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Cape Town

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Cape Town and Table Mountain viewed from Bloubergstrand across Table Bay.

Cape Town is the second most populous city in South Africa. The capital of Western Cape Province, it is also the legislative capital of the nation. Cape Town is on South Africa's southwestern coast close to the Cape of Good Hope, and is the southernmost city on the African continent. It is the gateway to the globally renowned Cape Winelands which includes the towns of Franschhoek, Stellenbosch and Paarl.

Understand[edit]

Cape Town is nicknamed the Mother City within South Africa.

Geography[edit]

Cape Town seen from space: Most of the urban area visible in this NASA Astronaut photo is part of the greater Cape Town metropolitan area. Also visible are Stellenbosch, Paarl, and Fransch Hoek to the northeast, and Rooi-els and Pringle Bay to the southeast

The metropolis of Cape Town is spread over a wide area, from Somerset West and Durbanville in the east to Atlantis in the north and Cape Point in the south. The city centre is situated in a fairly small area between Table Bay and Table Mountain.

History[edit]

Before the European colonial era what is now the Western Cape was inhabited by Khoi and San groups, whom the Dutch called "Hottentots", "Strandlopers" and "Bushmen" (note that these terms are now considered racist and offensive). From the late 15th century, European ships (primarily Portuguese) started to visit the area, firstly for fresh food and water, then later for whaling and trading with the locals. Cape Town's colonial history started in 1652, when founder Jan van Riebeeck established a trading post there for the Dutch East Indies Company (VOC), as a stopping point on the Cape Route. Even though South Africa is the part of Africa located furthest from Europe, it was the first, and up until the 19th century only place which was substantially colonized by Europeans. The reason is that the Cape, while being furthest from Europe, also is the part of Africa which is furthest from the equator. The Europeans therefore found the climate temperate enough to grow European crops.

The earliest European settlers were predominantly Dutch along with some Protestant Huguenots from northern France fleeing from being persecuted by the Catholics. These settlers over time explored the adjacent hinterland and founded the cities of Paarl and Stellenbosch in what is today the Cape Winelands. They were known as Voortrekkers ("Pioneers"), and they ventured from the Cape region to explore, conquer and settle other parts of Southern Africa. The first people from Asia to arrive in Cape Town were the Malays from Java and other islands of the Dutch East Indies, brought in by the Dutch as slaves in 1654. Soon the various ethnic groups intermingled leading to the emergence of the unique, mixed-race Cape Coloured community.

Political control of Cape Town ping ponged between the Dutch and British during the late 18th and early 19th centuries until 1814 when it was ceded to the British for good.

Cape Town, as the seat of parliament, is South Africa's legislative capital. The city was ahead of its time as it developed into a global, multicultural metropolis much earlier than most other major cities of the world. Cape Town has many fascinating points of interest, a thriving nightlife, and a sizable LGBT presence.

Climate[edit]

 Climate Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
 
Daily highs (°C) 25 26 25 22 20 18 17 17 18 21 23 24
Nightly lows (°C) 15 15 14 12 10 9 9 8 9 11 13 14
  • The months of summer are from December to February. The days are mostly hot but low in humidity, so you shouldn't feel uncomfortable. Stay indoors or at least in the shade during the midday heat and use adequate sunblock. International tourists jostle for space on the beach with the domestic beach-goers around the holiday period. However, it is still an exciting and eventful time to be in Cape Town.
  • The months of winter from June to August are rather wet. It does not rain every single day though it can sometimes rain for two weeks straight. It can also get very chilly at night, with the mercury dropping to as low as 2–3 °C (36–37 °F) (this temperature is comparable to the sea so it should not get any colder unless you head inland) but 5–7 °C (41–45 °F) is more typical. It warms during the day, with typical temperatures between 9–15 °C (48–59 °F). The winters tend to be overcast with not as much sunshine.
  • The ideal times to see the city are:
    • October and November: Winter is over and the temperature is warming up. Spring has arrived, but it is not yet as warm as the middle of summer. This period is often windy too. The Southeaster is also called the Cape Doctor because a significant chunk of pollution gets blown away.
    • December to February: These are the prime summer months with long, sunny and hot days. The sun sets late in the evening (staying bright up til 20:30 in December) with a lot usually happening. February is the most reliable month for weather, with day after day of warmth and sunshine.
    • March to May: While this varies every year, it generally starts raining during the autumn period and the temperature starts to become cooler. The number of tourists around the city drops, giving you an opportunity to get great deals on travel services, including accommodation, activities and food.

Wildfire[edit]

During the dry summer months, especially when the winds are strong, wildfires pose a grave threat to the animals and vegetation of the Cape region. In particular, the fynbos in the national parks can become very dry and burn rapidly. In recent times several wildfires have damaged the slopes of Table Mountain. If you notice any fires in the Cape area please report them to the Western Cape Umbrella Fire Protection Association on +27 21 6897438, or the after-hours emergency hotline on +27 21 9574700.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

Cape Town International Airport[edit]

Central Terminal Building at Cape Town International Airport

The MyCiti rapid transit operates from 04:30 to 22:00 between the airport and the centre of Cape Town with connections to the Atlantic coastal suburbs and to the MetroRail commuter train service.

There are several daily direct flights to Johannesburg, Durban and all other major South African cities, as well as Windhoek and Walvis Bay in Namibia, and Gaborone and Maun in Botswana.

The main airlines locally and internationally are South African Airways, British Airways franchise Comair Airlink, South African express, and low-cost airlines Kulula.com and Mango FlySafair, Skywise airlines.

International airlines operating routes to Cape Town include:

South African Airways no longer operates inter-continental routes direct from Cape Town International, only via OR Tambo in Johannesburg. United States services connect OR Tambo with Washington DC, New York City and Atlanta. From October to March, many charter airlines fly directly from all across Europe to Cape Town. Many airlines sell spare seats at discounted rates though during the summer holiday period prices rise significantly.

The Antarctic Company operates 3-day excursions from Cape Town to Queen Maud Land in Antarctica.

Facilities[edit]
  • ATMs (In all terminals).
  • Baggage storage (In the Domestic Arrivals terminal), +27 21 936-2884. R15 per bag per day.
  • Clinic (Southern Office Block), +27 21 936-2277.
  • Foreign exchange (Located in International Arrivals and Departure Terminals). Master Currency and ABSA
  • VAT Refunds (International Departures, between passport control and the gates), +27 21 934-8675, e-mail: .
Sleep[edit]
Connect[edit]
  • Always On Wi-Fi, +27 11 575-2505. Connect to the access point and you will be given the opportunity to pay for access by credit card. From R15 for 10 minutes or R60 for 100MB.

For further information see Discount airlines in Africa.

By train[edit]

The Muizenberg to Simon's Town Metrorail tracks run right along the ocean. Spectacular views.

All scheduled South African passenger trains are run by PRASA (the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa), which has different divisions for long distance (intercity) trains and commuter (suburban) trains. Shosholoza Meyl operates intercity trains and MetroRail operates commuter trains in major cities.

Shosholoza Meyl has three classes of intercity trains: Economy Class, Tourist Class and Premier Classe. In economy class there are seats only (no bunk beds). Tourist class provides bunk beds for overnight trips (bring a sleeping bed or buy bedding on the train). Premier classe is luxurious and comfortable, providing all necessary bedding and meals. The economy and tourist class trains have a buffet car for food. Prices on the three classes vary accordingly.

The main 2 Cape Town railway station is located in the city centre, on the corner of Strand Street and Adderley Street. All trains from and to Cape Town depart and arrive from here.

There are intercity trains from:

  • Johannesburg via Kimberley every day of the week. Economy seat R440. and Tourist Class sleeper R690.;
  • the fare from Capetown to Kimberley Economy seat R300. and Tourist Class sleeper R470.
  • Cape Town to East London once a week Sunday (Economy seat Class only). R400);

MetroRail has two classes on commuter trains in and around Cape Town: MetroPlus (also called First Class) and Metro (called Third Class). MetroPlus is more comfortable and less crowded but also more expensive. Every trainset has MetroPlus and Metro coaches; the MetroPlus coaches are always on the end of the train nearest Cape Town. The tickets are cheap so it is better to be more comfortable and use MetroPlus. There are steep fines if you are caught in a MetroPlus coach with a Metro ticket (but vice versa is allowed).

MetroRail commuter trains are a great way to travel between Cape Town and neighbouring towns such as Stellenbosch, Strand, Paarl, Somerset West, Malmesbury, Worcester and through the Southern Suburbs (Claremont, Wynberg, Retreat) or to the beaches at Muizenberg, Kalk Bay, Fish Hoek, Glencairn and Simon's Town. Contrary to popular opinion, MetroRail trains are safe, but it is wise to avoid travelling during the night if possible. If you need to use trains during the night, go on the most crowded first-class (MetroPlus) car and try to travel with a companion.

The train line from Cape Town to Simon's Town is fantastic. From Muizenberg south to Simon's Town, the line runs right next to the sea. You can often see whales, and if it is windy you may have sea spray hitting the train windows. For the best views make sure you sit on the east side of the train (the left side as you face away from Cape Town and towards Simon's Town). You can buy a Tourist "hop on, hop off" ticket for the Cape Town to Simon's Town route that allows you to get on and off any train for the entire day.

