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Contrary to the belief that the southern tip of Africa is synonymous with the Cape of Good Hope, the cape is actually a craggy promontory that meets the crashing waves of the Atlantic Ocean on Cape Peninsula. A fiercely windy spot that matches the cape's dramatic terrain, it marks a point where one travels more eastward than southward. This iconic cape was discovered by Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias in 1488, who christened it Cabo das Tormentas, or the Cape of Storms. This serendipitous discovery not only aided the attempts of the Portuguese who wished to establish trade relations with the Far East, but also went on to be profoundly crucial to seafarers who charted the waters of the South Atlantic Ocean. Forming part of the Table Mountain National Park, the picturesque cape is much more than just a pivotal point on the world map. Its unique habitat and spectacular combination of sea and mountain scenery is home to nearly 250 aviary species, including mainland colonies of African penguins. It is also the proud home of the indigenous chacma baboons. The Cape of Good Hope is also famously shrouded in mythical folklore, the most renown of which is the legend of The Flying Dutchman, a doomed ghost ship that is condemned to sail the stormy seas of the ocean till all eternity.
The Table Mountain National Park was demarcated as a protected zone in 1998. The Table Mountain is populated by a rare form of shrubland known as Fynbos. The South African National Park is also a part of UNESCO’s Cape Floral Region World Heritage Site. Table Mountain and the Cape of Good Hope are the two famous landmarks of the area. The park is home to a vibrant variety of wildlife, especially larger animals like leopards, black rhinoceros and bontebok.
Between the 17th and 20th Centuries, Robben Island was synonymous with isolation, variously used as a prison, leper colony and asylum. Through the course of its history, this small island off the coast of Bloubergstrand, Cape Town, South Africa was also employed as a post office, military outpost and port for ships visiting Table Bay. However, the island is most renowned as the site of the maximum security prison for political prisoners opened in 1961 to detain the leaders of the anti-apartheid revolution. The most notable of the island's inmates is Nobel Laureate and former President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, who spent 18 years of his 27-year sentence at Robben Island. Other former inmates include Kgalema Motlanthe and Jacob Zuma, both of whom went on to be elected presidents of the country following the fall of apartheid in 1990. Robben Island is now a museum that preserves the legacy of the island; a symbol of the triumph of democracy over racism, inequality and discrimination. Besides the imposing edifice of the maximum security prison, the island also encompasses the crumbling ruins of the military fort, the lepers’ church, a small lighthouse and the tomb of Hadije Kramat - a place of pilgrimage. A World Heritage Site, Robben Island attracts thousands of visitors each year. Guided tours are led by former inmates who offer a rare glimpse into the lives of those incarcerated at Robben Island.
Set in beautiful surroundings on the eastern slopes of Table Mountain, this magnificent 538-hectare (1329.43 acre) garden features a rich diversity of indigenous South African plants. The lower portion of Kirstenbosch consists of large flowerbeds and expansive lawns while higher up the slopes, the cultivated garden gives way to natural forest and fynbos. At the main entrance, an impressive conservatory houses a wide variety of plants from other climatic regions of South Africa. There is a restaurant, an information desk and a great shop. Come summertime, the gardens host the annual, magical Sunset Concerts. The gardens also have their own Stone Cottage which can be hired for various events like lectures, meeting and such other events. The cottage can accommodate about 60 people and has a self-catering service.
These rocks are named after the rounded boulders which shelter a beautiful swimming beach from the mischievous south-easterly winds. A part of Table Mountain National Park, Boulders Beach gives a unique opportunity to swim with Jackass (African) penguins. You'll find the main penguin colony at Foxy Beach next to the swimming beach where there is an attractive boardwalk. The friendly park staff will be happy to answer any questions. Although these penguins are among the most human-tolerant in the world, they can inflict a severe bite if their space is invaded, or they feel threatened. It is safe to maintain a safe distance of at least a meter between them and yourself. You'll be able to see a variety of other birds at Boulders. These include the African Black Oyster-catcher and the Crowned Cormorant plus numerous species of smaller birds.
Originally founded in 1994 as a space where ex-residents could gather and meet, the District 6 Museum stands as a way to memorialize the tumultuous history of the district's residents. As part of the South African apartheid, more than 60,000 native residents were relocated to an area known as the Cape Flats. Today, the museum offers exhibitions depicting the history of this ward. Tours guided by an ex-resident of District 6 are available by calling in advance, or visitors can tour the streets on their own. A bookstore and coffee shop are also located on-site.
Begun as a small collection of 45 paintings in 1871, the Iziko South African National Gallery originally showcased work by early 20th-century British artists. Beginning in the 1980s, however, the increasing emergence of impressive and significant art from South African artists caused the museum to begin to shift its acquisition policies. This lead in 1990 to a complete redefinition of the institution's purpose, which now celebrates vital examples of artistic expression from all over the African continent as well as European art, with a particular focus on the Southern African regions. Featuring such genres as painting, photography, textiles, sculpture, and bead-work, the National Gallery represents the pinnacle of indigenous artistic achievement.
This is the oldest part of Cape Town's harbor, dating back to 1860. Although still a working harbor, it has transformed into one of Cape Town's prime attractions. Restaurants, bars and cafes abound, and if it's shopping you are after, then its 240 stores, of all descriptions, are sure to please you. The Two Oceans Aquarium is South Africa's largest, housing 300 marine species. Even if you are in Cape Town just for a brief duration, definitely consider giving this place a visit.
This must-see, Atlantic Seaboard drive connects Hout Bay and Noordhoek. For a small toll fee, you can enjoy 9 kilometers of gorgeous views of Hout Bay, stunning mountain peaks, and beautiful landscape. Along the road, you will find many places to pull off and enjoy a picnic or sunset. As you climb the road at 593 meters, you reach an amazing point which is well worth a pause. Breathtaking 180-degree views are on full display as you drive around the many bends in the road. The road has been extensively repaired and connects Hout Bay to a number of other enjoyable attractions such as Simon's Town and Cape Point. It's the perfect drive to get away from the shops and hustle of Cape Town.
Guided tours of this national monument take place at the top of the hour daily. The pentagonal building was built by Pieter Dombaer in the shape of a five-pointed star, following a construction system inspired by French military engineer Vauban. The five bastions carry the titles of the Prince of Leerdam; Oranje; Buren; Catzenellenbogen; and Nassau. The bastions housed the military, provided storerooms, prisoner cells and chambers. Come and see the formal changing of the guard at 10:00a and again at noon on weekdays.