Cape Town & Environs, Western Cape, South Africa

The Most polished, Most Visited & Most Un-African Part Of The Country


“Cape Town’s spectacular geographical setting and all the outdoorsy adventure options that presents might by itself be enough to lure some, but the region’s vineyards, agreeable climate, beaches, European colonial-era architecture (& history) and epic coastal drives, among other attractions, would, I’d imagine, deter very few.”


Image || Day 6. Late afternoon scenery off the coastal-hugging Clarence Drive, Western Cape. February 20, 2017.

Cape Town & Environs – Introduction

While it was on the bucket list by virtue of having never been, I can’t ever recall having a desire to go to South Africa. If I had I’d have probably visited by now. Being honest, the country, the world’s 24th-largest, has something of an image problem, one not helped by stories of crime & worries over personal safety, by the poverty & the obvious haves & have-not societal inequality, and the scars that linger from the divisive Apartheid era when the vast majority of the country’s black population – some 80% of the population – were disenfranchised. Oh, and there’s the hum of those annoying buzzing vuvuzelas during the FIFA 2010 World Cup (the things that stick in one’s memory). But I’ve been wooed. By Cape Town, and a Capetonian (and the accent, too), so now I find myself en route to the Mother City.

Welcome To The Mother City. Cape Town International Airport, Western Cape, South Africa. February 15, 2017.

Welcome To The Mother City. Cape Town International Airport, Western Cape, South Africa. February 15, 2017.


There are many reasons why Cape Town is ranked among the most desirable destinations for travellers: the majestic Table Mountain, pristine and picturesque beaches, vibrant markets and a city steeped in a colourful history. Soak up our warm hospitality and enjoy your adventure in our city!

– Patricia de Lille, Executive Mayor, City of Cape Town, from the 2017 Official Visitors’ Guide Cape Town

Cape Town – The Mother City
Cape Town, a.k.a. the Mother City, so-called because it seemingly takes 9 months to get anything done down here, or so I’ve been told, is the capital of Western Cape, both the most southerly & the most popular of South Africa’s 9 provinces with tourists (and the one with a character & look most shaped by the country’s European colonial past). This is by some way both South Africa’s most un-African and its most visited city, and upon investigation it’s not hard to see why. Cape Town’s spectacular geographical setting and all the outdoorsy adventure options that presents might by itself be enough to lure some, but the region’s vineyards, agreeable climate, beaches, European colonial-era architecture (& history) and epic coastal drives, among other attractions, would, I’d imagine, deter very few. I’d always envisioned visiting the city, and South Africa itself, as part of an epic African overland odyssey, a Cape Town to Cairo or vice versa sort of jaunt. That might very well still happen one day, but for now I’m happy to give myself over to 9 days of Cape Town & its environs to see for myself if it really is as idyllic and as photogenic as it reads.

Cape Town & Environs Highlights Gallery

Cape Town & Environs Day-by-Day Overview

DAY 01 || BLOUBERGSTRAND || Cape Town International Airport to Bloubergstrand.

DAY 02 || THE CITY (a #CTBig7 attraction) || The Castle of Good Hope, Parliament Buildings & Company’s Gardens, St George’s Cathedral, the Bo-Kaap, Truth Coffee, Woodstock, & the open-air Galileo Cinema at the V&A Waterfront.

DAY 03 || THE CAPE PENINSULA || The Atlantic Seaboard (Sea Point, Clifton, Camps Bay, Llandudno, Hout Bay, Chapman’s Peak Drive, & Noordhoek Beach), The Cape of Good Hope & Cape Point (a #CTBig7 attraction), & The False Bay Seaboard (Boulders Beach & Simon’s Town, Fish Hoek, Kalk Bay, St James, & Muizenberg).

DAY 04 || THE WINELANDS & STELLENBOSCH || Root 4 Market at the Audacia Wine Estate, Blaauwklippen Vineyards, & Stellenbosch.

DAY 05 || KIRSTENBOSCH || Summer Sunset Concert in Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden. (a #CTBig7 attraction)

DAY 06 || THE WINELANDS & CLARENCE DRIVE || Franschhoek, Babylonstoren, Clarence Drive, Betty’s Bay, & The Coastal R44 & R43 to Hermanus.

DAY 07 || CAPE OVERBERG || Hermanus, De Kelders, Gansbaai, Kleinbaai, Pearly Beach, Elim, L’Agulhas & Cape Agulhas, Bredasdorp, Swellendam, Ashton, Robertson, Worcester, & Du Toits Kloof Pass.

DAY 08 || HISTORY & HIKING HIGHS || The V&A Waterfront (a #CTBig7 attraction), Robben Island (a #CTBig7 attraction), & Lion’s Head.

DAY 09 || WELLINGTON WIND DOWN || Wellington, road to Bain’s Kloof Pass, & the Napier Winery.

Cape Town & Environs

PICTURE OF THE DAY || DAY 1 || February 15, 2017


Image || The distant city of Cape Town & Table Mountain as seen from across Table Bay in Bloubergstrand.


“The waters off Blouberg’s long, rocky coastline are a haven for kite surfers; as idyllic as the beaches are, with their white sand encroaching on the sea-facing settlements, seemingly there are better swimming options elsewhere. Out here is both relaxed & scenic, the perfect place to ease into Cape Town after the 22-hour transit from the (much) chillier climes of the Northern Hemisphere.”

Day 1 || February 15, 2017

Posted From || Wellington, Western Cape
Day 1 Overview || BLOUBERGSTRAND – Cape Town International Airport to Bloubergstrand

I didn’t even take the real camera out today, day one in Cape Town & its environs, leaving the photographic duties to my trusty iPod instead; there’s plenty of time for proper photography. After picking up the hire car – a brandy-new, no-frills, white Volkswagen Polo with 25 kilometres on the clock – it was an hour drive from Cape Town International Airport to the windswept white-sand shoreline of Bloubergstrand from where there were nice views, if a bit hazy, back towards the regional centerpiece of iconic Table Mountain (& the city of Cape Town) from across Table Bay. It was a nice introduction to the city and its picture-postcard setting.