Trains to Stellenbosch run about every two hours or so, but this journey takes a long time. Ask at the ticket counter if there is an earlier train you could hop on, since there are also trains to Stellenbosch starting from Bellville and Eerste River.

By car[edit]

Most roads in Cape Town and its surroundings are in excellent condition, which makes getting around in a car a straightforward task. However, there is a risk of getting carjacked when it is dark or while you stop at the traffic lights. It is not quite as dangerous as the media will make you believe, but you should take care. Ask the staff in your hotel or anyone who knows the city well about the safe and unsafe areas of Cape Town.

Many major highways begin in Cape Town:

Car rental in South Africa is more affordable than most Western nations. Petrol is cheaper than much of Europe too but is slightly more pricey than the USA. Local residents will say that the drivers in Cape Town are among the politest in the country and normally drive slower than drivers in other South African cities.

By bus[edit]

Every major bus company has intercity connections from Cape Town, taking you to other areas in South Africa and to Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe. Every day up to six buses run to particular cities.

International bus lines[edit]

Baileys Reo Liner has a bus from Capetown to Namibia three times a week on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. The fare is from R500. Munenzwal Luxury Coaches and Chihwa bus lines have buses from Capetown to Zimbabwe three times a week. with fares from R1000.

The starting point for the buses is the bus station next to the main train station near the Golden Acre building.

Bus lines[edit]

Low cost bus lines[edit]

  • Elo Coaches. Cape Town to Johannesburg from R450.
  • Atlantic Charters. Cape Town to Johannesburg from R475 with free pick up from hostel and free meal.
  • APM Coaches. Cape Town to Johannesburg from R400.
  • Citiliner. Cape Town to Johannesburg from R480.
  • DMJ Transport Cape Town to port Elizabeth from R330. CapeTown to Knysna R210
  • City to City. Cape Town to Port Elizabeth from R390.

Bus tickets can also be obtained from Computicket.

Cape Town is also on the Baz Bus route. The cost of the Baz Bus from Capetown to Johannesburg is R4900; Cape Town to Port Elizabeth is R2100.

By boat[edit]

Most of the larger cruise lines, such as Princess Cruises, offer Cape Town as one of their destinations, but you can also try something different:

  • RMS St Helena. This passenger/cargo ship is the last working Royal Mail Ship and stops at Cape Town on its way to St Helena.

Get around[edit]

Map of Cape Town
Map of Cape Town

By foot[edit]

Unless you are staying within walking distance of the beach in Camps Bay (or another area where everything you want is close) then you will find it very frustrating to not have your own transport. Even short distance walks (like from V&A Harbour to the Castle of Good Hope) are challenging by foot, in a city with dividing motorways, and very little signage or facilities for pedestrians away from the shopping precincts.

By car[edit]

Many car hire companies are based in the airport as well being found all over town. Note that South Africa is a left-hand traffic country. Visitors from countries where traffic moves on the right-hand side may need to take some time to get familiar with the different road rules. Getting a car with automatic transmission at some rental services is not always easy so try to reserve a car in advance if you prefer an automatic.

All fuel stations accept international credit and debit cards using chip and PIN. US and other card holders not yet converted to chip cards may find their cards not accepted.

When you refuel your car you need to let the station attendants do it for you. You can just stay inside your car and they will ask you which type and how much fuel you want to put in your car. They will probably also wash your windscreen for you whether you need it or not. In return they expect a small tip (a rand or two seems to suffice) so it is advisable to collect a few of the low denomination coins you will receive elsewhere during your trip as change.

Cape Town has several luxury chauffeur companies that do a variety of services including transfer to and from the airport, taking you to exclusive events and becoming VIP bodyguards.

By metered taxi[edit]

Metered taxis are controlled by the city council and can be considered safe and reliable. The price per kilometer is around R8-R10 and can often be read at the taxis side door. You can also set a fixed price with the driver, especially when going to a far away destination such as the airport which is about 21 km from city center and the fare can be bargained down to R180.

There is only one official taxi company at the airport: Touchdown Taxis and to avoid the touts walk through the terminal until you find their specific desk. You can also ask your hotel to pick you up, as pick up service are provided by many hotels, guest houses and so on.

Elsewhere look for the specific taxi ranks which usually have a marshall who will ask where you want to go and then instruct one of the taxis for you - always ask up front how much and they will either indicate that it is on the meter or advise a fixed amount on which you can haggle. Compared with European and American prices they are cheap even if you also include a tip.

By minibus taxi[edit]

Minibus taxis are used widely by locals but tourists are usually discouraged from using them, except for the Green Point - Sea Point - Clifton - Camps Bay route that is frequently used by tourists. They cover most of the Cape Town Metropolitan Area and are very cheap, however they can get very crowded and are definitely less safe than metered taxis due to their dangerous driver behavior.

Some minibus taxi operators have seen the value in the tourist market and are starting to provide safe and legal alternatives to the traditional minibus taxis. They are more expensive than the traditional minibus taxis, but still far cheaper than metered taxis. No guarantee you'll get to your destination directly, but it is safe, fun, and all the drivers are characters. You may even meet supermodels going to their photo shoots or artists going to their studios. During busy times of day (or year) you may have to wait a while and unfortunately, they do not take reservations.

By bus[edit]

An international standard rapid transit service in Cape Town, known as MyCiTi, runs from Cape Town Airport to the Cape Town CBD (City Bowl) and the Atlantic coastal suburbs.

  • MyCiTi. 04:30 to 22:00. This is the recommended service for tourists to the City and is comparable with the London Transport system in England. R30 single. Daypass R94. Off-peak daypass R39. Multicast passes are available..
  • Golden Arrow Bus Services. This is a network of public buses that offers cheap connections (e.g. from the city centre to the Cape Flats). They run mostly during the day. It is better to ask the driver where the bus is going to make sure you don’t end up somewhere else.

By motorcycle or scooter[edit]

There are a number of motorbike and scooter hire services throughout Cape Town. Motobikes and scooters are agile forms of transportation and will save you some coin compared to renting a car. However, unless you enjoy cycling on very mountainous terrain, tiny alleys and roads with high levels of traffic, it is not advisable to ride a bicycle to get around.

  • Cape Sidecar Adventures, 1 Dickens Road, Salt River, +27 21 4349855, fax: +27 21 4349860, e-mail: . M-F 09:00-17:00 Sa 09:00-13:00. Sit in a personalised guided sidecar as you explore the sites of Cape Town. Caters to disabled passengers by attaching collapsible wheelchairs onto their sidecar.

By train[edit]

Cape Town has a commuter rail system called [Metrorail, though it is the locals that primarily use it. They have put in a lot of work to improve comfort and safety on the trains though it doesn't match up with the best in the world. As such, it is advisable to go on first-class. Cape Town's main station is located in the city centre on the corner of Strand and Adderley Street. The suburban network of lines is fairly good with over 120 stations. You can go on a picturesque ride to Simon's Town along the Cape Peninsula's east coast. Stay on the Simon's Town line and plan your itinerary so that you stop using the train after 18:30 or any time after it becomes dark.

Try to avoid carrying valuables during your train ride as they will be magnet for thieves. If it is necessary to bring a camera, stick to one that is small in size and well hidden. Wearing any type of jewellery visible to others is not a good idea as it can be snatched or ripped off you by a cunning thief. For your safety remember to always stay alert.

See[edit]

