Did you know that as a South African you get a free trip up the Table Mountain Cableway on your birthday? All you have to do is show your green ID book as proof. It’s a real thrill to line up with the other tourists and know that you’re getting a freebie. Even better is when you hear them ‘oooh’ and ‘aaah’ over OUR mountain. You can start your day feeling on top of the world with breakfast at the top. The Table Mountain Café offers a full English breakfast, but if you prefer to do your own thing, pack a picnic and stake out a secluded spot. The mountain is big enough that you can have the breathtaking view all to yourself.
By Fazielah Williams for Cape Town Tourism
Nothing beats grabbing a few pals, hopping into the car and heading out on a gorgeous Capetonian day. Last month, a few of my fabulous co-workers and I, all city girls, took an unexpected sightseeing drive through the Northern Suburbs and made some wonderful discoveries:
As far as wine estates go, this one is right up there with the best. From the tasting area to the Eatery restaurant and a view that overlooks the splendid Winelands, the experience is luxurious.
Their daily wine tastings and cheese platters, and the twice daily guided tour of their cellars are not to be missed. Durbanville Hills also hosts fantastic outdoor concerts featuring hot local acts.
Secret tip: The baked veggie crisps sold at the main counter are scrumptious!
CLARA ANNA FONTEIN
Next up on our road trip was the beautiful game reserve, Clara Anna Fontein. Home to blue wildebeest, ostrich and bontebok among others, this sprawling estate has a luxury tented safari camp (perfect for the glampers among you) and exciting game drives.
A highlight was coming up close to a herd of zebra. Who would have guessed you could enjoy an authentic wildlife experience a mere 40 minutes from the city centre?
Fun fact: Movie buffs may recognise the rural huts on the estate from the movies Free Willy 4 and local comedian Leon Schuster’s Schuks Tshabalala's Survival Guide to South Africa.
Savouring great local wine and bonding with Mother Nature’s finest gave us quite an appetite so a lunchtime stop at the decadent Chocolat Cafe was a must.
This picturesque French-inspired café delights both the aesthetic and culinary palates with breath-taking decor and gourmet food. We feasted on their divine special of the day, a Mediterranean chicken pancake wrap and roasted pot chicken. Chocolat is worth the drive!
Guest Blog by Cape Town Tourism
48 hours in Cape Town: 5 things to do
Cape Town is not only a great value-for-money destination; it also offers good value for time. Here are five things to do if you have as little as 48 hours in Cape Town. (We really did all these things in 48 hours last week, in between some meetings, so we know they can be done!)
1. Table Mountain Aerial Cableway
Table Mountain, a Wonder of Nature, is Cape Town's most iconic attraction. If the weather is good, you can zip up the Cableway, have a glass of wine overlooking the Twelve Apostles (a series of spectacular mountain outcrops along the Cape Peninsula's Atlantic Seaboard), and be back down, all within 2 to 3 hours.
2. V&A Waterfront
The V&A Waterfront is reputedly South Africa's top tourist destination, with millions of people visiting each year. It's a good place to shop, see a movie, eat at a restaurant with a spectacular view, or just hang out.
3. Two Oceans Aquarium
The Two Oceans Aquarium in the V&A Waterfront is a hit with kids and adults alike, and is both an entertainment and educational hub. You can book a dive in the predator exhibit if you're feeling brave, and swim with giant ragged-tooth sharks.
4. The beach
Cape Town's beaches are breathtakingly beautiful. While the beaches along the Atlantic Seaboard (Camps Bay, Clifton, Llandudno and others) are colder to swim at and lovelier to look at, their counterparts on the other side of the Cape Peninsula, Muizenberg and Fish Hoek are warmer, more kid-friendly and it's easier to find parking at.
5. City Hall
Built in 1905 from sandstone, the Cape Town City Hall must be the city's most beautiful building. Located in the city centre not far from the country's oldest building, the Castle of Good Hope, it's worth driving past to take a photograph, or if you have time, stop and stroll along the Grand Parade in front of it.
Guest Blog by Cape Town Tourism
Waking up at 4am seems rather absurd to most people, but if you have not yet experienced a sunrise over the Durban ocean then you need to start re-setting your alarms and rubbing the sleep from your eyes. Head down to Moyo Pier – located on the south side of the Golden Mile promenade – and appreciate the beauty of a Durban morning. In front of you is the shimmer of the sun on the horizon and behind you is a panoramic view of the Durban skyline. And there’s nothing as invigorating as a quick dip in a sun-kissed ocean so make sure you take your swimming costume.