Cape Town & Table Mountain as seen from across Table Bay in Bloubergstrand. Western Cape, South Africa. February 15, 2017.

BLOUBERGSTRAND || The waters off Blouberg’s long, rocky coastline are a haven for kite surfers; as idyllic as the beaches are, with their white sand encroaching on the sea-facing settlements, seemingly there are better swimming options elsewhere. Out here is both relaxed & scenic, the perfect place to ease into Cape Town after the 22-hour transit from the (much) chillier climes of the Northern Hemisphere. Bloubergstrand. February 15, 2017.


Ons Huisie, Bloubergstrand, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa. February 15, 2017.

ONS HUISIE || A renowned casual restaurant serving West Coast cuisine overlooking the water & lapped by sea breezes, Ons Huisie, which directly translates to ‘Our Small Home’ and which is billed as a ‘world renowned and recognised traditional restaurant’ according to the restaurant’s website, is housed in a squat, whitewashed building, a beautifully restored example of typical early regional vernacular architecture, an architectural style design based on local needs, availability of material and reflecting local traditions of the time. Photographing the building itself was something of a challenge given the abundance of inviting patio shades obscuring the view, so I settled instead for photographing this plaque embedded in the walls of the historic building. Ons Huisie, Bloubergstrand, Cape Town. February 15, 2017.

Cooling down. Ons Huisie, Bloubergstrand, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa. February 15, 2017.

Cooling down. Ons Huisie, Bloubergstrand, Cape Town. February 15, 2017.

Plenty more to come from down here. Eight days of it. I just gotta get some rest first, and adjust to this heat.

Cape Town & Environs

PICTURE OF THE DAY || DAY 2 || February 16, 2017


Image || In the colourful Bo-Kaap district of central Cape Town.


“It’s the same the world over. Get a string of adjoining structures, paint them in bright colours and bam, you’ve immediately got yourself a tourist attraction. It’s simple, it’s tried, it’s tested, and it works.”

Day 2 || February 16, 2017

Day 2 Overview || THE CITY – The Castle of Good Hope, Parliament Buildings & Company’s Gardens, St George’s Cathedral, the Bo-Kaap, Truth Coffee, Woodstock, & the open-air Galileo Cinema at the V&A Waterfront.

Between observing the Grand Parade from atop the yellow walls of the Castle of Good Hope, to walking the European-esque streets of the CBD, to sampling the Muslim Cape Malay charm of the Bo-Kaap, to trying to figure out exactly what kind of vibe the hypsterie Woodstock neighbourhood is trying to peddle, I found myself commenting on more than one occasion today how I’d never experienced anything quite like the City of Cape Town. Of course this is all new to me; as travelled as I am, I’ve never been to such a place in Africa, the chaos of energetic Egypt & the mystic of Morocco, both very much on the northern fringes of the continent, not registering at all down here at it’s southern extremity. With a whole continent separating my past from my present African exploits, the resemblances so far are few. Very few. It’s all very different down here, all very new.

Bo-Kaap, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa. February 16, 2017.

Observing all the camera-toting tourists. A resident in the colourful Bo-Kaap district of central Cape Town. February 16, 2017.


The vibrant Cape Town city centre is alive with fascinating stories of past and present, captivating public art, beautiful spaces, dramatic architecture, and a dynamic food and retail culture. There’s simply no better way to explore this all than on foot, and walking the streets will bring the city to life before your eyes.

CapeTownBig7.co.zaCity Walk, one of Cape Town’s Big 7, the best of what the city has to offer (#CTBig7)

Historic Central City
While Cape Town and its surrounding suburbs sprawl, its business-centred City Centre is compact, not to mention lively & very colourful. There’s plenty to see – handsome buildings, historic fortifications, inviting gardens, & world-class museums – in what is the oldest developed suburb in the Western Cape, and thus South Africa; earmarked as a supply station for the maritime trade route to the East by the Dutch East India Company as early as the mid-1600s, Cape Town was to become the region’s first European outpost, remnants of which still stand to this day.

The Castle of Good Hope, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa. February 16, 2017.

CASTLE OF GOOD HOPE || A massive five-cornered stronghold with imposing walls situated slap-bang in the centre of the city, surrounded by modern-day Cape Town and overlooking Grand Parade, Cape Town’s large central square/market place/rallying point, the Castle of Good Hope is South Africa’s oldest official building – sporting Cape Town’s trademark yellow (Pantone 109-C), it was first erected by the Dutch in early 1666 to replace an earlier fortification. (The Dutch first arrived in April 1652, much to the ire of the native Khoi who, along with the native San, had already been here for over 2,000 years. The Dutch named their little outpost de Caabsche Vlek, ‘the Cape Hamlet’, later renamed Cape Town, a much-needed replenishing station for mariners making the six to eight month voyage from Europe to the Far East.) Construction of the present-day Castle of Good Hope officially started in January 1666 with the first major phase of construction completed in 1679; it was subsequently added to over the years. Built according to the design of Dutch fortifications of the day, it was, for over 150 years (from 1674 until the mid-1800s), the symbolic heart of the Cape administration & the military seat of successive governments. It was also used, among other things, as a prison and a slave market – slavery, introduced by the Dutch in the 1650s, was officially abolished at the Cape by the British in 1834, the Brits nabbing the Cape from the Dutch in 1795 (& again for the final time in 1806) after which they introduced their own British Regency style to portions of the Castle’s interior. The combination of years of military use and neglect & its growth as a tourist attraction prompted a massive multi-year restoration which began in 1975, a restoration that dragged on for some 30 years. Today the Castle of Good Hope boasts tours, exhibitions, displays and ceremonies, all related to the past, not to mention great views of the city of Cape Town from its ramparts. Cape Town. February 16, 2017.