Colourful houses at Bo-Kaap
  • 1 Bo-Kaap (Malay Quarter). This neighbourhood, situated on a hilly area southwest of the city centre, is where historically Malay Muslim descendants of slaves had lived. It is a popular location to shoot films, since there are bright and colourful buildings, mosques. quaint streets, stunning views of Cape Town and delicious street food sold along the side. It is worth exploring the quarter for about an hour, and then visiting the Bo-Kaap Museum, showing how a wealthy Malay family lived during the 19th century. Within the quarter is Atlas Trading, an old-fashioned spice shop. Ask the manager to mix the spices you need for making the meal you want. About 1 km from the Bo-Kaap is the Noon Gun which is a cannon used as a time signal. At noon from Monday to Saturday the cannons are fired, never ceasing to amaze the crowd of people watching. Go and see the brief ceremony that occurs before and during the shooting. Bo-Kaap on Wikipedia Bo-Kaap (Q2418250) on Wikidata
The Castle of Good Hope
  • 2 Castle of Good Hope, Cnr of Castle St and Darling St, +27 21 7871260, e-mail: . 09:00-17:00 daily. Tours are offered Monday through Saturday at 11:00, 12:00 and 14:00. Horse and carriage rides are offered daily at 10:30, 12:45 and 14:45. Booking is necessary.. Popularly called 'The Castle' by locals, it is the oldest surviving building in South Africa, having been built from 1666 to 1679. The castle displays a vast range of historical military equipment and tools, an art collection and the William Fehr Collection, which includes antique Cape Dutch furniture. Visitors can buy wine and eat at the café or restaurant within the Castle . R50 entrance fee for adults, R25 for children and pensioners. Castle of Good Hope on Wikipedia Castle of Good Hope (Q1049562) on Wikidata
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens
  • 3 Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, Rhodes Dr, Newlands, +27 21 799-8899, +27 21 799-8783, e-mail: . daily 08:00-18:00 (19:00 September to March). Guided tours depart from Gate 1 M-F at 10:00, 11:00 and 14:00 and Sa 10:00, and from Gate 2 at 11:00 M-F and Sa 10:00. See the beautiful and highly diverse flowers and plants of the Cape in one of the most stunning botanical gardens in the world. Plants from every bioregion in South Africa are displayed. These include a huge baobab tree, rare succulents from the Richtersveld, as well as fascinating medicinal species. Several paths meander throughout the garden. There are also many restaurants, an indigenous nursery and a gift shop located here. At certain times of the year there are concerts and performances in the open air amphitheatre. There is art frequently on display, including large Shona stone sculptures from Zimbabwe. The gardens are also home to the National Biodiversity Institute. The garden is special because it changes dramatically every season. You will see different birds, new flowers, etc. In the summer, sunset concerts feature excellent international and local music acts in various genres. Enter early to find a good spot on the grass amphitheatre. Come along for a picnic and revel in the music of the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra, popular local artists and rock bands. R65 for adults, R15 for children. Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden on Wikipedia Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden (Q289277) on Wikidata
  • 4 Rhodes Memorial, Rhodes Ave, Devil's Peak, +27 21 6899151, e-mail: . Built on the lower slopes of Devil's Peak, the memorial was designed in recognition of imperialist politician and business magnate Cecil Rhodes. The wooden bench that Rhodes used is placed under the memorial. This memorial is a wonderful spot to have a picnic. It is a starting point for the bike and hiking trails that head towards Devil's Peak, which have now become very popular. If you are eager to explore the nature and beauty in the area, make sure you are never alone and never carry valuables with you. Rhodes Memorial on Wikipedia Rhodes Memorial (Q3429602) on Wikidata
  • 5 South African Houses of Parliament, Parliament St, Cape Town City Centre, +27 21 403-2266, e-mail: . Tours are offered M-F, but need to be booked in advance. Cape Town is the legislative seat of South Africa (the presidential seat is in Pretoria while the judicial seat is in Bloemfontein). A tour of the Houses of Parliament will acquaint you with South Africa's modern history and political system. The tour includes visits to the National Assembly, the National Council of Provinces and the old apartheid-era assembly now only used for caucus and committee meetings. Tours are offered a few times per day in various languages. Free entrance and tours. Houses of Parliament, Cape Town on Wikipedia Houses of Parliament, Cape Town (Q18125735) on Wikidata
  • 6 Two Oceans Aquarium, V&A Waterfront, +27 21 418-3823, e-mail: . 09:30-18:00. You can come and watch the sharks be fed every Sunday at 15:00. There is an extensive series of events calendar for each month. Scuba diving with the sharks is also offered. A walk around the aquarium takes about an hour. Adults R165, children (14-17) R120 and children (4-13) R80. Two Oceans Aquarium on Wikipedia Two Oceans Aquarium (Q1783786) on Wikidata
V&A Waterfront
  • 7 Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, +27 21 408-7600. 09:00-21:00 daily. A huge shopping and entertainment area in the harbour. It is very popular with tourists, because of the high density of shops, restaurants and amusement possibilities, like the Aquarium or the Marine Museum. Harbour tours and trips to Robben Island start from here, as well as helicopter flights to the Cape Peninsula. The V&A Waterfront has more or less full wheelchair access. Victoria & Alfred Waterfront on Wikipedia Victoria & Alfred Waterfront (Q2166975) on Wikidata
  • 8 Cape Town Science Centre, 370B Main Road, Observatory, +27 21 300-3200, e-mail: . M-Sa 09:00-16:30, Su 10:00-16:30. A world of discovery under one roof! Expect a wide variety of interactive displays and exciting activities for your enjoyment. Build a house in the exclusive 'kids only' Building Site, challenge your mind with Puzzling Things, experience weightlessness similar to that of space with a spin on the Human Gyroscope, play Mindball - the game where you control the ball with your brain waves and see and hear science in the Audio Kinetic Sculpture. R55 for adults and children. Students, pensioners and group discounts. Cape Town Science Centre on Wikipedia MTN Sciencentre (Q15243271) on Wikidata

Museums and galleries[edit]

  • 9 Bo-Kaap Museum, 71 Wale Street, Bo-Kaap, +27 21 481-3939, e-mail: . M-Sa 10:00-17:00. Located in a home dating from the 1760s, the museum offers an insight into the cultural life of the Muslim community of the Bo-Kaap area in Cape Town. R20 entrance fee.
  • 10 District Six Museum, 25A Buitenkant St, +27 21 466-7200, e-mail: . M-Sa 09:00-16:00. District Six is an area near downtown Cape Town which remained multiracial well into the 1960s against all attempts by the government to declare it a "white only" area. Eventually the residents were all evicted and the buildings were bulldozed. The area remains uninhabited. The museum provides information about the area, the eviction, the Group Areas Act, and the people who used to live there. The director of the museum is a former resident. There is a small bookstore with an excellent selection of books on South Africa's history, District Six and apartheid. R40. R55 with a guide. District Six Museum on Wikipedia District Six Museum (Q2616757) on Wikidata
Cape-Dutch architecture at Groot Constantia
  • 11 Groot Constantia, Groot Constantia Estate, Constantia, +27 21 794-5128, e-mail: . daily 09:00-18:00. Tours depart hourly from 10:00 until 16:00. One of the oldest wine estates in South Africa and well worth the fee for the internal tour and wine tasting. R75 wine tasting. R100 for a wine tasting and a guided tour. Groot Constantia on Wikipedia Groot Constantia (Q2487774) on Wikidata
  • 12 Slave Lodge, cnr Adderley and Wale Streets, +27 21 460-8240, e-mail: . M-F 10:00-17:00. One of the oldest buildings in Cape Town which houses a social history museum. Adults R30; children, students and seniors R15. Slave Lodge, Cape Town on Wikipedia Slave Lodge (Q20981944) on Wikidata
  • 13 South African Jewish Museum, 88 Hatfield Street, +27 21 464-1267, e-mail: . Su-Th 10:00-17:00; F 10:00-14:00. The museum about this small community that has made large contributions in South African society and bringing down Apartheid. The museum is about Jews but non-Jews will find it very interesting and informative. R60 adults, R30 students.
  • 14 Maritime Centre, Union Castle Building, V&A Waterfront, +27 21 405 2880, e-mail: . 10:00-17:00 daily. The museum documents the lives of the early seafarers voyaging around the Cape of Good Hope. Small craft, locally made and various maritime artifacts are also showcased. The huge model ships are the highlight of the museum. Adults R20; children, students and seniors R10.
Jane Alexander Butcher Boys at the South African National Gallery
  • 15 South African National Gallery, Government Avenue, Gardens, +27 21 467-4660, e-mail: . 10:00-17:00 da. Located in the Gardens area of Cape Town off Government Ave (about a 20-minute walk from downtown). Contains extensive displays of South African art, as well as information on the history of censorship of art during apartheid. Adults R30; children, students and seniors R15. Iziko South African National Gallery on Wikipedia South African National Gallery (Q1419469) on Wikidata
  • 16 Galleria Gibello, Rosevilla, 23 Welgemeend Street Gardens, +27 72 143 4503. by appointment. Galleria Gibello is a photo gallery that is filled with visually captivating moments of life on the African continent.

Performing arts[edit]

Do[edit]

West coast of the Cape Peninsula.

Almost everything is possible in Cape Town, from a nice guided city tour through shark cagediving. The easiest way to get an overview on things to do, nice restaurants, clubs, tours etc. is to walk into one of the visitors centres which are in several areas (V&A Waterfront, City Bowl, Green Point, etc.)

