Cape Peninsula Attractions
The Cape Peninsula alone, 52km/32mi long and no more than 16km/10mi wide, would be sufficient justification for a visit to Cape Town. Along its coasts are miles/kilometers of beaches of white sand, and at its southern tip is the world-famous Cape of Good Hope. Cape Point, a few hundred yards east of the Cape of Good Hope, has been recognized by geographers as the point where the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean meet - making Cape Town the only city in the world situated on two oceans. Here the Atlantic's cold Benguela Current meets the Indian Ocean's warm Agulhas Current. But neither Cape Point nor the Cape of Good Hope is the most southerly point in Africa: that honor belongs to Cape Agulhas, farther to the east.
These Botanical Gardens were left to the state by Cecil Rhodes. They contain thousands of plant species, all native to South Africa.
Groot Constantia, the oldest and best known estate in South Africa, lies in the Constantia valley, a 20-minute drive from the center of Cape Town. The estate was presented to Simon van der Stel, governor of the Dutch colony, by the Dutch East India Company in 1685 so that he could find, by trial and error, which agricultural products did best on the Cape. In due course he built a mansion in which he lived from 1699 until his death in 1712. In 1778 Hendrik Cloete, grandson of one of the earliest settlers, bought the house and part of the estate and commissioned Louis Thibault and Anton Anreith to enlarge and embellish the building. In 1885 the whole estate was sold to the colonial authorities.Groot Constantia is now a state-owned estate. The mansion, one of the finest examples of Cape Dutch architecture, became a museum in 1926 and now displays valuable 18th and 19th C furniture and a collection of porcelain. The Cellar of 1791, which has a pediment on the façade with figural decoration by Anton Anreith, is now used for exhibitions and congresses. Adjoining the main house, and fitting beautifully into the general ensemble, is the Jonkershuis, now a popular restaurant. Rather more rustic in style is the Tavern restaurant housed in another building.
This 20,000ac nature reserve, home to all kinds of wildlife, is a scenic and historic location.
Chapman's Peak Drive
Noordhoek is the starting-point of Chapman's Peak Drive, one of the world's most impressive corniche roads, which runs for 10km/6.25mi, with numerous bends, along the rocky face of Chapman's Peak. At its highest point the road reaches a height of 160m/525ft above sea level; and since the rock exposed by the blasting of the road out of the cliff face has not yet oxidized the reddish and yellowish strata of Table Mountain sandstones can be seen above the Cape granite. There are numerous parking places from which visitors can enjoy the view over Hout Bay, extending as far as the Sentinel (331m/1086ft).
Simon's Town, South Africa
Simon's Town (pop. 6,000), 6km/4mi south of Fish Hoek at the end of the electric rail line from Cape Town, took its name from Governor Simon van der Stel. Thanks to its sheltered situation it became in 1741 the winter port for Cape Town and in 1957 the main base and training center of the South African Navy. The harbor is also used by many fishing boats and yachts. In the section of St George's Street between the railroad station and Jubilee Square, known as the Historical Mile, there are a number of fine 18th and 19th C buildings.
Simon's Town Museum
Simon's Town Museum is housed in the former Governor's residence (1777), the winter residence for the Dutch East India Company's Governor. It exhibits the cultural history of Simon's Town's people and their connections with the Dutch East India Company and the Royal Navy.
Address: The Residency, Court Road, Simon's Town, Western Cape 7975, South Africa
Opening hours: 9am-4pm; Sun: 11am-3pm; Sat: 10am-1pm
Always opened on: Human Right's Day - South Africa (Mar 21), Family Day - South Africa (Apr 8), Constitution Day - South Africa (Apr 27), National Women's Day - South Africa (Apr 19), May Day / Labor Day (May 1), Youth Day - South Africa (Jun 16), Heritage Day - South Africa (Sep 24), Day of Goodwill - South Africa (Dec 26), Day of Reconciliation - South Africa (Dec 16)
Always closed on: New Year's Day (Jan 1), Christmas - Christian (Dec 25), Good Friday - Christian
The Martello Tower built by the British authorities in 1796 as a powder magazine, also houses a small museum.
Stem Pastorie Museum
Jackass penguins are found in the attractive coves among large boulders.
Hout Bay, South Africa
Chapman's Peak Drive ends at the little town of Hout Bay, in the bay of that name. Once surrounded by dense forest (hout = "wood"), Hout Bay is now an important fishing port (particularly crayfish). The fishermen's catches, fresh from the sea, are sold on Mariners' Wharf. From here there are cruises to Cape Town and in summer to Duiker Island, a seal and bird reserve.
World of Birds Wildlife Sanctuary and Monkey Park
The World of Birds is a bird reserve with over 3,000 indigenous and exotic birds, including ostriches, cormorants, pelicans, penguins, parrots, eagles and various kinds of water birds. Special features are the large walk-through aviaries.It occupies 3.5ha/8.65ac of tropically landscaped hillside. Included within the park is a monkey jungle.
Adjoining Hout Bay, and now almost continuous with it, is the bathing resort of Llandudno, with exclusive villas lining the slopes of the hill. A beautiful and relatively sheltered beach attracts day visitors as well as residents. A footpath runs south to Sandy Bay, one of South Africa's few legal nudist beaches.
Kalk Bay, South Africa
In the busy harbor of Kalk Bay the fishing boats can be seen every day coming in with their catches. The place originated in 1795 as a military outpost, and in 1806 it became a whaling station, but when the number of whales in False Bay fell sharply whaling ceased after only five years. Since then Kalk Bay has developed into a bathing resort.
Fish Hoek, South Africa
Fish Hoek is a popular bathing resort which grew up round a farm established in 1818 by Lord Charles Somerset. Somerset laid down that no alcohol should be served on his estate: this regulation was adopted by the municipal authorities, and the sale of alcohol is still prohibited in Fish Hoek.
Visitors can book a luxurious suite on the privately owned Constantia Uitsig estate, which houses 3 award winning restaurants (Constantia Uitsig, La Colombe and River Cafe) and spa. All are popular with local people as well as visitors.