Tulips

Destination Cape Town

38 posts in this topic

Posted (edited)

Can I just say, I absolutely loved Cape Town and would return in an instant.

 

I arrived  mid morning direct from Heathrow on British Airways.  The flight was fine and I actually got a decent amount of sleep.  After dealing with immigration formalities, where I had difficulty with the fingerprinting machine (to the point where I think the officer was getting frustrated with me), I quickly picked up my luggage and met my transfer.

 

It took about 40 minutes to drive to the hotel.  During this time, I asked the driver various questions about South Africa and he pointed out some sights along the way.

 

It was a sunny warm day and I immediately decided that after I dumped my bags, I would head straight to Table Mountain.  I had read how difficult it can sometimes be to visit due to crowds and worse, due to cloud cover.  It can be perfectly sunny in the morning and then the clouds roll in and surround the mountain and the new you can't see anything.  So as a piece of advice, if you are thinking of going, head straight there at the first opportunity so you don't miss out.

 

I bought my ticket ahead of time from home.  You pick the day you want to go and then the ticket is valid for 7 days.  Easy peasy!  I figured that one day out of the several I would spend here would have good weather.

 

I checked into my hotel, was given a quick tour, had a quick shower as my room was ready and then I had the reception arrange a taxi to the mountain.  While I was waiting, I took some photos of the spectacular scenery around the hotel.

 

On arrival at the mountain, I arranged for the same taxi to come pick me up in a few hours.  In hindsight, I wish I had allowed myself more time.  I just loved it and there was so much to see. Luckily, I didn't waste much time getting to the top.  Having my ticket in hand meant I didn't have to stand in line to purchase and could head to the cable car for the flight to the top.

 

The flora, fauna, vistas are just spectacular.  I walked and walked.  There are lots of lovely trails.  I also spent some time chatting to a guy from Australia who I was standing beside on the cable car.  It was his first trip also.

 

I took lots of photos and got the rock hyrax and even a sunbird.  I was thrilled to bits.  This may not be exciting to some, but I had been dreaming if Africa for some time and I was going to enjoy every little thing.

 

i had no trouble finding the taxi and headed back to the hotel.  I was then informed that there was a surprise waiting in the hotel bar.  My friend and travel agent had arranged tea for me.  OMG!  There was so much food and so many desserts.  I have a friend at home who always complains that I never share my dessert, but I could have easily shared this.  I had to take some back to my room.

 

I stayed in the bar to watch the sunset, which in August, is quite early in the evening.

 

I can't figure out how to get the text in between the photos for captions.  They are in order:

 

Table Mountain from the Waterfront

View of Cape Town taken from plane on landing

The Twelve Apostles

View of Signal Hill

Cable Car to the top

View of the mountain

Hyrax surveying the territory

Pretty Flowers

Beautiful Vista

Sunbird

Tea with a view

 

 

 

 

 

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Edited by Tulips
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33 minutes ago, Tulips said:

Can I just say, I absolutely loved Cape Town and would return in an instant.

 

Ohhhh, YES! Me too...would go back anytime. And it looks you were lucky and had wonderful weather. We were there in August too, a couple years ago, and had rain and high winds for 5 days in a row. No Table Mountain, no sharks boat, so you see, we absolutely need to go back!

 

Can't wait to read all about your trip, the first set of photos is great, with 2 big favorites: the landing view + the tea with the view. Looks like there was more than just tea there :D

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Posted (edited)

44 minutes ago, xyz99 said:

Looks like there was more than just tea there :D

 

 

Yes, well, when in Rome....:D

 

I lucked out and had great weather the whole time I was there.  But, it really is luck of the draw in Cape Town at that time of year.

Edited by Tulips
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@Tulips

A great start to your trip to Cape Town and your report. Lovely photos. Great view with the Hyrax and a lovely view from your hotel with the tea (Which Hotel is it?). We would like to go to the Cape, so all details are welcome!

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@TonyQ I stayed at the Twelve Apostles.  It's away from the waterfront area near Camps Bay.  I didn't find this an issue though as the hotel offers a free shuttle into the waterfront area.  I also used Cape Town as a base for some day trips, which I will detail as I get further along in my report.

