After 9 months of Africa we could use a bit of holiday time. Cape Town is the perfect spot to chill and get us back on our feet.
Because Tom’s kids – Casimir and Zoë – were going to come over, we wanted to give them a good time and discovered the area around this wonderful metropolitan city. With the help of our friend Anneke, who gave us quite a few good suggestions, we enjoyed the local culture, nature and the somewhat western atmosphere.
Spotting penguins at Boulders Beach
Admittedly this is a real tourist attraction, but the funny little animals are really worth a visit. The penguin colony lives on a separate little beach, waddle around, breed their eggs or take a dive in the ocean. They’re just a bunch of happy looking creatures and they secretly enjoy all the attention they get.
Where? Simons’s Town, just 40 kms outside Cape Town
Price? R70 for adults, R35 for children
Cape of Good Hope
The southernmost point of the Cape peninsula was given its name because the discovery of the cape was a major step in the development of the sea route to India. This place is just stunning. Climbing up the rocks treats you with an amazing view over the Atlantic Ocean and its high cliffs. On our drive to the Cape, we regularly stopped for ostriches, baboons or springbok. Seeing animals in the wild is always impressive.
Price? entrance fee for the national park: R135 for adults, R70 for children
Chapman’s Peak Drive
This road follows the Atlantic coast from Houtbay to Noordhoek and is the hotspot for car and bike commercials. We now know why: the many curves along the ocean pounding against the cliffs. The ride is a series of utterly amazing views.
Price? This is a toll-road: R29 per bike, R45 for the car
Shark cage diving
If there were one thing Casimir really really wanted to do in Cape Town, it would have been shark cage diving. He dreamed about seeing sharks in the flesh for many years. So we did our homework and discovered there were no more sharks in the usual hotspot of Gansbaai. Two orcas had chased the sharks away. So the only option was to drive to Mosselbay, about 4h away from Cape Town. We all know the pictures of these wild animals with massive jaws and razor-sharp teeth, but I can assure you that these animals are even more impressive in the flesh. There isn’t too much to fear though: sharks aren’t really fond of human meat :-). We first had a closer look at the animals from the deck and then went down in the cage. No snorkel or diving gear, but a wet suit, goggles and a guy with a really loud voice shouting ‘GO DOWN’ at the right moment, after which we all held our breath and went under water. And what a sensation it was! This must have been the top attraction of our stay in Cape Town! Some piece of advice for those wanting to do the same thing: a pill against nausea prior to going on the boat might seem a good idea…
Where? White Shark Africa, 7 Church Street, Mossel Bay
Price? R1600 for adults, R900 for kids
Diamond museum – Shimansky
This little cosy museum near the Waterfront in Cape Town offers an interesting view on the history of diamonds in South Africa. You’ll learn how these gemstones are dug up and get to see the whole process from rough diamond to the finished product of shiny jewelry. You’ll get to see craftsmen working with the stones and the tour ends with a great collection of precious jewelry. Although I am not a real ‘bling bling’ type of person, being able to wear that crazy expensive ring with a massive tanzanite and over 400 diamonds, secretly gave me a bit of a thrill.
Where? first floor of the Clock Tower Centre near the Waterfront
Climbing the Table Mountain
Wherever you go in Cape Town, you’ll have a view on the majestic Table Mountain. And what to do when you’re confronted with it all the time? Right: you just climb it! We did it on a bright sunny day. When there’s too many clouds, the mountain gets covered completely which takes away the nice views.We opted for the hike along the Platteklif Gorge and worked our way up to the 1085 m high peak. The steep hike was a challenge for sure but reaching the summit and overlooking the entire city made up for the real reward. Mindblowing! After reaching the top, you can walk down again, but we opted for the 5 min ride with the cable lift. While going down, it spins around, giving everyone a nice view over the city of Cape Town.
Price for the cable lift: R135 for adults, R65 for kids (one way). The hike is for free.
A bit less known, even among the locals, is the Spice Route (thanks for the tip, Anneke 😉
In this location you will find a collection of craftsmen who proudly demonstrate their skills and let you taste all sorts of local specialty products. We tasted the local springbok biltong, enjoyed home brewed specialty beer, got to see an impressive glass blowing demonstration, tasted (and bought) some wonderful chocolate and ended the the tour with a nice cup of home roasted coffee. Delicious!
Where? Suid Agter Paarl Road, Suider Paarl
Price? entrance is free
This Island makes up for an important part of South African history. Robben Island is the place where Nelson Mandela was locked up for many years. He was, and still is, one of the most charismatic personalities in South Africa, so a visit to the Island was on our list of must do’s. But to be honest: it was a bit of a disappointment… The guide was hard to understand – especially for the kids – and she didn’t stop droning the whole story. It just lacked the passion it requires to bring a lively, interesting story. We are glad we did it, but there won’t be a second visit.
Where? Ticket office: Nelson Mandela Gateway, V&A Waterfront
Price? R340 for adults, R190 for kids
The Dunes of Hout Bay
Thanks to our new friend Jan-Lucas and his wife Penny, we got to discover the dunes of Hout Bay. It’s a wonderful walk that leads all the way down to the remote beach. We truly enjoyed the sound of the sea, the impressive boulders, the few surfers and the great view over the ocean.
Two Oceans Aquarium
This is the perfect idea for those rainy days. The aquarium shows the great diversity of sea creatures found in the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean. There’s fish but also jellyfish, turtles, penguins, sharks and a lot more. You can see the penguins being fed and walk through a glass tunnel underneath the swimming sharks.
Where? Dock Road, V&A Waterfront
Price? R165 for adults, R80 for children
This multicultural neighbourhood, the oldest residential area of Cape Town, is a nice walk for sure. The cobblestone streets and the brightly coloured houses make up for a warm and cosy environment. The museum offers a unique view on the rich history of Bo-Kaap.
Where? Bo-Kaap museum: 71 Whale Street
Well, it won’t surprise anyone that Cape Town is actually a great shopping location. Long Street and the V&A Waterfront are a good start, but you’ll find many little markets in and just outside the center of Cape Town. So better keep your wallet at hand.
Food and drinks
Although we tried to cook our own food in the hostel, we took the kids out to a restaurant every now and then. These are the places we can recommend:
Dunes Restaurant – 1 Beach Road, Hout Bay
At the seaside, with an amazing view on Capman’s Peak and surrounded by hills. We had some great fish here.
Den Anker – Pierhead, V & A Waterfront, Cape Town
Belgian restaurant with a view on the old harbor. Many seals are enjoying the warmth of the sun. But for us it was great to have Belgian beer and food for the first time in months. We recommend the Blue Chimay with ‘bitterballen’. Yummie!
Beerhouse – 223 Long Street, Cape Town
99 different types of beer from all over the world is what you will find here. As it happens to true Belgians, we couldn’t resist the place. Waiters were really friendly, the menu is original and the Beerhouse Burger is truly divine!
Knead Bakery – Kloof Street, Cape Town
Nice place for breakfast or lunch!
We got our old, bright blue Volkswagen Golf I with 300 000 kms on the clock from Rent-a-Cheapie. The cheapest option for car rental but still reliable.
Where? 30 Marine Drive, Paarden Eiland, Cape Town
Zebra Crossing Hostel
We stayed at the Zebra Crossing for about 3 weeks in total. We got to know the place on a former trip to South Africa and really loved the place. There is a family like atmosphere, really helpful staff, clean rooms and ablutions, hot water (!), a cosy patio, a bar and restaurant and living rooms to relax. We think this is one of the best places to stay in Cape Town for a decent price. Thanks for everything guys!
Where? 82 New Church Street, Cape Town