SOUTH AFRICA CAPE TOWN
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens
The Victoria & Alfred Waterfront
SOUTH AFRICA HOLIDAY 2022
CAPE TOWN - It's no wonder that this city is often considered one the world’s most beautiful for its mix of natural beauty. There's a 6,000-foot table-shaped mountain in the center and a string of white-sand beaches and buzzy atmosphere. to enjoy! Visitors can expect stylish hotels as well delicious restaurants serving global cuisine and plenty of cultural attractions and adventurous things to do.
Rising 1,087 meters south of the city center, flat-topped Table Mountain is the most photographed landmark in South Africa and a constant reminder that nature is queen in this stunning seaside city. Created from massive beds of sandstone and slate, the mountain forms the northern end of the Cape Peninsula and lies within Table Mountain National Park. A layer of clouds, called the "tablecloth" frequently cloaks the mountain's peak, but when the clouds clear, visitors can enjoy spectacular views of Cape Town and the entire Cape Peninsula from the summit.
About 60 kilometers from Cape Town, Cape Point lies within the southernmost tip of Table Mountains National Park and is part of the Cape Floral Region, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the richest areas of flora in the world. The scenic drive from Cape Town along the Cape Peninsula takes travelers past the surf breaks of Muizenberg, and the pretty seaside town of Kalk Bay, as well as the prime-penguin-viewing beaches at Simon's Town.
Chapman's Peak Drive
About 25 kilometers from the city center, Chapman's Peak Drive, affectionately called "Chappies" by the locals, is one of the most jaw-dropping driving routes in the world. Cut into the sheer face of Chapman's Peak, which plunges to the sea, this spectacular toll road snakes its way for about nine kilometers between Noordhoek and Hout Bay passing panoramic Chapman's Peak point along the way. With 114 curves carved into the rock face, some perched more than 500 meters above the sea, this is not a route for those prone to motion sickness.
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens
In a beautiful setting on the eastern slopes of Table Mountain, Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens are part of the Cape Floristic Region UNESCO World Heritage site. The site was bequeathed to the state by Cecil Rhodes in 1902 and the gardens were established in 1913 to preserve the country's indigenous flora-one of the first botanical gardens in the world with this mission.
The Victoria & Alfred Waterfront
Stretching around two harbor basins, the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront is a buzzing entertainment quarter reminiscent of Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco. Once a scruffy fishing harbor, this reimagined waterfront district is now one of the city's top tourist attractions, and many of the old buildings have been preserved and restored. Millions of visitors a year flock here to the shops, jazz venues, restaurants, hotels, theaters, drama school, cinemas, and museums.
For nearly 400 years, Robben Island in Table Bay, was a brutal prison where Nelson Mandela spent 18 years in a tiny cell during the apartheid era. Today, the island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a must-see attraction for anyone interested in South African history. Tours to the island begin with multimedia exhibits in the museum at the Nelson Mandela Gateway on the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront before travelers board vessels to the island. The boat trip takes about 30 minutes to an hour depending on weather conditions and can be rough during big swells.
Gently rolling streets lined with brightly colored houses greet visitors in the Cape Malay (commonly referred to as Bo-Kaap) neighborhood, located in the heart of the city at the foot of Signal Hill. This vibrant area is home to Cape Town's Muslim community, consisting of those who have descended from the "Cape Malays," slaves brought by Dutch settlers from Indonesia, Malaysia, and other African countries. The residents are passionate about preserving their history and the buildings, and visitors often see signs stating, "This Heritage Site is Under Threat," in an attempt to discourage gentrification.
Stellenbosch: A Foodie's Dream
About 53 kilometers east of Cape Town, Stellenbosch is one of South Africa's prettiest towns. Elegant Cape Dutch estates rise amid a patchwork of vine-cloaked fields and ancient oaks backed by mountains. This lively university town resides in a picturesque valley, and its fertile soils nurture some of the country's best produce, which the town showcases at its acclaimed restaurants, atmospheric alfresco cafes, and popular markets.
Great White Shark Cage Dives
In the chilly waters off Cape Town's coast, thrill seekers can come face-to-face with one of the ocean's most feared predators: great white sharks. Protected by the thick bars of an iron cage, divers score a hefty dose of adrenaline as these magnificent creatures swim within inches of the bars.
