Five ways to have fun in Cape Town
Affectionately referred to as the Mother City, South Africa’s city of Cape Town is one of Africa’s most unique tourist destinations. Table Mountain towers above the Atlantic Ocean, with the warm waters of the Indian Ocean and the cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean coming together at Cape Point, further South.
The city is easily the place to spot some of the most spectacular coastal scenery, and there is no better place to do this than from 1,000 metres above sea level from the flat-topped mountain that stands over the metropolis like a rocky sentinel. There are lots of activities to keep visitors busy in Africa’s southern-most city, not least its world-famous wine routes.
The wine routes of Cape Town
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Walk into any Nairobi wines and spirits dealer or the alcohol section of your local supermarket shelves and you will most likely find most of the shelf-space for the wines taken up by South African wines, with a smattering of bottles from Chile and a few other places. Nowhere do you get a taste of South African wine than in Cape Town.
Luckily, its wine routes are an integral part of knowing the cape and tours are organised to visit the different wine routes. Head towards the Stellenbosch route and stop at Simon Barlow’s place. Simon is the owner of the Rustenberg Wine Estate.
If you have ever had a bottle of Rustenberg wine in your hands, Simon, a jolly fellow on his 900-plus acre farm, is the man behind it. Or find the Tokara winery and enjoy a quiet tasting or exquisite wine-food pairing metres away from the blossoming farms. The Stellenbosch wine route boast of hundreds of wine producers.
Another wine route here that would be of interest include the Helderberg wine route, with a reputation for white wines. Think Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay.
Do not limit yourself though; there are several more routes worth exploring.
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This is the most vantage point to see the waves crashing against the shore and back, an unending fight between the turquoise blue waters and the sandy beaches, or the wine farms swaying in the distance.
The mountain sits above the city, its toes dipped in the water of the Atlantic. To make the best of the experience, use the aerial cableway and soak in the sights as you glide along. Buy your ticket online before you arrive. You can also walk up the mountain if you are up for some exertion.
The only other experience that comes close to the aerial cableway is an helicopter tour of the city, but this might be on the higher end of a tourist’s budget.
Visit the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens
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This will have to be one of my most serene locations in the city. Lying on the slopes of Table Mountain - you will realise nearly everything here has the mountain as a reference point - is one of the most acclaimed botanical gardens in the world and a Unesco heritage sight.
Even if the indigenous plants that are the hallmark of the gardens do not capture your fancy, the environment sure would. It is almost eerily quiet and even visitors here talk in low tones. A picnic here is heavenly and the first time at the gardens I caught myself falling asleep more than once.
Take a walk along the meandering paths. My most favourite part of the historical gardens will, however, have to be the Boomslang Tree Top Bridge. The curved steel and timber bridge named after a snake — Boomslang is a venomous snake and the name means ‘tree snake’ in Afrikaans — is 12 metres above the ground and skims over the top of trees gently swaying as you walk. Its entire 130 metres length gives you a sight over the gardens and bits of the city down hill.
See the city in a sidecar
Are you in for a thrill? Book a sidecar tour of the city. Taking off from the city centre, we snaked along the coast headed to Hout Bay on the Atlantic seaboard of the Western Cape. Along the way, the ocean is to your left and Table Mountain with Lion’s Head (another mountain) and Signal Hill to the left. It almost feels like riding along the side of the mountain yet, close enough to reach out and touch it.
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Cape Town’s traffic is light and very well organised. No fears of a rogue matatu ploughing into you while overlapping or speeding. Once out of the city limits, pick up a little speed and feel the wind on your face. The curving hills pop in and out of the mountain side to face the sea down below.
Another scenic spectacles here are the palatial houses built on the mountain side overlooking the waters. I felt a hankering to have a brunch on one of those verandahs with the mountain behind me and the open sea in front. These must be the scenes poems are written about..and billionaires break the bank for.
Indulge in Sea food
It would be a travesty to leave Cape Town without a go at the sea food experience. This is the perfect place. Sea food is quite affordable here. The oceans are right here after all. Tuck into a dish of calamari (my favourite) or take a pick from the specialty restaurants that hug the beach on the Atlantic seaboard like Umoja pubs on estate roads.
These are only a few attractions though. The Cape Town Stadium, another picturesque local symbol built for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, is right in the city.
The stadium featured in the 2012 film Safe House, starring Denzel Washington. The Two Oceans Aquarium is another crowd puller.
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