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WESTERN CAPE

Cape Town

Cape Town is a port city of South Africa’s South West coast, on a Peninsula beneath the imposing Table Mountain.  Slowly rotating cable cars climb to the Mountain’s Flat top, from which there are sweeping views of the city, the busy harbor and boats heading for Robben Island, the notorious freedom struggle prison that once held Nelson Mandela and is now a living Museum

Hikers’ paths crisscross the slopes and also climb the Mountain, via forests and manicured lawns at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, the lush wine producing suburb of Constantia, and steep platen Gorge.  Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden is acclaimed as one of the great botanic gardens of the world. Few gardens can match the sheer grandeur of the setting of Kirstenbosch, against the eastern slopes of Cape Town’s Table Mountain.

In town V &A Waterfront is a chic shopping and entertainment district that includes the two oceans Aquarium. Historic sites include the Dutch built, 17th Century Castle of Good Hope. City beaches range from ritzy Clifton to boulders, where there’s a penguin colony. Popular out of town trips take in Chapman’s Peak Drive, with coastal views and the Cape of Good Hope, where craggy cliffs meet the ocean.

Cape of Good Hope

The Cape of Good Hope is at the Southern tip of the Cape Peninsula approximately 50 Km south Cape Town, South Africa.

A common misconception is that the Cape of Good Hope is the Southern tip of Africa. This misconception was based on the misbelief that the Cape was the dividing point between the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean. Contemporary geographic knowledge instead states that the most southern point of Africa is Cape Agulhas about 150 Kilometers (90 miles) to the South East. The currents of the two Oceans meet at the point where the Warm-water Agulhas current meets the Cold-water – Benguela current and turns back on itself. The Oceanic meeting point fluctuates between Cape Agulhas and Cape Point (about 1.2 Kilometers east of the Cape of Good Hope.

When following the western side of the African coastline from the equator, however, the Cape of Good Hope marks the point where a ship begins to travel more eastward than southward. Thus, the first modern rounding of the Cape in 1488 by Portuguese explorer Bartholomew Dias was a milestone in the attempts by the Portuguese to establish direct trade relations with the Far East (although Herodotus mentioned a claim that the Phoenicians had done so far earlier) Dias called the called the cape, Cabo das Tormentas (“Cape of Storm”: Dutch Stormkaap), which was the original of the “Cape of Good Hope”.

As one of the great capes of the South Atlantic Ocean, the Cape of Good Hope, has long been of special significance to sailors, many of whom refer to it simply as, ‘the Cape”. It was a way point on the Cape Route and the Clipper Route followed by Clipper Ships to the Far East and Australia, and still followed by several offshore yatch races.

The European-Asia Sea route, also known as the Sea Route to India or Cape Route, is a shipping route from European coast of the Atlantic Ocean passing by the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Agulhas at the edge of Africa. The first completion of the route was made in 1498 by explorer Vasco da Gama. The route was important during the Age of Sail, but became partly obsolete as the Suez Canal opened in 1869

Robben Island

Robben Island Museum (RIM) is a public entity responsible for managing, maintaining, presenting, developing and marketing Robben Island as a National Estate and World Heritage Site. It was established by the department of Arts and Culture in 1997. Visits to the Robben Island depart at the following times on Monday to Sunday:

Currently, Robben Island Museum, has tours that run as follows; 09:00, 11:00, 13:00 and 15:00. The ferries depart from the Nelson Mandela Gateway at the V & A Waterfront. The tour take 4 hours including the ferry trips to and from the Island. (It also depends on the boat used as they have different travel times). Tour Charges are: Non South African R550.00 Adults and R300.00 Children – South African R380.00 Adults and R200.00 Children

In 1659 Autshumato escaped with a fellow Khoi Khoi captive by rowing to the mainland in a stolen boat. In 1960, a convict, Jan Rykman escaped by swimming to the main land in the first recorded swim from Robben Island. 

The clients will disembark at Murray’s Bay Harbor situated on the east coast of the Island and take a short walk to the buses that will transport you to all the historical sites around the Island. On the way to the buses, Clients will pass buildings and a high wall built by Prisoners during the 1960s. The building were used for family and lawyer visits to prisoners.

Clients will meet Tour Guides when you have boarded the buses. The prison tour will be conducted by a Robben Island Tour Guides. This sis part of our integrated tour model. They are fully conversant and knowledgeable about the island’s muilt-layered 500 year old history. The tour route includes the graveyard of people who died from leprosy, the Lime Quarry, Robert Sobukwe’s House, the Blue stone Quarry, the Army and Navy bunkers and the maximum security prison where thousands of South Africa’s freedom Fighter were incarcerated for years. The tour culminates with the viewing of the Nelson Mandela’s cell.

Robben Island is a unique symbol of “the triumph of the human spirit over adversity, suffering and injustice” with a rich 500 year old multi – layered history, visited every year by thousands of people eager to understand and honor the important aspects of South Africa’s history that the island represents.

The first recorded landing on Robben Island by Europeans was in 1498, when a group of Portuguese sailors took refuge there and stayed overnight in a cave.

The Garrison Church on the Island was built in 1841 using the prison labor from the British convict station on the Island.

During the WW2 Robben Island was chosen as a key site to protect Table Bay and Cape Town from threats of the enemy attack, resulting in the construction of the artillery batteries, fortification and an Airstrip

Educational Tours

The Robben Island Museum Tour has dedicated Education department. Among its many activities is the facilitation of subsidized school tours. These tours are from Monday to Friday during the concession period (2 May to 31 October), but can change at discretion of Management. 

