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Langebaan is one of the most popular destinations on the South Africa West Coast. Situated about 70 miles North of Cape Town, it is often frequented by international tourists and Cape Town locals who are looking to take a break from city life alike. One of the main attractions of the coastal town is the wide variety and large quantity of different birds. The Rocherpan Nature Reserve is the perfect place to view them in their natural environment, and it is only a short drive outside of Langebaan itself.

There are two other Nature Parks boasting the ecological richness of the area; the West Coast Fossil Park, where the main attraction is an exhibit of Pliocene fossils, and daily guided tours are available. The West Coast National Park includes the Langebaan Lagoon, but also encompasses a number of bird colonies on small islands just off the coast. Boat tours can be booked at the tourist information centre in the village.

More conventional holiday activities which are promoted in the city are centered on the coast and lagoon. For water sports fans, the surprisingly moderate water temperature on this side of the West Coast, combined with the many small businesses catering for surfers, windsurfers, water-skiers and kite-surfers makes Langebaan lagoon a perfect attraction. There are a number of backpackers, catering for the surfing hippies, as well as some very lawny up market up accommodation, and the holiday resort visitors will be tempted to use the facilities available through the country club. These include a golf course, tennis courts, the Langebaan yacht club and a bowling green.

As for amenities, there are a lot of excellent seafood restaurants around, and Langebaan is known for its excellent homegrown oysters. The standard range of groceries and tourist shops can be found on the boardwalks and in the town center.


Situated along the popular Garden Route, Knysna is one of the larger towns on what is perhaps the most popular tourist trail in South Africa. With almost 80,000 inhabitants, it lies in between two other popular towns for beach and sun-loving visitors; Plettenberg Bay and George. The vein of the Garden Route is the N2 highway, and although it is tempting to explore the changing, mesmerizing view from the car, Knysna is the perfect place to get out and explore the defining features; the mountains, forests, lagoons and ocean.

As for the first one, the mountains, Knysna is ranked in the top 5 of mountain biking and hiking enthusiasts. Just outside the town itself, within a short drive, there are Natural Reserves and National Parks with free entrance, where mountain biking trails lead you past rivers, streams, waterfalls and gorges through the fynbos. But the most popular attraction is the lagoon, situated near the village itself. Knysna expanded from a harbor town, rumored to be founded by King George’s illegitimate son, into the tourist haven it is today. It is one of the most spectacular natural harbors on the African coast.

Fishing is a popular activity in the lagoon, and license permits can be bought at the local post office for a small fee. During the August through October period, whales can be spotted near the lagoon. After October, when the Mediterranean climate summer kicks in on the South coast, swimming, surfing, scuba diving, kayaking and sailing are some of the more popular water sports available. There are a number of companies and individuals who rent out all the necessary gear, close by the lagoon head.

Although most visitors will go to Knysna by (rental) car, there is another, more romantic option. The Outeniqua Choo Tjoe is a genuine steam train, which services passengers between Knysna and George. The train route and the antique train themselves provide for a unique experience.


Grahamstown is a city in the Eastern Cape, with a population of about 125,000, located North of Port Elizabeth. The city was founded by the British in the 1900s as an outpost during the Boer Wars, and there are some interesting historical military buildings and relics to be found throughout the city, as it has the largest number of forts of any city in South Africa. Grahamstown is the central city within “Frontier Country”, an area recognized by its turbulent past.

Firstly, the city has earned the nickname “the City of Saints”. There are over 40 religious buildings in Grahamstown, and the city caters for a wide range of different religions, including Hindu, Quaker, Muslim and Mormon adherents. The main bulk of the 40 buildings belong to the wide variety of Christian denominations. The Anglican Church is, logically enough, most well represented, and Grahamstown has an Anglican Bishop, who has his episcopal seat at the Anglican Cathedral of St Michael and St George. This Cathedral is perhaps the most impressive building in the city, with the tallest spire in South Africa.

Although I refer to Grahamstown as a city it feels more like a town even though it has a population in excess of one hundred thousand and a cathedral. It therefore also has a more intimate feel to it enhanced by the lack of high-rise buildings and the presence of thousands of trees inside the city boundaries. It is also not uncommon to find the odd donkey-cart in the streets. The town has three traffic lights excluding the pedestrian crossings with traffic light assistance. One of these can be found at St Andrews College, one of the world class schools in Grahamstown together with Kingswood College. The Diocesan School for Girls is also worth a mention and is the sister school to St Andrews College.

