Only a five-hour flight from Mauritius, Cape Town has a lot to offer in terms of stunning nature, a rich history, adventure that is all around, a world-class wining and dining and of course, the Big 5 up close: the African lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, African leopard, and the rhinoceros.
Let me give you a taste of my journey in this beautiful city of Cape Town.
Plan your trip
The common route from Mauritius is with South African Airways. To go to Cape Town after a 4-hour flight there is a first stop at Johannesburg. Then a domestic flight to Cape Town for an additional 2 hours. One thing to note on this domestic transfer: once you clear immigration in Johannesburg, you have to collect your bags and proceed to recheck counters to drop your bags for the domestic flight, in this case, Cape Town. The rest is the same, proceed to your departure gates and board your flight.
Need to know
Mauritians do not need a visa. I would recommend getting a local sim card loaded with data in order to use google maps to get around if you are not familiar with the places.
When to go
The best time to travel to Cape Town starts from the end of September until March while summer there is from the beginning of November and ends at the end of February
Where to stay
Whether you choose to stay near the beach around Camps Bay or Sea Point or in the city in Bree Street, Long Street or even on Kloof Street, it is so easy to move around in the city of Cape Town. Look up for places according to your budget.
Getting around in the city is quite easy, and different options are available. The first one is to rent a car right at the airport. Secondly, you can get on a bus for the city sightseeing, it is an open-top bus tour within the city and you can hop on and hop off at any of the places of interest you want to do. You can get your city sightseeing pass from one to three days on City sightseeing pass.
Or you can even get a tour agency to organise all your itinerary and transfers. It can be on a collective tour or on a private one.
At the V & A Waterfront, these are definitely the addresses to go:
Willoughby & co. – Sushi selection and Japanese cuisine
Tashas – Spanish Signature food
Primi – Italian restaurant
Gold Restaurant – African food
Then there is a wide choice of restaurants on Kloof Street, Bree Street or even Long Street.
Like Yours Truly on Kloof Street and Clarke’s Bar and Dining room on Bree Street.
If you are around Simon’s town then you could try the Seaforth restaurant which is five minutes from Boulder’s Beach.
So now that you have all the useful information, let’s get into the heart of the reason you chose to travel to Cape Town.
Things to do
Road trip from Camps Bay to Cape Point
This is a must-do road trip itinerary, it is a beautiful coastal scenic route. You will pass by Clifton, Camps Bay, Hout Bay Harbour, Chapman’s Peak then drive to Simon’s Town to see the African Penguins at Boulders Beach. I recommend having lunch at the Seaforth restaurant, a seafood specialist, which is literally 5 minutes walk away from Boulders Beach.
After seeing the African Penguins, you can continue your way down to Cape Point which is found at the southern part of the Table Mountain National Park of Good Hope. There is an entry ticket access fee. The view on False Bay is just beautiful. The National Park is full of local Fauna and Flora.
From Cape Point, you can either hike up to the lighthouse on the top for an awesome viewpoint or take the car on the top and from there take the cable car to the lighthouse. This is the view from up there.
Well, Table Mountain was supposed to be the first stop on our road trip but once we arrived there, the place was packed and we decided to continue with the rest of the itinerary. This turned out to be the best decision as we were back to Table Mountain after visiting Cape Point which was around the sunset hour. We took the cable car to take us to the top of Table Mountain and the floor rotates under the feet to give its visitors a full 360 degrees view.
The sunset on top left us speechless, the colors would change right in front of our eyes with the mountain peaks which would be the 12 Apostles and further as the eye could see, the Lion’s Head too as scenery.
It was a beautiful way to end the very first day in Cape Town, which looked promising for the rest of our trip.
It is a huge garden with green and lush vegetation and flowers where you can take a leisure walk, bring your food and have a garden picnic on the grass and during the summer there are quite a few concerts which take place there.
Cape Side Car Adventures
Be ready, you will be equipped with a helmet, a leather jacket and a scarf. This activity can take up to two people per sidecar. There are two formulas, either the 2-hour sightseeing tour or hop on for a full day Cape Peninsula tour in a vintage sidecar.
It was so much fun to be on the sidecar. We opted for a 2-hour tour and started right in front of my hotel and we drove up to Chapman’s Peak and back. The best thing if you do it with a friend is to swap your places. One way behind the driver and on the way back in the sidecar.