THE GARDEN ROUTE - SOUTH AFRICA
The Garden Route is a beautiful 200km stretch of coastline in the Eastern and Western Cape Provinces of South Africa - a superb self-drive route. The full extent of the popular self-drive is from Cape Town in the west to Port Elizabeth in the east, a distance of around 800kms if sticking to the N2 motorway.
Robberg Nature Reserve
About eight kilometers from the popular coastal town of Plettenberg Bay, the magnificent Robberg Nature Reserve is a national monument and a hiker's paradise with a variety of trails and other things to do. It sits on a four-kilometer-long peninsula, at the foot of the Mountain of the Seal, where some of the rocks date back 120 million years, and caves show evidence of prehistoric man.
Storms River Suspension Bridge
A highlight of the magnificent coastal reserve Tsitsikamma National Park (now part of Garden Route National Park) is the Storms River Suspension Bridge. Stretching for 77 meters, the bridge spans the swirling waters of the river mouth as they merge with the Indian Ocean. Standing on the bridge, less than seven meters above the water, visitors can feel the exhilarating force of nature all around them.
About 16 kilometers from the beautiful beaches of Plettenberg Bay, animal lovers can enjoy educational wildlife experiences at three affiliated sanctuaries owned by the South African Animal Sanctuary Alliance.
Knysna Heads & the Knysna Forest
Sitting on a lagoon between lush forests and the sparkling sea, Knysna is one of the most popular towns on the Garden Route. On the seaward side, two giant crags, called the Knysna Heads, flank the mouth of the lagoon. Visitors can explore the area from the water on a cruise or along walkways with plenty of panoramic viewpoints overlooking the treacherous sea below and the jagged multi-hued rocks along the shore. Cafés offer scenic patios to soak up the views, and seafood lovers should sample some delectable local specialties while visiting Knysna.
Knysna Elephant Park
At Knysna Elephant Park, animal lovers can enjoy a rare wildlife experience with a herd of rehabilitated elephants. Under the careful supervision of experienced handlers, visitors can walk with the elephants, feed them, and interact with these majestic pachyderms.
Featherbed Nature Reserve, Knysna
A daily ferry service from Knysna takes visitors for a cruise on the Knysna lagoon to the delightful Featherbed Nature Reserve on the Western Head. A visit to this pretty private sanctuary includes a 4WD trip with stops at panoramic lookout points and a guided 2.2-kilometer hike with fascinating information about the local flora, fauna, and history.
After exploring the reserve, visitors enjoy a delicious buffet lunch at the alfresco dining area under a canopy of trees. The company also offers cruises to Knysna Heads aboard their double-decker floating restaurant, as well as sailing trips and sundowner cruises on Knysna Lagoon.
About 29 kilometers north of Oudtshoorn, at the foot of the Great Swartberg, are the impressive Cango Caves. In earlier centuries, these dripstone caverns were occupied by Bushmen, who left rock drawings, little of which can now be distinguished. Visitors can choose between a Heritage Tour or Adventure Tour. Both take visitors into a series of huge chambers with impressive stalactites and stalagmites enhanced by spectacular lighting effects.
The Van Zyl Hall is named after the man who first ventured into these dark caverns in 1780. This enormous 70-meter-long, 17 meter-high chamber is brilliantly floodlit and accommodates 1,000 people. It has excellent acoustics, and concerts are occasionally staged here.
Oudtshoorn Ostrich Farms
In a fertile valley, Oudtshoorn is the largest town on the Little Karoo and the world's principal ostrich-breeding center. Many visitors following the Garden Route make a side trip here (about 70 kilometers) to admire the beautiful scenery of the surrounding Swartberg and Outeniqua Mountains and to visit one of the ostrich farms. Safari Ostrich Show Farm, Cango Ostrich Show Farm, and Highgate Ostrich Show Farm offer educational and fun tours where visitors can learn about ostrich breeding and stand on ostrich eggs to demonstrate their strength.
Wilderness National Park
Now part of the Garden Route National Park, Wilderness National Park lies between the Garden Route towns of George and Knysna and extends from the mouth of the Trouw River in the west to Sedgefield in the east. To the north, this beautiful park is bounded by the Outeniqua Mountains, and to the south, it descends to the Indian Ocean. Along this stretch of coast, lakes, wetlands, and estuaries connect with each other, and the mingling of salt and fresh water produces amazingly diverse flora and fauna.
The national park is a paradise for water birds, including the grey heron and five species of kingfishers. Campsites and stilted log cabins are available for visitors, as well as facilities for water sports on the lakes, which include canoeing, fishing, windsurfing, and sailing.