Secondly, Grahamstown is known for the Rhodes University, a world class institution with thousands of students. It is therefore not unusual to suspect that the night life in the city is something tremendous.

Nightlife in The City of Saints is almost always throbbing unless the students are between semesters then all of them are away at their respective homes. Even when the students are away the world class “The Rat and Parrot” pub is always busy and when the students are here it is almost impossible to move inside this double-storey double bar pub with a balcony area and an outside area. Grahamstown also has “Friar Tuck’s”, a well-visited pub with dance floor that usually receives its patrons late at nigh after they had visited The Rat and Parrot and other bars or private house parties. Slip Stream Sports Bar is further down the street from the Rat and Parrot and at this venue one can have a drink and try your gambling luck with slot machines.

This is also related to the third feature which makes Grahamstown such an attractive place to visit, is the fact that it is known as the festival capital of South Africa. Grahamstown hosts a number of cultural festivals throughout the year, which attracts visitors from all over the country. The main festival is the National Arts Festival, and during the week when it is in play, Grahamstown transforms into one large cultural exposition.

During the summer over December and January things become much more quiet in Grahamstown, but a mere fifty-odd kilometers to the South are the world class beaches at Port Alfred and Kenton-on-Sea where you will find thousands of holiday-makers. Port Alfred boasts one of the more impressive Marinas in the Southern Hemisphere whereas Kenton has two Blue Flag Beaches. If you like the beach and holiday atmosphere that accompanies summer then this whole area of the coast is for you.

All the large buildings and open spaces are occupied by musicians, dancers and comedians, and open-air theaters are erected on the main village squares, with ongoing performances throughout the day. Flea-markets span the street and hawkers sell extravagant goods on the sidewalks.

Grahamstown has something for everybody and it seems everybody is interesting. Get tired of this impressive city and you can take a quick trip to the beach or one of the game farms like Shamwari or a slightly longer ride to Port Elizabeth, one hundred and thirty kilometers away. I would recommend Grahamstown to any would-be traveler.

Port Elizabeth

Port Elizabeth is one of the largest cities in South Africa, and the largest city in the Eastern Cape Province. The extended city, the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan area, houses over 1.3 million people. The city was founded by the British in 1820, and it has played an influential role during the Boer Wars, which has shaped its history. There are a number of historical attractions available to visit throughout Port Elizabeth, or the Windy City, as it is known locally, including the Historic Donkin Heritage trail, which allows visitors to relive the settler experiences of the early 1900s by following a trail past some of the remaining relics of the era.

The city is usually considered the last locality on the Garden Route, and like many of the Garden Route towns, the Windy City offers some great opportunities for water-sports fanatics. The beaches of Port Elizabeth are generally accepted as the best beaches a large South African city has to offer, with warm water and perfect wind conditions for surfing waves. Closer to the CBD, Port Elizabeth has more to offer, and as the 2010 World Cup draws nearer, the city will be preparing for its own influx of international visitors, which will result in a better infrastructure, a revamping of the international Port Elizabeth Airport, and an extension of the already widely available accommodation on offer.

If you intend to stay in the city center, there are some interesting museums and extensive parks, including the King George Park, a sprawling cultivated garden with plenty of flora. Furthermore, Port Elizabeth has always been a sports-obsessed city, and there are some word class cricket and rugby stadiums featuring matches on a regular basis.

Finally, it has to be mentioned that even though Port Elizabeth is bordering the ocean, there is still an opportunity to see the Big Five in either the Addo Elephant Park, just outside PE, where Elephants and Buffallo roam free, and the luxurious Shamwari Game Reserve, where all the big animals of the continent can be seen in the semi-wild.

Greenpoint and Seapoint

Greenpoint is mostly a residential suburb. Located to the North-West of the central business district (CBD) in Cape Town, it is very close to the city center. For visitors, the main appeal of the suburb is the large number of restaurants, clubs, dance halls, bars and other nightlife. Since 2009, the Greenpoint Stadium has been in development.