Bo-Kaap town – an expression of freedom
Bo- Kaap is a town with colorful buildings that tell a particular story which is now a cultural heritage of Cape Town. Back in the days’ people were brought to Africa to work as slaves. At this time these houses were occupied by them and the houses had to remain white by law. But after these people were emancipated in 1834, they were given the right to buy their houses and painted them with bold colors of their choice. Bo-Kaap may look like a beautifully painted town, but with deeper understanding, it goes beyond than just art as it is an expression of freedom.
Cape Town from the sky
What about seeing Cape Town now from the sky?
In this case, the depart would be from Signal Hill and land in Sea Point. Note that this activity is subject to good weather conditions and favorable wind for the fly to take place. So if you really want to try paragliding, I would strongly recommend fitting this activity right at the start of your visit in the city so if ever it is cancelled it can still be rescheduled in the coming days.
As for the flight itself, I was very calm as it was smoothly done and the expert flying with me was very friendly. All you have to do is to listen to the directives and enjoy the rest of the flight and the view, remember to keep your eyes wide open.
Unfortunately, I ran out of time to do this one but it would be great if you could get on a helicopter city tour. This can be done from different places in the city. The better option would be to take the unlimited premium iVenture pass, it will save you money on this activity plus do more attractions in Cape Town. I go in further details of the iVenture pass later in this post.
Wining and Dining
You do not have to limit yourself to a single wine estate when visiting the Cape Winelands. Just to give you an idea of how many wine estates there are, even if you stay a whole year in South Africa you would still not be able to do all the wine estates present. However, the most known winemaking towns are; Stellenbosch, Groot Constantia, Paarl, Franschhoek, Riebeek Kasteel, Hemel-en-Aarde Valley and Route 62.
The closest winemaking region will be Constantia, just about half an hour away from the city. It is close to Kirstenbosch garden. There are several wine estates you could visit and combine wine tasting with lunch at any of the farms. To have a good time it is better not to do more than 3 or 4 wine estates a day for tasting because after tasting 20 – 30 different wines you will not be able to tell which one you like better.
Then there is the Stellenbosch region which is the second oldest settlement in South Africa and there are about 200 wine estateS in this area. The most popular one would be:
Delaire Graff wine estate
Simonsig wine farm
Tokara wine estate
Neethilingshof wine estate
The choice for visiting a wine estate, of course, varies from individuals and can be oriented according to the quality of the wine, estates with the nicest views, estates with the best restaurants, the cheapest tasting, chocolate pairing, or cheese pairing. One of the wine estates even has a cheetah and eagles sanctuary like at the Spier wine farm in Stellenbosch. Wine tasting starts from ZAR 50 (Rs 125) for a minimum of 5 different wines.
Besides the wine tasting, there are other things to do around the wine village. On the main street usually, there are small galleries, craft markets, souvenir shops, museums, coffee shops and restaurants.
Dining and Drumming experience at the Gold Restaurant
This is undeniably the best dining experience that I will cherish from Cape Town. For a full experience, book your table for 6pm, as the South African experience at the restaurant starts with a drumming initiation. Grab yourself a drum and follow the fun directives of the lead drummer on the stage. He will start by giving you short beats to repeat until you master it and will slowly add more beats to make a rhythmic tune. Now imagine the whole room playing the drums with other local musical instruments added to it like the xylophone. The African ambience keeps on all night with dancers, other instrumental shoe and the main show of the night with the appearance of the Gold queen where she would walk around the table and sprinkle gold dust in the air.
The staffs are all dressed in African outfits which are very colorful and lively, some ladies would come to your table and make some African design on your face, this is a form of makeup they would use to intimidate and frighten outsiders or just to embellish the women outfits on special occasions.
When it comes to the dining experience itself, African food is traditionally shared and enjoyed with family and friends. The 14-dish tasting menu is served in generous individual and shared portions. It is a set menu from a halal kitchen and you will be tasting dishes from seven different African countries including Tanzania, Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Kenya and Morocco.
Safari and the Big Five
Sometimes, with the hustle and bustle of modern life, we all need a moment to empty our minds and feel connected to nature. The Aquila private game reserve is less than two hours drive from Cape Town. The reserve offers a Big 5 safari experience in about a 10,000-hectare conservancy in the vastness of Karoo.
At Aquila, guests can come to spend the day, enjoy the safari experience and the reserve facilities or even spend the night in its accommodation made available. If you chose to spend a night on the game reserve you will experience two safari drives, one at sunset and the other one early morning on the next day. This is to give you the best of the Big 5 experience. On the safari drive, you will be accompanied by a guide who will give you an unforgettable experience with these magnificent creatures and share his knowledge on each of the animal’s specification and about their anatomy facts. The game drive turned out to be fun and very informative, I really enjoyed it especially when I saw the gentle giants, the African elephants for the first time. They are very impressive as well as the giraffe too.
