Even though it seems that South Africa has been thus far spared the worst of Coronavirus, as a precaution many mass public events like concerts and festivals have been cancelled though not to the extent as Europe. Fortunately as Cape Town is endowed with a wealth of hiking trails that you can do in small groups, a more wholesome, serene kind of recreation will always be available. Getting out of the city is a cinch in Cape Town and with less than an hours drive you can easily reach trails which will allow you to meander through forests glades, swim in rock pools and generally just get lost in your thoughts. Even though being safe on a hike is common sense, it is vitally important that you follow the basic rules while hiking in Cape Town. Cape Town in summer can get very hot, so take plenty of water in a recyclable container that you can refill on your trail. Hat and sun block are a prerequisite. It can also get chilly quickly, so bring a fleece and a waterproof as rain can also come from nowhere. Also some snacks and a rucksack to carry it all so your hands are free. Make sure you have sensible shoes and a phone that is fully charged before you set out. Do not take valuables on a hike, although the parks in Cape Town are well staffed by rangers, it is better to be safe than sorry. With all the necessary preparations in order you will be ready to experience some of the most incredible sights and sounds that await you in Cape Town’s hiking trails.
Situated on the foreshore of Cape Town, just a short walk from the CBD, the Victoria & Alfred (V&A) Waterfront, or just the Waterfront as it known to locals, is so much more than a shopping centre, and has become a tourist destination in its own right. In addition to shopping and hospitality, amongst other activities, there is boat cruises, helicopter trips, gyms, pirate ships, cave golf, a big wheel, museums, an aquarium and the largest modern art museum in Africa - the Zeitz MOCAA. Still a working harbour, the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront extends over a large area making it perfect for an afternoon of serendipitous wandering and browsing both inside the centre and outside through it is many annexes and attractions. Shopping wise it caters for most budgets, with over 450 outlets from the local finds like Master Wires-and Beadcraft’s African Curios and Imani Jewel’s African gemstones in the Watershed Design Shed to the high end super luxury offerings situated in the exclusive ‘Platinum Mile’ shopping area of the centre. It has a staggering 80 restaurants and cafes. From coffee shops to cocktails at sunsets to fine-dining experiences, the V&A has hospitality covered and then some. With an array of attractions for kids, by day it is the perfect place to bring the family for a safe and fun day out. After dark the Waterfront comes alive with a different kind of buzz with its multiple bars and venues offering live music and entertainment till late in the evening.
Canal Walk is the serious shopping Mecca of Cape Town. Cape Town’s biggest mall, its grand Venetian inspired design transcends a staggering 141,000-square-metres. Just a short drive from Cape Town, it has over 400 stores, ranging from high end fashion to jewellery and from high tech to home and decor. It really is the centre that covers all the bases for the most demanding of shopaholics. It is where you will find big name international brands like Diesel, Guess, H&M and Levis next to the local stalwarts like Edgars, Mr Price and Markhams as well as quirky specialised shops. Coin dealers, bridal boutiques, bespoke tailors, golf outlets and movie memorabilia are just some of the retail gems dotted around the centre. It has 18 restaurants and cafes that cater for all palates from health food to pub grub and from pizza to sushi. If you like to mix your shopping with some pampering, Canal Walk has you covered with an array of spas, hairdressers, masseuses, nail bars and foot spas. Entertainment wise it has many cinema screens, including one Extreme screen which is three-storeys high with 360-degree sound for the ultimate immersive experience. Though it is in the leisure stakes that makes Canal Walk unique through its proximity to the Intaka Island nature reserve which is linked to the centre by canals. What better way to relax after a busy morning of shopping than a relaxing boat ride through nature?
In real estate there is a three word mantra that is beloved by realtors across the board. Location, Location, Location. Eden on the Bay ticks that box and then some. It is situated directly adjacent to a beautiful beach and has one of the best views of one of the world’s most magnificent sights on the planet. The view of Table Mountain from the West Coast beaches of Cape Town is one of the most instagrammed globally. This boutique mall has a wide and varied offering from a supermarket, for those beach provisions, to fashion and jewellery through to quirky outlets like the Big Bay Sea Shells Co, with makes amazing things with shells. It has spas, hairdressers and pilates amongst its service offering, though it is how it makes use of the view that it really stands out. It has 12 restaurants and cafes, nearly all of which have outstanding sea and mountain views. As it is home to beautiful lawns as well as the beach, you could opt for a quick take away or even pack your own picnic. Big Bay is one of the word’s best kite surfing and surfing spots, so in addition to sun, sea and sand, you will often be treated to the sight of colourful kite surfers in full flight. If you’re feeling adventurous there is also the opportunity of learning to surf, kite surf and stand up paddle board at the centre. Making excellent use of its location, Eden on the Bay is the ideal destination centre where you come to shop and then stay to eat and either chill or play on the beach until sunset and beyond.
Shopping is better than sex. If you're not satisfied after shopping you can make an exchange for something you really like.
One thing that unites all cultures is the love of shopping, whether it’s bargain hunting, present buying or treating yourself to that special something, we all need to shop. Africa and South Africa has always had a long tradition of markets where people would travel from far and wide not only to stock up on provisions, but to spoil themselves with luxury items for themselves and their family. You will still find an array of informal markets across Cape Town which we will cover in future blogs, but sometimes you just crave the comfort, choice, convenience and elegant pacing of a mall. Of course in the shopping centres of the 21st century, retail is only part of the offering. Recreation, entertainment, eating and drinking and services as varied as massage therapy and kids’ craft classes are all part of the offering that centres use to entice customers. Centres have become destinations in themselves, where people visit to leisurely explore and enjoy. As a visitor to Cape Town you would expect centres to have an offering that recognises the local landscape in their shopping and services. This week we have chosen three centres that do exactly that, offer international class retail and services with a distinctively local flavour.
