We as travelers / tourists / whatever you call yourself in that odd argument over nomenclature, tend to breeze in and out of cities. We visit the hot spots, take a few photos, check into Facebook so our friends know we were there, and then cross that destination off our bucket list. Very rarely do we travel beyond the city limits and explore the surrounding towns, villages, or countryside. Perhaps some destinations only deserve the 48 hours that we allot them. However, many destinations, like Cape Town deserve much more time.
If you’re using Cape Town as a couple of day stopover before heading into the bushlands for a safari, you aren’t doing the area justice. Instead, rent a car and plan to spend a week getting to know the world’s fairest Cape. Between the Cape Peninsula, the winelands, and the Garden Route, you might actually need more time! This post highlights the best of Cape Peninsula.
Play with the penguins
Even if you’re coming off a safari, you need to muster up a touch more wildlife viewing to play with the penguins on Boulder Beach. Okay, so maybe you don’t actually play with the penguins (that sort of practice is discouraged), but you do get close enough to them if you wanted to.
The colony of roughly 3,000 African penguins is one of only two on the African mainland. Table Mountain National Park makes viewing the penguins easy with a series of boardwalks the parks system constructed to both protect the penguins and provide tourists with a bird’s eye view (get it?) of the action. It’s easy to spend a couple of hours watching the cuddly little creatures swim, waddle, and bray. Admission is 40 ZAR (3 USD).
Pro tip! Be sure to stop at Kalky’s Fish and Chips in Kalky’s Bay on the drive out to Boulder Beach.
Stand on Cape Point
Cape Point is about a half hour drive further east on Cape Peninsula. Like Boulder Beach, Cape Point is part of Table Mountain National Park. Admission to Cape Point is 80 ZAR (6 USD). Once in the park, there are several sights to see. Start with a climb to the top of the lighthouse. While the lighthouse isn’t much to write home about, the view at the top is. You can ride to the top via the funicular. I recommend walking though. While the path is steep, and you’re braving fierce winds; it is entirely paved and only takes 20 minutes (not including stops at viewpoints).
The other must see sight is the Cape of Good Hope. Standing in front of the Southern Most Point sign at Cape of Good Hope is a rite of passage for tourists visiting Cape Point. There are several hikes around the Cape of Good Hope, including one that leads to Diaz Beach. I warn you that it is quite windy. Only advanced hikers should attempt these.
Race back Cape Town on Chapman’s Peak Drive
Have you ever watched a car commercial and were more mesmerized by the windy roads than the cars themselves? You can almost picture yourself at the wheel of the car, whipping it through hairpin curves, smelling the burn of rubber. At Chapman’s Peak Drive, which is often used to film car commercials, you can live that fantasy.
The 9km road offers 114 white-knuckle curves, hugging cliffs 600m above the rocky, crashing surf. The toll for the road is 33 ZAR (2 USD). You only have to pay it heading east though which is why I recommend taking Chapman’s Peak Drive back to Cape Town. Always check the weather before driving Chapman’s Peak Drive as strong winds will force road closures.
The best of Cape Peninsula
What I highlighted above only offers a glimpse into all that Cape Peninsula has to offer. Plan to spend a few days on the cape for deeper travels. There are plenty of quaint villages with guesthouses and hotels to rest your head comfortably for the night.
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