This stadium will be the site of a number of 2010 Soccer World Cup matches, including a quarter and semi-final. Because of this, the number of accommodations is poised to rise exponentially over the coming months, and the suburb, which used to be both notorious for its high crime level and famous for its shopping and dining atmosphere, is set to be cleansed of its dark side.

Cape Town is often hailed as one of the gay capitals of the planet. If this is true, the Greenpoint is definitely the headquarters. GLBT emancipation has progressed a lot over the years, and the Seapoint on Greenpoint is characterized by Rainbow flags outside some well established gay bars.

For straight people, the suburb has much to offer as well, both night and day. During the day, the biggest African market in the city is set up near the site of the new Greenpoint Stadium. Sellers from all over Southern Africa set up their stalls most mornings, offering the widest variety of African art, in the form of statues, cloths and other handicraft items, of decent quality. Haggling is absolutely necessary if you intend to buy any souvenirs at the market.

The neighboring suburb of Seapoint has many of the same qualities, but the buildings are more expensive, there are a lot of high rise buildings, and the views of Lion’s Head, the little brother of Table Mountain, and the Atlantic Seaboard are an additional reason to visit.

Kirstenbosch Gardens

Kirstenbosch Gardens is a large botanical garden, inside Cape Town, on the slopes of the Table mountain. It is a 13km drive from the city center, and there are buses in the center and the Southern Suburbs which will take you to the Gardens directly.

The unique climate of the Western Cape, and the large amounts of indigenous species of flora which are found all over the country in special locations, such as the Table Mountain fynbos ecosystem, are all on display in a natural environment. Most of the 525 hectares of the Garden are cultivated by nature and can be enjoyed in their own habitat.

The cultivated garden area is an impressive botanical feat. South Africa has several differing climates, from the Mediterranean climate down at the West Coast, to semi-desert in the Karoo, humid wet forest in the East and dry patches in the Northern Cape. The cultivated garden recreates the best conditions for each of these areas, and some of the spectacular flora from the winter rainfall areas, which you would not be able to encounter inside the Western Cape, are blooming in Kirstenbosch.

Kirstenbosch does have an entrance fee, of about R30 (about $4), and with this you will have access to all the amenities inside the park. There are pathways throughout the park, a visitor center where maps can be purchased, toilets, a restaurant and a garden shop where seeds, flowers and other paraphernalia are offered.

Most days, visitors will come to the Garden for a lazy afternoon, a picnic, drinks or a chance to climb the Table Mountain from one of the more accessible slopes. Between November and April, Kirstenbosch offers something more, when the Summer Concerts occur every Sunday on the lawns. Some of the finest musicians and groups, included rock, jazz and classical, can be viewed live in this peaceful setting.


Stellenbosch is a town located just outside of Cape Town, in the Western Cape at 50 kilometers east of the city. It has about 50 thousand inhabitants, and it is the second oldest town in the country. The old settler houses and colonial buildings spread throughout the village are a nice sight for visitors interested in architecture.

There are two main features Stellenbosch is famous for. Firstly, there is the University of Stellenbosch, one of the oldest, more esteemed universities in the country, and one of the few universities being taught in African. Because the town itself is not very populous, and the university is relatively large, you will find a lot of students, and their predominance has left a mark on the village, as there are a lot of pubs, cafes and music venues in the dense town center.

The opening of the academic year, in February, is always a cause for celebration, and if you are looking for an opportunity to see African rock bands, you should attend this event, or one of the many festivals occurring irregularly throughout the year. Then there is the wine culture, the feature Stellenbosch is probably more famous for abroad. There are over 140 wine farms around Stellenbosch, and regular wine festivals occur during the summer months. There are many drivers in Cape Town and Stellenbosch advertising wine tours, where you can spend a day driving from farm to farm to taste the different types of wine, explore the cellars and farms, and buy some of the best wine South Africa has to offer directly from the producers.

If you are staying in the Cape Town and have the time to go on a weekend break, Stellenbosch is the perfect option. Accommodation is available both in the town and on some of the wine farms. Many of the wine places have developed into guest houses or restaurants, and the owners like taking care of their guests.