  • Cable Car to the top of Table Mountain, Lower Cable Station, Tafelberg Road, +27 21 424-8181. 08A:00-22:00 (usually 08:30), last car down is at 21:00. Both the cable car and the pathways on top of the mountain are wheelchair accessible. Always take something warm to wear when going up the mountain, even if it is a nice toasty 30C at the bottom of the mountain. Weather conditions at the top of the mountain are not the same as at the bottom. There is a cafe with a limited range of snacks, coffee, beer and wine at the top. Table Mountain is the home of a small animal, the rock rabbit (known locally as the 'Dassie') whose closest relative, DNA-wise, is the elephant, and you can see them running around on the rocks at the top of the mountain. R195 return ticket or R100 for one way (down).
  • Climbing Table Mountain. Platteklip Gorge is the most accessible and therefore the most popular route for climbing up Table Mountain. You start from Tafelberg Road and proceed up a steep gully to the top of Table Mountain. It's a steep two hours but well worth the effort and you can jump in the cable car back down to spare your knees. The cable car does not operate in strong winds so you need to check before departing. Remember to take water, sunblock, a hat and jacket. Climbing the mountain in the heat is a grueling task. But clouds can appear unannounced and the temperature then plummets. Poorly equipped hikers often have to be rescued. Although it is very steep this route is extremely popular and you are guaranteed to meet many people on the way up and down. The gorge is shaded in the afternoon but earlier in the day it can be extremely hot with very little shade. Most of the route involves rock steps which can be challenging and many people find coming down even harder than going up. Don't underestimate the time and energy required for the downward section of this hike. Wear appropriate hiking shoes. Leave plenty of time to get down before dark. As this is a well known route and easy accessible, many inexperienced hikers attempt the climb. Take care, or consider a guide. Meridian Hiking Club welcomes visitors on its organized hikes led by experienced climbers. There's a R20 daily charge per person.
An aerial view of Clifton beach.
  • Swimming. Beaches on the False Bay side of the peninsula are the most popular with swimmers as the water is warmer. St James has the most picturesque tidal pool on the stretch between Muizenberg and Kalk Bay, while Clovelly and Fish Hoek beaches wrap around a sheltered bay with soft, white sands. Fishing boats, hobie cats and kayaks launch from here too. Brave hearts can sun-worship and swim naked in the freezing water of the isolated and breathtaking nudist beach Sandy Bay near Llandudno. Major spot for gay tourists as well. There's a 1½ km walk down from the parking lot. Camps Bay and Clifton also have great beaches to visit if you want to try the chillier waters of the west coast.
  • Surfing. Cape Town is one of the best places to surf. Muizenberg is a good place for beginners to learn to surf, Gary offers reasonably priced lessons from a shop facing the beach. Don't forget that the False Bay area (where Muizenberg is located in addition to Kalk Bay and Fish Hoek) is known for its sharks! If you're an experienced surfer, try the reef break at Kalk Bay, Outer Kom near Kommetjie or Misty Cliffs on the coast road near Scarborough. You could head up the west coast and sample Milnerton, Table View or Big Bay, although Big Bay is often crowded with people kitesurfing due to the windy conditions. When the swell is really cranking, the big wave surfers gather at Dungeons, near Hout Bay, for some of the biggest surfable waves in the world.
  • Kite surfing. Cape Town is one of the most popular kite surfing destinations in the world. The two oceans combined with the windy conditions make for a great kite surfing experience. Some of the most popular kite surfing hot spots are Dolphin Beach in Blouberg Strand, Muizenberg and Langebaan Lagoon.
  • Winelands. Tour the beautiful Constantia Valley wine estates Groot Constantia, Buitenverwagting, Klein Constantia and Constantia Uitsig before checking out the Cape Winelands around Stellenbosch, Paarl and Franschhoek. Stellenbosch has the added attraction of being an historical university town and Franschhoek, well established as the food capital of the Cape, is home to three of the country's top ten restaurants. The views are extraordinary. Have a drink and a snack at Dieu Donne estate for an unsurpassable vista of the entire valley, or take your own picnic to the top of a little hill they have by the parking area. Most wineries charge for a tasting session, but usually refund it on a purchase. It's right next to the botanical garden.
  • Sunset cruise. On visiting Cape Town take the opportunity for a sunset cruise from one of the services lined up along the V&A dockside. Well worth seeing the sunset but also the view back towards the town and Table Mountain from the sea. Some tours include free wine and drinks, so you can get your sun-downer in as well. If you're lucky you may also see dolphins.

Deep sea fishing[edit]

Shark cage diving[edit]

Diving[edit]

On the way to a dive off Cape Town
The sharks at the Two Oceans Aquarium are fed every Sunday, so visitors who take advantage of the opportunity to dive with them can do so in relative safety.

Cape Town is located near two oceans, the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean. Because of the Benguela Current the Atlantic Ocean is relatively cold (about 8°C to 14°C). The Indian Ocean is warmer (12°C to 17°C), and here you can see more colourful fish. The official border between the two oceans is at Cape Agulhas, but currents and eddies take the warmer water further west and these waters can reach the eastern side of the Cape Peninsula in False Bay, so from a diving point of view, the Cape Peninsula may be considered the interface between the two marine biological regions, and there is a notable difference in character between the waters of the two coasts of the peninsula. This manifests itself in the different range of marine life found on the two coasts. These regions are the South Western Cape inshore bioregion to the west of Cape Point, and the Agulhas inshore bioregion to the east of Cape Point.

Permits:

The waters around the Cape Peninsula have been declared a Marine Protected Area (MPA). Permits are required to Scuba dive in any Marine Protected Area. This is a politically controversial issue due to disputes on whether due process was followed and whether the government department exceeded its authority, but the consequence is that a tax is imposed on all Scuba divers who dive in an MPA. The permit (valid for 1 year) may be purchased for R75 (2009) at a some branches of the Post Office, or a temporary permit valid for 1 month may be purchased at most dive shops.

Failure to present this permit when requested by an official of MCM may lead to harassment and possible arrest.

Dive sites:

Detailed information and suggestions on local conditions, service providers and nearly 200 local dive sites is provided in the guide to Diving the Cape Peninsula and False Bay.

If the open ocean does not appeal to you, the Two Oceans Aquarium also offer diving opportunities in their 2.2 million-litre tank.

  • Diving at Two Oceans Aquarium, +27 21 418-3823, e-mail: . 09:00, 11:00 and 13:00 daily. You must hold a recognised diving certification, specifically a minimum Open Water 1 qualification and present it when you arrive. Swim along with the sharks, guitar fish, bass, bull rays and and turtles. The dive masters are kind and knowledgeable and will accompany you into the aquarium ready to fend off the sharks with his broomstick should they become cuddly. Dive time is around 30 minutes. For advanced divers, the Kelp forest tank puts you into the water with more and bigger local reef fish than you will see in the sea. R870 (R660 if you bring your own diving gear), this includes the R70 aquarium entrance fee.

Events[edit]

There are many organized events in Cape Town throughout the year. An official calendar of events is available from Cape Town Tourism.

  • Cape Argus Cycle Tour, +27 21 685-6551, e-mail: . March every year. Total distance is 109 km. Start in downtown, cycle down the eastern side of the peninsula, past Simon's Town and back up the western side of the peninsula. Entrance fee is R250 for entrants on the African continent or the equivalent of €50 everyone else. If you are not involved in or interested in cycling, avoid Cape Town on this weekend, as it is almost impossible to go anywhere as so many roads are closed.
  • Two Oceans Marathon, +27 21 671-9407, e-mail: . On Easter Saturday each year. An Ultra marathon (56 km), a half marathon (21 km) and a number of fun runs ranging from a 56m Nappy Dash to a 8 km walk or run. Maximum 10 000 entrance accepted per year per race distance (fun runs excluded). There is a pricing scale for each of the runs. The Ultra Marathon, R190 for South African residents, R300 for the rest of Africa and R555 for the rest of the world. The Half Marathon, R125 of South African residents, R215 for the rest of Africa and R335 for the rest of the world. The Fun Runs are priced from R10 to R20. If you are not involved in or interested in the runs, avoid Cape Town on this weekend, as it is almost impossible to go anywhere as so many roads are closed.
  • Cape Town Jazz Festival, Cape Town International Convention Centre, +27 21 422-5651. Normally held during late March.
  • Cape Town Minstrel Carnival, Marches throughout the city ending at Green Point Stadium. Usually New Years day and a couple of days later during January. Also known as the Kaapse Klopse, these brightly dressed singers and dancers spend months preparing for this annual event.
  • Kirstenbosch Summer Sunset Concerts, Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, +27 21 799-8783. late Nov to early April: Su 17:30-18:30. R50.
  • Mother City Queer Project, e-mail: . Sometime during December each year. Biggest gay and lesbian party of the year. R100 to R350. The sooner you buy a ticket the cheaper it is.

Safari[edit]

Big Five Cape Town safaris are becoming increasingly popular. There are many safari game reserves with in 2 hours drive from Cape Town which is a great option if you don’t want to venture too far from the city.

Hiking[edit]

There are many hiking trails in and around the city, from short walks to multi day hikes.

  • The Cape of Good Hope Trail, Cape Town, +27 21 780-9204, e-mail: . Cape of Good Hope in the Table Mountain National Park, 34 km, 2 Days. R88.
  • Hoerikwaggo Table Mountain Trail, Cape Town, +27 21 465-8515, e-mail: . 3-day, non-strenuous, luxury trail through the city, botanical gardens and Table Mountain National Park. R635 per day.
  • The Orangekloof Hiking Trail, Cape Town, +27 21 465-8515, e-mail: . 6 days, Cape Point to Table Mountain. R420.
  • Table Mountain (Starting point is 1½ km past the Lower Cable Station on Tafelberg Road). Always open, but you might want to start early enough to catch the last cable car down. 3 km (all uphill), 1 to 3 hours, Platteklip Gorge to the Upper Cable Station. No fees are charged.
  • Chapman's Peak Noordhoek, 2–3 hours non-strenuous with breathtaking views of Hout Bay and Noordhoek and rich flora, especially proteas.
  • The Amphitheatre in the Kalk Bay mountains. 3 hours. Start at the sign on scenic Boyes Drive and climb up towards the rocks above which are peppered with scores of caves, many of which are not recommended for novice cavers so be careful. Take a torch. Follow the right forks in the trail and you'll be rewarded with increasingly spectacular views of False Bay. Head straight up through Echo Valley and through an ancient milkwood grove. Come back the same way if you don't have detailed directions. No permit required.
  • Cape Town has a very good network of trails to suit every level of fitness. Many of these trace the contours of the mountain and wander through the protea bushes and fynbos, often with breathtaking views. Many require no permit, although most of Cape Town's reserves have entrance fees. Hiking in a group is strongly recommended. The outdoor store Cape Union Mart has a hiking club with organized group hikes most weekends. Pick up a programme at one of their stores. You must phone the hike-leader first and pay R10.
  • Paradise Touring, +27 21 713-1020, e-mail: . For guided walks up the mountain with a botanical guide.
  • Cape Eco-Tours, +27 82 460-4847, e-mail: . A good one for twitchers to use and is a member of Bird Life South Africa.
  • Trax Tours, +27 73 495-6115, e-mail: . Guided hiking and cycle tours in Franschoek and Stellenbosch, including wine tasting.
  • Meridian Hiking Club, +27 82 498-0361, e-mail: . This club organizes hikes ranging from easy day walks to strenuous rock scrambles on the mountain and multi-day hikes. Look up the calendar on the web site for details of current hikes. It is very popular with tourists. R20 per person (or R144 annual membership).