The guests can choose from an array of safari options such as the traditional two to three -hour game drive, the horseback safari or the quad bike safari.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served in a wide choice of buffet-style in the main restaurant found by the pool.
Back to the reserve, you can relax at the poolside with some cocktail or even go for one of the signature massages at the “Tranquila Spa” or go for the sauna and hammam facilities.
The iVenture card
The thing that I came across upon this trip is the iVenture card. It combines the best attractions, tours and experiences into one pre-paid attractions pass to save you time and money. You choose what you want to do and when you want to do it, simply present your pass on arrival for cash-free-entry. How simple is that?
There are different packages which exist with the iVenture card to better suit your holiday adventure and save up to 50% on Cape Town’s top attractions. You can choose the iVenture package you want among the Flexi attraction pass, the Unlimited attraction pass or the Unlimited premium pass.
I do STRONGLY recommend you to grab your iVenture pass and discover the city. Now imagine doing shark cage diving, helicopter tour, visit the Two Oceans aquarium, museums, the Table Mountain, going on Robben Island, safari game drive and so much more just with the iVenture card.
On my last day in this beautiful city, I chose to use my iVenture card for the attractions found in V&A Waterfront. With the Flexi attraction you can have up to a maximum of 5 attractions and below are what I opted for.
My first attraction was the Two Ocean Aquarium. A place where you can discover more about the ocean ecology, dive in a magical underwater forest with turtles, stingrays and a wide variety of fish species, but also go for a shark diving without a cage in the predator exhibit. The Two Oceans Aquarium is a great attraction for all ages.
My second attraction was the Zeitz Mocaa, still in the V&A Waterfront which is a contemporary African art museum. I always like to include a museum while I am travelling because I think it gives you a better feel of the country’s history and also I can see the work of great rising artists.
After the museum’s visit and a lunch break my third attraction was the Cape Wheel. This is a 360-degree view over Cape Town where you hop in a cabin wheel and enjoy the views on the Table Mountain, Robben Island, Cape Town Skyline, Cape Town Stadium and Paarl Mountains.
Sunset champagne cruise
Now that I have seen Cape Town from the lands and from the sky, I wanted to see this beautiful city from the sea. This is an attraction that you can enjoy with the iVenture card right on the harbour of the V&A Waterfront. You will depart from the Waterfront a little before sunset and embark for an hour and a half sunset champagne cruise. You will see seals and dolphins and even whale during this cruise. The staff on the boat are very friendly and professional as well as the captain who will do you a guided tour throughout.
Just chill, relax and enjoy your sunset trip. As for me, it was a wonderful way to end the day at sea. I can tell that I have seen Cape Town from all the possible angles.
Also not to miss:
The list keeps on getting longer with all the things you can do in Cape Town. Two main activities which I really wanted to do, starting with the visit to Robben Island. In Dutch, Robben Island means “seal island” which you can go by taking a boat from the V&A Waterfront. It is very popular because it was on this island that Nelson Mandela was imprisoned eighteen years of his twenty-seven years he spent behind bars before the fall of the apartheid and you can visit the prison and even walk in his cell.
Tours from the Waterfront depart three times a day and take about 3.5 hours, consisting of a ferry trip to and from the island, and a tour of the various historical sites on the island that form part of the Robben Island Museum
Robben island is a South African National Heritage Site as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
And the second thing I also wanted to do is hike the Lion’s Head mountain and watch the sunset from there. Guess it will be upon another visit for me.
The whole blog is about personal experiences which I really enjoyed and the must-do activities. For those of you who are still hesitating to go to Cape Town, I hope this doubt is cleared and rest reassured it is a very safe city.
I would like to stress on the necessity of having a travel insurance to cover yourself in case of any damage or loss of your personal items but most importantly to cover you for any health problem that you might encounter while travelling and to feel stress-free in case of any of the mentioned above.
You are never really safe, the only time I said I should not need one for travel, well I had a minor accident and I did not have my insurance cover for the medical costs. So, a piece of friendly advice, get your travel insurance every time. You can take yours at Mauritius Union for instance.
We do not remember days… We remember moments.
Find yours in Cape Town.
Book your Cape Town experience now with Shamal Travels for a custom holiday experience.
Special thanks to my travel friend Yoann Boyer and for his beautiful photography.
And the South African Airways
If you do have any questions or if I can assist you in anything, please write in the comment section below.
Enjoy South Africa and safe travels
xx Katia xx