Take a holiday in Cape Town for incredible natural beauty
Go up in the world
Make the most of Cape Town’s stunning scenery (if you’ve a head for heights) with a trip to the top of Table Mountain – no walking involved! Take the 85-year-old Table Mountain Cableway for a gentle journey to the sky. It runs every 10-15 minutes, seven days a week from 8am (the last return journey changes depending on the time of year, so be sure to check). At the top, more than 3,500ft above the city, there are several paths to explore, a restaurant and shop and lots of lookout points. See if you can spot rock hyrax (sweet little rodents), lizards and porcupines. Tickets cost between R60-240.
- To book, call 021 4240 015 or visit www.webtickets.co.za
Meet the local wildlife
While you might associate penguins with chilly climes, one species – African penguins – thrive in the warm waters surrounding the coast of Cape Town. To see them, head to Boulders Beach, a national park with a small entrance fee, where you can explore rock pools and bays on the generally quiet sands, all in close proximity to the wild birds. Climb a wheelchair-friendly walkway to see their nesting sites before popping into the visitors’ centre. Entrance costs R60, or R30 for children between 2-12. Opening times vary.
- For more information, call 021 7862 329 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Step back in time
Robben Island is known around the world as one of the sites of Nelson Mandela’s incarceration – he was kept there for 18 of the 27 years he was imprisoned. Now a World Heritage Site, you can tour the island and learn about its strange history: it’s been a prison, hospital, mental institution, leper colony and military base. Take a ferry to and from the island. Tours are led by former political prisoners of the island, and include a visit to Mandela’s former cell. They last three-and-a-half hours, R300 adults, R160 children.
- To find out more, call 021 4095 100 or visit www.robben-island.org.za
Another thought-provoking day out is the District Six Museum, which celebrates an area that was once home to 60,000 people but was destroyed during apartheid in the Sixties and Seventies. Originally a vibrant community of freed slaves, merchants, artisans, labourers and immigrants, black people were forced out and their homes flattened by bulldozers.
This museum was established to share their memories, and includes a floor map on which former residents have labelled where their homes once stood. Many of the staff are displaced residents too and have emotional tales to share.
- Call 021 4667 200 or visit www.districtsix.co.za
For a free morning’s entertainment, pick up a self-guided historical walking tour from the visitor information centre on Dock Road and explore the picturesque V&A Waterfront. It attracts more annual visitors that Cairo’s pyramids thanks to its mixture of shops, restaurants and public art – including a sculpture of Nelson Mandela himself to be photographed beside. There are all sorts of buskers and dancers performing in the Market Square Amphitheatre to watch for free, and during the summer you can take part in free exercise classes.
- To find out more, visit www.waterfront.co.za
Sample the gorgeous greenery
Outdoor types will enjoy a wander in Cape Town’s enormous Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, which are known as some of the world’s most beautiful. There is a charge to get in (R55 adults, R15 children), but once inside you can enjoy free guided walks, which cover some of the 9,000 native resident plants. Be sure to visit the fragrance garden, which has been carefully elevated so you can sniff the flowers more easily. There’s historical interest too, with a section of the wild almond hedge planted in 1660 by Jan van Riebeeck to form the boundary of the Dutch outpost. Visit on a Sunday between November and March to listen to an outdoor concert.
- Call 021 7998 782 or visit www.sanbi.org/gardens/kirstenbosch
Enjoy the beautiful beaches
South Africa is famed for its beaches, and even if you’re not brave enough to take to the surf there’s plenty to see and do. Visit a real-life shipwreck on Noordhoek beach – the steamship Kakapo ran aground here in 1900 and its rusted shell remains in the sand. Alternatively, take a dip in the safety of a sea pool at Buffels Bay or, for thrills, head to Muizenberg beach, where surfing lessons and a water slide are available.
We’ve included local phone numbers to use once in Cape Town, but if you want to call from the UK just add 0027 to the start of each number, and remove the first 0.