Learner may be transported on ferries that are part of the general tours, and at the times of those ferries or a dedicated ferry departing at a specific alternative time may be arranged. These tours target learner in primary and secondary school from across the country. It is designed to educate, inform and expose young people to elements of South Africa’s rich heritage that is embodied in the Robben Island’s multi layered history. The tours provide information and experiences of the Island that are more in- depth than the general visitor tour and focusses on the inculcating an understanding of, and commitment to human rights and development. The learner also get to visit all the various heritage sites that reflect the Island’s longstanding. The tours are implemented in partnership with individual school as and when requested.

Specialized Tours

Specialized tours include Private Tours, VIP Tours and Protocol Tours. Private tours are for individual ore small groups. VIP Tours are for ‘Famous’ personalities. Protocol Tours are for Head of States.

Robben Island Ferries

Robben Island Museum uses two of its own ferries which transport visitors and staff in the island, along with several private vessels is, and when they are required.

Susan Kruger

Robben Island ferry Susan Kruger, named after the wife of once Minister of Justice Jimmy Kruger who served in the National Party Government during the Apartheid years. The vessel was used to transport staff and political prisoners between the mainland and Robben Island when the prison was still functioning. It is now in service as a ferry for the Island. 

The Dias

The ferry was also used to transport staff and political prisoners between the mainland and Robben Island.

Penguins at Boulders Beach

The beautiful Boulders Beach is one of Cape Town’s most visited beaches and the only place in the world where one can get close to the African Penguin.

Cape Town definitely has no shortage of amazing beaches, but boulders Beach in the False Bay offers something extra special- a colony of African Penguins in all their smart dresses, wedding glory, right under your nose.  Currently, the population is estimated between 2,000 and 3,000 birds. Sadly, the African Penguin has been classified as an endangered species, due to things like over-fishing, habitat destruction,, ppollution and irresponsible tourism activities and the boulders beach colony has also felt the effects, with numbers dwidling over the last couple of years.

Thankfully, Boulders and the surrounding beaches now form part of the Table Mountain National Park Marine Protected Area, thus ensuring the beaches are safe and clean, and Penguin protected. A couple of years ago three wheelchair –friendly boardwalks were constructed to accommodate the nearly 60,000 visitors that visit the beach each year. These boardwalks wind their way through the dunes and vegetation and not only provides great viewing spots, but also protects mesting penguins and their chicks. However, you can still spot one or two of the little fellas wadding through the parking lot from time to time. 

The V&A Waterfront

The V&A Waterfront, which attracts roughly 24 million visitors each year, is South Africa’s most visited destination. This is hadly surprising when you think about how much it has to offer.

While it is still technically a working harbor- you’ll no doubt catch a glimpse of fishing noats ans container ships. The V&A Wterfront is more frequently thought of as a shopping destination. Covering 123 hectares (180 Rugby fields), the V&A Waterfront is divided up into five shopping districts: Victoria Wharf, the Watershed, the Alfred Mall and Pierhead, the Clock Tower and Breakwater Point. With more than 450 stores, you’ll find everything from local designors to big International  brands. For Crafts and local talent, make sure you pop into the Watershed, and if its Art or Jewellery you are after, head over to the Alfred Mall and Pierhead.

All the shopping is likely to work up an appetite, and myriad restaurants, Coffee shops and Fast food outlets will keep you fuelled. Of course, some of the restaurants and bars are reason enough to visit V&A Wtaerfront. The majority of the restaurants at the V&A Waterfront have excellent views of the harbor, and those that don’t- such as Willoughby & Co – make up for it with top –notchfood. (Really the Sushi is hard to beat) If you are after something a little more relaxed head over to the V&A Food Market where you’ll find regional delicacies, artisanal breads and cheese, Craft beer, Vegan treats and biltong. It’s foodie heaven. If it’s a hot day – even if it’s not – make sure you swing by the Creamery for a scoop of the best Ice Cream in Town.

For Sundowners, you’ll want to try the Drand Café &Beach or the trendy Shimmy Beach club, where the beautiful views with gorgenous patrons for your attention. Bascule Bar at Cape Grace hotel offers a sophiscated whisky-tasting experience and Belthezar on Victoria Wharf reputedly has the widest selection of wine by the glass in the World. 

The V&A Waterfront isn’t all about rampant materialism and hedonistic pleasure (although the number of world class spas would suggest otherwise); theirs is also a little something for the history buffs. The Waterfront is name after Prince Alfred, who began construction on the Harbor in 1860, and his mother Queen Victoria. The V&A Waterfront encompasses 22 landmarks, including the Chavannes Battery Museum, which dates back to 1725 and is the harbor’s oldest heritage site. You can opt to do a self-guided walking historical tour, which starts at the information centre, or you can take the 90 minute guided tour that departs daily from the Chavannes Battery Museum at 11 am and 2 pm.

Check out the infamous Breakwater Prison (dating back to 1860), the Robinson Dry Dock (one of the oldest operating Dry docks in the World) or brush up on your marine history at the Iziko Marine Centre. For something a little more recent, visit Nobel Square, which boasts bronze sculptures of South Africa’ Nobel Peace Prize winners, or the Springbok Experience Rugby Museum, which immerses you in the history of the boys in Green and Gold. 

For the Kids, there’s the Two Ocean Aquarium, where you’ll find a penguin exhibit, predator tank, and a mystical Kelp forest. Your little ones will also love the Scratch Patch, where they can pick out their favorite gemstone, and the 18-hole putt-putt course next door. But before you head home, treat your inner child (or your actual kids) to a ride on the Cape Wheel – the views if the City are Spectacular.