castle Bustress cliffs of table mountain. View the hugely diverse and beautiful plants and flowers of the Cape flora. Plants from all of the regions of South Africa are on display, including rare succulents from the Richtersveld, a giant baobab tree, and interesting medicinal plants. There is also an avenue planted with a tree from every country in the Commonwealth, started during Rhodes time some of these trees are now an impressive size. Numerous paths wander through the grounds situated on the back side of Table Mountain. Several restaurants, a gift shop and indigenous nursery are also available.
It is located just off the coast from Cape Town, this was the location used during the apartheid days to hold political prisoners, including Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisulu. The tour consists of a guided bus tour around the island, before meeting a former political prisoner for a tour of the prison area. The island itself is quite scenic, with African penguins usually seen on the tour. The bus tour stops to allow you to take in the view, and buy a snack. Tours run several times per day, seven days a week from the Nelson Mandela Gateway near the clock tower at the V&A Waterfront. The tour takes 3.5 hours including the ferry ride to and from the island.
South African Parliament Cape Town
This is the legislative seat of South Africa (the Presidential seat is in Pretoria). A tour of this compound will acquaint you with South Africa's recent history and its political system. The tour includes visits to the National Assembly, the National Council of Provinces and the old apartheid-era assembly which is now only used for caucus and committee meetings.
Victoria and Alfred Waterfront
This a huge shopping and entertainment area at the slopes of Table Mountain, next to the harbour. It is very popular with tourists, because of the high density of shops, restaurants and amusement possibilities, like the Aquarium or the Marine Museum. Harbour tours and trips to Robben Island start from here, as well as helicopter flights to the Cape Peninsula. The V&A Waterfront has more or less full wheelchair access.
South African National Gallery
On Government Avenue, it is located in the Gardens area of Cape Town off Government Ave (about a 20 minute walk from downtown). Contains extensive displays of South African art, as well as information on the history of censorship of art during apartheid. Also has a great café that is naturally cool and shaded for relief on a hot day.
Cable Car to the top of Table Mountain
Located at Lower Cable Station, Tafelberg Road. Both the cable car and the pathways on top of the mountain are wheelchair accessible. Always take something warm to wear when going up the mountain, even if it is a nice toasty 30C at the bottom of the mountain. Weather conditions at the top of the mountain are not the same as at the bottom. There is a cafe with a limited range of snacks, coffee, beer and wine at the top. Table Mountain is the home of a small animal, the rock rabbit (known locally as the 'Dassie') whose closest relative, DNA-wise, is the elephant.
MY FAVOURITE PART OF CAPE TOWN (July 01, 2016)
Not sure why I would even want to share this information but I believe every visitor to Cape town should get a chance to experience the side by side little villages of Muizenburg and Kalk Bay.
Muizenburg has an attractive beach, an open air swimming pool and the smallest museum in South Africa. The mood of Kalk Bay differs from Cape Town – there is a holiday atmosphere and fishermen ply the waters constantly whatever the time of day or season.
This fishing village, with a natural harbour is a buzz with local fisherman, bohemian shopping, antiques, crafts and superb restaurants. You’ll have to ask the locals politely for their favourite place to eat as there are some closely guarded secrets in Kalk Bay. Look out for the traditional fishing vessels returning with catch of the day and join the “fish auction” for your own fish BBQ “Hottentot, Kabeljou, Red Roman”.
What the locals may not share with you is the secret of Kalky’s fish restaurant. When I first visited it was a takeaway shack opposite the harbor but has now extended to offer more choice and tables and chairs. Kalky’s offers fish and chips at it’s best. The former comes in huge portions, and the latter are fresh as can be, with a good combination of slap slivers and crunchy golden titbits.
You can start off with a prawn and vegetable samoosa (R7 each), or if you’re just peckish – and brave – a fried yellowtail head and chips for R20. Good bets are the hake or snoek and crumbed calamari plus chips (R78), fresh grilled line fish and chips (R105), or the eight peri-peri prawns with chips, rice or salad (R105). If it’s in season, you could plump for a whole grilled crayfish for R165.
Grab a cold SAB beer or soft drink, or buy a bag of ice for R7 and bring your own.
It’s full of charm and character, which is why it’s bustling with multi-generation families and tourists on any given evening, but sanitised and superficial it is not. There’s salt in recycled glass bottles, red plastic tablecloths and a bucket full of vinegar on tap. Used paper napkins may flap at your ankles and you will get the occasional tang of fishing boats from the harbour. Food is served on stainless steel plates, and you help yourself to plastic cutlery at the front. Just lean into it… and try to ignore your elbows sticking to the table.
Deliberate on your choice while you wait in line and order and pay at the counter. It’s cash only. Then, find a seat and keep your ears open for the plate-balancing waitresses to yell your number.
But shhssh. Just remember. Don’t tell anyone else……….