- Daniella Toscano
This weekend, we had the opportunity to pass through the Breede River valley just outside Robertson in the Cape Winelands, and what a sight it was. With perfectly manicured flora stretching as far as the eye could see, and everything flowering, it felt like driving through a botanical garden! With numerous wine estates to explore, as well as all the curiosities of Robertson, it is easy to lose a few hours in this area!
By the way, I'd love to know what these flowers are - any ideas?
More info on the region:
We're currently expanding the Nightjar Travel destination guide, and the last week has been focussed on the Hartebeespoort Dam (Bojanala) area. As a Cape Towner, I had no idea how 'buzzing' this region is! There are more places to stop for a coffee and a sandwich than there is room for in the average stomach (even mine hehe), from art cafes through craft villages and all the way to quaint little pubs, and the whole lot with their own distinctive vibe.
We ended our visit by stopping at the set of the 50's themed Afrikaans movie, Pretville, which has been left standing as a tourist attraction, and we were amazed by the effort that has gone into it. I will upload the photos to Facebook, because the pictures say it all, but the experience was as convincing as any of these types of towns that I've seen in the USA.
If you do stop by, don't forget to pop into the diner for a milkshake or a slushie, and a 50's themed photo where they let you dress up in gear from the movie! Also, keep a careful eye out for the turnoff - the sign is quite small and the dirt road looks relatively unassuming.
Amongst the green heart of Cape Town, Company Gardens hides a very unusual and unique animal, the albino squirrel. Tree squirrels were imported by Cecil John Rhodes in the 19th century from Europe and although an alien species they aren’t too invasive.
Open daily, the gardens, which are the oldest in the country, have a rose garden, restaurant, an avery, pathways and plenty of open areas to picnic. A favourite activity amongst tourists and locals alike is feeding the squirrels that have evidently become quite tame. So have you seen the living legend?
- Megan Pilditch
A little bit more advice from Mama Nightjar - if you go to Kirstenbosch, do check out the impressive stand of cussonias near the cycads! And speaking of cycads...
Did you know? In Francis Masson’s collection of plants sent to Kew in 1772, a small cycad from the Eastern Cape, currently weighs more than a ton and is almost 5 meters tall! For a plant that only grows about 3cm per year; how amazing that it is still alive! Go say hallo to this Encephalartos Altensteini in Kew Botanical Gardens when you hop over to London… but save the month of October for Cape Town.
Some more excerpts from Mama Nightjar and The German (a visit to the Cape) :-)
Which was more enjoyed? The lunch at Kirstenbosch, or the art exhibition, or the mass flowering of both the yellow and orange Strelitzia Reginae? To be able to show a fresh foreigner the flowers, in such abundance and size, tickled me orange! Did you know that these flowers are named after Queen Charlotte of Mecklenburg – Strelitz, the wife of King George III?
Of course, when I mentioned these proud spikes are also called Bird-of-Paradise flowers, my friend was suitably impressed. When I mentioned they are also known as Crane Flowers, it led to a discussion of the way languages can influence each other… crane… kraan… but the imposing line of orange won and we followed it all the way up to my favourites, the cycads. And yes! Crowning as proudly as the Strelitzias. A sight I had not experienced in years. Even the Encephalartos Stangeria was gently pushing up two cones. Some cones were as fat as only a king can dream to be. My friend was gasping. Then the mountain backdrop clinched it for her. She will retire in Cape Town.
Mama Nightjar recently got the chance to play tourguide... so of course, I asked her to report back afterwards!
My German friend needed to see and smell real fynbos... Therefore we drove through Newlands, up Riverside road, in order to have lunch at Moyo in the Botanical Gardens. It was my pleasure to show her where we once lived, and what a delightful jog it was up to Kistenbosch - peacefully along the river, then through the arum lilies and up up up - to the highest path in Kirstenbosch. Ohhhh , to be young again!
One can run a different route every day of the year and still have so much beauty around you …and be surprised by the fact that one has covered mud and tar in Newlands, Bishopscourt and Kirstenbosch only. Claremont next year!
There will be more from Mama Nightjar and The German tomorrow :-) Enjoy your evening!