Cape Town, South Africa | Character Abounds

  • Catherine Kelly
  • 11 Jun 20

It’s always a good time to explore the spectacular scenery in and around Cape Town. Cape Town is the second largest city in South Africa. Europeans first started visiting the Cape in the 15th century. Originally established as a trading port for the Dutch East India Company, Cape Town proved to be a pivotal port in colonial times between the Dutch and the British.

There is plenty to do in this wonderful city. The city itself is modern and cosmopolitan, and the weather is akin to the Mediterranean with hot summers and cold winters making November, December, January, February and March the best time to enjoy the beauty of your surroundings.

Table Mountain

You will be overwhelmed, as I was, by the spectacular scenery surrounding Cape Town. Table Mountain towers over the city and is a must-see sight. It takes only 5 minutes to ascend the mountain by cable car or, if you are feeling like some strenuous exercise, you can embark on a 3km hike which, depending on your level of fitness, could take anywhere between 1 and 3 hours.

Once atop the mountain there are 3 signposted walks to choose from each with their own spectacular views. The Agama Walk gives 360 degree views of Cape Town & the Cape Peninsula. Other walks ensure views of the fabulous beaches at Clifton, across Table Bay to Robben Island and the Lion’s Head, Signal Hill and Devil’s Peak mountains.

Table Mountain is part of one of the oldest mountain ranges in the world and is approximately 260 million years old. The Andes are estimated to be 250 million years old, the Himalayas 40 million years old and the Alps 30 million years old. The cape lion was said to have roamed along the top of the mountain hundreds of years ago but is now extinct. The national park is now home to dassies, porcupines, mongooses, snakes, butterflies and many bird species.

Since the cable car began operating in 1929 over 20 million people have been transported to the summit, 1000 metres above Cape Town. Table Mountain National Park is the richest single floristic area on earth and is home to 8200 plant species so be prepared to see a multitude of flora!

Beautiful Beaches

Cape Town has some magnificent and diverse beaches. The Atlantic and Indian oceans meet at Cape Town so the north-western beaches have the cooler water of the Atlantic and the south-eastern beaches have the warmer and calmer waters of the Indian Ocean. Boulders Beach is home to a massive colony of Jackass penguins.

The penguins bray like donkeys and they established a colony here in the 1980s. From just two breeding pairs there are now over 2500 penguins on this beach which is unusual for a mainland beach. Robben Island, off the coast, is home to a large penguin colony also and a day trip here is memorable not only for the wildlife on the island but the historical importance of this site.

Robben Island

Robben Island was once part of the mainland and the peak of a mountain that is now underwater.  It was also ‘home’ to Nelson Mandela for many of the 27 years of his imprisonment. It seems very strange to think that apartheid was not abolished in South Africa until 1994, just over 20 years ago now. The prison on Robben Island housed political and criminal prisoners from 1961. In the years prior to this it had been a leper colony and a place of banishment for those opposing Dutch colonialism. The prison is now a museum and a World Heritage site, it is symbolic to democratic South Africa of the price paid by many for the freedom of their country.

These are just a handful of sites that you can visit in and around Cape Town. There is so much more to explore!

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