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Nice! And very useful advice, about buying tickets in advance. 

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love the picture of the dassie Lord of the mountain! @Tulips

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What a beautiful view! Would love to visit again someday.

 

Those blue skies are mesmerizing!

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So for my second day in Cape Town, I decided to hire a photographer to take me around and give me a few lessons along the way.

 

Greg came to the hotel and picked me up and off went.  First stop was Kirstenbosch Gardens.  I love gardens like this.  There is so much to see.  It surprised me how many flowers were in bloom given that August is winter in Cape Town.  This is by far the best botanical garden I have been to and sits at the foot of the backside of Table Mountain.

 

The gardens are about 13km from Cape Town and can be accessed by far or is part of the hop on hop off bus route.

 

A word to the wise...it was a very hot day and the sun was a shining.  It's worth saying that a hat, sunscreen and water are necessities.  I was not prepared for how hilly the gardens were and I was still dealing with a bit of jet lag.  

 

We spent a good few hours at the gardens.  The good thing about going with a photographer is that they are patient and don't care if you want to spend an hour shooting one subject.  Sometimes I find when travelling with non enthusiastic photographers is that you have to rush and cannot take the time to properly set up the shot.  Greg taught me to look for the light and to take photos from different angles.  This is very useful advise for plants and flowers.  The protea, the national flower of South Africa, is spectacular.

 

There is a lovely canopy walkway you can use as well.  There is wildlife around as well although all we saw were guinea fowl and an Egyptian Goose.

 

 

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Posted (edited)

After the gardens, we had lunch in a little restaurant nearby.  Unfortunately, I do not remember the name of it and I did not make note of it in my notes.  My bad.  

 

Afterwards, we headed to the Woodstock neighbourhood of Cape Town.  This area is known for street art.  I only took a coup,e of photos because graffiti doesn't interest me.  But, upon reflection, I now regret not taking more photos because some of it was really beautiful.

 

 

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Edited by Tulips
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We also hit the main squad in the downtown featuring the City Hall with Table Mountain in the background.  See photo below

 

 

Bo Kaap was our next stop.  This is the neighbourhood with all of the colourful houses.  If I were doing it again, I would go here first thing in the morning when no one is around and then you don't get people and cars in your photos, unless you like that sort of thing.  I don't unless I'm taking a specific kind of photo.

 

The photo below is my favourite from the neighbourhood.

 

We also stopped for views of Table Mountain.  A photo from this stop can be viewed in post 1.  The very first photo.

 

Our last stop at sunset was the beach at Camps Bay.  There were lots of people about and the view was spectacular.  I didn't go for a swim, but I did dip my toes in the water.

 

Greg then dropped me off at my hotel.  I really appreciated his taking the time to spend the day with me.  He runs a local photography club in Cape Town as well. Mi also don't think I would have seen near as much trying to do this on my own or on the hop on hop off bus.

 

Dinner tonight was a special wine tasting and pairing at the Azure restaurant at my hotel.

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Once you have been to Cape Town  - you want to come back. And some even move here after their first visit. 
Cape Town has a lot to offer to anybody - tourists and locals alike. When you come here for photography - dont plan on doing it in one day - it's not possible. Especially if you want to go where us locals go for photography - and not just drive-by half of the places. 

Something I can share from my experience as a photographic tour guide and photographer - distances can be an issue time wise. Meaning - where you stay can influence your tour. 12 Apostles is perfectly located for a Peninsula Tour - but for some other places - it can add quite a bit of traveling time as you have to be collected  from the other side of the mountain, and as photographers know - time traveling is time lost shooting. The CBD or V&A Waterfront is more centrally located, and one also has more places /options to wonder about by yourself.  However - the 12 Apostles Hotel  is located in a seriously beautiful spot. This is just a thought - and in my own experience. 

I love your photos - you captured the mood and feel of Cape Town well. And regards Hyrax and sunbirds - I never tire of either. I think we all feel that way :)

I hope you will return to visit us again! 

