Having lived in South Africa for some time, Cape Town has always been a “fun place to go”. But it is much more than that. For tens of thousands of years, the area around Cape Town has been inhabited by the Khoe people. Originally descended from “bushes” in the region, the earliest inhabitants of South Africa mostly lived in the area today known as Peers Cave in the suburb of Fish Hoek. Although little is known about them, the first Europeans to explore the area were the Portuguese in 1488, and then in 1497 when maps began to officially delineate the area as “cape of good hope ” due to the establishment of a sea passage from Europe to India. By the 16th century, several European powers had stopped trading in the area with Khoe as they traveled to and from Asia. In 1652, the Dutch established a permanent settlement under the Dutch company East India, and a permanent fort and trading post were established, but growth was slow because of a shortage of manpower. After the Anglo-Dutch agreement of 1814, the British took over the colony until 1960, when it became the Republic of South Africa.
Like many other former British colonies, the history of the region is a bit disgusting. Cape Town was one of the racially integrated places in the country, and then with the introduction of apartheid and the imprisonment of political dissidents on Robben Island it became one of the most segregated places. Although the scars are still visible, Cape Town is one of the largest tourist hotspots in the region. It has a mild climate all year round with stunning beaches, excellent food and significant attractions. The city itself is modern and cosmopolitan, and is surrounded by natural features such as mountains, parks and a multitude of green areas. It is an eclectic combination of modern Africa and Europe that is not afraid of its natural environment. Head out and explore one of Africa’s largest cities and see Cape Town.
See where it all started in the Castle
Officially known as the Castle of Good Hope, or the locals just “castle”, the Castle of Good Hope is the oldest building that still stands in the entire country. The structure was built between 1666 and 1679, and replaced the original “Fort de Goede Hoop”, Jan Van Riebeeck, the first Dutch governor of the country. The position of the fortress was originally along the coast, but efforts on land reclamation in the years since then have pushed the position of the fortress inland. The fort itself is part of living history, as the fortress was an important stronghold during escalating tensions between the British and the Dutch in the 18th century and then served as a prison during the Second Boer War. In the bell tower above the main entrance is the oldest bell in South Africa cast in 1697 in Amsterdam. The castle now houses a museum and several former prison cells intact, one of which belonged to the infamous spy Fritz Joubert Duquesne.
Take an aerial view of the city
Cape Town forms what is known as the “City Bowl”. From a bird’s eye view, the city is in a natural amphitheater-like shape, bordered on one side by Table Bay, and the peaks of Signal Hill, Lion’s Head, Table Mountain and Devil’s Peak give the city a bowl shape. Table Mountain is one of the highest peaks and offers an incredible perspective of the city and a view of the coast. A cable car ride along the mountain will offer you an easy ride to the top with a few more views as you climb higher and higher, but for the physically fit there is also the possibility of hiking. If you choose to hike, there are certain trails, but no one will judge you if you opt for the cable car. A nearby Lyon head is also a good option for hiking and panoramic views, and is a less strenuous route.
Immerse yourself in nature in Kirstenbosch
Located around the slope of Table Mountain is Kirstenbosch. When Cape Town was in its early days of settlement for both the Dutch and the British, several plants and species of flowers were brought from Europe and other colonies. Imported plants had a purpose such as rui screens for stabilizing capes and eucalyptus from Australia to help drain wetlands. Kirstenbosch is the spiritual heir to all of this with 1,300 hectares of land dedicated to the creation of a huge botanical garden. Take a walk through the treetops on what is known as a “Boomslang” (or snake) and take a few pictures and watch the little bird. Spend a moment in the Protean Garden, a space dedicated to the national flower of South Africa.
Learn to surf at Muizenberg
Surfing lovers and amateurs alike will tell you that a great way to relax after a long day is to hit the beach and ride the waves. Cape Town is home to many excellent beaches and some of the best surfing on the continent, and one of the best places is here in Muizenberg. Whether you’ve surfed once or not, or even if you’re on a board for the first time, you’ll transfer the basics in no time, and all you need is a swimsuit and sunscreen. All ages and skills are welcome, and an hour and a half of practice and training will only cost you about $ 20.