Camps Bay

Camps Bay is one of the famous beaches of the mother city. Because of its great location, only 15 minutes from the heart of Cape Town or the V A Waterfront, and about half an hour from the airport, it has become a busy tourist hub. Even though it is only a short drive to get there, the stunning views on the way past the mountainous windy roads will make you feel like entering a different place altogether.

The beach area itself is characterized by the long straight road, with boardwalks on the side, flanked by towering palms, which severs the beach from the hotels, restaurants and amenities. In the background, you can recognize the Twelve Apostles, the famous twelve mountain ridges.

Although the Atlantic Ocean waters near Cape Town are notoriously cold, even during the summer months, a brave swimmer will be tempted to jump in the deep blue waters bordering the sandy white beach. The waters are safe, with coast guards always on duty. However, sharks have been active, if rarely, in this area, and it is advised to keep close to the shore. For the not so brave, a large tidal pool, built in the 1930ies, will be the warmer (and safer) option to get some aquatic exercise.

You can rent umbrellas and loungers, and public toilets are situated near the west end, by the coast guard station. Beach volley, kite surfing, and scuba diving can all be organized, and a short drive away you will find a 30 holes golf course.

Among the many beachfront cafes, you are bound to find the perfect spot to enjoy one of the most beautiful sunsets in the city. If you are looking for a luxury stay and fine dining, the Bay Hotel and the Twelve Apostles Hotel both offer top of the line luxury rooms, several pools and sundecks, and their restaurants are equally acclaimed.

District 6

District Six used to be a mixed-race suburb within Apartheid South Africa. After the regime decided the area was unfit for the residents, they forcefully removed the 60,000 inhabitants, in order for the area to be cleared. Its location near the harbor, the city center and the attractive Table Mountain made it a prime real estate area, one of the main reasons the government decided to clear the area 40 years ago, and a good reason for visitors staying near the V A Waterfront or the city center to visit the suburb, which now boasts the expansive and interesting historical District Six museum.

The neighborhood itself is still in the process of being restructured. It is a politically difficult legacy, as the ANC government promised it would restore the suburb and hand it back to former residents, but practical and ethical obstacles remain in place.

The museum features a permanent exhibit, located in an old, wooden community church, where the central theme is the reconstruction of the memories and identities of the community of freed slaves, immigrants, merchants and artisans who were cut off from their living space. This is done by combining actual objects from the former neighborhood with digital visual and audio effects.

Temporary exhibits rotate, and include art projects, photography and video screenings. The entrance fee is R20 (about $2). The district lies in between Sir Lowry Road and De Waal Drive, and it is easily accessible. The recent (2009) science fiction movie District 9, directed by Peter Jackson has attracted more attention to the history of District 6, as the movie is based on the story of the forced removals.

Table Mountain

The National Park of course includes Table Mountain, or Tafelberg as it is called in Afrikaans, but it also encompasses a much larger area, ranging from Signal Hill all the way to Cape Point in the South. Most of the Table Mountain National Park area is open to visitors at no charge, but some activities and parts of the park require a fee. Cape Point, Boulders, Table Mountain and Silver mine are the most popular parts of the park with a cost.

Cape Point, the southernmost point of Cape peninsula, is a stunning rock formation, with unique flora and fauna, including the klipdassie, a local species of hyrax. The highest elevated formation on Cape Point features an old lighthouse, and the opportunity for visitors to look out over the Atlantic and Indian oceans.

Boulders beach is another major attraction. The beach is enclosed by large granite boulders, which provides the perfect environment for the indigenous, rare African penguin. For a small fee, visitors can observe an African penguin colony in its natural environment. Table Mountain is the most prominent natural feature of Cape Town. The geography of the city is determined by the location of the mountain, and it forms a magnificent backdrop to many of the cities’ natural and architectural scenes. A visit to the city is not complete without a visit to the top of the mountain.

There are several routes leading up to the flat mountain top. Experienced guides organize tours along the more dangerous route. Anyone in good health with two to three hours to spare will enjoy the more gradual hike to the top. Alternatively, if the weather permits, a glass-paneled cable cart with a 65 person capacity will take you to the top of the mountain, while giving a unique 360 degree view of the city below.

At the top of Table Mountain, a restaurant and souvenir shop, as well as several panoramic view sites with magnificent photo opportunities are located near the exit of the Cableway. From there on out, several hiking trails along the table top will lead you to even more stunning views.