Cape Town: Leave Grey Behind

That’s what South Africa suggests you do this winter. So why not visit Cape Town? The peak period for tourism there is our winter which, of course, is their summer.

A recent survey of tourism companies in Cape Town suggests that South Africa is having a better year than 2010/11. Cape Town airport has highlighted for last November, a 14% increase in international visitors.
Cape Town was named TripAdvisor’s number one destination in 2011 so what is there for us to see.

Cape Town is to be found in the Western Cape, the area at the southwestern tip of the country bordering both the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. It was on Robben Island – now a UNESCO World Heritage Site – that Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years. Today it is a popular tourist attraction having served for over 300 years as a prison. A ferry leaves the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town four times a day for the half hour journey to the island. Just about every visiting political leader feels the need to visit there so why don’t you? Each tour takes about three and a half hour and you’ll have a tour guide. And the interesting thing is that the guides are former prisoners.

Cape Town is dominated by the towering Table Mountain and the easiest way to sample the views is to take the aerial cableway up to the top. Even South Africans and locals never tire of the trip. In the last month alone some 116,000 took the cableway perhaps wanting to see why it has just been named as one of the new 7 wonders of the world. 80% of all the passengers were South Africans. If they think it is worth doing when it’s on their own doorstep it’s something you should do as well. But check first to see it is operating. Weather conditions can shut it down at short notice.

The V & A Waterfront is a big tourist draw for the number of its restaurants, (over 80) its shops (over 450) and its heritage. No, its not named after Queen Victoria and Prince Albert as you might guess but two harbour basins which were built to give protection from the sea to ships. One is the Victoria Basin named after, well you can guess, and the other is the Alfred Basin named after Queen Victoria’s second son. Here you’ll also find a tourism information office which might persuade you to visit the oldest wine growing area in the country which is in the Constantia Valley. As long ago as the 1760’s one of Captain Cook’s crew was writing of the quality of the wine that was being produced.

Or the office might suggest you visit Hermanus a little town to the east of the city about seventy miles away where there is a whale crier to let you know when he sees whales. That is fairly frequently since the coast around here is one of the big whale spotting areas in the world. Stay closer to the city and visit Boulders Penguin Colony, home to a colony of African Penguins or stay even within the city and see the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden which is open every day of the year for you to see a microcosm of South African indigenous plants.
There’s just too much to see in Cape Town. Which is people go back to explore again and again. Even the locals!

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