Cape Town: Table Mountain, Kirstenbosch and Langa

Cape Town offers a wide range of attractions, sights and activities. One blog post is certainly not enough to describe all attractions, so I limit it to three spots I liked best: Table Mountain, Kirstenbosch and Langa.

Table Mountain is Cape Town's most prominent attraction and a world famous landmark. The top of Table Mountain offers breathtaking views in all directions. The mountain is often cloaked in magical mist and surealistic cloud formations, which have become famous as the 'tablecloth'. Sometimes it seems that the clouds are pouring or streaming like a viscous fluid over the ridge of the mountain. In November 2011 Table Mountain was nominated and announced as one of the 'New 7 Wonders of Nature', which is a campaign to promote the cultural and natural heritage of the earth. For the nomination billions of votes are selected through an international poll.

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Hiking on Table Mountain is very popular, you can reach the top of the mountain either by cableway or by foot. The summit can be reached by foot in a time between 2.5 and 4 hours, depending on the chosen route. The best photo spot to get the typical famous silhouette of the Table Mountain is from Bloubergstrand which is located about 25 km to the north of Cape Town city centre.

Kirstenbosch is the name of a botanical garden located at the foot of the Table Mountain. From the garden several trails lead up to the summit. Kirstenbosch covers an area of 528 hectares with 36 hectares of cultivated gardens. It shows only indigenous South African plants. A great variety of birds inhabit Kirstenbosch and the view from the upper slopes is spectacular. The garden opens at 8:00 in the morning, unfortunatly a little bit too late for good photos right after sunrise. A tip: sneak in at 6:30 in the morning using a sideway, go to beautiful spots with all the flowers, birds and insects and get the perfect time for photos in the morning light. Of course you shouldn't forget to pay the entrance fee when you leave the garden ;-)

Langa is the oldest township in Cape Town. Established in 1927 it was designated for Black Africans long time before the apartheid era in South Africa. Langa was also a major location of resistance to the apartheid regime. In 1960 over 50 000 people burnt their pass books in defiance of the pass laws, which were designed to segregate the population and forced the black Africans over the age of 16 to carry their pass book at all times within white areas. At that time any white person could ask a black African to show them the pass book.

A lot of people in Europe think that the term 'township' nowadays is similar to a slum or a shanty town. When you visit a township in South Africa you will probably be surprised that it is not true at all. Primarily the term township in South Africa was generally associated with an 'urban area'. Under the apartheid, townships changed to areas with non-whites like Blacks, "coloureds" and Indians, living near white-only communities. Today a township is one of the many suburbs that an urban area like Cape Town might have, although in most cases still reservered for the non-white inhabitants. Some old townships have seen rapid development in the last decade. In fact, a part of Langa is called 'Beverly Hills' with beautiful small colorful houses and cars in front of the garden. Ironically 'Beverly Hills' is only a stone's throw away from the shanties of the poorest part of Langa, still a reality and maybe the reason that people mix up the terms 'township' and 'shanty town'. Surprisingly there is no tension between the rich and the poor people in Langa, all live in a community, the rich help the poor and the poor people respect the rich people. Actually the people in the shanties live in the hope of getting a job and soon move to the better part of Langa.

Visiting a township is a vibrant and lively experience (the portraits above are taken from people in Langa). A guide is mandatory and it is not advisable to visit a township alone at night. The unemployment rate is still high, crime is still a real threat and there are gangs around who most likely will rob you after nightfall. However by day with a guide Langa is secure and the people are very friendly. It certainly is a good idea staying for lunch in Langa, for instance in a family driven cooking place. But be careful, there is a certain chance to get fried worms served, which is a delicacy in some traditional families.

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Comments:

08/29/2012, Fatema Lukmanjee:
These photos are magnificent! I love the lighting and perspective in the photographs of the sky. I feel like a bird with a great view!
08/29/2012, Kali:
I must say I don't know a lot about South Africa. The first thing that pops into my head when I think of Africa is a unwealthy place but every time I see pictures in Africa they are of beautiful children playing so happily. Sometimes I feel like living that simple of a life may be a better thing. You have beautiful pictures and they change my view on the dark gloom I had on Africa.
07/19/2012, Surminga:
Cape Town is amazing, I spent around 2 months travelling the whole of South Africa by car with my family 6 years ago, was amazing
06/20/2012, Matthew Hutchins:
Love your blog, I must go to Africa some time to see the place for myself.
06/04/2012, Barbro Paulsson:
Very interesting info and beautiful pictures. Love the portraits of all the smiling people. South Africa is a favourite place of mine.
06/04/2012, Pacific Dreams:
Thanks for the info, it was really helpful. I'll surely visit back again later.
05/10/2012, Abe:
The hike on Table Mountain sounds incredible. At 2-4 hours I would love to camp out for the night and take in the experience. Never even heard of this place :)
04/26/2012, nils, spain:
Very Interesting information.It is very nice to know about the Cape Town. I found here many beautiful info about that place in your post.

04/16/2012, Explura:
Nice Article..
Have you been to Malaysia or India before?
I love your Blog

04/13/2012, Tony Jain:
This blog is very different blog. I known Cape Town's most prominent attraction and a world famous landmark.