A couple of weekends ago I had the opportunity to have dinner with two of the professors I worked with while in Cape Town (they visit California about every other year or so) and I realized that it has been 7 months since Matt and I left South Africa. I am honestly shocked that we've been back in the states for that long and have officially spent more time back in CA than we did in Cape Town. As difficult as that time was, I wouldn't trade it for anything. Here are my top favorite things to do when in Cape Town (or within one to two hours driving distance from Cape Town).
10. Catch Some Theatrical Dining
Visiting Stardust Theatrical Dining was a highlight of my time in Cape Town. The concept of the restaurant is pretty simple: they provide delicious food, a variety of drinks, and singing / musical performances throughout dinner. Like full-blown performances with spotlights, loud music, and flashing lights. At first I was a little skeptical but I really, really enjoyed myself (how often do you get to do the Time Warp during dinner). All of the servers are also the performers and were able to switch back and forth between the two roles with ease. Furthermore, I was pretty impressed with the food. I loved it sue much I ended up going twice.
9. Experience Rocking the Daisies
I love going to music festivals in California, so I jumped at the chance to experience Rocking the Daisies, a great music festival just outside of Cape Town. The festival is a greta way to be introduced to some awesome South African bands as well as see some international favorites like Alt J.
8. Experience the V&A Waterfront
The V&A Waterfront is a beautiful little shopping area located on the Table bay harbor. From incredible restaurants, fun shops, and the most amazing aquarium, the you have to take at least one quick trip to the Waterfront.
7. Go on a Sunset Cruise
When walking around the popular Waterfront area in Cape Town, you're going to hear 100 offers for sunset champagne cruises. I had always ignored their calls until my mom came to visit. at roughly $25USD, it is actually a great way to spend a few hours in Cape Town. You get a couple of glasses of champagne and an incredible view of the sunset. But beware: this is NOT a romantic cruise: It is very windy in Cape Town, so you're going to get wait from the spray of the ocean (they provide ponchos).
6. Visit Robben Island
I happened to have been living in Cape Town when Nelson Mandela passed. I was so honored to have visited Robben Island only a few weeks before. Robben Island is the prison were Nelson Mandela spent most of his time in prison (18 of 27 years). Both Kgalema Motlanthe and Jacob Zuma (former and current presidents of South Africa) were imprisoned there as well. Make sure to add Robben Island to your itinerary if you’re planning a trip to Cape Town. Just make sure to book well in advance – space on the boats fill up quickly!
5. See The Penguins at Boulders Beach
Question: Who doesn't love penguins? Answer: Nobody. Just a short drive away from downtown Cape Town you can find Boulders Beach filled with penguins. These African penguins spend the day running around the beach, climbing on the boulders, and frolicking in and out of the water. Visitors can pay a small fee to go walk down to the beach to get an up close look at the funny little creatures. I suggest bringing a camera with video capabilities: I took several videos of these cute little guys attempting to waddle around the beach and swimming in the water.
There are only a handful of places in the world where you can go whale watching from land, and Hermanus (just outside of Cape Town) is one of those places. Imagine you’re walking along a pier and you see four giant whales floating with the waves a few yards (okay, maybe more like 10-15 yards … actually, I’m a horrible judge of distance. But there were really close) off the shore. Or maybe you’re eating in a fancy restaurant and in the distance you see two or three taking turns to breach (and have a slightly awkward experience). THAT is what whale watching in Hermanus is like. The town even has a Whale Crier who blows are horn every time he sees a whale near shore.
3.Visit / View Table Mountain
This is a must when you're in Cape Town. Either take the cable car up or, if you're adventurous, hike up the side of the mountain. Table Mountain is flanked by two other peaks, Lions's Head and Devil's Peak, that also offer incredible views of the city.
2. Sample the Wine Farms
Oddly enough, the wineries in South Africa are called wine farms. Having grown up in Sonoma, I take my wine pretty seriously. I was amazed at not only how delicious all the wines were but also at how big the wine farms are! Restaurants and activities accompany pretty much every tasting room at South African wine farms, making it easy to spend hours at each one. I recommend Spier (they have eagle / bird shows!), Groot Constantia, and Sir Robert Stanford.
1. Go On A Safari
There are a couple of places to go on game drives just outside of Cape Town, such as Aquila Game Reserve. With an incredible variety of animals, this is the perfect option if you aren't able to take a trip up to Kruger Park. If you can, however, I would strongly incredible you to make your way up to Kruger National Park. We visited the private park Timbavati, next to Kruger, and had an incredible time seeing the Big 5 (Rhinos, Lions, Leopards, Cape Buffalo, and Elephant) and more!
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