Cape Town is easily the best city we’ve visited in Africa, by far, LeeAnne is even claiming it’s her favorite city on the whole trip (but I’m not ready to go that far yet).
Why all the enthusiasm? Well, this place looks great (especially since we’re coming from Johannesburg), for one – you can walk the streets (how novel!), you can even walk many streets after sunset (amazing!) and most implausibly, there are things to do here! Within a block of our hostel on Long Street there is a Vegetarian restaurant, a Mexican restaurant, a bar that shows EPL soccer, an internet cafe a movie theater and laundromat. Have we arrived or what?
Those are just the creature comforts, the setting is also top shelf – Table Mountain sits behind the city and the Ocean is in front. The temperature is temperate and it even rains here – take that Jo’Berg.
The city is centered around the harbor area, which has been made a bit too sanitized by construction of a series of malls (think Fishermans Warf in San Francisco), it’s still beautiful. You can take the San Francisco analogy a bit farther by taking a ferry from the harbor out to Robben Island – South Africa’s version of Alcatraz. Nelson Mandela was imprisoned here for much of his 27 years behind bars, now (like Alcatraz) it’s been converted into a tourist attraction.
One of the many highlights here is a hike up Table Mountain. It stands some 2000 meters above the city streets below, so you can guess the view from the top is special. You’ll need to get good weather to really enjoy it though. And if you’re a bit tired from the hike up, luckily you can take a Cable Car down. It’s probably the best Cable Car you’ll ever ride, to take full advantage of the scenery the car spins 360 degrees around as you descend to the bottom.
One of the big natural attractions outside of Cape Town is the Cape of Good Hope, where the Indian and Atlantic oceans meet. It’s protected as a national park and there are lots of great hiking tracks around the Cape area. LeeAnne and I rented a car for the day and drove down for a little sightseeing and hiking. I wish we’d had more time, if we ever come back it’d be great to spend a few days there hiking and camping.
It’s Whale season in Cape Town and on our day trip we kept our eyes open for the elusive buggers, but we didn’t spot any. We did have more luck seeing African Penguins at the hatchery in Simionstown. It’s also Penguin hatching season and we saw literally hundreds of the cute little buggers.
All in all, I have to say we really loved Cape Town, and would recommend it to anyone considering spending time in SA. It’s the best place here by a long shot.