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@Tulips, those are seriously good photos you have taken! Different angles, large objects in foreground, framing, all very useful stuff that Greg has pointed out to you. Excellent investment IMO.

 

@Elsa Hoffmann, are 4 full days good enough to visit some of the more colourful/interesting locations in and around Cape Town?

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1 hour ago, Elsa Hoffmann said:

Something I can share from my experience as a photographic tour guide and photographer - distances can be an issue time wise. Meaning - where you stay can influence your tour.

 

@Elsa Hoffmann I completely agree, especially having seen Cape Town traffic.  I certainly would not suggest trying to photograph everything in one day.  There is just too much to see.  I had discussions with my photographer guide beforehand as to what was doable and what was not.  I didn't do the waterfront with Greg, for example.  I did that another day.  I also had lots of time at each place I went.  

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Xelas yes - obviously depending on what you like to photograph. And how much time you want to spend doing it, and remember I am talking from a photographic point of view - as I specialize in photographic tours. Other interests will be different.  When we go out to shoot - we can get stuck in one location for hours - photographing birds (if the conditions are good) we go to one specific venue and can spend 5 hours just in ONE venue. Tourists generally move on quicker - because they have less time than us locals - and they want to see as much as possible. SO it does depend on your level of enthusiasm for shooting. Also keep in mind - not everybody is interested in everything - some might not like birds - that cuts out some venues. Some might only want landscapes - or wildlife. I dont do fixed tours in the sense of a specific route - my venues/destinations are dependent on what the client likes to shoot. So every tour can be different - and times vary - if you include sunrises and sunsets. And then there is traveling time.. 

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42 minutes ago, xelas said:

@Tulips, those are seriously good photos you have taken! Different angles, large objects in foreground, framing, all very useful stuff that Greg has pointed out to you. Excellent investment IMO.

 

@Elsa Hoffmann, are 4 full days good enough to visit some of the more colourful/interesting locations in and around Cape Town?

 

Thank you for your kind words @xelas.  Hiring the photographer was definitely worth the cost.

 

I spent six days in Cape Town and area.  You could certainly see a good amount in 4 days, especially if the weather is good.  All depends on what your interests are.

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Tulips - communication is key - exactly as you said. 

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Just now, Tulips said:

 

 

You could certainly see a good amount in 4 days, especially if the weather is good.  All depends on what your interests are.

oh you hit the nail on the head with that comment... 

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Posted (edited)

Day three and it's Robben Island Day.  As far as I was concerned, this was the number one must see for me in Cape Town.  As such, I prebooked my ferry ticket from home as they sell out.  I did so because the cost would be refunded if the ferry was cancelled due to poor weather.  I picked a day and hoped for the best.

 

The weather could not have been better.  A little haze early in the morning, but then nice and sunny.

 

They offer a morning trip and an afternoon trip.  I picked the morning do I could have the rest of the day to do other things.

 

I took the hotel shuttle to the waterfront.  There was a slight walk from the drop off point to the ferry terminal because a lot of the waterfront area is pedestrian only.  

 

There was quite a crowd at the terminal and there is security.  They check everyone 's bags and you go through a metal detector.  Then you can board.  A word to the wise here.  If the weather is good, Try to get there early.  They are fussy on the ferry about everyone sitting down.  There are only so many outside seats.  Once those are filled, they block the area and you must stay inside in one of those seats.  Of course, you can't get good photos from the inside.  Makes for a long 30-40 minute trip.

 

On arrival, there are several announcements asking everyone to head to the buses.  You can't go around the island yourself.  The first bit of the tour takes you to various stop points and you can get out and they allow you some time for photos.  The guides and drivers in the buses are residents of the island.  I hadn't realized before this that people actually live on the island.  In fact, there are over 200 permanent residents.

 

Midway through the bus tour, we stopped at a little cafe where you can get a drink, food or use the facilities.  

 

At at the end of the bus portion, we were dropped of at the maximum security prison.  Here, we were handed over to another guide who was a former prisoner.  In fact, all of the guides at the prison are former prisoners.  The tour was very informative and of course, everyone crowds around Mandela's cell.

