Cape Town is a place bursting at its seams with a vibrant mix of cultures. It has an amazing scene for culinary, nightlife, arts and adventure. It's affectionately called the ‘Mother City’-- a seaside city inspired by natural wonders; a place where you won't break the bank drinking amazing wines, seeing the Big 5 on a Safari, exploring local markets, tasting local delicacies, experiencing world class art, and dancing the night away.
It's a great city for the self proclaimed history buff, culture junkie, thrill seeker, sun chaser, fitness enthusiast, and foodie. If you've never been to Africa before, this is the best place to start. It’s the kind of place you'll come back to many times in your life.
It was once a place only the most experienced and 'adventurous' traveler would go due to its storied history of dark days (colonization and most recently Apartheid) and also those of great triumph. This history is so rich it cannot be erased, and to this day, you can still see the remnants of its dark past.
On the bright side, since Apartheid ended in the early 1990's, the South African economy has been booming. It is one of few democratic countries on the continent, which hosts major social-economic progressions and a huge amount of investment providing an incredibly vibrant and versatile tourist industry.
Here are 10 of the most Instagrammable photo spots in, and around, Cape Town:
All photos taken by Detroit - based Photographer Justin Milhouse
1) BO KAAP
The Bo-Kaap is an area of Cape Town, South Africa formerly known as the Malay Quarter. It is a former township, situated on the slopes of Signal Hill above the city centre and is a historical centre of Cape Malay culture in Cape Town. It’s origin dates back to the 1760s when numerous ‘huurhuisjes’ (rental houses) were built and leased to slaves. These people were known as Cape Malays, and were brought from Malaysia, Indonesia and the rest of Africa to work in the Cape.
To this day, the houses are a mix of Cape Dutch and Georgian architecture, in distinctive multi-coloured rows on steeply cobbled roads. The choice of colour is said to be attributed to the fact that while on lease, all the houses had to be white. When this rule was eventually lifted, and the slaves were allowed to buy the properties, all the houses were painted bright colours by their owners as an expression of freedom. Many of the families in the Bo Kaap have been living there for generations. Today the Bo-Kaap community is a significant part of South African cultural heritage.
2. BOULDER BEACH
Boulders Beach is one of Cape Town’s most visited beaches and the only place in the world where you get close to African Penguins. The first penguins in Africa arrived on the continent some 20 million years ago when modern ocean currents stabilized, creating the South Atlantic Gyre, an enormous counterclockwise circulation between South America and Africa.
In 1983, A lone pair African Penguins waddled up onto Boulders Beach, after swimming from the main colony on Dyer Island, about 60 miles away. They stayed and had a baby. In following years more and more penguins joined them and today the colony boasts a population of around 3000.
3. GOLD RESTAURANT
GOLD Restaurant awakens all the senses. It's a dining experience the celebrates food, flavors, family and friends, accompanied by live entertainment. They have warm and attentive staff, and you can enjoy their award-winning,14-dish tasting menu inspired by ingredients and textures from all over the African continent. The entertainment includes live dancing and singing to the rhythmic beating of African djembe drums.
4. CLIFTON 3RD BEACH
Clifton is an affluent suburb of Cape Town, South Africa. It is an exclusive residential area and is home to the most expensive real estate in South Africa, with dwellings nestled on cliffs that have sweeping views of the Atlantic Ocean. It's the smallest of the Clifton Beach's, but it's a trendy yet more low-key way to spend an afternoon.
5. SEVEN SISTERS WINE ESTATE
South Africa has an incredibly robust wine scene. You can spend days tasting your way through Stellenbosch, Franschhoek & beyond. Although South Africa has come along way, the residual effect of colonialism and Apartheid have created major socio-economic barriers for native South Africans. Seven Sisters Wine's are one of the few black-owned Wineries in South Africa, and around the world in general. It's owned by 7 sisters, and one brother, who grew up in a poor fishing village on the western coast of South Africa. You must make an appointment in advance to visit.
6. AQUILA SAFARI PRIVATE GAME RESERVE
Set in the pristine Southern Karoo against a backdrop of dramatic mountains, Aquila Private Game Reserve offers an exciting taste of real Africa, just two hours from Cape Town. Aquila is home to an enormous variety of game, including the Big 5 - offering safari’s in four-wheel-drive vehicles, quad bikes or on horseback. Dining takes place buffet style, where the chef presents a rich variety of authentic South African cuisine, together with a superb South African wine list. You'll stay in 4-star Afro-chic lodge rooms or rock, thatch and wood cottages with alfresco showers. It you are new to Safaris, or just watch to catch stunning views, this is one of the few within reasonable driving distance from Cape Town.
7. HIGH COURT CIVIL ANNEX CAPE TOWN
The tragic legacy of Apartheid can been observed in socio-economic and physical ways. At the High Court, you can visit an area that has preserved the separate benches used by white and non-white South African's during that time. They keep these there to remind themselves how far they have come, and how much further they need to go.
8. ZORGVLIET WINE ESTATE
Seven kilometers outside Stellenbosch in the heart of the wine lands you will find a place of serenity and ultimate beauty, Zorgvliet Wines. They have great wine, an amazing staff, and incredible views.
9. PARLIAMENT OF REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA
The Parliament of South Africa is South Africa's legislature and under the country's current Constitution is composed of the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces. It is most famously the location of future president Nelson Mandela's first speech after he was released from prison. Mandela served 27 years in prison, split between Robben Island, Pollsmoor Prison, and Victor Verster Prison. He was arrested and imprisoned in 1962, and subsequently sentenced to life imprisonment for conspiring to overthrow the state following the Rivonia Trial. Mandela’s life is closely connected to the history of South Africa and the struggle for racial equality.
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