Over the centuries six different flags have flow over the Castle, yet in all that time not a single shot has ever been fired in anger at it or from it.

– Reproduced from the official Castle of Good Hope Collector’s Edition 2016 pamphlet

King's Gallery, Parliament Buildings, Government Avenue, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa. February 16, 2017.

PARLIAMENT BUILDINGS || Talk about sharing the spoils. While Pretoria is the executive capital and Bloemfontein the judicial capital, Cape Town is the country’s legislative capital and the site of the South African Parliament. Housed in a rather impressive complex of interlinking buildings, the first wing of which was completed in 1885, this is where over 70 years of repressive legislation, including antediluvian Apartheid laws, were passed. Things don’t always go smoothly behind these impressive columns & doors. The latest state of the nation address – only 1 week ago, February 9th last – descended into total chaos when members of the opposition Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), claiming President Jacob Zuma to be an “illegitimate president” who is a “scoundrel” and “rotten to the core” after he was found to have violated his office by the country’s highest court in 2016, were violently removed from the parliamentary chamber, the third consecutive state of the nation address that has been so disrupted. We did pass something of a protest (it was rather staid) fronting the parliament buildings on St Johns Street, but here on the leafy & pedestrianised Government Avenue at the rear of Parliament & lining the city’s Company’s Gardens, established by the Dutch in 1652 to supply fresh produce to passing maritime traffic, it was a whole lot more tranquil, and a whole lot more picturesque. King’s Gallery of Parliament Buildings, Government Avenue, Cape Town. February 16, 2017.

Save SA. Outside St George's Cathedral on Wale Street, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa. February 16, 2017.

Save SA. From what I’m not sure. A banner erected outside St George’s Cathedral on Wale Street, Cape Town. February 16, 2017.

Bo-Kaap, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa. February 16, 2017.

BO-KAAP || It’s the same the world over. Get a string of adjoining structures, paint them in bright colours and bam, you’ve immediately got yourself a tourist attraction. It’s simple, it’s tried, it’s tested, and it works. Established as a slave quarter over 360 years ago & today home to over 10,000 residents, the Bo-Kaap is Cape Town’s oldest residential area, a picturesque warren of steep, cobblestone streets and stumpy minarets that’s the hub for the city’s Muslim population – still the oldest mosque in the southern hemisphere, Cape Town’s first mosque was built here in the 1790s by freed slaves shortly after the Cape’s takeover by the British who, unlike the Dutch before them, allowed freedom of religion. But ignoring all of that history, it’s still the bright, colourful nineteenth-century Cape Dutch & Georgian terrace architecture that draws the hordes. Yes, it’s the same the world over. Bo-Kaap, Cape Town. February 16, 2017.

Rose Corner Cafe, Bo-Kaap, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa. February 16, 2017.

ROSE CORNER CAFE || There’s more to the Bo-Kaap district than eye candy. With its own unique identity, there’s a museum here detailing Bo-Kaap history & traditions, artisan shops aplenty, and myriad boutique accommodation options. There’s also the Rose Corner Cafe. More a deli than a true cafe, it dishes up spiced, curried & sugary Cape Malay favourites like worsies (hot sausages) & koe’sisters (small coconut-dusted donuts). Best get there early for the latter – there were none to be had when we passed by mid-afternoon. (Descendants of Dutch slaves of the 16th & 17th centuries, Bo-Kaap residents became known as Cape Malay, even though most originated in Africa, India, Madagascar & Sri Lanka, with very few actually originating from Malaysia.) Bo-Kaap, Cape Town. February 16, 2017.

Truth Coffee, Buitenkant Street, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa. February 16, 2017.

TRUTH COFFEE || By all accounts the compact grid of streets & squares – Church, Harrington & Greenmarket etc. – that adorn Cape Town’s CBD are as close as Africa gets to a European quarter. I’d well believe it after walking through the city’s core in getting from the Bo-Kaap to Truth Coffee, somewhere we only just got to before they shut up shop for the day (I’m surprised how early things – attractions, shops, cafes etc. – close down here, especially as it’s the height of the southern hemisphere summer). Something of an institution that is being billed as the world’s coolest cafe (by whom I’m not overly sure), it’s not only the coffee that is the attraction here, but the cafe’s Victorian steam-punk theme design also seems to attract the crowds. Truth Coffee, Buitenkant Street, Cape Town. February 16, 2017.

The rest of day two was spent driving through the Woodstock neighbourhood, a hub for creative & bohemian types and a visually curious mix of old and new. A working & living social/design experiment in action and the the region of the city to benefit most from Cape Town being awarded World Design Capital in 2014, this once run-down suburb has been given a new lease of life through the Neighbourgoods Market selling artisan goods in the old neighbourhood landmark biscuit factory: The Old Biscuit Mill. Woodstock is also home to the Doubletree by Hilton, our overnight location for this night, but not before an evening spent at the Galileo open-air cinema at the V&A Waterfront, the city’s restored, tourist-friendly, harbourside residential, shopping & dining district. More to come from there in due course; I’m far from done with the Waterfront (see Day 8 for more).

Cape Town & Environs

PICTURE OF THE DAY || DAY 3 || February 17, 2017


Image || African penguins on the rocks of Boulders Beach on the shores of False Bay, Cape Peninsula.


“I’d read about Boulders Beach prior to arrival. The sheltered setting, the boardwalks, the 540-million-year-old granite rocks/boulders and yes, of course, the penguins. But having been to Antarctica, I wasn’t too pushed about seeing penguins on a warm beach fronting a residential area of Cape Town.”

Day 3 || February 17, 2017

Day 3 Overview || THE CAPE PENINSULA – The Atlantic Seaboard (Sea Point, Clifton, Camps Bay, Llandudno, Hout Bay, Chapman’s Peak Drive, & Noordhoek Beach), The Cape of Good Hope & Cape Point, & The False Bay Seaboard (Boulders Beach & Simon’s Town, Fish Hoek, Kalk Bay, St James, & Muizenberg).

