Captivating Cape Town

A few weeks ago, i had the opportunity to visit Cape Town,  South Africa for a conference. This was an interesting experience as i had always hoped to visit South Africa.  The Nairobi to Johannesburg flight was uneventful and the service given by the South Africa Airways crew was spectacular. After a two-hour delay at the Oliver Tambo International airport in Johannesburg we left for Capetown which is a one-hour flight away.

View of KilimanjaroView of Mt Kilimanjaro from the skies

I arrived in Cape town on a cold Sunday evening, excited and ready to savour this beautiful country. The week long conference was held at the NH Lord Charles Hotel in Somerset West around 25 minutes drive from the airport.

front of hotelFront of the NH Lord Charles Hotel in Somerset west 

Capetown weather in May is quite unpredictable, it was interesting how one day would be freezing cold and drizzling and the next day would be all warm and blue skies. Capetown is beautiful.

Capetown is the ultimate masterpiece of mother nature. Whether you are hiking the table mountain, riding the cable car or enjoying a glass of fine wine in the lush and inviting vineyards, this town will inspire and relax you. It is a mix of the coastal beaches, scenic landscapes and the rugged mountains that seem to surround all the beauty of this city. The  beauty about this city is that it is a perfect destination for leisure or business. It provides the perfect opportunity to mix business and pleasure.

Table Mountain

This is a must visit if you are in Cape Town. The view of the mountain is breath taking and inviting to say the least. If you are a lover of adventure and physical exercise then a hike up the mountain would be ideal.  If this strain is not your cup of tea, then you can take a  five-minute ride up then down the mountain via cable car. Do not forget to take photos while at it. The view from the top of the Table Mountain is an experience i had never had before in my life. Serene, Calm and breathtaking. you have not really visted Capetown if you have not stood at the top of this mountain. Sit at the top and soak up the fresh air and 360 degree view of Cape town. you can grab a snack at the Table Mountain Cafe at the top.  More Table Mountain activities

cable car
 Cable car to take you up or/and down the Table Mountain
hiking trail
 Hiking route on the mountain
table mountain at topTop of mountain
view from top of table mountain 2View from top of the mountain 
lions headThe Lion’s Head ,a 2195ft above sea level mountain that forms part of the Table Mountain National Park 

Robben Island

A trip to Cape Town would not be complete without a visit to the Robben Island. The name is Dutch for “Seal Island” Robben Island has been described as a Symbol of Triumph of the human spirit over adversity. Robben Island is both a South African National Heritage Site as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

robben island entranceEntrance to Robben island 

robben island walls

prison billboards

This island carries with it stories and history of the South African nation. This is where Nelson Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years in prison. This visit gave me a perspective of the South African history i did not know about. It was interesting to learn that the struggle for independence for the nation was a sacrifice made by different people not just Nelson Mandela. Some of the notable personalities include Walter Sisulu; Robert Sobukwe.

From the ferry you get onto a bus with a tour guide who gives you a detailed and guided tour of the whole place.  The first stop is the area where Robert Sobukwe, a political activist and an outspoken opponent of apartheid, was put on solitary confinement with no interaction with any of the prisoners for nearly a decade.

subukwe bed

letter for permission to visit

desk

From the solitary cell, you drive to the limestone quarry where the prisoners worked every day crushing rocks. There is a rock pile in the quarry, that was started by Nelson Mandela  when he returned to Robben Island in 1995. The 1,300 political prisoners with him at the reunion followed suit and created the cairn as a memorial for their strenuous labor.

heap of stones by MandelaRock pile at the Robben island quarry 
 An interesting thing about this tour is that there is a former prisoner who is now a guide at the island now which is no longer a prison. This gentleman gives his personal experience of life as a prisoner in Robben island. The exit from the place is the same one that the freed prisoners would use as they left the prison.

The island is accessible via ferry which operate at 9am, 11am and 1pm. The ship leaves for the island from the Cape Town Waterfront which you can access easily using a taxi. You need to arrive no later than 30 minutes prior to the scheduled times of departure, boarding gates close 10 minutes before departure time. You can opt for the seating at the top of the ferry or inside the cabin. More about The Robben Island.

ferry building

ferry waiting area poster2

ferry to island

Other places to visit

For the short time i was there i had the opportunity to visit the Table mountain; Robben island. Other interesting places visited were Somerset Mall and Canal Walk mall for some retail therapy; The Winjuis Wine bar and grill for some mouth-watering food and fine wine; Diemersfontein Wine and Country Estate for a tour of the winelands and the experience of wine tasting.

front of mall

restaurant

Facts about South Africa

  • There are 3 official state capitals in South Africa: Pretoria (administrative), Cape Town (legislative), Bloemfontein (judicial).
  • There are 9 provinces in South Africa: Eastern Cape, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumulanga, Northern Cape, Limpopo, North West, Free State, Western Cape
  • The country is flanked on the west by the Atlantic Ocean and on the east by the Indian Ocean, whose waters meet at the country’s – and Africa’s – most southern tip, Cape Agulhas.
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