 

There wasn't much time to wander at the conclusion of the tour because the return ferry would soon depart.

 

This time I got outside, still no seat, but it took them a while to come and order us to sit inside and so I did get some photos.

 

Plan on being about 4 hours including the two ferry trips.

 

Overall, my trip to the island will not be forgotten and I found it very meaningful and informative.

 

I decided to stick around the waterfront since I was already there.  I had lunch in one of the many restaurants.  Had a nice fish, hake and glass of South African wine.

 

I then meandered, looking in shops, taking photos, watching the buskers, I even took a ride in the Ferris wheel.

 

Eventually I went to the shuttle pick up point to go back to my hotel to freshen up and have a drink in the bar.

 

For dinner, I went to a place called Blues in Camps Bay.  It was pretty busy, but the food was delicious.

 

My photo order got mucked up fro the order I uploaded them in and I'm unsure why, but the captions are as follows.

 

1.  At the entrance point on the island

 

2, 3 and 4. The Robert Sobukwe House.  Robert Sobukwe was a freedom fighter kept in isolation on the island in the 1960's.

 

5.  The tank built for use in WWII, but not completed until after the war had ended.

 

6. Robben Island Lighthouse

 

7. The Lime Quarry

 

8. Inside the maximum security prison

 

9.  First sight arriving at the island.

 

10.  Graveyard full of leprosy victims 

 

11. Mandela' cell

 

12. Inside the prison

 

13. The maximum security prison

 

14.  Panorama of the island

 

15.  The ferry terminal

 

16.  The golf museum

 

17. The Clock Tower on the waterfront

 

18.  Buskers

 

19.  The hospital where Christiaan Barnard performed the first successful heart transplant.

 

20.  Blues Restaurant

 

21.  View of Table Mountain coming back on the ferry

 

22.  View for the ferris wheel

 

23. Pedestrian bridge being moved to accommodate a boat.

 

24.  The Ferris wheel.  It seems every city has one.

 

25.  Shipwreck off the island.

 

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Edited by Tulips
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wonderful photos! What a great idea to hire a photo guide for a day! Now I really want to go back to Cape Town, as we barely spent any time in the city itself. I didn't even know about the area with the colorful houses...like Burano. And I too wish you'd taken more photos of the street art--would have loved to see more! Something for your next trip :)

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I really enjoyed looking at your photos! Very nice series 

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Posted (edited)

Day 4 took me on a day trip down to Cape Point and Boulders Beach.

 

The route down to the point is quite scenic taking the Chapman's Peak Drive.  This can be a narrow road in parts.  There are numerous points to stop at and take photos.  The bicyclists were also out in full force.

 

I should note that the sun was out along with some cloud, but this was the first coolish blustery day.  Definitely a day for a sweater.  No rain though, thankfully.

 

I had read and read about baboons at the point, but none were to be found this day and I was kind of disappointed.  But that feeling didn't last long as a male and female ostrich made an appearance.  I had never seen them in the wild before.

 

You can take a funicular up to the top where the lighthouse is or walk up.  I walked up and took the funicular down.  The view from the top is spectacular.  There are lots of different little paths you can take.  There is also a second lighthouse further down the cliff.  I didn't walk all the way down there.

 

Of course, you can't go to the Point without having a photo at the famous sign.  It's a bit of a scrum as everyone wants their photo and no one wants strangers in their photo.  

 

Afterwards, it was on to Noordhoek for a late  lunch.  The Foodbarn restaurant was very nice and I gather quite popular, judging by the number of people there.  

 

After lunch, it was on to the Penguins.  I never really realized there were so many of them.  I also didn't realize you can get so close to them.  I actually had to switch my lens as I had put on my long lens and really needed a wide angle.

 

They warn you that the penguins bite, do not to touch them.  

 

One could spend pend hours just watching them.  They a fabulous creatures.  Do be aware they do close the beach, so don't leave it to too late in the day if you want to spend a proper amount of time.

 

It was a very full day.