And now for some scenery, some epic coastal scenery via some epic coastal drives of the region’s Cape Peninsula, that rocky finger of land that juts out into the Atlantic Ocean at the southwestern extremity of the African continent, the same appendix-shaped landmass that was described by Sir Francis Drake more than four centuries ago as the most beautiful Cape in the world. We drove over 100 kilometers today in going from the city to The End, to Cape Point at The Cape of Good Hope at the very southern tip of the peninsula, and back again – down one side, the western-facing Atlantic Seaboard, and up the other, the eastern-facing False Bay Seaboard. Terra firma narrows as you go and the coast is rarely far away so there were some expected highlights en route: cliff-hugging drives; wild, windswept coastline; salty air; plush seaside settlements; bays, coves & white-sand beaches; working fishing villages; barren & rocky scrubland; epic vistas & end-of-the-world vibes; and emm, penguins. Penguins? In Africa? Well I never.

An African Penguin colony on Foxy Beach on the shores of False Bay, Cape Peninsula, Western Cape, South Africa. February 17, 2017.

African Penguins late afternoon shadows on Foxy Beach on the shores of False Bay, Cape Peninsula. February 17, 2017.

Day 3 Road Trip Part I – Southbound – The Atlantic Seaboard
It was a leisurely drive south along the portion of the Cape Peninsula’s two-lane M6, a.k.a. Victoria Road, that separates Sea Point & Chapman’s Peak on the western side of the peninsula. This stretch of windy, coastal-hugging road only measures some 30 kilometres, but there are plenty of reasons to pull over en route.

Viewing a portion of the beach at Llandudno from the coastal Victoria Road, Cape Peninsula, Western Cape, South Africa. February 17, 2017.

Viewing a portion of the beach at Llandudno from the coastal Victoria Road, Cape Peninsula. February 17, 2017.

Pretty, Pushed & Plush
Victoria Road winds through some pretty settlements pushed up against the steep western-facing slopes of Table Mountain and the Twelve Apostles of the Table Mountain Chain. Plush settlements – the Atlantic Seaboard beaches are overlooked by some of Cape Town’s, and Africa’s, priciest real estate. They are a combination of residential social hubs & popular tourist attractions lined with sundowner bars & restaurants, as at Clifton & Camps Bay, and secluded & sheltered sunbathing options, such as at Llandudno.

Llandudno from the coastal Victoria Road, Cape Peninsula, Western Cape, South Africa. February 17, 2017.

LLANDUDNO || Happy to drive through settlements up to this point, the Victoria Road overlook high above the small & exclusive sheltered cove of Llandudno, named after the North Wales seaside resort of the same name, was our first Cape Peninsula stop of this day. Less developed than settlements further north (Llandudno doesn’t even have street lighting & there are no shops or commercial activity of any kind), the suburb certainly wins top marks for its picture-postcard setting. Cape Peninsula. February 17, 2017.

As inviting as the sands along this stretch of coast may seem from afar (or on high), the frigid waters of the Atlantic deter all but surfers and the most hardy from entering these waters. But fear not, if you reside in these quarters your million-dollar pad with wall-to-ceiling windows and sweeping sea views will invariably come with a swimming pool.

Residences in the hills overlooking Llandudno, Cape Peninsula, Western Cape, South Africa. February 17, 2017.

Residences in the hills overlooking Llandudno, Cape Peninsula. February 17, 2017.


For Sale roadside on Victoria Road overlooking Llandudno, Cape Peninsula, Western Cape, South Africa. February 17, 2017.

For Sale roadside on Victoria Road overlooking Llandudno, Cape Peninsula. February 17, 2017.


Mariner's Wharf Harbourfront Emporium, Hout Bay Harbour, Cape Peninsula, Western Cape, South Africa. February 17, 2017.

HOUT BAY || It’s only 6 kilometres from Llandudno to the town of Hout Bay. Home to massive sand dunes, World of Birds (Africa’s largest bird park), & the ImiZamo Yethu township, a tightly packed shantytown crawling up the hillside that I almost drove into, the town’s setting is spectacular, hugging as it does aquamarine Hout Bay and surrounded by peaks – the town is only accessible via any one of three mountain passes. A crayfishing centre, the town has a busy working harbour that’s home to Mariner’s Wharf. Opened in 1984, billed as Africa’s first harbourfront emporium (whatever that is), and relying heavily on tourism, it’s famous for its live lobsters, pearls in oysters, and natural antiques – the restaurants, shops and markets found here push the whole maritime vibe into overdrive. AHOY AHOY! Hout Bay Harbour, Cape Peninsula. February 17, 2017.


A portion of the cliff-hugging M6, a.k.a. Chapman's Peak Drive, between Hout Bay & Chapman's Peak, Cape Peninsula, Western Cape, South Africa. February 17, 2017.

CHAPMAN’S PEAK DRIVE || Chapman’s Peak Drive isn’t long – cut into the edge of the region’s 592-metre-high Chapman’s Peak, it’s the 9-kilometre-long stretch of Victoria Road that connects Hout Bay & Noordhoek – but the drive, affectionately known as Chappies, is still billed as one of the world’s most spectacular coastal drives. The tolled road with 114 curves was formally opened in 1992 and is sometimes closed due to rock falls, the massive nets on the cliffs high above the road an ever-present reminder of the hazards lurking above. Cape Peninsula. February 17, 2017.

A panorama over Noordhoek Beach & Chapman's Peak as seen from the end of Chapman's Peak Drive, Cape Peninsula, Western Cape, South Africa. February 17, 2017.