In the air[edit]

Kayaking[edit]

Sunset cruises[edit]

Townships tours[edit]

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 urbanization, 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 (see the warning on the South Africa page) so don't go alone unless you know what you're doing. The townships tours are safe. If you want to bring sweets or gifts for the children, it is best not to give it directly to them, but to give it to the tour guide who will distribute them later.

Tours can be booked directly or through one of Cape Town's many booking agencies. Tours run once or twice per day. Be aware that if you're given the chance to try some township food, that a 'walkie-talkie' is often made from the feet and beaks of poultry. The very best way to see a township is by foot and to stay overnight at one of the many township B&Bs.

There are several tour companies which offer tours.

  • Cape Fusion Tours, Oranjezicht Cape Town, +27 21 461-2437, e-mail: . Offers hands-on African cooking experiences in Langa at a local cooking school. This gives you an insight into the culture, the people and their cuisine.

Wildlife[edit]

There are a number of small nature reserves in and around Cape Town.

  • Koeberg Nuclear Power Station and Nature Reserve, Melkbos, consists of 3000-hectare buffer zone around the power station has been converted to a nature reserve with Bontebok, Genet, Steenbok and many other antelope.
  • Table Mountain National Park forms part of the Cape Floristic Region UNESCO World Heritage Site. The park covers a large area of the Cape and incorporates a number of park areas. Most of it is free access; the only places you need to pay are at the Cape of Good Hope, Silvermine and Boulders.

Wine tasting and tours[edit]

Cape Town has some of the world's best wine producing vineyards and maybe the world's most scenically stunning on its doorstep. The wine regions of Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Paarl are all with in an easy hours drive, these historic and lush regions offer stunning views and world class wine tastings. You can self-drive but this come with limitations, often the best farms are closed to the public and then there is the drinking and driving issue. The best value and safest way to see the winelands is to trust your day to a dedicated wine tour company.

With South African wines becoming more and more popular worldwide, the number of tourists who visit Cape Town to learn more about the local wines is growing. The impressive variety of vineyards in Cape Town and the surrounding Cape Winelands make the choice which one to visit and which wine to taste very difficult. It is always a good idea to rely on one of the established wine tour operators. Guests should insist on a specialised guide with a thorough knowledge of South African wines.

Whale watching[edit]

Mostly you will see Southern right whales, but on occasion you might also spot humpback and killer whales. Bottlenose and dusky dolphins also frequent False Bay. The Southern Right wales visit each year between June & November to mate and calve.

From viewpoints next to the coastal road between Fish Hoek- Sunny Cove railway station through Glen Cairn to Simon's Town one can often spot whales less than 100 m from shore. At Cape Point whales can often be seen passing below.

A number of operators also offer Whale Watching Cruises.

Cinema[edit]

  • 2 Labia Theatre, 65 Orange street Gardens, +27 21-4245927. An old-school cinema which has been open for more than 65 years. R 45 pp. Labia Theatre on Wikipedia Labia Theatre (Q6467028) on Wikidata

Learn[edit]

Cape Town's medical research is world-renowned, and Groote Schuur hospital is where Christiaan Barnard and Hamilton Naki performed the world's first heart transplant.

Schools[edit]

There are several language schools in the greater Cape Town area. Schools provide a very rigorous schedule of intense study (typically 20 lessons per week or more). Shop around before you make your choice. Choose a school which is part of accreditation associations like IALC (International Association of Language Centres) or other certificate that ensure quality.

  • 2 Ailola Cape Town, 1st Floor, 4 Regent Rd, Sea Point, +27-21-439-9834, fax: +27-21-434-3267, e-mail: . Founded in 1998. The English school is located in the pleasant and safe district Sea Point. Besides English courses, the school offers Cambridge, TOEFL, IELTS and LCCI certification preparation courses and volunteering programs. The classes are held in one of 9 classrooms in a modern building with panoramic views on Signal Hill and Table Mountain. The school arranges accommodation and activities for its students, too.

Universities[edit]

Learn to sail[edit]

Cape Town is an excellent place to learn to sail, with courses completed here recognized internationally and costs far lower than what you can expect to pay in more developed countries.

Learn to dance[edit]

Cape Town is a hub for all forms of dancing, from African dance to ballroom & Latin American to modern dancing, ballet and swing. There is a school of dance at the University of Cape Town, where you can obtain an international dance qualification at a relatively affordable price.

Work[edit]

There are various volunteering opportunities in Cape Town.

Buy[edit]

V&A Waterfront.

The V&A Waterfront is the prime tourist destination for souvenirs, though these tend to be typically touristy (i.e. expensive and not necessarily authentic). More authentic curios for better prices can be found every Sunday at the Green Point market outside the Green Point Stadium on Sundays, in walking distance from the V&A Waterfront. Many of these same curios can be purchased during the week in the several multi-story shops at the lower end of Long Street. For the real deal with authentic artifacts complete with provenance and ethnographic background, go to Church Street where there are a couple of shops but be prepared for sticker shock. When buying African Curio, the price at open markets are almost always very negotiable and seldom does the item have a price sticker attached. People with foreign accents are often quoted twice to three times the price they sell to locals, so do negotiate.

  • 1 Green Market Square, 54 Shortmarket Street. Originally a Farmers' Market dating back to 1710, Green Market is today one of the city's best flea markets. There's a range of local arts, craft and curios on offer and the vendors expect to bargain for their wares.

Wine[edit]

If you like South African wine, buy it here (or anywhere in South Africa) before you leave, because it is much cheaper and there is more availability than overseas. Top guide to wines is the John Platter's Guide, with a few others around too, and with thousands of wines available from the region, you will need a guide (see below for shops that have knowledgeable staff). Read Wine magazine (or the iconoclastic Grape) for the latest information.

  • 2 Caroline's Fine Wines, V&A Waterfront and 15 Long Street in the City Centre, +27 21 419-8984. Better selection and more knowledgeable staff. City Centre location recommended, but both are excellent. Foam inserts and boxes for international shipping or for checking with your luggage (safe!) Not cheap though, compared to supermarkets and wineries.
  • 3 Vaughan Johnson's Wine Shop, Dock Road, V&A Waterfront, +27 21 419-2121, e-mail: . Quality selection but not exhaustive. Knowledgeable staff. Generally substantial (10-20%) markup over winery prices but of course more convenient.
  • 4 Wine Concepts, Cardiff Castle Building, cnr Main Street & Kildare Road, Newlands (Southern Suburbs), +27 21 671-9030, e-mail: . Another great wine shop, certainly the best outside the City Bowl. A franchised location is on Kloof Street in the Lifestyle Centre.
  • Ultra. A large South African liquor chain. Several locations around the city, the one in Green Point is the most accessible to tourists. A warehouse bottle store but with a remarkable wine selection across all price ranges. Case discount (even on mixed cases). Good if you want to stock up for a road trip. Stash a bottle of Amarula Cream in your backpack while you're at it. Great prices -- in fact, often cheaper than at the wine farms themselves.

Arts and crafts[edit]

Distinctively Capetonian in character—are everywhere, from chickens made of plastic bags to bead and wire work to pottery, glass and embroidery. If you don't buy a chicken from a Rastafarian at a street corner (the authentic experience—about R30 depending on the size), then try Heartworks (Kloof Street or in Gardens Centre mall) or the Red Shed at the V&A Waterfront. There is also a high-end craft boutique in the Cape Quarter in De Waterkant.

Contemporary South African art has been riding a big wave in the international art world. It is on par with the best in the world and undervalued (unless you buy a William Kentridge). If you like real art as opposed to curios, crafts or posters, and you have the budget for it, there are several serious galleries in town. Try Michael Stevenson Gallery first, then Joao Ferreira Gallery, AVA Gallery or Bell-Roberts Gallery, and there are several others worth seeing. Art South Africa is the art magazine to read if you want to know about the artists, and the adverts list the shows and the galleries.

Shopping malls[edit]

As in any large city you will find a number of major shopping malls with the requisite department sized stores and chain labels:

  • 11 Tyger Valley, cnr Bill Bezuidenhout and Willie van Schoor Avenues, Bellville, +27 21 914-1822. M-Sa 09:00-19:00, Su 09:00-17:00.

Supermarkets[edit]

Eat[edit]

This page uses the following price ranges for a typical meal for one, including soft drink:
Budget Under R60
Mid-range R60 to R120
Splurge Over R120
View over Greenpoint from the Revolving Restaurant in the Ritz Hotel.

Food in Cape Town is generally of high quality. The wines are much celebrated, but the surrounding region is also a major fruit producer, and the Karoo lamb is widely regarded. Seafood caught locally is superlative, but ironically much of it goes internationally (e.g., tuna for sushi) because of the prices that can be achieved. Ask about the local linefish—yellowtail, cape salmon, kingklip, kabeljou and others are great eating. Oysters in season are also exceptional, farmed and wild from Knysna or wild flown in from Namibia.