Cape Town is one of the only cities in the world that has a huge national park that practically straddles across the entire city. Originating from north of Cape Town it stretches across the Peninsula to Cape Point. A natural world heritage site, and a Natural New 7 Wonder of the World, the park encompass beaches, forests, waterfalls, ravines and its topped with the magnificent iconic Table Mountain. You can hike in it, climb in it, cycle in it, swim in it, surf it, camp in it and even see Penguins in it, at Boulders Beach. It is so intertwined with the geography of the City of Cape Town that in parts it borders residential properties. It is awash with flora, with 8200 plant species, to put that into perspective the whole off the UK has less than 1500 plant species. In addition to the penguins the park is home to baboons, antelopes, eland, caracals, dassies and quaggas. It’s very popular with hikers and local favourites include a full moon hike up Lion’s Head, Silvermine to the Elephant’s Eye Cave and Platteklip Gorge, the quickest and easiest hike up Table Mountain. Although private camping is banned in the park, there are many accommodation options ranging from budget overnight basic huts to tented camps right through to more plush cottages.
Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden, or just simply Kirstenbosch as it called in Cape Town, is seen as one of the most beautiful botanical gardens in the word. With a spectacular mountain backdrop, its rolling lawns, gardens and extensive range of flora and fauna extend over 36 hectares of serene parklands. With an emphasis on biodiversity Kirstenbosch grows only indigenous South African plants on its grounds With a fragrance garden, a medicinal garden, a protea garden, a cycad amphitheatre complete with life size models of dinosaurs and a meandering 160 metre long tree canopy walkway, Kirstenbosch is designed for serendipitous walks of discovery. Or if you’d prefer a more planned approach there is free guided tours throughout the day. It’s the perfect park to spend a day meandering, contemplating and of course with lots of stopping to smell the flowers. Its lawns are made for picture perfect picnicking, though if you feel like being pampered there is a number of eateries and tea rooms to choose from. You can even buy a ready made picnic hamper to take to the lawns. For some Eco-friendly retail therapy there is also a garden centre, a book shop and a gift shop on site. Every Sunday in Summer Kirstenbosch plays host to sundowner concerts which are truly magical experiences and a must-do while you’re in Cape Town.
The Company Gardens founded in 1652 is the oldest formal garden in South Africa. It was created by the first European settlers to grow fresh produce for the blossoming shipping trade that was stopping off in the newly formed port of Cape Town. The “Company” in the gardens refers to the Dutch East Indian Company who were the de facto owners of the settlement of Cape Town. Initially it was used primarily for growing vegetables, but over time trees, shrubs and flowers were added making it one of the most celebrated gardens in the world of its time. Due to its location near the CBD, the park is an urban oasis for city workers needing a break from the rat race. At lunch times the garden comes alive with impromptu picnickers. The garden’s main thoroughfare, the oak lined Government Avenue offers the opportunity for a wonderful shady amble or the chance to stop and feed the friendly squirrels who scurry with joyful abandon across the gardens. If you feeling just a tad more active and want to make a day of it with your family, The Company Gardens is home to the National Museum of South African, the South African National Gallery, Cape Town Cathedral and a Planetarium. There is regular crafts markets in the gardens and a delightful tea room with a terrace if you forgot to pack your own lunch.
“Parks and playgrounds are the soul of a city.” Marty Rubin
As it has an abundance of beaches and a mountain slap bang in the middle of the city, Cape Town’s proximity to nature is one of its most appealing characteristics. Even with this array of nature on its doorstep, parks are the lungs of a city. A place to escape the hustle and bustle of urban life, to take a timeout, to relax, chill and breathe. With over 5000 hectares of clean, safe and accessible city-run open spaces from Claremont to Woodstock and from Durbanville to Mitchells Plain, you are never too far from a park in Cape Town. Due to the inequities of the past, the townships are somewhat lacking in the green space department though the excellent Khayelitsha Wetlands Park demonstrates that the City of Cape Town is making a serious effort to rectify past omissions. Every park as its own charms from the pick-up soccer games in Sea Point to outdoor spray cooling in Valhalla Park to jogging around the exquisite Green Point Urban Park in the shade of Cape Town Stadium. Whether you want to throw a frisbee, savour a picnic or simply chill out with a good book, you can be assured Cape Town has a park for you.
If theatres were towns, The Theatre On The Bay would be Cannes. Situated at the South end of the uber hip Camps Bay Strip, The Theatre On The Bay is glam with a capital G. Lavish concrete drapes sweep across the façade of The Theatre On The Bay, giving the building a classical yet contemporary feel that suggests charm and playfulness in equal measure. This intimate 238 seater venue plays host to array of theatrical delights ranging from musicals and comedies to one person shows from the legends of South Africa’s theatre scene. Its onsite Sidedish Theatre Bistro promises a more chic alternative to the functional nature of pre show dining. If you in a larger group you can book the VIP room on the top floor of the theatre with spectacular ocean and mountain views. The beach location of the theatre makes it truly unique. As the sunsets here are some of the best in the world you might be lucky enough to experience a pre show delight from nature at its own performing best. After the show, it’s just a short moonlit walk along the beach to some of the finest restaurants and nightspots in Cape Town.