NOORDHOEK BEACH || Heading south, Chapman’s Peak Drive opens out into a gentle valley with the wide white expanse of Noordhoek Beach bordering on wetlands to the left/east and Chapman’s Bay to the right/west. It’s perfect panorama material, the beach, stretching to the town of Kommetjie in the distance, particularly striking. There are no amenities here on this wild and oft-windswept stretch of sand – this is long sunset walk or horse riding territory. Cape Peninsula. February 17, 2017.

The Cape of Good Hope & Cape Point
Leaving the Atlantic Seaboard at Noordhoek but continuing in a roundabout way south, it’s a 40+ kilometre drive via the M65 through the middle of the finger-shaped Cape Peninsula to the Cape of Good Hope & neighbouring Cape Point. Needless to say, things get a little more rugged down here & there’s a lot less development than there is up north, but that’s because it’s a lot more protected.

Table Mountain National Park & The UNESCO-listed Cape Floral Region Protected Areas
The majority of the rocky 70-kilometre-long Cape Peninsula, from Table Mountain overlooking Cape Town in the north to Cape Point at the extreme south of the peninsula, is given over to Table Mountain National Park, one of South Africa’s 19 National Parks. Cloaking the natural areas of what is essentially Cape Town’s back yard, the park was proclaimed in May 1998 for the purpose of protecting the unique natural environment of the peninsula and its Table Mountain Chain, and in particular the rare fynbos vegetation that’s abundant here – the 500 km², 123,500-acre Cape Peninsula alone boasts over 2,200 species of fynbos plants, nearly twice as many as all of Britain, which is some 5,000 times bigger. Oh, and the region is also home to a whopping 20% of Africa’s flora. UNESCO took note of this and jumped on board in 2004 by lobbing World Heritage status on the region.

It is one of the world’s great centres of terrestrial biodiversity. The extended property includes national parks, nature reserves, wilderness areas, State forests and mountain catchment areas. These elements add a significant number of endemic species associated with the Fynbos vegetation, a fine-leaved sclerophyllic shrubland adapted to both a Mediterranean climate and periodic fires, which is unique to the Cape Floral Region.

– UNESCO commenting on the Cape Floral Region Protected Areas

Scenery at Cape Point, Cape Peninsula, Western Cape, South Africa. February 17, 2017.

CAPE OF GOOD HOPE || Looking across Dias Beach to Cape Maclear &, further still, the Cape of Good Hope from the trail to the Old Lighthouse at Cape Point, Cape Peninsula. February 17, 2017.


Situated at the most south western corner of Africa, the spectacular natural landmark of Cape Point has captured the hearts of travellers and locals for centuries with its breathtaking views and fascinating nautical history.

CapeTownBig7.co.zaCape Point, one of Cape Town’s Big 7, the best of what the city has to offer (#CTBig7)

Cape Point – The End
You can tell that you’re coming to the end. Things narrow and eventually all you can see is rock & water in three directions – left, right & straight ahead. You eventually reach a point which prevents you driving any further (it’s called the car park at Cape Point) and then you feel it, that end-of-the-world vibe that’s inescapable down here. Of course it’s not quite the end of the world, but when standing at the base of Cape Point’s Old Lighthouse looking out to nothing over the vast expanse of ocean it sure feels that way.

Cape Point, Cape Peninsula, Western Cape, South Africa. February 17, 2017.

CAPE POINT || The Old Lighthouse at Cape Point and, in the distance, Dias Peak as seen from the trail to the Old Lighthouse, Cape Point, Cape Peninsula. February 17, 2017.

The Cape of Good Hope - 'Discovery' & Today

The 15th century blockage by the Turkish Empire of the overland route East was the catalyst for a European search for a sea route to India. The first European to see the Cape was Portuguese mariner Bartolomeu Dias. On a mission to find a stop off point en route to East Africa and the East Indies, he first rounded the Cape in 1488, although he didn’t actually see it; he only ‘discovered’ it upon his return, something of a consolation having failed to reach India. Not enamored with the place or its nasty southeast-orientated breezes, Dias named it Cape of Storms – it was later renamed Cabo de Boa Esperanza, Cape of Good Hope, by Portugal’s King John II who had initially sent Dias on his way & who foresaw the realisation of the long sought-after passage to India (Vasco de Gama would eventually ‘find’ India & thus a profitable trade route for Portugal that bypassed the Middle East, passing the Cape of Good Hope on his return journey in 1499). For centuries, Cape Point, easily one of the most dramatic coastal locations on earth, has been a navigational landmark for mariners, one that was a menace beset by violet storms, mountainous waves and treacherous underwater reefs – to date 26 shipwrecks have been recorded in the Cape’s vicinity. Today 30% of the Middle East’s oil exports, mostly en route to the America’s & Europe, pass the Cape of Good Hope, a hazard to both shipping and the region’s ecosystem – most recently, shipping disasters off Cape Town in 1994 & 20002 caused oil spills that took months to clear & killed thousands of seabirds.

The commanding presence of the Cape of Good Hope dominates one of the greatest strategic trade routes of the world. Since its discovery by Bartholomeu Dias more than 500 years ago, the Cape of Good Hope has been regarded by seafarers of giant tankers, rusty freighters, trim ocean liners, prowling warships and stealthy submarines as the halfway mark on their voyages between East & West.

– Text reproduced from display on Cape Point

The 'Historic' Old Lighthouse at Cape Point, Cape Peninsula, Western Cape, South Africa. February 17, 2017.

OLD LIGHTHOUSE || Construction of Cape Point’s squat historic first lighthouse, the Old Lighthouse, began in 1850. Completed in 1859 and first lit in May 1860, it stands 249 metres above sea level on the highest point at Cape Point. Low-lying clouds, which obscured its light for up to 900 hours a year, meant this wasn’t the best place for such a vital maritime aid so a second ‘New’ lighthouse, 87 metres above sea level at Dias Peak, was started in 1913. Completed in 1919 & electrified in 1936, this New Lighthouse, pumping out 10 million candlepower in three flashes every 30 seconds to a range of over 60 kilometres, is still the most powerful light on the continent of Africa. And although not perfect it still does a much better job of keeping passing traffic off the rocks as did its predecessor, it now serving the role of being the centralised monitoring point for all the lighthouses dotted along the 2,800-kilometre-long South African coastline. Cape Point, Cape Peninsula. February 17, 2017.