Spend the day at the beach
If surfing isn’t your thing, and you’d rather hang out on the beach and swim and sunbathe a bit, then you’ve come to the right place because Cape Town is a city on the beach. For people in the northern hemisphere, remember that the summer months are here in December, January and February, and the peak is around the New Year. Winter runs from June to August and while it is slightly wet, the temperature during the day rarely drops below 15 F.
The beaches around False Bay are some of the most popular for swimming with much calmer water and hotter temperatures. James has several very picturesque tidal pools, while beaches like Clovelly and Fish Hoek have sheltered coves and soft white sand. If you want to go they are natural Sandy Bay Beach is one of the most popular nudist beaches and a great place for LGBT tourists.
If you’re interested in surfing or sunbathing, be sure to check out Boulders Beach. Coarse sand and rocky shores are not the best for sunbathing or swimming, and the water is too cold anyway. So why go? Because the place is home to hundreds of African penguins. A colony of penguins is part of the effort in the conservation park, so there is a small fee to enter the area, but the penguins are kind, cute and you can swim in the water with them. Just don’t get it also close.
Learn more about the complex history of Robben Island
Against the complex background of South Africa’s racial history, Robben Island is a central issue. Robben Island is a small land mass visible from the coast of Cape Town in Table Bay. For many years I was used by my Portuguese navigators and then the Dutch used them as a place to keep animals without fear of predators. Over the years, the island was used as a whaling station, a colony of lepers, although it was already used as a prison until the 17th century. The island became a maximum security prison with full security in 1960. The South African government uses it mainly to imprison political prisoners and anti-apartheid activists.
The prison closed in 1991, and in 1999 became a UNESCO World Heritage Site and museum, where thousands of people now take a ferry to the island each year to learn about the country’s past and tour the island with some of the people themselves. were closed. The most prominent prisoner on the island was undoubtedly Nelson Mandela, who spent most of his 28-year sentence here. In addition to Mandela, Mac Maharaj, Ahmed Kathrada, Mosiuo Lekota, Govan Mbeki, Walter Sisulu, Jacob Zuma and Robert Sobukwe were also in prison, all of whom have a crucial role to play in overthrowing apartheid and South Africa’s transition to democracy.
Explore the colorful Bo-Kaapa district
The diversity of any country is reflected in its food scene. The Bo-Kaap area is both a reflection of the country’s past and its diverse culture. Bo-Kaap is located southwest of the city center which has historically been home to the city’s Malay community. Most of them are Muslim descendants of slaves in Southeast Asia. The neighborhood is brightly colored with buildings and homes that have a different color, and from here the view of Cape Town itself is pretty good. The area is full of interesting things to see, such as Atlas Trading, an old school of spices, where you can supply almost everyone. Or tell them what you plan to cook and mix something for you on the spot. The Bo-Kaap Museum displays a traditional prosperous Muslim family home as it might have looked in the 19th century. Just wandering around the city is a pleasure in itself, there are many unusual small shops and cafes in the area, which offer quite cheap street food like curry, dried fruit and meat dishes.
Accept Braille cuisine
Summers in South Africa can be long and hot. When it’s too sunny and hot outside for the oven to break and bake over a hot oven, braai is there. Don’t confuse it with barbecue, it’s not, braai culture is something completely different, and in a country that has had problems with segregation, the only thing that unites almost all South Africans is braai. Braai is a type of barbecue, but more than a social custom. The term comes from the Afrikaans “braaivleis”, which roughly translates to “grilled meat”. Braai culture may look similar to barbecue in North America, but it is not. Braai are a random event in which most of the food is near the braai itself. Chicken, lamb, steak and pork chops are popular choices, but it wouldn’t be braai without some South African stuff like boerewors, sosaties and lots of Castle Lager. Whether it’s Christmas, graduation, or the usual Tuesday, there’s no bad reason to light a bra.
Cape Town is a city of sunny skies, delicious food and great surroundings. It’s the type of city that makes you want to be outside, soak up the sun and enjoy all that has to offer. Spend some time on the beach, hiking in the hills, and then enjoy the evening brawls with the sunset in the distance.