Having lived in South Africa for some time, Cape Town has always been the “fun place”. But this is much more than that. For tens of thousands of years, the area around Cape Town has been inhabited by Khoe people. Originally from the Bushmen in the region, the earliest inhabitants of South Africa are said to live mostly in the area now known as Peers Cave on the outskirts of Fish Hook. Although little is known about them, the first Europeans to explore the area were the Portuguese in 1488 and then again in 1497, when maps began to officially delineate the area as “Cape of Good Hope “ due to the establishment of the sea passage from Europe to India. By the 16th century, several European powers stopped in the region to trade with Khoe while traveling to and from Asia. In 1652, the Dutch established a permanent settlement under the Dutch company from the East Indies and a permanent fortress and trading post was established, but growth was slow as there was a shortage of labor. After the Anglo-Dutch Treaty 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 region’s history is a bit bleak. Cape Town is one of the most integrated racial places in the country, then becoming one of the most segregated places with the introduction of apartheid and the imprisonment of political dissidents on Robben Island. While the scars are still visible, Cape Town is one of the biggest tourist hotspots in the region. It has a mild climate almost all year round with stunning beaches, great food and remarkable attractions. The city itself is modern and cosmopolitan, while surrounded by natural attractions such as mountains, parks and many green areas. This is an eclectic combination of modern Africa and Europe, which is not afraid of its natural environment. Go and explore one of the largest cities in Africa and explore Cape Town.
See where it all started in The Castle
Officially known as the Castle of Good Hope or simply the “castle” of the locals, the Castle of Good Hope is the oldest building still standing in the whole country. The structure was built between 1666 and 1679, replacing the original “Fort de Goed Hoop” by Jan Van Ribik, the first Dutch administrator of the land. The position of the fortress was originally from the shoreline, but efforts to recultivate the land over the years have since shifted the position of the fortress inward. The fortress itself is part of living history, as the fortress was an important fortress during the escalating tensions between the British and the Dutch in the 18th century and was then used as a prison during the Second Boer War. The bell tower above the main entrance is also home to the oldest bell in South Africa, cast in 1697 in Amsterdam. The castle now houses a museum and several former prison cells, preserved intact, one of which belonged to the infamous spy Fritz Joubert Dukenes.
Take an aerial view of the city
Cape Town forms what is known as the “City Cup”. From a bird’s eye view, the city is in a natural amphitheater-like shape, surrounded by the Bay of Tables on one side, 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 view of the city and views of the coast. Riding the lift up the mountain will offer you a leisurely ride to the top, along with a few more views as you climb higher and higher, but for the physically fit there is also the opportunity to climb. If you decide to go up, there are marked paths, but no one will judge you if you decide to take the lift. The lion’s head nearby is also a solid opportunity for hiking and panoramic views and is a less strenuous journey.
Immerse yourself in nature in Kirstenbosch
Kirstenbosch is located around the slope of Table Mountain. When Cape Town was in its first days of settlement for both the Dutch and the British, several plants and flowering species were brought from Europe and other colonies. Imported plants have been used for purposes such as nose stabilizers and eucalyptus from Australia to help swamp drainage. Kirstenbosch is the spiritual heir to all of this with 1,300 acres of land dedicated to the creation of a huge botanical garden. Take a walk in the canopy of trees on the so-called “Boomslang” (or tree snake) and click a few pictures and make a little bird watching. Spend some time in the protea garden, a space dedicated to the national flower of South Africa.
Learn to surf in Muizenberg
Lovers and surfers 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 great beaches and some of the best surfboards on the continent, and one of the best places is here in Muisenberg. Whether you’ve surfed once or not, or you’re even on board for the first time, you’ll take the basics off in no time and all you need is your swimsuit and sunscreen. All ages and skills are welcome and an hour and a half of training and drills will only bring you about $ 20 USD.