Group shot at the Old Lighthouse at Cape Point, Cape Peninsula, Western Cape, South Africa. February 17, 2017.

Group shot at the Old Lighthouse at Cape Point, Cape Peninsula. February 17, 2017.


Lighthouses, it is conceived, are vulgar, old fashioned, clumsy affairs… if seamen should require no assistance darken every lighthouse in existence.

– W Porter, financial secretary of the Cape Colony, July 11, 1840, to the critics who doubted lighthouses served a useful purpose.

The End. Cape Point, Cape Peninsula, Western Cape, South Africa. February 17, 2017.

CAPE POINT || Towards The (very) End. The view from the Old Lighthouse of the trail towards the New Lighthouse on Dias Peak (not visible), Cape Point, Cape Peninsula. February 17, 2017.


Cape Point. 'Where Two Oceans Merge'. In the gift shop at Cape Point, Cape Peninsula, Western Cape, South Africa. February 17, 2017.

Cape Point. Where Two Oceans Merge. Not quite. It’s something of a misconception that Cape Point is where two of the world’s largest bodies of water, the Atlantic & Indian Oceans, meet. It’s not. That officially happens at Cape Agulhas, the most southern point of the African continent some 120 kilometres east of here as the crow flies, twice that via the most direct road route (see Day 7). Here at Cape Point it’s the Atlantic Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean only (although the cold Benguela current of the Atlantic Ocean & the warmer Agulhas current of the Indian Ocean do blend slightly east of here in False Bay, a titbit I’d have thought the gift shop at Cape Point, where they are seemingly happy to peddle falsehoods, would have known). Cape Point, Cape Peninsula. February 17, 2017.

What Goes Down Must Come Up
Nearly 1 million people visit Cape Point each year and even down here there’s infrastructure to meet the demand, everything from walking trails to gift shops to restaurants – there’s even a 585-metre-long funicular providing access to the lofty heights of the Old Lighthouse for those needing it (who mentioned the Chinese?). But regardless of how you spend your time down here, eventually you’ll have to retrace your steps and head back whence you came. Me? I headed north via the False Bay Seaboard on the east of the peninsula. I may have reached the end down here at Cape Point but this day wasn’t done yet. It wasn’t even close.

On the boardwalks to the African Penguin colony at Foxy Beach on the shores of False Bay, Cape Peninsula, Western Cape, South Africa. February 17, 2017.

Switching sides. On the boardwalks to the African Penguin colony at Foxy Beach on the shores of False Bay, Cape Peninsula. February 17, 2017.

Day 3 Road Trip Part II – Northbound – The False Bay Seaboard
The waters of False Bay on Cape Peninsula’s eastern shore, so named as it fooled sailors of yesteryear into believing the large bay was Table Bay on the Atlantic Seaboard, are warmer than those of the peninsula’s Atlantic-facing western coast. Thus some of Cape Town’s oldest and most popular seaside suburbs are found here in a 17-kilometre-long arc of developments stretching from Simon’s Town in the south to Muizenberg in the north. First up when heading north from Cape Point is historic Simon’s Town. The country’s third-oldest European settlement & home of the South African Navy it may be, but the main attraction in these parts is undoubtedly the African penguins that reside at the penguin reserve on the town’s outskirts.

A lone African Penguin on the rocks of Boulders Beach on the shores of False Bay, Cape Peninsula, Western Cape, South Africa. February 17, 2017.

A lone African Penguin on the rocks of Boulders Beach on the shores of False Bay, Cape Peninsula. February 17, 2017.

Boulders (& Foxy) Beach
I’d read about Boulders Beach prior to arrival. The sheltered setting, the boardwalks, the 540-million-year-old granite rocks/boulders and yes, of course, the penguins. But having been to Antarctica, I wasn’t too pushed about seeing penguins on a warm beach fronting a residential area of Cape Town. But the uniqueness, and absurdity, of that scenario – penguins on a warm beach in a residential area of Cape Town – is reason enough to appreciate the sight. And appreciate it I did. Yes, and whether I intended it to or not, my visit to Boulders Beach and neighbouring Foxy Beach, both part of Table Mountain National Park’s Marine Protected Area, was all about the little penguins. In hindsight, I guess that was always going to be the case.

An African Penguin colony on Foxy Beach on the shores of False Bay, Cape Peninsula, Western Cape, South Africa. February 17, 2017.

FOXY BEACH || From just 2 breeding pairs in 1982, today the thriving African Penguin colony the resides between Boulders Beach & Foxy Beach – about 600 metres apart and separated by an elevated boardwalk, Willis Walk – number some 2,200 birds, most of which seem quite content hanging out here on Foxy Beach; unlike neighbouring Boulders Beach, Foxy Beach is off-limits to humans with the fenced boardwalks of the seafront Penguin Reserve overlooking the beach as close as one can get to the natives. One of only two mainland penguin colonies in the world (I’ve no idea where the other is), it was a somewhat surreal experience watching penguins cast sunset shadows on a warm sandy beach towards the end of a hot summers day. Foxy Beach on the shores of False Bay, Cape Peninsula. February 17, 2017.


A dassie on the boardwalks of Willis Walk at Boulders Beach, Cape Peninsula, Western Cape, South Africa. February 17, 2017.

