Cape Town was my first spot in the trip around South Africa. I didn’t know what to expect. Only the rumours about how scary and dangerous it might be. And a few notes from Wikitravel about where to go and what to see.
The first thing that met me in Cape Town was brilliant climate and smell of spring. I came in the beginning of November, so in South Africa it is the middle of spring season, everything was blooming and evolving rich smells. I can’t say for sure, but I believe it is best time to go to South Africa, it is not too hot yet and at the same time all the nature is at its best.
Fortunately there is relatively cheap Uber in South Africa (which helped me a lot later on in Johannesburg). So after an easy trip to my hostel I went out to explore the city. For the first day the plan was easy – go to Lion’s Head via Bo-Kaap.
Bo-Kaap despite numerous colourful pictures is simply a few blocks of houses with nothing of big importance. To the level that not a single picture survived scrupulous filtration afterwards. Initial plan was to go through Bo-Kaap to the base of Signal Hill, climb it and then go to Lion’s Head via pathway at the top.
However when I reached the base of Signal Hill I was turned around by one of security guys there telling that there are numerous robbery happens on the way. Knowing nothing about the place and having my camera with me I decided not to risk and took another Uber directly to the base of Lion’s Head. From there it is an easy scrambling to the top.
And the views were rewarding :)
On the next day I took a tour to Cape Peninsula. Unfortunately it is possible to go on your own only if you have a car. Later on I realised that renting a car was really good option to go around South Africa. But at that time I already paid for shared shuttle bus…
If you do not have a car and don’t want to go with a tour – the best way to go is by train to Simon’s Train. It is said that the ride is spectacular as it goes along the beachside. I haven’t tried it but it looks promising. Boulders Beach with a colony of penguins lays just nearby.
There are multiple companies offering day tours that include Cape Peninsula, they have slightly different itineraries – some of them include visits to vineries, some spend more time at the Cape. So check it before you book. The tour I took included visit to Boulders Beach, ride along Chapman’s Peak Drive, visits to Cape Point and Cape of Good Hope.
There was one more day which somehow is not reflected in my itinerary, probably I just messed something up :) On that day I took a tour to Langa Township.
Wikitravel says that…
The townships are the places where people were forced to live (based on race) under the apartheid regime. To some extent townships continue to retain their apartheid-era racial make-up, for a variety of reasons. Townships have also grown to cover far larger areas of land than in the apartheid days. This is a result of urbanisation, especially over the past 10-15 years. Touring a township may seem strange, even inappropriate, but it is a good way to learn about South Africa’s history, and the poverty that many people continue to live in. People in the townships are friendly and the children love visitors. Some townships however can be dangerous so don’t go alone unless you know what you’re doing.
Knowing that I booked a tour. In fact I was the only person on that tour, which in fact was pretty good as you can go wherever want and spend there as much time as you want. So it was kind of private tour ;)
I think it was pretty much possible to go on your own, at the same time it is pretty much interesting to listen to somebody living there, ask questions and get as much details as possible. Plus you may thing of paying for the tour as some kind of donation to the community.
Being second largest city in South Africa Cape Town is diverse – it has nice waterfront with malls and nice walkways, it has downtown which has a touch of US cities downtowns, at the same time big parts of it live in poverty. So keep an eye on where do you go and do not do stupid things ;)