Cape Town (and South Africa) officially became a thing in 1652, when Jan Van Riebeeck landed to found a way station for the Dutch East India Company on its trade route between Holland and the Far East.
The reality is that there was actually a presence on the site before that and the real story of who was there first is somewhat different, but history being what it is (complicated, for the most part), it ultimately depends who you ask, and these days that is the officially recognised date of the founding of what in South Africa is known as the Mother City, and throughout the world is known as one of the most spectacular places to visit.
Regularly voted in as one of the most beautiful cities in the world, Cape Town truly is a special place. Although cities are usually imagined as only buildings and concrete with nature being a very distant concept, Cape Town bucks this trend.
Shadowed by the magnificent beauty of Table Mountain (a World Heritage Site), the great outdoors are a vital part of daily life in this buzzing, energetic city. From the green lungs of the Kirstenbosch botanical gardens (another World Heritage Site; Robben Island is the third in the city) to the electrifying nightlife along the V&A Waterfront, Cape Town is one of the most dramatic and exciting urban locations one can find, and no trip to South Africa is complete without a visit to this tourism hub.
Visitors do however need to be aware of the seasons, and more particularly the different climates that are found at opposite ends of South Africa.
Cape Town features a typical Mediterranean climate; hot dry summers and cold wet winters. Whilst this makes for a superb wine growing region (South African wines are some of the finest in the world), it does mean you need to pack accordingly.
The main safari areas in South Africa on the other hand – that many people combine their visits to Cape Town with – are exactly the opposite; the hot summers are their wet seasons, punctuated by regular thundershowers, and the winters are cool and dry.
Many rate the winter months (we’re talking about the South African winter here, ie. June/July/August) as the best months to visit the game reserves, as cooler temperatures generally result in more activity from the predators in particular. This does mean though that you may encounter rain if you take in a few days in Cape Town, and the stunning beaches may not be quite as appealing as they would be during the summer months. Having said that, perfectly calm clear days are becoming more and more of a feature in a Cape Town winter, so there will almost certainly be an opportunity to dive into the Atlantic Ocean should your trip take you there at that time of year.
Cape Town is really the ultimate versatile destination. If it’s nature and solitude you want, it’s there. If it’s nightlife you’re seeking, no problem. Culture and history? Easy to find.
The stunning location is simply the backdrop to what this magnificent city in the south-western corner of Africa has to offer. And with international travel regulations easing up and more and more visitors flocking in each month, it’s almost as if things are back to normal…
Whatever the tourism situation, the crisp ocean still laps the city’s shores, the tablecloth still surges down towards the city bowl from the cable car station, and Cape Town is as beautiful as it ever has been….