DASSIE || While I’d met penguins before, I’d never before been acquainted with the Rock Hyrax. Also called a Cape hyrax or rock badger, it is affectionately & lovingly known in South Africa as a dassie, a name meaning ‘little badger’ that was bestowed upon them by the first Dutch settlers. A medium-sized terrestrial mammal resembling a guinea pig with short ears and tail, it’s actually the closest living relative of the elephant and is widely distributed having thrived in South Africa in the absence of any real predators. And it was here on the Willis Walk boardwalk connecting Foxy Beach with Boulders Beach where I first encountered them. Willis Walk, Boulders Beach, False Bay, Cape Peninsula. February 17, 2017.


Dying light on Boulders Beach, Cape Peninsula, Western Cape, South Africa. February 17, 2017.

BOULDERS BEACH || Back at Boulders Beach, both a popular recreational beach for locals and something of a penguin highway, the sun was setting on this day through the huge granite boulders from which the secluded beach, one of many coves along this stretch of coastline, takes its name. Boulders Beach, False Bay, Cape Peninsula. February 17, 2017.


African penguins among the rocks at Boulders Beach on the shores of False Bay, Cape Peninsula, Western Cape, South Africa. February 17, 2017.

African Penguins among the rocks of Boulders Beach on the shores of False Bay, Cape Peninsula. February 17, 2017.


The marina of Simon's Town on False Bay, Cape Peninsula, Western Cape, South Africa. February 17, 2017.

SIMON’S TOWN || The light was fading fast by the time we got to look around Simon’s Town, an historic maritime town and South Africa’s third-oldest European settlement (after Cape Town, founded in 1652, and Stellenbosch (see tomorrow, Day 4), founded in 1679). Simon’s Town was founded as a safe winter harbour by the Dutch way back in 1687 and is still to this day home of the South African Navy, something of a blight on this otherwise pretty stretch of coast. The town’s historic and picturesque streetscape of preserved and restored buildings lining its main drag, St Georges Street, didn’t photograph well in the dampened light, but the last rays of this day falling on the peaks across False Bay, seen here beyond the boats moored in the Simon’s Town marina as seen from the Town Square, was very much photo worthy. Simon’s Town on False Bay, Cape Peninsula. February 17, 2017.

We continued north from Simon’s Town for 17 kilometres passing through Fish Hoek, Kalk Bay, and St James to arrive at Muizenberg. A surfers hangout that was once the country’s most fashionable seaside resort, today Muizenberg is well past its prime and feels a little seedy, notwithstanding its status as the peninsula’s biggest & best beach and as the location for the much-photographed brightly coloured Victorian-style bathing boxes, also found in neighbouring St James. We didn’t even get out of the car in Muizenberg, returning instead to quaint, charming, eclectic, picturesque, whimsical (insert adjective here) Kalk Bay before bringing a close to this busy day with dinner in Cape To Cuba, food fused with ‘Caribbean undertones’ while ‘adding a little Spanish and African flavor’. It’s flavour guys, flavour.

Cape Town & Environs

PICTURE OF THE DAY || DAY 4 || February 18, 2017


Image || Among the vines of the Blaauwklippen Vineyards, Stellenbosch.


“Needless to say, wine & wine tourism is big business down here; each of the region’s wine hubs, of which Stellenbosch is the largest, has their own established Wine Route where wineries – sprawling, picturesque estates in glorious surrounds that are heavy on European colonial-era architecture and family-friendly attractions & amenities – can be visited for tastings, cellar tours and any manner of wine-related activities.”

Day 4 || February 18, 2017

Day 4 Overview || THE WINELANDS & STELLENBOSCH – Root 4 Market at the Audacia Wine Estate, Blaauwklippen Vineyards, & Stellenbosch.

It’s the weekend and after the last two days of being a full-on tourist, today it was time to slip down a gear or two. Cue Stellenbosch, with its gorgeous leafy streetscapes, whitewashed Cape Dutch architecture, nearby wine estates, & nightlife, coming to the rescue in a way that I doubt many other good-time-vibe-inducing South African towns could.

Bottoms up at the Root 44 Market on the Audacia Wine Estate outside Stellenbosch, Western Cape, South Africa. February 18, 2017.

Overdue. So that’s what they meant by ‘do not stick finger in (the bottom of the) cup’. That’s where the take-way souvenir fridge magnet sits. Keeping contents in check, it’s yours for keepies as a reward for finishing your craft brew. Brilliant. Bottoms up at the Root 44 Market on the Audacia Wine Estate on the R44 between Stellenbosch & Somerset West. February 18, 2017.

Stunning Stellies
Yes, Stellenbosch, or Stellies as it’s affectionately known, is indeed stunning, and it has been for a long time; founded in 1679, this is South Africa’s second-oldest settlement. Known for its beauty, everything from its centuries-old oak-lined avenues to its immaculate Cape Dutch architecture, this university town, some 50 kilometres east of Cape Town, might just be South Africa’s prettiest.

Moedergemeente, Drostdy Road, Stellenbosch, Western Cape, South Africa. February 18, 2017.

MOEDERKERK (& AFRIKAANS) || I didn’t have nearly as much time snooping around the inviting leafy streets of Stellenbosch as I would have liked, or they deserve, didn’t take as many pictures as I should have. But I couldn’t pass this structure without photographing it, the 1863 pristine white Moederkerk Dutch Reformed church – Moederkerk means ‘Mother Church’ in Afrikaans, a close relative but the somewhat bastardised version of Dutch that is South Africa’s third mother tongue (of, gosh, 11 official languages) and that is spoken as a first language by approximately 15% of the population. Drostdy Road, Stellenbosch. February 18, 2017.


On the campus of Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, Western Cape, South Africa. February 18, 2017.

STELLENBOSCH UNIVERSITY || Stellenbosch’s appeal is enhanced even further by its status as a university town, something that adds a youthful vibrancy to the historic mix. Dating to 1863 and set among suitably leafy and picturesque grounds, this is one of the country’s leading universities, a 10-faculty educational institution that’s Afrikanerdom’s most prestigious. Die Rooiplein (Red Square), Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch. February 18, 2017.

