Cape Town Tourism offers a wide range of valuable resources and can assist you with reservations for accommodation, tours, SANParks bookings and more. All services are available at no charge. Visit Cape Town Tourism at www.capetown.travel.
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden
Cape Town’s 101-year-old garden is a heavenly oasis and national treasure on the gentle slopes of Table Mountain. Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden was the world’s first botanical garden established to preserve a country’s unique indigenous flora and is world renowned for its botanical achievements. Established in 1913 and home to about 7 000 species, it represents the Cape Floral Kingdom, the smallest of the six floral kingdoms of the world. There’s a conservatory, a ‘useful plants’ section planted with indigenous medicinal plants, a Cycad Amphitheatre in the heart of the garden (where development started in 1913), and the Gondwanaland Garden, featuring plant fossils that are 240 million years old.
The Kirstenbosch Centenary Tree Canopy Walkway is a new curved timber-and-steel bridge that winds and dips through and above the canopy of trees in the garden, offering magnificent views of the peninsula. Entrance fees include the new walkway (adults R50). Book a golf cart by calling 021 799 8782 if you’d like to be driven round the gardens (9:00 am – 3:00 pm); R60 per person (one hour), excluding entrance fee.
The UNESCO world heritage site of Robben Island is a must-see for most visitors to Cape Town. Tours R250 per adult/R120 per child. Advance booking is highly recommended. ((+27) 21 413 4215; www.robben-island.org.za).
The 3½-hour tours depart from the Nelson Mandela Gateway in the V&A’s Clock Tower Precinct at 9:00 am, 11:00 am and 1:00 pm daily, weather permitting. The tour includes the ferry crossing, a guided bus tour around the island, a visit to the maximum-security prison – including the cell that housed Nelson Mandela – and the opportunity to meet a former political prisoner on the island.
The world-famous Table Mountain National Park creates a striking backdrop to the city, rising up from the sea and stretching all the way down to Cape Point. It is Cape Town’s most precious asset and the only New 7 Wonder of Nature found in a city. Home to over 1 460 species of fynbos (and dassies – also known as rock rabbits or hyraxes – the only mountain inhabitant famously related to elephants), it’s been a protected area for over 100 years.
The quickest way to explore this natural wonder is to head up via the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway (tablemountain.net), which has been running for over 80 years. Each cable car whisks 65 people along the 1 200 metre cable with each ride – that’s more than 800 passengers an hour! Its design is genius: the floor of the cable car rotates, giving everyone a 360° view, and it can be stabilised when windy by way of a 4 000 litre water tank that is filled at the Lower Station. When there is no wind, the water is emptied for use at the Upper Station. (The Cableway is, however, closed due to strong winds for anything from 60 to 90 days a year.) There are three easy walks to do on top, and free, guided walks depart daily at 10 am and 12 noon. Afterwards, relax at Table Mountain Café (meals served on biodegradable plates) or browse the Shop At The Top.
Two smart ways to streamline your visit: buy your Cableway tickets online (www.tablemountain.net) to skip the ticket-office queue, and use the MyCiti bus service to the cable station as parking is limited. Take sunscreen and warm clothes, as it is several degrees colder on top of the mountain, even if the sun is shining.