Spend a day at the beach
If surfing is not your thing and you prefer to hang out on the beach and do some swimming and sunbathing, then you have 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 here are in December, January and February with a peak around New Year. Winter passes from June to August, and while it is slightly humid, temperatures rarely fall below 59 F (15 C) during the day.
The beaches around False Bay are one of the most popular for swimming with much calmer waters and hotter temperatures. St. James has some very picturesque tidal pools, while beaches like Clovelly and Fish Hoek have sheltered bays and soft white sand. If you want to go they are natural Sandy Bay Beach is one of the most popular nudist beaches around and a great place for LGBT tourists.
If surfing or sunbathing interests you, then definitely check out Boulders Beach. Coarse sand and rocky shores are not the best for sunbathing or swimming, and the water is already too cold. So why go? Because the place is home to hundreds of African penguins. The penguin colony is part of the park’s conservation efforts, so there is a small fee to enter the area, but the penguins are friendly, cute and you can walk in the water with them. Just don’t understand too close.
Learn about the complex history of Robben Island
Against the complex background of South Africa’s racial history, Robben Island is a central element of the ordeal. Robben Island is a small landmass that can be seen from the coast of Cape Town in Table Bay. It was used for many years for my Portuguese navigators, then used by the Dutch as a place to raise animals without fear of predators. Over the years, the island has been used as a whaling station, a colony of lepers, although it has already been used as a 17th-century prison. The island became a full-time maximum security prison in 1960. It is used by the South African government to house mostly political prisoners and anti-apartheid activists.
In 1991 the prison was closed and by 1999 it had become a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Museum, where thousands of people now take the ferry to the island each year to learn about the country’s past and tour the island from some of the people themselves who were once imprisoned there. The island’s most notable prisoner was undoubtedly Nelson Mandela, who spent much of his 28-year sentence here. In addition to Mandela, Mac Maharaj, Ahmed Katrada, Mosiuoa Lekota, Govan Mbeki, Walter Sisulu, Jacob Zuma and Robert Sobukwe were also in prison, playing a crucial role in the overthrow of apartheid and South Africa’s transition to democracy.
Explore the colorful neighborhood of Bo-Kaap
The diversity of each country is reflected in its food scene. The Bo-Kaap region is both a reflection of the country’s past history and its diverse culture. Bo-Kaap is located southwest of the city center, which has historically been home to the Malay community in the city. Most of them are Muslim descendants of slaves from Southeast Asia. The neighborhood is brightly colored with buildings and homes, all in different colors, and the view of Cape Town itself is quite good from here. The area is full of interesting things to see, such as Atlas Trading, which is an old school spice shop where you can stock up on just about anything. Or just tell them what you plan to cook and mix something for you on the spot. The Bo-Kaap Museum presents a traditional prosperous Muslim family home, as it might have looked in the 19th century. Wandering around the city is a pleasure in itself, there are plenty of old small shops and cafes in the area, offering quite cheap street food such as curry, dried fruit and meat dishes.
Embrace Braille cuisine
Summer in South Africa can be long and hot. When it’s too sunny and hot outside to light the stove and slave over a hot oven, the bras are there. Don’t confuse barbecue, it’s not, bray culture is something else entirely, and in a country that has had problems with segregation, the only thing that unites almost all South Africans is bray. Braille is a type of grill, but not only a social custom. The term comes from the Afrikaans ‘braaivleis’, which roughly translates as ‘grilled meat’. Braille’s culture may look like a barbecue in North America, but it’s not. Braais are an accidental event in which much of the eating takes place near the braai itself. Chicken, lamb, steaks and pork chops are popular choices, but it won’t be a bray without some South African essentials, such as borage, sausages and plenty of Castle Lager to wash. Whether it’s Christmas, graduation or just Tuesday, there’s no reason to light a bra.
Cape Town is a city of sunny skies, delicious food and great atmosphere. This is the type of city that makes you want to be outside, soak up the sun and enjoy everything you have to offer. Spend some time on the beach, walking in the hills, then enjoy an evening bray with the setting sun in the distance.
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