Cape Town. It’s not hard to love this city, affectionately called “the Mother City” by locals, on the southwestern tip of the African continent. If its stunning natural beauty doesn’t sweep you off your feet, its hospitable people and gorgeous food and wines will! And that makes Cape Town one of my favourite cities anywhere in the world.
Cape Town never ceases to inspire me. There’s inspiration to be found around every corner; from the majestic natural scenery to its people, history and melting pot of cultures. Here are five ways to add dollops of inspiration to your trip to Cape Town. They worked for me and I’m sure they’ll work their magic on you too!
Breathtaking views from Table Mountain
A trip to Cape Town would not be complete without a visit to the top of Cape Town’s most iconic symbol: Table Mountain. The views are quite literally breathtaking. There are two ways to get to the top: by cable-car or a hike through the imposing Plattekip Gorge. The cable-car rotates 360 degrees as it ascends the mountain, offering stunning panoramic views of the mountains, the city and Table Bay. The Platteklip Gorge trail zig-zags in a gradual ascent and takes an average of two hours to climb. Along the way, stop to appreciate the indigenous fynbos vegetation. A trek up the mountain in spring when the fynbos is in full bloom is especially rewarding.
Powerful lessons on Robben Island
Another must-visit in Cape Town is Robben Island. The island was for many years a prison camp. It was here that many political prisoners, including Nelson Mandela, were imprisoned during South Africa’s apartheid regime. A trip to Robben Island is a powerful lesson to everyone of suppression, unimaginable hardship, forgiveness and reconciliation. The tour around the island by ex-inmates, and hearing their personal stories of life on the island, is an unforgettable experience that is both moving and deeply inspiring.
Empowerment and grit in the township
Masiphumelele is a township near Cape Town that is home to more than 45,000 people. Unemployment is widespread and living conditions are poor but the kids, with their big smiles, boundless energy, enthusiasm and curiosity, are a beacon of hope. A bicycle tour around the township provides visitors with a unique opportunity to speak with the locals and learn about the efforts of the government, in partnership with non-profits and residents to alleviate poverty in this community. New housing and schools are being built, sewage is being improved, and the library, where kids come to play, read and take classes in English and computers, is a busy place. Wherever you go, you’ll be surrounded by kids who will jump on your bikes and chat excitedly with you – their enthusiasm and joy is absolutely infectious. The bike tour through the township, organised by AWOL tours, is an inspiring lesson in empowerment and grit, an experience that is truly humbling.
The awe-inspiring Cape Peninsula loop
This is one of my favourite drives in the world. The scenery is bewitching: from the bright blue expanse of False Bay framed by dark, brooding mountains, to the cute penguins at Boulders Beach, the dramatic shoreline of Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope, and the spectacular bends of Chapman’s Peak Drive. Prepare to be awed by the magnificence of this corner of the Western Cape.
Unforgettable marine life viewing
Located where two great oceans meet, the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, Cape Town and the Western Cape are excellent areas to spot an abundance of marine life, from the Southern Right and sperm whales to Great White sharks, seals and the endangered African penguins. You can view the African penguin colony at Boulders Beach near Cape Town, and if you’re lucky, you may be able to spot pods of whales frolicking near the shore in certain areas such as False Bay, Hout Bay and along the Victoria Drive (from Cape Town to Hout Bay). For a truly mind-blowing experience, head to Gansbaai, about a two-hour drive from Cape Town and take a boat tour to Dyer Island. Within a span of a few hours, you’re almost guaranteed to see Great White sharks, whales, seals, penguins and perhaps a few dolphins!
After a long day of exploration and (undoubtedly) many inspiring moments, head to the Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa for a relaxing massage and one more inspiring moment: the sunset from the hotel’s terrace!