As one of the main tourist spots is the V&A Waterfront, you will find a broad range of restaurants, but they are often crowded and expensive. The area around Kloof St has many cafés and restaurants, as well as Long Street (frequented by a multi-ethnic clientèle), while the trendy area of De Waterkant between Bo Kaap and Green Point above Somerset Road also boasts good food and a great vibe. Dine with supermodels and other beautiful people in Camps Bay, which has many hip eateries and nightspots overlooking the beach along Victoria Road.

Farther afield, Hout Bay on the west side of the Cape Peninsula is very good for fresh crayfish (lobsters - they have become quite expensive, around R300, though). Kalk Bay on the east side of the peninsula offers a big variety of fresh fish, do check out The Brass Bell. The restaurants in nearby Simon's Town are also good.

Do not neglect the Cape Winelands for food if you have a car. In Stellenbosch, Spier has several restaurants, including the fun, afro-chic Moyo, and many wine estates offer food of different types and quality. The village of Franschhoek is the culinary navel of the wine region, with Le Quartier Francais a perennial five-star winner, but only one of many excellent restaurants. In the Constantia Valley there are number of great restaurants including Pastis Brasserie, Wasabi, The River Cafe, La Colombe and the Constantia Uitsig Restaurant.

Make sure you know what the price is before you order rare delicacies in restaurants as there have been a few rare but high-profile cases of heinous overcharging where the price is not on the menu, particularly for perlemoen (abalone) and crayfish (similar to lobster).

Budget[edit]

  • 1 Bakoven, Southern Life Building, 14 Riebeek St, +27 21 419-1937. Coffee shop and light meals.
  • 2 Eastern Food Bazaar, 96 Longmarket Street, Cape Town, +27 21 461 2458. South Asian food court offering high quality meals for a fair price. 100% Halaal. R20-35.
  • 3 Table Mountain Restaurant, On top of Table Mountain, close to the Upper Cable Station. 08:30 to 18:30, with extended hours during December and January. A 120 seat, self-service restaurant. No booking required. Quality is variable. From R20 for a simple breakfast.
  • 4 The Charles, 137 Waterkant Street, De Waterkant, +27 21 409 2500. 07:00 to 17:00. The Charles can accommodate 25–30 people seated. From R35 for small English breakfast (served with toasted white or whole wheat bread) 1 egg, rasher bacon, sausage, fried tomato and sauté mushrooms.

Mid-range[edit]

  • 5 Africa Café, 108 Shortmarket Street, +27 21 422-0221, e-mail: . Affordable and very good. Maybe the best restaurant in Cape Town for African cuisine. Lower to medium price range. Serves fixed menu, all you can eat of 12-15 different dishes.
  • 6 Biesmiellah, Corner Upper Wale/Pentz Street, +27 21 423-0850. One of the oldest restaurants around, known for its Malay kitchen. No alcoholic drinks are available.
  • 7 Col'Cacchio Pizzeria, 42 Hans Strijdom Avenue Foreshore (also at Eden on the Bay in Bloubergstrand) (Take N1 on M18, take right into River Rd and left into Hans), +27 21 419-4848. Italian dishes made to order. Mid-range.
  • 8 95 Keerom, 95 Keerom Street, +27 21 422 0765. A top class Italian restaurant with modern décor and a trendy atmosphere.
  • 9 Lolas, 228 Long St (Across from Long Street Café), +27 21 423 0885. Vegetarian food with local colour and great karma. Good conversation and even better meals. Mingle with dreadlocks, artsy types and brooding poets.
  • 10 Long Street Café, 259 Long Street, +27 21 424 2464. Very popular, European kitchen, which serves up tasty drinks.
  • 11 Mama Africa, 178 Long Street, +27 21 426-1017. Open Monday to Saturday. Restaurant is open 7PM till late, the bar is open 4:30PM till late. African style tourist restaurant offering local and African meals, like Bobotie and Potjiekos, but also springbok, kudu and crocodile steak. Good range of wines at affordable prices. Live marimba music some nights.
  • 12 Rhodes Memorial Restaurant, Rhodes Memorial, +27 21 689-9151, e-mail: . Situated in the Table Mountain National Park directly behind the famous Rhodes Memorial. The restaurant has stunning views over the northern and eastern Cape Town suburbs and the Hottentots Holland mountain range. The menu is diverse and caters to all tastes, but its the desserts that really rate a mention, be sure to tuck into some scones!
  • 13 The Ritz Hotel, cnr. Camberwell and Main Roads, Sea Point, +27 21 439-6010. Has a revolving restaurant on the top floor of the hotel. Good food, good views, soft background live piano. A bar and smoking room is available one floor below the restaurant. You do not have to be a resident at the hotel to get a booking at the restaurant. NB(The floor has a small non revolving ledge next to the wall. Do not put your valuables on it as your table will be half way around the building before you realize that you have been separated from your belongings.)
  • 14 Willoughby's, Victoria Wharf, V&A Waterfront, +27 21 418 6115. Has some of the best seafood including excellent sushi at very good prices.

Splurge[edit]

  • 15 Tide, 69 Victoria Road, Camps Bay, Cape Town, +27 21 437-9701, fax: +27 21 438-4433, e-mail: . daily. Serving with Steamed Seasonal Vegetables, New Potatoes and Lemon Butter. R90 Fresh Catch Of The Day.
  • 16 Stardust Theatrical Dining, 118 Sir Lowry Rd (Directions on Website), +27 21 686-6280, fax: +27 21 686-0674. Tu-Sa 16:00-late. While eating delicious Mediterranean cuisine, customers are entertained by their talented waitrons who perform throughout the evening between serving tables. R80-R150.
  • 17 Greek Fisherman, 261, Breakwater Blvd (V & A Waterfront), +27 21 418-5411. Choose from authentic Mediterranean tapas and a wide range of seafood and meat from the open flame grill.
  • 18 City Grill Steakhouse, Shop 155, Victoria Wharf Shopping Centre, +27 21 421-9820. Enjoy delicious selection of traditional South African steaks, grills and venison.
  • 19 Meloncino, 259 Upper Level (Victoria Wharf Shopping Centre), +27 21 419-5558. Choose from a variety of homemade pastas, wood-fired pizzas and various other authentic dishes.
  • 20 La Colombe, Spaanschemat Street, +27 21 794-2390, e-mail: . daily 12:30-14:00, 19:00-20:45. La Colombe, one of Cape Town's most well-loved and awarded restaurants, achieved an impressive 12th place in the San Pellegrino 50 Best Restaurants of the World Awards 2010. Having moved up 26 places and into the hallowed Top 20, this bastion of contemporary French-meets-Asian fine dining thereby also clinched the Acqua Panna Best Restaurant in Africa and Middle East Award. Winner of Chef of the Year and Restaurant of the Year in the Prudential Eat Out Awards 2008, and again honoured with the prestigious Restaurant of the Year title in 2009, La Colombe has also achieved the highest three-star rating in the 2009, 2010 and 2011 issue of the acclaimed Rossouw’s Restaurants guide. Book months in advance!
  • 21 The Test Kitchen, The Old Biscuit Mill 375 Albert Road Woodstock, +27 21 447-2337, e-mail: . daily 12:30-14:00, 19:00-21:00. Luke Dale-Roberts’ The Test Kitchen, which opened in November 2010, has the celebrated chef cooking at his most creative in a distinctive contemporary space. At the prestigious World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards 2013, The Test Kitchen made an impressive leap to No. 61 on the list, climbing up 13 places from no.74 in 2012. More significantly, The Test Kitchen was singled out as the winner of the “Cacao Barry One To Watch Award” 2013, indicating momentum that may well secure a place in the Top 50 next year. Book months in advance!

Drink[edit]

Long Street, which can be easily reached from St. George's Cathedral and the Greenmarket Square, is famous for its bars, restaurants and clubs. This is the ideal place if you want to end the day with a drink. It is also one of the few truly multi-ethnic, multi-racial nightspots in the city. See the new South Africa, not just other tourists.

You will have live entertainment (normally something like jazz or kwaito music) in many bars and sometimes you will have to pay to get in.

Observatory or better known as Obz is just north of Rondebosch (Southern Suburbs). There are several student residences of the UCT and Obz main street (Lower Main Road) has a vibrant nightlife with restaurants, bar, pool halls and pubs. Almost daily there is something going on.

A popular destination with locals is Camps Bay, which offers a vibrant night-life and many bars, restaurants and clubs.

  • 1 Bobs Bar, 187 Long street, +27 21-4243584. 07:30-04:00. a British own and run bar with beer from R22. and breakfast from R19.
  • 2 Club 169, 227 Long Street, +27 21 422 3903, e-mail: . A dance club and cigar bar focusing on hip hop and RnB music.
  • 3 Foresters Arms (Forries), 52 Newlands Ave, Newlands, +21 21 689-5949, e-mail: . Nestled at the foot of our majestic mountains, in the leafy suburb of Newlands, Cape Town, Foresters Arms Restaurant and Pub (fondly referred to by the locals as Forries), is one of the oldest pubs in South Africa and provides a retreat from the hustle and bustle of city life. They have a good selection of draught beers.
  • 4 Marco's African Place, 15 Rose Street, Bo Kaap, +27 21 423-5412. Popular gay bar which serves up specialities such as Ulwimi (steamed ox tongue with mustard sauce) along with live African music.
  • 5 Mitchells Ale House (Mitchells Brewery), Cnr East Pier & Dock Road V&A Waterfront, +27 21 419-5074, e-mail: . Great location, fun atmosphere, friendly staff and famous craft beers, amazing views of the Cape Town harbour and Table Mountain, and karaoke.
  • 6 Sandy B, 69 Victoria Road, Camps Bay, Cape Town, +27 21 437-9701, e-mail: . Open to the public at The Bay Hotel over summer, Sandy B is a unique cocktail venue, accentuated by its glorious views of Camps Bay beachfront.
  • 7 Zanzi-Bar, 255 Long Street (above Long Street Café.), +27 21 4232-9003. 17:00-02:00. Runned by the Carnival Court Backpackers hostel. Good meeting place for other travelers visiting Cape Town. Live jazz on Sundays, DJ's on Friday & Saturday nights. Free entry most nights.