A wine shop on Dorp Street, Stellenbosch, Western Cape, South Africa. February 18, 2017.

DORP STREET || Dorp Street is Stellenbosch’s best-preserved historic axis, a photogenic ensemble of preserved buildings, some of which even have decorative Victorian-era features adorning older Cape Dutch facades, such as this Dorp Street wine shop (Wynhandelaar is ‘Vintner’ in Afrikaans), of which there are many in Stellenbosch. This is wine country after all. Oom Samie se Winkel, Dorp Street, Stellenbosch. February 18, 2017.

Stellenbosch is the heart of the South African wine industry, and has both amazing scenery, as well as a long proud history in the art of wine-making.

– Ernie Els, 4-time Major-winning professional golfer & Stellenbosch winery owner

The Western Cape Winelands & Wineries
As if Stellenbosch hasn’t alrealy got enough going for it, the town also sits in the heart of the famed Western Cape Winelands; grapes were first planted in the mineral-rich soil of the fertile valleys surrounding the town in the 1680s and today the Stellenbosch region is home to over 200 wine and grape producers, the most of any region in South Africa, one of the world’s Top 10 wine producers by volume (the country also produces the world’s largest volume of Brandy, made by distilling wine or fermented fruit juice).

Among the vines of the Blaauwklippen Vineyards, Stellenbosch, Western Cape, South Africa. February 18, 2017.

Among the vines of the Blaauwklippen Vineyards, Stellenbosch. February 18, 2017.

The Wine Routes
Needless to say, wine & wine tourism is big business down here; each of the region’s wine hubs, of which Stellenbosch is the largest, has their own established Wine Route where wineries – sprawling, picturesque estates in glorious surrounds that are heavy on European colonial-era architecture and family-friendly attractions & amenities – can be visited for tastings, cellar tours and any manner of wine-related activities. We have Day 6 set aside for some wine tasting but today started with some wine-free wining & dining at the Root 44 Market in the grounds of the 32-hectare, red-wine-only Audacia Wine Estate by the R44 on the fringes of Stellenbosch, one of the wineries firmly established on the Stellenbosch Wine Route.

Whiling away the afternoon at the Root 44 Market on the Audacia Wine Estate outside Stellenbosch, Western Cape, South Africa. February 18, 2017.

AUDACIA WINE ESTATE || Billing itself as ‘The Red Wine Boutique Winery’, Audacia has, since 2012, been enticing the crowds to its popular all-weather weekend ROOT 44 Market; the winery itself has been here since 1930. Located in the grounds of the estate’s farm, it’s a relaxed craft stall extravaganza in inviting, family-friendly surrounds where beautiful people enjoy ‘the Cape’s finest gourmet food and refreshments’ while being entertained in the process. It’s all very la belle vie and you could easily while away an afternoon here forgetting all that ails you, which I guess is the whole point. Audacia Wine Estate, Stellenbosch. February 18, 2017.


Among the vines of the Blaauwklippen Vineyards, Stellenbosch, Western Cape, South Africa. February 18, 2017.

BLAAUWKLIPPEN VINEYARDS || Growing, harvesting, & fermenting grapes since as far back as the late 1680s, Blaauwklippen Vineyards on the edge of Stellenbosch, another estate firmly established on the Stellenbosch Wine Route since its inception as a tourist attraction in 1971, also has a family market, tasting rooms, and a bistro. I poked around the vines of a while which looked great in the late afternoon light. Stellenbosch. February 18, 2017.


Cape Dutch architecture on the estate of the Blaauwklippen Vineyards, Stellenbosch, Western Cape, South Africa. February 18, 2017.

CAPE DUTCH ARCHITECTURE || The Blaauwklippen Vineyards also boasts some rather striking Cape Dutch architecture, an attraction at many of the Cape wineries (that and the Victorian architectural styles subsequently introduced by the British once they had rid the Cape of the Dutch). Some estates do dazzling architecture better than others and you would need a lot of time moving from estate to estate in a bid to sample all the best of the architectural delights on offer – if your three passions in life just happen to be wine, photography & architecture, then I fear you may never leave the Western Cape Winelands. As an introduction to the gleaming architectural gems on show, this glorious & unmistakably Cape Dutch building in the grounds of the Blaauwklippen Vineyards did just fine. Just fine indeed. Prevalent in the Western Cape, the distinctive Cape Dutch architectural style – typically squat, H-shaped buildings with grand & ornately rounded gables, whitewashed walls and thatched roofs – was prominent in the early, 17th-century days of the Cape Colony, the name obviously derived from the fact that the early Cape settlers were Dutch. Stellenbosch. February 18, 2017.

As a university town, Stellenbosch is a good place to spend a night on the town, especially a summer Saturday night. And that’s how we brought an end to this particular day – out on the town. I just wish I knew what everyone was saying. That Afrikaans again. As if things weren’t blurry enough.

Late night/early morning in De Akker, Dorp Street, Stellenbosch, Western Cape, South Africa. February 18, 2017.

Nightcaps. Rounding off day 4, early into day 5. Beer & tequila, but no wine, in De Akker. While it may be a top ten winemaking country by volume, beers still seems to rule the roost down here, Carling Black Label one of the more popular brews – I’m finding it surprisingly hard to get a (non-lite) Castle Lager, South Africa’s signature beer, on draught. Dorp Street, Stellenbosch. February 18, 2017.

Cape Town & Environs

PICTURE OF THE DAY || DAY 5 || February 19, 2017


Image || Cape Dutch cottage on Herte Road, Stellenbosch.


“Stunning Stellies… Stellenbosch… is indeed stunning, and it has been for a long time; founded in 1679, this is South Africa’s second-oldest settlement. Known for its beauty, everything from its centuries-old oak-lined avenues to its immaculate Cape Dutch architecture, this university town, some 50 kilometres east of Cape Town, might just be South Africa’s prettiest.”