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I had been looking forward to this holiday for many a month for it was my return to my birth country, South Africa. The trip was even more special to me because i was taking my wife with me who has always boasted of the beauty of her country, Australia, and i wanted to show her some of my roots.
First stop was the city of Cape Town set beneath the beautiful Table Mountain. We stepped off the plane at the International Airport and immediately felt the heat against our faces, even though it was only 28 degrees it was a huge difference from the rainy Gatwick airport we had departed from 10 hours earlier. The airport has had an overhaul recently and it shows, very pleasant and modern looking. We picked up a hired car and headed for our Guest House located in Simons Town. The first thing you see when you just leave the airport is the massive spraul of shanties in a large informal settlement. Probably not the best first impression for my wife but not forgetting this is Africa and unfortunately the majority of people still do live below the poverty line.
Simons Town, approximately 30 minutes from Cape Town City Centre, is a beautiful little town and has an English seaside town feel about it. A navy base in the early 19th century it now boasts a museum and a very quaint harbour with many great resturaunts. Cruises launch from Simons Town to Seal Island and even to see the mighty Great White Sharks which frequent these waters. It appears to be a perfect base for which to explore what Cape Town has to offer. We stayed at a lovely self catering guesthouse which deserves a link just because what you get for the price it doesnt compare http://www.safarinow.com/go/marianella/ .
In the late afternoon after we had had a nap we decided to make our way to Boulders Beach which is well renowned as the easiest place to see Penguins in the wild with a large Penguin Colony at the beach. There are two entrances to the beach, one along a large boardwalk or my preffered one directly onto the beach where one can actually swim with the cute little birds. Absolutely magical place and seeing its only 2km down the road from Simons Town. Perrrfect. There were many souveniers for sale from street vendors here but i didnt find them as good quality as other places around Cape Town which i will mention later and we did get slightly hassled by one of them into buying, which we never. One other thing i must mention is that almost everywhere you park it is free apart from car guards who seem to just walk towards the car and ask if they can look after the car ,we said they could everytime and handed them anything from 2 Rand(about 20p) upwards which they seemed quite content with. Whether all of them are official car guards or just a local trying to earn some money i am not sure. We had no problems with these guys looking after our car.
A car is highly recommended when coming to South Africa as public transport can be highly dangerous and so not recommened ,however there are cabbies who will drive you around to all the main tourist spots but i do recommend hiring a car personally and so you can do everything entirely at your own pace. All the main car rental companies are located at the airport.
Our first day proper, we decided to have a drive into central cape town via chapmans peak drive and then return and have a drive down to cape point. Chapmans Peak is a road cut out of the side of the cliffs of a mountain on the edge of false bay and must be one of the most scenic drives in the world. There is a toll for this road at R22(approx 2 pound) but that is not exactly going to put someone off. The road curves with magnificent views over False Bay, we entered on the southern entrance and so exited just after the beautiful hout bay. There are many layby's along this stretch so you can safely get out your car and admire the exquisite scenery. There have been many rockfalls in the past on this road and so the road does get closed from time to time if it gets extremely windy. It is a must though!!
After approx 40 minutes from Simons Town we entered central Cape Town, the one thing you notice is just how much quieter the roads are in this part of the world compare to England. It actually makes driving fun again! There is a castle in Cape Town Central but we didnt have a lot of time to stop so we carried onto the V and A Waterfront which is located in dockland area. Its an excellent shopping centre overlooking the harbour. There is a large indoor craft market here which i found excellent(my house now looks like africa because of it).It also has views of Table Mountain. Alongside the waterfront shopping area is an aquarium called "Two Oceans Aquarium". I found this aquarium quite dissapointing, not as big as i was hoping still a good visit if you like to view all things fish!!!! For information: trips to Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated for many years leave from here. It is a guided tour by some of the old prisoners imprisoned alongside nelson Mandela on this Island. We didnt go due to time constraints(some much to do, so little time).
Next on the list was Cape Point which is a small nature reserve on the south western tip of Africa. Inside this nature reserve there are buck,plenty of baboons and even ostrich. Here, as the photos show, we saw an ostrich family on the beach. Where else in the world would u see sights like this? The Cape Point Nature Reserve is approx 30 minutes drive from central cape town, well worth the visit.
The following day was our "Table Mountain Day" - we got there early to avoid the crowds. This is the main attraction in Cape Town and so can get busy. We decided to take the Cable Car up to the top of the mountain which costs 115 rand return(approx 11pounds) but is well worth it. On top there is a restaurant a curio shop and magnificent views. One can see all of Cape Town including Robin Island in the distance. There are walks all across the mountain and we did a short 30 minute walk as was not in any mood to over exert myself. I took sandals and didnt have a problem with any of the terrain. From here we headed north to Blouberg Strand to see the best view in Cape Town of the mountain. My wife said that it was the best view she had seen in her life and what surprised me is the lack of people here it did not appear any of the tourist buses go passed here, i am not sure why this is. Magnificent beach with some of the best views one can imagine.
There are soo many more things to see and do in Cape Town i would recommend a visit to anyone. The exchange rate for us UK visitors is such that items are often half the price of what they are in the uk. Although the prices have jumped up since i lived there. Lets face it crime is a massive problem in South Africa i wouldnt recommend going places at night that you didnt know or hadnt been to before but just being sensible as in any country should make it a safe visit. Having a local travel with you would be ideal. Saying that i felt as safe in Cape Town as i do in London these days and so would recommend this the tip of Africa to anyone. Cant wait to go back again. Love you Cape Town