all about it ...
Stirring Up Cape
Town's City Bowl by: Gregory Hudson
For the discerning traveller
to the Cape who would like to explore Cape Town's City Bowl, here are a
few suggestions. Remember, Cape Town bears two distinct faces, a mask worn
by day and a mask worn by night. Whichever one you choose, this article
will provide you with a few hints on how, when and where to explore the
city bowl, whether by day or by night.
The City Bowl by Day:
Now that the subject of masks
has been broached, the discerning traveller to the Cape may want to experience
the full range of African facades. If this is the case, you need go no
further than the Pan African Market. Located in a national monument on
historic Long Street, one could easily walk to this destination and most
rented taxis know exactly where Long Street is situated. Drop by the market
on any day of the week and they should be open, although there are certain
occasions when they may be closed due to certain religious observances.
Well worth a visit, it literally
looks as though the contents of this shop sprang straight out of the pages
of “King Solomons Mines”. Although the motifs behind the masks and other
goodies have often been lost in time, just looking at them should provide
you with enough of an explanation!
Green Market Square
A large cobbled area known
as Greenmarket Square can be found in the centre of the city bowl. It is
a busy place, a place to barter and haggle, providing a pleasant, corner
café atmosphere good for just sitting peacefully and watching the
There is perhaps no other
place where paths cross as they do at this hub of city life. A traveller
to the Cape is able to gain an insight into the African culture with only
an hour's observation, as Greenmarket Square provides a varied cultural
sampling of the cities folk.
The Cape Town Gardens
This historic parkland in
the heart of Cape Town is simply about birds, tea, roses, Koi Fish and
history, hopefully mixed with a bit of sunshine.
The best place to start your
leisurely walkabout would be just outside the Slave Lodge on the Corner
of Adderley and Wale Streets. To avoid disappointing the areas inhabitants,
bring peanuts. Oh, and lookout for the Albino Squirrel.
The architecturally and socially
unique Bokaap, otherwise known as the Malay Quarter, rests on the slopes
of Signal Hill. This quiet niche on the fringe of the City Bowl is a newly
proclaimed national monument. With its quaint, cobbled streets and renovated
slave quarters it, till this day, houses the original descendants for whom
the quarters were built. If you have never heard of a “Roti” ask for one
at a Bokaap café, they are delicious.
The City Bowl by Night:
The sunset in Cape town is
quite remarkable. With the waning of the daylight hours, the soft hues
cast themselves across the clouds welcoming the coming of the night. Cape
Town transforms, donning another mask as the city’s landscape begins to
The Cable Car Road
A drive along the Cable Car
Road is a little daring for some, particularly at this hour, but it is
well worth it! It is possible to see from this vantage point why Cape Town's
CBD is known as the City Bowl. As your gaze moves from left to right, Lion’s
Head contrasts sharply with the backdrop of a golden sunset, as you pan
further to the right; the torso of this giant beast becomes apparent. From
the Cable Car Road, you can literally see the complete outline of a resting
lion guarding his concrete jungle; a good time to take a snap!
The nightlife in Cape Town
comes in many shapes and sizes, here are a few possibilities:
There is warmth and feeling
to Mama Africa. This authentic African restaurant, dressed in traditional
African décor and serving the continents cultural cuisine, is always
a lively place. You can often catch Marimba music and live African bands
and the bar is not your average elbow parking lot either; it has been customised
in rather a reptilian fashion. But you need to see that for yourself!
Situated at the beginning
of the afore-mentioned garden walk, at the same intersection of Adderley
and Wale Streets, lies the Crypt. Under St George's Cathedral, the Crypt,
which was built in 1898, is now the haunt of Jazz enthusiasts and the playground
of dining room damsels from the Cape Town city bowl.
After being closed for years,
the Crypt's curved arches, leaded window panes and plaques commemorating
the dearly departed have been revealed for your eyes to behold. Actually
used for choir practice and as a clergy vestry, the Crypt provides big
breakfasts, cosy couches and a surprisingly warm atmosphere. Do make a
If you decide to pay Cape
Town a visit, remember Cape Town bears two distinct faces; a mask worn
by day and a mask worn by night. Whichever one you choose, it is all up
About The Author - Gregory
Hudson - Icon Villas & Vistas (http://www.icape.co.za/Content/capetown.asp)
provide a discerning range of self catering vacation rentals in Cape Town.
Whether you are in the Cape Town city bowl for business or pleasure, Icon
Villas & Vistas will ensure you have a wide range of Cape Town luxury
accommodation to choose from.
Table Mountain Cape Town by Ed Berry
Table Mountain is timeless
- at least in terms of the multifaceted human history of Cape Town and
South Africa. The familiar form of our unique flat topped mountain has
always been there. In fact millions of years before the early days when
the indigenous Khoi San people roamed the Cape.