Clubs[edit]

  • 8 Fiction Bar, 226 Long Street, +27 21 422-0400. Renowned club with weekly indie-, drum'n'bass- and minimal-electro-nights mostly around R30 admission.

Sleep[edit]

This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:
Budget Under R200
Mid-range R200 to R1000
Splurge Over R1000


Accommodation in Cape Town ranges from hostels (of which there are many) to luxury accommodation. Actually, there are so many hotels, B&Bs and guest houses that it can be difficult to decide where to stay!

Staying in the city centre often works out cheaper as all the attractions are nearby, but stick to one of the neighbourhoods next to the central area for better prices and a quieter night's sleep. The area around vibey Kloof Street in Gardens/Tamboerskloof with its young cafe culture and hip shopping is a good choice. You could consider sleeping in one of the suburbs. It is normally quieter and there is less traffic than in Central Cape Town. The suburbs in the south, like Muizenberg, Fish Hoek or Simon's Town, or near the winelands (see Cape Winelands) are ones to try. Areas along the western seaboard of the peninsula (such as Camps Bay) will be more expensive.

Several township bed & breakfasts started to pop up in places such as Khayelitsha to offer tourists the chance to experience this side of South Africa. They mostly are redecorated shacks to fit the basic norms of tourists.

Budget[edit]

Dorm beds under R200

  • 5 Anzac Backpackers, 71 Hope street Gardens, +27 21 4654918. dorm beds and twin rooms has a kitchen, travel desk, big screen TV, bicycles for hire, airport transfers, fast Wi-Fi included. Dorm R 150 twin R 320.
  • 6 Ashanti Lodge, 11 Hof Street, Gardens, +27 21 423-8721, fax: +27 21 423-8790, e-mail: . A perennial favourite among travellers; camping also permitted. Has a large travel centre as well. Dorm From R 190 per person,.
  • 9 Big Blue Backpackers, 7 Vesperdene road Green point, +27 21-4390807. a clean hostel with Dorm beds.. free breakfast. free wifi. swimming pool. free tea and coffee all day long. from R140.
  • 11 Cape Town Backpackers, 81 new church street (Just off Park Road and Kloof Street), +27 21 426-0200, e-mail: . Listed by the British newspaper The Independent as one of only 3 places to stay in Cape Town (the other 2 being 5 star hotels), the review described the place as "...spotless and stylish.." This place is fun, friendly, clean, it's gay friendly and they have regular theme nights in the funky bar. There are options from sleeping from dorms to ensuites with table mountain views. From R180 per person.
  • 15 Light House farm Lodge, Oude Molen Eco Village Alexandra road, +27 827442504. Probably the cheapest dorm beds in Cape Town if you pay by the month. the rate for the month is just R 2500. and the rate for the week is just R 700. dorm beds per day R120 per person.
  • 17 Never Home Backpackers, 107 Main Road Green point, +27-21-4349262. Check-in: 2pm, check-out: 11am. very clean 6/8 bed dorms. twin rooms Wi-Fi included. has a swimming pool. Dorm beds R 150 per person.

Mid-range[edit]

  • 21 Abbey Manor Luxury Guesthouse, 3 Montrose Avenue, Oranjezicht, +27 21 462-2935, e-mail: . Luxury guesthouse set high on Table Mountain overlooking Cape Town city. Dramatic views from individually decorated rooms. Built in 1905 in the Arts-and-Crafts style, and has been recently remodelled. An easy hop from the city centre and the V&A Waterfront. Rated 5 stars by TGCSA. Provides free wi-fi to guests. From R800.
  • 22 The Bay Atlantic Guest House, 3 Berkley Road, Camps Bay, +27 21 438-4341, e-mail: . Beautiful four star Guest House situated in Camps Bay with exhausting view on the beach of Camps Bay and the Lionshead, only 10 minutes away from the V&A Waterfront. Provides free wi-fi to guests. From R350.
  • 23 Bayflowers Guest House, 5 Scholtz Road, Green Point, +27 21 434-0968, e-mail: . Very central, walk to Waterfront, beach and city centre, helpful staff, rooms clean and tastefully equipped. from R690 for a single room, R445 pps for a double.
  • 24 Cactusberry Lodge, 30 Breda Street, Gardens, +27 21 461-9787. 3 star. 200 metres from the Gardens Shopping Centre, is comfortable, central and quiet, very good value for money, excellent breakfast, very helpful in all itinerary planning. R500.
  • 25 The Camps Bay Guesthouse, 31 Geneva Drive, Camps Bay, Cape Town, +27 81 467-4400, e-mail: . Exclusive use of 180sqm private self-catering stand alone luxury accommodation set in the grounds of the owners Camps Bay Villa, private and secure with onsite gated parking, full kitchen, teak floors, living and dining room with underfloor heating throughout, widescreen LCD television with Apple TV entertainment system and stereo surround, complimentary hi-speed WIFI access, private deck and garden area opens into the grounds with access to the Villa swimming pool, porcelain tiled bathroom has separate bath and shower, WC and bidet. From ZAR 750.00.
  • 26 Cape Diamond Boutique Hotel, Longmarket and Parliament Street, +27 21 461-2519. All rooms equipped with Air-conditioning, Private toilet and bath, Safe deposit box, Side lamp table and Wired Internet connection (extra charges apply). Some of its facilities and services are Meeting/ banquet facilities, Business centre, Restaurant, Theatre Cafe, 24-hour front desk, Room service and Laundry service. From ZAR 1080.00.
  • 28 The Charles Guesthouse, 137 Waterkant Street, De Waterkant, +27 21 437-9706, e-mail: . Trendy and fashionable today, it is compared to New York's Greenwich Village and London's Soho with its tree lined streets, restored cottages, spectacular views and village atmosphere. R920 for single room, R1400 for a double.
  • 31 Dark Chocolate Guest House Durbanville, 1 Mountain View Crescent Durbanville, +27 21 975 3776. Standard rooms, all equipped with Air-conditioning, TV with cable and High-speed Internet connection. Facilities and services are Garden, Outdoor swimming pool and Conference. From ZAR 810.00.
  • 32 De Waterkant Village, 1 Loader street, De Waterkant, +27 21 437-9706, e-mail: . De Waterkant is often described as being arty, charismatic and quaint and is a truly special place decorated with gorgeous al fresco restaurants, sidewalk café's, boutiques and bars and is often compared with Greenwich Village. R580 for single room, R850 for a double.
  • 33 Don Beach Road Hotel, 249 Beach Road, Sea Point, +27 21 434-1083. Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 11:00. The Don Beach Road is located in Sea Point spectacularly overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.
  • 34 Grande Kloof Boutique Hotel, 69 Kloof Road, Fresnaye (corner of Kloof Road & Avenue La Croix), +27 21 433-1852, e-mail: . Check-in: 14PM, check-out: 11AM. Good Sea Views, Fantastic Lions head view and views of famous Robben Island. from ZAR600 (includes light continental breakfast, free WIFI, open plan top floor sea view rooms or executive petite garden level rooms, swimming pool, jacuzzi area, steam area, sauna.
  • 35 Kloof Nek Suites, 72B Kloof Nek Road, Signal Hill, +27 21 4224 217, e-mail: . Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 10AM. Kloof Nek Suites is a recently refurbished guest house offering three self-catering rooms in Tamboerskloof. From ZAR1100.
  • 36 Lorraine’s on Lincoln, 12 Lincoln Street, Boston, +27 21 946-4710. All rooms equipped with English breakfast, Spacious dining area, Hair dryer, TV with satellite channels, Work desk and Fan. Outdoor swimming pool, Garden, Banquet hall, Car rental, Wi-Fi Internet connection, Fax and photocopying services. From ZAR 670.00.
  • 38 The One 8, 18 Antrim Road, Three Anchor Bay, +27 21 434-6100, e-mail: . Modern and intimate Four star accommodation in Cape Town. The One 8 Hotel is located in Green Point and close to Clifton Beach, Camps Bay, V&A Waterfront, De Waterkant gay village, and Table Mountain. This gay and lesbian friendly Guest House offers bed and breakfast and contemporary rooms for your South African Holiday. From R550 per room.
  • 42 Tudor Hotel, 153 Longmarket Street, Greenmarket Square, +27 21 424-1335, e-mail: . In the city centre, near the Waterfront, Parliament, Gardens or the Malay Quarter Boo-Kap. R520 for single room, R740 for a double.
  • 43 Villa Sunshine Guesthouse, 1 Rochester Road, Bantry Bay, +27 21 439-8224, e-mail: . The Villa Sunshine guesthouse is a classic Mediterranean Villa situated along the prestigious Atlantic Seaboard. In close proximity to several of Cape Town’s most revered tourist attractions, it is still able to provide its guests with a peaceful setting – within walking distance of restaurants and shops to meet your every need. From R 950 per room.

