After a long day at work followed by a long 15 hour flight on South African Airways from JFK New York, I was all set for my first time in the African continent. A big part of all the excitement was seeing the other four members of my family after 6 months.
Although I had not contributed to any part of planning the trip I was excited to see what my brother had planned for us. It was going to be 2 weeks and 4 different places. I was looking forward to Cape Town the most (especially after I had seen how beautiful it is in the Bollywood film Cocktail)
Travel Tip: Best time to visit Cape Town is December to February
We arrived in Cape Town late afternoon and headed to our hotel La Savina right opposite the famous Canal Walk mall. It felt less like a hotel and more like an apartment complex. If you book in advance, you can get a good price for it. For what is known as the “Luxury Two-Bedroom Apartment” we paid $150 a night. Sounds unbelievable right? Check it out if you are headed to Cape Town. My reservation was made through Booking.com. For all you fitness freaks, there was a full fledged gym in the complex along with a running path along the ‘canal’.
Travel Tip: Hire a taxi with a local guide. They know exactly where you should be headed.
We had hired Michelle Olieslager, our tourist guide, in advance. I must say, if you are going to go there, consider calling her. She was the nicest guide we could have asked for. She is the kind who really wanted to show us ‘her’ city and give us the best of it. We found her on TripAdvisor.
Just like every place has that 1 special thing you have to visit no matter what, Cape Town too has Table Mountain. Situated at over 3500 feet, it is generally covered with clouds which is known as the “table cloth” among the locals. We were supposed to visit Table Mountain on day one but the ‘table cloth’ had covered it up and it was too windy to go up there. The cableway to go up shuts down due to the winds.
Travel Tip: Always have a back up option for the Table Mountain in your must-see list. If the weather is good and the cable is open, prioritize that first. Visiting the mountain totally depends on the weather and winds. It was shut for all the four days that I was there and I did not end up seeing it.
Although I was not very happy about the fact that we could not go to Table Mountain, we went to Signal Hill from where we could get amazing views of the Table Mountain. The famous Robben Island where Madiba was imprisoned could also be seen at a distance. On the way up to the hill, I could see the entire city of Cape Town that we were leaving behind.
Must visit! Home to over 2500 penguins, Boulder’s beach is one of the most beautiful beaches I have been to. The name comes from the huge boulders are are just laying around the beach. It has been listed among the 25 Best Beaches in the world by CNN. Visitors are not allowed to walk on the beach sand and a wooden boardwalk has been built so that no one disturbs the penguins. They get nervous easily. You would expect to see these little ones in a cold Scandinavian place but Cape Town houses this species of African penguins.
There is a fee to enter but that was covered by Michelle as a part of the package. The beach is situated in a residential area and you will see a lot of people swimming on one side of the beach before you can enter to see the penguins.
Travel Tip: The water is warmer on the Indian Ocean side of Cape Town. The Western coast is supposed to be colder because of the Atlantic Ocean. If you want to swim, go to the Indian Ocean side.
While walking to the beach, there are a few vendors selling souvenirs and local hand crafted stuff. There was a little ice cream store that sells fresh sorbet and ice-cream. We all got a scoop full as we walked towards the beach. It’s always a blessing on a hot day.
The rich people townhouse area! Camp’s Bay has one of the most spectacular views of the city, beaches and hills together. On clear day, you could see the 12 apostles mountains under those clouds in the pictures below. If you drive through the area, you will see some beautiful townhouses which belong to either the elite in Cape Town or foreigners who want to invest in holiday homes. I can only imagine having a summer home in Cape Town. The area had some cute ocean side restaurants too. If you have a guide, they will drive you past the houses.
This restaurant is exotically situated at the edge of a cliff at Cape Point with a breathtaking view of the False Bay. It is known to be one of the best situated restaurants in the world. Being the only seafood eater in my family did not stop me from trying out the delicious meals this place had to me. I tried the Black Beard mussels and they were extremely well cooked and fresh. You should definitely try this place out for the view if you’re into seafood.
Best mode of Transport: Rent your own car or hire a taxi with a local guide. They know exactly where you should be headed.
Best time to visit: December to February
Follow me to stay tuned for more on Cape of Good Hope, Cape Point, Hout’s Bay and much more in my next post!