 

Photo Captions:

 

1. View of Hout Bay from Chapman's Peak Drive

2. Cyclists along the drive

3.  A depiction on the road along Chapman's Peak Drive

4.  Noordhoek Beach

5.  Cape Point Lighthouse

6.  View of the lighthouse from the bottom

7.  Male Ostrich

8. 9. 10.  African penguin

11.  A hyrax came to the party

12. Boulders Beach

13. View from the top at Cape Point

14.  Female Ostrich

15.  At the Cape of Good Hope

16.  Only at Boulders Beach

 

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Posted (edited)

For day five, I had a bit of a different experience.  I started of at the District Six Museum.  I've not read too much about it when people are doing reports on Cape Town visits.  It likely isn't on too many people's top 5 lists or even top ten.  But, if you do have extra days and are looking for something to do, this museum is well worth a visit.

 

Rather than me explaining, I've copied the following from the museum website and full credit goes to the museum:

 

"District Six was named the Sixth Municipal District of Cape Town in 1867. It was established as a mixed community of freed slaves, merchants, artisans, labourers and immigrants,

District Six was a vibrant centre with close links to the city and the port. By the beginning of the twentieth century, however, the process of removals and marginalisation had begun.

The first to be forced out were black South Africans who were displaced from the District in 1901. As the more prosperous moved away to the suburbs, the area became a neglected ward of the city.

On 11 February 1966 it was declared a white area under the Group Areas Act of 1950, and by 1982, the life of the community was over. More than 60 000 people were forcibly removed to barren outlying areas aptly known as the Cape Flats, and their houses in District Six were flattened by bulldozers.

The District Six Museum, established in December 1994, works with the memories of the District Six experience and with that of forced removals more generally."

 

 

 

It certainly is a sobering experience going through the museum and it really is well done.  Everything is explained in detail.  The street signs are the actual signs taken from the streets.  Allow two hours I would say, or more if you really like to take your time.

 

Outside the museum, I was looking at the sign speaking to all who pass by the museum.  A man approached with his young son and he commented that everyone always looks depressed when coming out of the museum.  I said the subject matter has that effect.

 

After, I did a township tour.  I went to Langa, which is probably one of the most visited and known of the townships.  @Elsa Hoffmann mentioned taking her guests to some lesser known ones.

 

I had a hard time with this because it seemed like being a voyeur to poverty.  I was assured that these visits benefit the people and certainly I could see the difference from the older parts of the township to the newer builds, which offer the people more sanitary conditions.  There are also some opportunities to but some handcrafts made by the people, which support the community.

 

As this was my last day in Cape Town Proper, I went back to the waterfront to look for souvenirs.  There are all sorts of things on offer.  Unfortunately, a lot of it is mass produced tourist knick knacks.  I did buy a silver elephant pendant depicting the elephant from the backside, which I though unique and definitely not something others would have at home.  I went to the Watershed, which is a big building full of individual artisans.  Sort of like a big craft show if you will.  I loved the beaded items and picked up some small things to bring home as gifts.  And, no, I did not buy the giraffe, although I really wanted to.  LOL!

 

 

Photo Captions:

 

1.  Outside the District Six Museum

2,3,4,5.  Inside the museum

6,7,8,9. Langa Township

10, 11. More inside the District Six Museum

12.  The Watershed

 

 

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Edited by Tulips
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6 hours ago, Tulips said:

After, I did a township tour.  I went to Langa, which is probably one of the most visited and known of the townships.  @Elsa Hoffmann mentioned taking her guests to some lesser known ones.

 

I had a hard time with this because it seemed like being a voyeur to poverty.  I was assured that these visits benefit the people and certainly I could see the difference from the older parts of the township to the newer builds, which offer the people more sanitary conditions.  There are also some opportunities to but some handcrafts made by the people, which support the community.

Tulips - I fully "get" what you are saying about feeling like a voyeur - one can never understand how the people of the townships really feel about visitors. But you are correct in saying that they benefit a LOT from visits - for some it means absolute survival. 
I keep thinking your photos are some of the best travel photos of Cape Town I have seen in a long long time. What gear did you bring along if I may ask? 

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