Some cities inspire with iconic attractions, others are gateways to natural wonders; some attract with delicious local food and wine, others with colourful culture. Perhaps uniquely, Cape Town offers it all. Take at least three or four days to fully appreciate its extraordinary richness and magnetic appeal.
Block of flat
Instantly recognisable and endlessly photogenic, Table Mountain is an undoubted icon of world travel – indeed, it was acclaimed one of the ‘New Seven Wonders of Nature’ in a global poll in 2012. Little wonder that it represented a beacon of hope for Nelson Mandela during his imprisonment on Robben Island; a spiritual link with the mainland. Or that it is the only geographical feature to have a constellation named after it (Mensa). What’s more, its slopes comprise a unique eco-system, with some animals, such as the splendidly named and presumably rarely-seen Table Mountain Ghost Frog, found nowhere else on earth. Take a cable car to the summit for sensational views of Cape Town and the surrounding area.
On the waterfront
Cape Town has a vibrant cultural scene, with art galleries and live music venues galore, and a full calendar of festivals and fairs. Much of the city’s cultural life is centred on the V&A Waterfront, South Africa’s most popular attraction (drawing an astonishing 24 million visitors each year). Picturesquely set between mountain and sea, its elegant buildings house shops and restaurants, markets and museums.
Creatures great and small
Take a trip around the rugged, beautiful Cape Peninsula and wonderful wildlife awaits. At postcard-pretty Boulders Beach, named for the giant granite stones that shelter it from wind and waves, lives a colony of 3,000 African penguins. Walkways take you to within feet of these charming, characterful birds, also known as Jackass penguins for their amusing braying call. You may be fortunate enough to spot some rather larger coastal visitors on your peninsula tour – Southern right, humpback and Bryde’s whales are all known to frequent Cape waters. Sightings of Cape denizens as diverse as zebra and wildebeest, clawless otters and wild ostriches, baboons and rock hyraxes, are also common.
One of the principal pleasures of a stay in Cape Town is the outstanding food and drink. Regularly ranked amongst the world’s great cities in which to eat, expect quality everywhere from street food stalls to Michelin-standard restaurants. With the exchange rate as it is, this is also one of the most affordable places to enjoy a ‘blow-out’ meal – degustation menus at even the finest of fine dining establishments start at around £50 per person. Ingredients are as fresh as can be – sea-to-table or farm-to-table within a matter of hours; cooking styles reflect the cosmopolitan history and populace of the city; and stunning accompanying wines, produced just a few miles away in Stellenbosch, Paarl, Constantia and Franschhoek, now rival the very best old-world vintages.
The Cape Floral Region is the smallest of the world’s six floral kingdoms and the only one to exist within a single country. Yet remarkably, it is by far the richest, with 9,600 plant species – three times as many as its nearest rival, the South American rainforest – 70% of which grow only here. The total global range of one of these endemic species might be as little as half a hectare on a hillside or in the outskirts of the city; a fragility that also makes the Cape Floral Region the world’s most endangered. UNESCO declared this collection of provinces, occupying less than 1% of Africa’s land mass but sustaining 20% of the continent’s flora, a World Heritage Site in 2004. Stays in Cape Town can encompass visits to several Cape Floral Region provinces, including Table Mountain, Boulders Beach, the Cape of Good Hope and breath-taking Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, the first botanical garden in the world established to protect local flora.
Voyages to Antiquity’s 33-day South Africa, Namibia & the Skeleton Coast cruise, departing 12 March 2019, begins with four days in Cape Town, before Aegean Odyssey sails the length of Africa northwards to Malaga, with stops in Namibia, Angola, Sao Tome & Principe, Cape Verde, the Canary Islands and Morocco. Our entire winter cruise collection can be viewed on our website.