Blue ocean, white beaches and picturesque mountains are defining characteristics of Cape Town. Demola Ojo captures the jaw-dropping views
There’s no subtlety to the sheer beauty of Cape Town. It hits hard. Like the fierce wind blowing from the Atlantic Ocean as you drive through Victoria Road. Victoria Road is surely one of the most scenic routes in the world. It snakes through a twisting path bordered by the Atlantic on one side and the 12 Apostles – a group of mountain peaks – on the other.
A few boulders are in the ocean but no need to wonder how they got there. You can actually see similar-looking rocks hanging from the mountainside, and can imagine how they must have rolled into the sea ages ago. The awesomeness of nature is intense here.
It is no wonder many people swear Cape Town is the most beautiful place they’ve been to. Coming first in the ‘Places to Go 2014′ by the New York Times lends credence to the opinion that Cape Town is a must-visit city. Add to that, three consecutive firsts on the Telegraph Travel Awards’ list of ‘Most Beautiful Cities in the World’ and you get a sense of how beautiful the city is.
Cape Town is famous for its harbour, its natural setting in the Cape Floristic Region, as well as for well-known landmarks as Table Mountain and Cape Point. The Table Mountain with its near vertical cliffs and flat-topped summit over 1,000 m high, along with Devil’s Peak and Lion’s Head on either side, together form a dramatic mountainous backdrop enclosing the central area of Cape Town known as the City Bowl. The imperious Table Mountain dominates the city’s skyline and is visible from so many locations.
‘Mother City’ Located on the shore of Table Bay, Cape Town was first developed by the Dutch East India Company as a supply station for Dutch ships sailing to East Africa, India, and the Far East. Jan van Riebeeck’s arrival in Cape Town 1652 established the first permanent European settlement in South Africa, hence its tag as the ‘Mother City.’
Cape Town quickly outgrew its original purpose as the first European outpost at the Castle of Good Hope, becoming the economic and cultural hub of the Cape Colony. Until the Witwatersrand Gold Rush in the late 1800s and the development of Johannesburg, Cape Town was the largest city in South Africa.
Presently, Cape Town is one of the most multicultural cities in the world and is one of Africa’s most-visited tourist destinations. It’s location in the Southern Hemisphere means it attracts loads of European tourists during its summer months (from early December to March) when its winter in the North.
Summer in Cape Town is warm and dry, with an average maximum in the upper twenties. Many of the city’s beaches are filled with tourists and due to the city’s unique geography, it is possible to visit different beaches in the same day, each with a different setting and atmosphere. However, the beaches in affluent Clifton and elsewhere on the Atlantic Coast are better developed with restaurants and cafeacutes, with a strip of restaurants and bars accessible to the beach at Camps Bay.
Cape Town is one of those unique locations that give the tourist the rare experience of being able to indulge in both mountain and water-based activities. Hiking up the different peaks is a popular activity. For those less-inclined to climb however, there are cable car rides to the top of Table Mountain.
Among the water-based activities, whale-watching ranks high humpback whales are seen off the coast during the breeding season (August to November) while killer whales can be seen year round. Tourists also have the opportunity of seeing other marine mammals like dolphins, seals and penguins at different locations around the city.
Diving is also popular, especially considering the fact that both the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian Ocean are within reach, thus offering diversity in the composition of marine life.
Cape Town’s most visited tourist attraction is the Victoria amp Alfred Waterfront, a huge shopping and entertainment area built on top of part of the docks of the Port of Cape Town at the slopes of Table Mountain. It has hundreds of shops, restaurants and the Two Oceans Aquarium. The VampA also hosts the Nelson Mandela Gateway, through which harbour tours and trips to Robben Island start from.
Scenic Routes Apart from Victoria Road, Camps Bay Drive and Signal Hill Road are two other routes with breathtaking views. Both are great options for touring and soaking-in the views. It is added fun if you embark on these tours with vintage World War II sidecars. Apart from making you look like you just stepped out of a movie set, this one-wheeled device attached to the side of a motorcycle helps in taking panoramic pictures (and videos) while on the move.
Camps Bay Camps Bay is home to the highest concentration of multimillionaires in Cape Town and has the highest number of high-priced mansions in South Africa. In summer it attracts a large number of foreign visitors as well as South Africans looking for a beach holiday. It is renowned for its white sandy beaches fringed by palm trees and has a trendy nightlife.
One of the places that left a lasting impression on this writer was Maiden’s Cove. Maiden’s Cove is a beautiful lookout point nestled between Clifton’s beaches and Glen Beach in Camps Bay. It is known for its exquisite vistas of Table Mountain and the Twelve Apostles, as well as its view of the Atlantic Ocean.
Maiden’s Cove is a popular spot to watch the sunset, and there are braai areas for those who wish to have a barbeque. Dolphins can often be spotted frolicking in the water and during the months of June to November, it’s fantastic for whale watching.
Maiden’s Cove is also a great location to surf. My tour guide (from Sidecars) told me his parents had to change his school (which was close by) when he was much younger, because he spent all his time surfing. Maiden’s Cove is also reputed to be one of the best free diving spots in the Cape Peninsula.
Signal Hill Signal Hill is one of the landmarks that define Cape Town. It is possible to either drive or hike up Signal Hill for closer views of the City Bowl and Table Mountain. The flat-topped hill was also known as Lion’s Flank, a term now obsolete. Rather, it is now sometimes referred to as Lion’s Rump. This is so because together with Lion’s Head, Signal Hill looks like a sphinx. The road to the summit of Signal Hill has different vantage points that provide spectacular views over the Cape Town city centre and surrounding mountains. The road curls, affording the tourist rapidly changing views of the main harbour, the VampA Waterfront, Green Point with the Cape Town Stadium as its focal point, then Sea Point. Robben Island – where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated for a period of time – is also visible as an island in the blue waters of Table Bay. Signal Hill is also a great sport for gliding and the sight of paragliders jumping off the hill – with the attendant screams of excitement – added to the surreal feel. And for R1000, you can get in on the act.
Kirstenbosch Gardens Cape Town is the world’s most bio-diverse city the Table Mountain alone is reputed to have more species than the UK. The city encloses the 36-hectare Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden which contains protected natural forest along with a variety of animals and birds. There are over 7,000 species in cultivation at Kirstenbosch, including many rare and threatened species of the Cape Floristic region. In 2004 this region, including Kirstenbosch, was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Plants from all of the regions of South Africa are on display at Kirstenbosch Gardens, many of them medicinal. Numerous paths wander through the grounds situated on the back side of Table Mountain making Kirstenbosch another great location for hikers.
A great feature of Kirstenbosch Gardens is the Centenary Tree Canopy Walkway, a curved steel and timber bridge that winds and dips its way through and over the trees of the forest. Inspired by a snake skeleton, it is informally called “The Boomslang” (meaning tree snake) and takes visitors from the forest floor through the trees and bursts out above the canopy, providing a spectacular panoramic vsista of the surrounding mountains and garden.
Source : This Day