Mountain sheltered the original Cape seafarers in the 16th century, the
first European settlers and the many following generations of slaves, immigrants
and Capetonians who helped to build and develop our special city.
Your first impression of
Table Mountain from the city bowl and beyond from Blouberg beach, is almost
misleading. You are confronted with a two dimensional image of a solid
flat topped behemoth, sometimes draped in swirling cloud, trapped between
two attendants - Devil's Peak and Lion's Head.
Driving towards the city
from Cape Town airport you get a different perspective, as you are confronted
with Devil's Peak and the rugged Eastern buttresses of the Table Mountain
range stretching towards Kirstenbosch Gardens and the coastal towns of
Muizenberg and FishHoek.
Head towards the cable station
and over Kloof Nek towards Camps Bay, and you'll see the peaks of the Twelve
Apostles flanking the winding coastal road to Hout Bay.
Mountain in fact stands at the head of an extensive chain of mountains
extending south along the backbone of the Cape Peninsula towards Cape Point.
It is the direction from whence the well known and respected Cape South
Easterly wind originates, from faraway over the Atlantic Ocean, and it
is the region now known as the Table Mountain National Park.
The Table Mountain range
originated some 500 million years ago when Africa was part of the original
Gondwanaland continent. The Earth was in a turmoil of earth quakes and
volcanic activity. The gigantic tectonic plates within the mantle, many
kilometres below the surface of the seas, shifted, and molten lava was
forced upwards through seabed shale to cool and form granite.
The quartzite/sandstone Cape
mountains we know today developed from sediment deposited by ancient rivers,
which covered the subsiding granite over millions of years. Rocky remnants
of those ancient times can still be seen in the form of huge granite boulders
which dot our coastline and flank many Cape Town beaches.
These days Table Mountain
is a magnet for photographers, tourists and hikers, and a visit to Cape
Town is not complete without a cable car ride or hike to the summit. The
upper cable station is at 1067 metres, and the highest point Maclears Beacon,
stands at 1085 metres.
the Table Mountain cableway:
A funicular railway to the
summit was originally proposed before the 1st world war, but after much
deliberation a cableway system was eventually financed by a group of prominent
businessmen, and opened in 1929.
The cableway was upgraded
in 1997 to the highest safety standards and two large revolving cars now
transport passengers up and down the mountain simultaneously while offering
a panoramic view in all directions.
At peak times during the
summer months long queues snake back from the lower cable station. Cable
way tickets cannot be prebooked.
Public parking is provided
along Tafelberg road. Self employed parking marshalls wearing printed bibs
watch the cars while you ascend the mountain, in return for a few coins.
It is advisable to arrive early to obtain parking nearby at busy times,
otherwise expect to walk some distance along the road.
People with disabilities
are provided with dedicated bays at the lower cable station. The cablecars,
facilities and pathways on the summit are wheel chair friendly.
The cableway usually runs
continuously till late into the evening in peak season Nov-Feb unless strong
winds or poor visibility prohibit its use. When it is time for the last
cable car to descend the mountain, a loud hooter sounds in advance to warn
stragglers. In the event of adverse weather, leave yourself with enough
time to walk down should the cableway be forced to close.
facilities on the summit of Table Mountain in the vicinity of the upper
cable station have also been upgraded to make them more tourist friendly
- unfortunately to the extent where concrete modifications are clearly
visible from below.
Boardwalks lead to lookout
points and telescopes, paths have been laid and signposting indicates points
of interest. There is a self service restaurant and a cocktail bar, and
souvenirs can be purchased.
If you intend to ascend by
means of the cable car remember that the temperature is generally cooler
on top, so bring a coat or windbreaker along. When you reach the summit
don't wander too far from the cable station unless you have a good knowledge
of the area, or unless you are accompanied by an experienced hiker. There
are steep pathways and dangerous cliffs nearby.
Signposting on the various
paths are minimal so if you don't know the mountain it is advisable to
hike with someone who does. Alternatively, hiking maps are available in
stationary stores and at the lower cable station. There are many routes
on Table Mountain which vary in levels of difficulty and exposure. If you
do not know the mountain well then stick with the most well used one.
The most obvious and direct
route on the north face of the mountain which is easily accessible from
the lower cable station, ascends via Platteklip Gorge. Walking time is
1-3 hours from Tafelberg road depending on your pace and level of fitness.
Routes to the summit are
to be found all around the Table Mountain range, some more strenuous than
others. The easiest way up is via the jeep track from Constantia Nek to
the Back Table. It's a longish walk to the cable station.
Whichever route you decide
to take, make sure you are prepared and know where you are going. A hike
up Table Mountain especially in hot weather should not be taken lightly.
Give yourself plenty of time. Leave early and don't walk alone. Carry a
cell phone if possible, a route map, warm clothing, sufficient water and
food, use sunblock and wear a hat. All members of your party should be
equally fit to avoid stragglers.