Out and About in Cape Town

Posted by on Aug 11, 2013 in Featured, South Africa | 3 comments

After close to two months in Africa and, most recently, two weeks camping through Namibia, we had been eagerly awaiting our arrival into Cape Town. We had heard only positive things about South Africa’s legislative capital and second largest city (behind Johannesburg). Both fellow travelers and friends who have either worked or studied there raved about it. We could not wait to spend a few days here as we were excited for a big city and were craving the hustle and bustle, bar scene, and culinary delights (we were in serious need of an upgrade from PB&J and various camping foods) that we had been hearing about. Although we were actually underwhelmed by downtown Cape Town, we soon realized that it’s surroundings are the big draw.

With some old credit card points, we treated ourselves and stayed at the Hilton for a couple of nights (which felt like a luxury hotel after camping on the roof of a truck for two weeks). It was a well-deserved splurge that included a big comfy bed, bathrobes (which Kat wore 90% of the time we were in the room), free happy hour and breakfast buffet, and a clear view of Table Mountain (Cape Town’s most recognizable landmark). Cape Town is filled with unique shops, cafes, and bars, so we leisurely strolled the streets to get a feel for the city’s cultural flare. It was immediately apparent that we were back on the international scene. We took in all of downtown by exploring multiple sites including Victoria & Albert Waterfront (quaint harbor and shopping area), Greenmarket Square (local market) and Long Street (famous for it’s many bar and nightlife options).

The highlight of Cape Town proper was our hike up to the top of Table Mountain. Since the cable car was closed for maintenance, our only option was to ascend on foot. The Platteklip Gorge trail offered some incredible views of the city, as well as the beautiful Cape Peninsula coastline to the south. We were told by a number of people that the climb up would take two hours, so we were pleasantly surprised when we summited in just over an hour. Unfortunately, we underestimated our descent time when taking a different route down and flirted with getting caught in the dark without a ride back to the city. I ended up sprinting down the last 15 minutes to make sure we could secure a taxi back to the hotel. Although there were a few anxious moments toward the end of our hike, Table Mountain proved to be physically challenging, but more than worth the views.

Our third day was spent exploring Table Mountain National Park (formerly known as Cape Peninsula National Park) which is home to some of the prettiest coastline in the world. Winding roads hugged oceanside cliffs as we made our way out of the city with incredible views of the Atlantic Ocean and False Bay (the body of water bordering the peninsula’s east side). We stopped off in Hout Bay (a quaint little fishing town with amazing views of the surrounding mountains), Simon’s Town to view an African penguin colony at Boulders Beach, and Cape of Good Hope (Africa’s most southwestern point). The day brought beautiful weather, a chance to see some gorgeous countryside, and a whole new perspective on what Cape Town has to offer.

Although the city itself didn’t necessarily live up to the hype, we still liked Cape Town. From enjoying it’s diverse restaurant scene to hiking Table Mountain, there was plenty for us to do. Yet, we still didn’t quite understand what all the build up was about. That was until we found what there was to see and do on the outskirts of the city. Cape Peninsula offered loads of outdoor activities and scenic driving, and the city itself served as a perfect springboard to the Garden Route and wine country (more to come from Kat on our time in these areas).


  1. Pretty scary paths to be rushing back Dow Table Mountain on!!!

  2. Rick Steves can’t live forever, you and Kathryn need your own PBS show.

  3. Of all the places you have been this looks like it could be somewhere in the USA. Right? Love, Gram

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