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Sights & Attractions in Cape Town (South Africa)

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From Shark Diving to hiking, wine tours, to Nelson Mandela, Cape Town has sights and attractions to interest adventure-seekers, culture and history buffs, and nature lovers.

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      08.06.2009 20:50
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      Beautiful city and stunning scenery

      Cape Town is a popular tourist area of South Africa. I have visited twice with my family so my review will tend to centre on the attractions that are particularly suitable for the whole family. I have tried to include an idea of how much attraction entrance fees were but they are subject to change. The exchange rate at the time was £1=13 Rands.

      As you leave Cape Town International airport you cannot fail to be impressed by the sight of Table Mountain, it is stunning and dominates the skyline of Cape Town. It is possible to hike up the mountain if you are physically fit but it is recommended that you use a guide as not all areas are safe for tourists and also people frequently get lost. The more dramatic way to get to the top of the mountain is by using the Cablecar (140R for adult and 75R child Return). There is frequently a long queue so plan that in to your timetable. The acsent seemed very quick and the views were breathtaking. The cable car revolves as you go up so everyone gets a good view. At the top it is not as flat as it looks so make sure you have a decent pair of shoes to allow yourself chance to explore a bit. There is a restaurant at the top. Be warned--no matter how hot it is in Cape Town it is FREEZING on top of the mountain, take a fleece and a windproof coat if you have one. We left ours in the car and the children moaned alot and I couldn't blame them, we spent most of the time admiring the view whilst trying to shelter behind rocks! I believe that sometimes the cablecar does not run because of the weather but you can check the website before you go.

      Kirstenbosch Botantical Gardens are situated on the lower slopes of Table Mountain. (50R adult 25R child) Without doubt these are the most stunning gardens I have ever visited. The setting is amazing and the range of plants are unlike anything I have ever seen before. When we visited in October the Proteas were in full bloom and were being commonly visited by hummingbirds. Even the children (who are not partial to walking around gardens!) were enchanted. There is lots of areas of Fynbos which is the types of native South African flora. There are ponds and lots of hidden paths and a fascinating medicine garden. It is on quite a steep slope so it is a tiring walk but worth it. There is a cafe and a restaurant on site.

      Cape Point is the nature reserve that runs from Table Mountain all the way along the peninsula to the most Southwesterly tip of South Africa- Cape of Good Hope. (50R adult, 10R children). There are plenty of beaches wher you can picnic. There is plenty of wildlife to see. We saw ostriches on the beach and baboons everywhere. Do not feed the baboons as they can be very aggressive. Also do not leave bags etc around as they will run and grab them. We found eating our picnic inside the car whilst watching them the safest option! As you drive to cape point you may see the baboon Patrol who have to try and keep an eye on them as they will enter homes for food. However being close and watching them is great. We were lucky enough to see several with young clutching on to their fur. There was an interesting exhibition with hands on things for the children near the cafe. It told you things like not to pick up the tortoise as they will lose their water and then often die before they can replenish their supply. There is a lighthouse that you can walk to along a very narrow path cut into the cliff. I would not recommend this with very young children but older ones can appreciate the change in the behaviour of the sea on either side of the cliff. Lots of lizards to see as well.

      Boulders Beach- (15R adults 5R children). This is the home of the famous South African Penguins. You can get really close to them but obiously dont frighten them or touch them. When we were there in October they were losing their winter coat and they were all on the beach as they can't swim at this time. The place smelt awful as the beach was covered in droppings and the penguins looked very sorry for themselves! However when we visited in February it was wonderful to watch them dive into the water. There is a boardwalk on one end of the beach where most of them nest but at the other end there are slightly fewer but you can go on the beach and swim there as well which is brilliant.

      Victoria and Albert Waterfront- this is a refurbished area on the docks of Cape Town. It is very colourful, infact it reminded me of Legoland! There are designer shops, restaurants, seals that come on the docks and two large craft barns that sell all sorts of local craft items. There is also the Two Oceans Aquarium. I have been to many aqauriums but here there were some hands on exhibitions and a lot of educational material that the children really enjoyed.

      I did not visit Robben Island which was the prison where Nelson Mandela was held. I have heard good things about it but I felt my children were too young at the time to appreciate it.

      Many people tour the wine area whilst visiting Cape Town, we went as far as Stellenbosch which was very picturesque and clearly showed the dutch influence in the architecture. I rarely drink so I can't comment on the quality of the wine! However many of the producers offer tours.

      Cape town is truely awe-inspiring as a destination. However there is extreme poverty everywhere you look. As you drive out of the airport the townships are hidden behind walls but look closely and you will see them. I was taken aback by how huge an area these townships cover and they can be seen everywhere. I made it a point to try to buy crafts that I saw people making and to contribute as much as I could. Things are changing very slowly there but unfortunately it is not safe everywhere. Ask advice before walking on beaches or in the mountains. We were staying with family who were able to advise us but I think it would be wise to check with your hotel. Enjoy the experience but please don't close your eyes to everything around you, do you bit.

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      From Shark Diving to hiking, wine tours, to Nelson Mandela, Cape Town has sights and attractions to interest adventure-seekers, culture and history buffs, and nature lovers.

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