Splurge[edit]

  • 45 Cape Grace, West Quay Road, Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, +27 21 410-7100. Situated on its own private quay on Cape Town’s vibrant Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, the Cape Grace has 121 rooms all with views of the V&A harbour or yacht marina with a Table Mountain backdrop. From R16000 to R55000 for 5 nights, 2 people.
  • 46 De Verdwaalde Boer (private villa & guesthouse with Dutch management. #1 at Booking.com and #1 at Tripadvisor), 10 Monterey Drive, Constantia (located in the heart of the oldest wine-producing area of South Africa, a 10 minute drive from Cape Town's CBD), +27 21 794-1501, e-mail: . De Verdwaalde Boer boasts 7 suites and is available to book as a villa for full privacy. From R700 p.p.p.n.
  • 48 Mandela Rhodes Place, Wale St & Burg St, +27 31 310-3333, e-mail: . Old school charm and hospitality meets modern amenities and features. It also boasts a gymnasium, swimming pool, wireless internet, undercover parking, 24 hour concierge and business centre, optional breakfast service, pre-delivery grocery shopping, airport and city transfers, car hire, house keeping and laundry and day tours From R815pps.
  • Villa Horizonte, e-mail: . A good online estate agency where you can rent luxury villas in Cape Town. Most of the villas has its own private pool but there is a minimum stay of 1 week. From $500/night for 2 bed villas.

Connect[edit]

Telephone[edit]

If you have a cell phone get one of the cheap prepaid sim cards from either Vodacom, MTN, Cell C or Virgin Mobile and save money on local calls.

Calling Home[edit]

Overseas calls at local rates via the Celldial service. Call 087 940 6966 and follow the voice prompts. See www.celldial.co.za for supported countries.

Internet[edit]

Internet is available throughout Cape Town and the inner city cafes always a hub of activity. Charges per hour ranges from R5 (in town) to R50 (V&A waterfront)

Internet cafes can be found all over the city and suburbs, with many coffee shops offering internet access.

WiFi[edit]

Many Guesthouses in Cape Town provide WiFi free for their guests.

Always-On, +27 (0)11 575-2505, provides prepaid wifi access in a number of locations in Cape Town. Simply connect to the access point and you will be given the opportunity to pay for access by credit card. Pricing starts at around R15 for 10 minutes or R60 for 100MB.

Coverage areas include:

  • Westin Grand Hotel at Arabella Quays.
  • Cape Town Backpackers.
  • Cape Town International Airport. Restaurants and Coffee shops, in Domestic and International Departures, boarding gates, airline lounges and at the Road Lodge.
  • City Lodge. GrandWest, Pinelands and V&A Waterfront.
  • Dulce Cafe. Bayside Centre, Durbanville and Gabriel Rd, Plumstead
  • Mugg&Bean. Just about all of them offer free WiFi.
  • Sundance Coffee Co. Adderley St, Buitengragt St and Mouille Point.
  • McDonald's.

Cafe Neo, located opposite the lighthouse in Mouille Point, offers an open hotspot in addition to their excellent Greek food.

Stay safe[edit]

Although Cape Town has its share of violent crime, you are safe if you keep your wits about you as you should in every large city around the world. As a visitor, you are less likely to encounter problems while visiting the townships if you are escorted by a township resident—though you should not really venture into the townships without a fairly large group of accompaniment. Official township tours are your safest bet; revealing a very interesting lifestyle to the more curious tourists. The CBD (Central Business District) has been cleaned up over the years, but some con men and cholos do still exist, although during daylight police make themselves known. Simply put, leave everything you value—especially your papers and tickets—in your hotel room safe if you plan to stroll through Cape Town.

Foreigners should avoid hitchhiking or using local commuter and metro trains. Be aware of automated teller machine (ATM) con artists. Under no circumstances allow a stranger to assist you in your transactions. Should your card become stuck in the ATM, call the helpline number on display at the teller machine for assistance and to cancel your card.

During day time it is quite safe to walk around the city center. People and beggars are in general quite respectful and accept a "no". During the evening it is worth taking a taxi to and from your destination, rather than walking. Make sure you take a taxi card with you, so that you can have the driver meet you outside the bar or restaurant.

Watch out for the mini bus taxis. They often drive like hell disobeying many traffic rules. Watch out for pickpocketing.

At night, make sure you stay on well-lit and crowded streets. Crime is especially high in Salt River, Observatory, Mowbray, and the Cape Flats.

Glue sniffing children and junkies are a minor problem, called 'strollers' by the locals: these ragamuffins will strip you bare if you do not stay alert.

While driving in a car be more aware of people approaching the car at traffic lights for smash-and-grab theft. So don't leave valuables on the seats or your lap.

If you go to the mountains, go in a group of at least 4 people.

You should try not to appear to be a tourist, and you will not be targeted. Targeted tourists are generally spotted wearing cameras, shorts, jewellery and golf hats—try not to do this. Do what you can to blend in, and if anything happens—do not try to be a hero: rather, give them what they want

Important telephone numbers[edit]

From a fixed line[edit]

  • 107 - Emergency.
  • 10111 - Police. [1]
  • 10177 - Ambulance.
  • 082911 - Netcare911

Cope[edit]

Embassies and Consulates[edit]

  • Argentina Argentina, 8 Brittany Ave, Bantry Bay, +27 21 439-0403, fax: +27 21 439-5918. Only located in Cape Town when the South African parliament sits in Cape Town. When parliament moves to Pretoria, so does this embassy.
  • Greece Greece, 19F, Reserve Bank Bldg, 30 Hout St, +27 21 424-8160, fax: +27 21 424-9421, e-mail: . Only located in Cape Town when the South African parliament sits in Cape Town. When parliament moves to Pretoria, so does this embassy.
  • Italy Italy, 2 Grey's Pass (top of Queen Victoria St), +27 21 487-3900, fax: +27 21 424-0146.
  • Mozambique Mozambique, 1 Thibault Sq Long street, +27 21 421-5660, fax: +27 21 418-2690. Visas for Mozambique in 24 hours for R 750.
  • the Netherlands Netherlands, 100 Strand St, +27 21 421-5660, fax: +27 21 418-2690.
  • Portugal Portugal, Standard Bank Centre, Hertzog Blvd, +27 21 418-0080, fax: +27 21 418-0084.
  • the United Kingdom United Kingdom, 15F, Southern Life Centre, 8 Riebeek St, +27 21 405-2433.

Go next[edit]

Cape Town is positively located for many day or two day trips, offering a variety in landscapes and cultures. Choose self-drive or guided tours.

Cape Peninsula[edit]

The Robben Island prison museum
  • Robben Island is located just off the coast from Cape Town, this was the location used during the apartheid days to hold political prisoners, including Nelson Mandela and the late Walter Sisulu. The tour consists of a guided bus tour around the island, before meeting a former political prisoner for a tour of the prison area. The island itself is quite scenic, with African penguins usually seen on the tour. The bus tour stops to allow you to take in the view, and buy a snack. Tours run several times per day, seven days a week from the Nelson Mandela Gateway near the clock tower at the V&A Waterfront. Tickets can be purchased online or by phone. There are three trips a day at 09:00, 11:00, and 13:00. The tour takes 3½ hours including the ferry ride to and from the island.
The Boulders penguin colony.
  • Boulders beach is famous for its penguin colony and you can watch penguins in their natural habitat. September is the breeding season and if you are very lucky you can see penguins hatching out of their eggs. Note that if you go into one of the paid access parts (which is not expensive anyway) if you hang onto the ticket it is valid in the other part too. If you're lucky in addition to the penguins you may well see Dassies in the undergrowth beside the path or even sitting sunning themselves on the path itself.
  • Visit the Cape of Good Hope to experience the wildness of the natural habitat preserved here. Stunning views and for sure you will meet one of the local baboons or ostriches. Be sure to stop in Simon's Town on your way back to relax with a wonderful view on the False Bay.
  • Hout Bay — also known as the "Republic" of Hout Bay by its locals — is a beautiful bay on the Atlantic coast. The bay is protected from the north westerly and south easterly winds, but is open to the south westerly wind and prevailing swell which can produce some of the worlds biggest surf at "Dungeons" and "Tafelberg reef". It has a quaint fishing harbour, which provides protection from the south westerly swell. Boat trips to Seal Island (more accurately Duiker Island) operate from here. While you're there try the fish and chips at the Café on the Rocks at the end of the harbour road - a local secret.
  • Chapmans Peak— Experience one of the most scenic drives in the world. As you drive up the Chapmans Peak Drive and look north over Hout Bay, the view of the bay and the fishing boats is stunning.

Along the south coast[edit]

Bontebok, seen in De Hoop.

Garden Route and further on[edit]

Up north[edit]

Go up north along the West Coast to Saldanha Bay and all the other hidden spots. Further on are Namaqualand and finally Namibia.

  • Visit Melkbos to surf, windsurf, kitesurf and sunbathe on its wide sandy beach and also visit the only working Nuclear Power Station in Africa. There is a nature reserve surrounding the power station, with trails for walking or mountain bikes, where you'll see eland, zebra and springbok. Entrance is free, but you must show a photo ID.
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