Cape Town Sights, South Africa

Groot Constantia vineyards in the suburbs of Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town sights, Groot Constantia wine estate, a short, pretty  drive out of the city.

Day trips from Cape Town

On the outskirts of Cape Town then’s plenty to see on a tour or by hire car, though we certainly wouldn’t recommend going to a township in a hire car by yourself.
There’s the staggeringly beautiful Table Mountain in the middle of it all, a cluster of pretty, old Dutch style wineries and vineyards in the suburbs, the miserable shanty towns a few miles away, Robben Island just offshore and some spectacular, scenic drives along the coast nearby.

Cape Town Wineries

A very modern wine tasting area served with food at Steenberg Vineyards, Cape Town, South Africa

A very modern wine tasting area served with food at Steenberg Vineyards.

One of the best wineries as well as the oldest in RSA. The hosts are very hospitable, and the wine and food superb if you choose to dine there. If you are planning a wine route consider this one for your planner.

Cape Town winners of its 2011 ‘Best Of’ Wine Tourism awards, led by Steenburg Vineyards, winner in the national Architecture, Parks & Gardens and Wine Tourism Services categories. Situated on the highest crest of the Helshoogte Mountain Pass, linking Stellenbosch and Franschhoek, the Steenberg estate is a premier winery, restaurant and hotel destination.

Robben Island Tours

Robben Island prison fence and penguin, Cape Town, South Africa

Robben Island, Nelson Mandela’s prison, a couple of bouncy miles offshore from Cape Town.

Tours of the now defunct prison are led by ex-inmates who take pleasure in declaiming histrionically about times in the prison, but in spite of the energy they expend we found the tour pricey and both the island and prison dull. The prison is like a composite of all the grey, dilapidated joints you’ve ever seen (on TV we hope) and the island is a big nothing, a small and scrubby blob in the Atlantic Ocean. We give this attraction the wooden spoon.

Township Tours

Township Tours are another interesting, politicised trip where tourists get to visit one or more of the huge shanty towns (though some buildings are substantial) on the outskirts of Cape Town, chat to the locals and drink in a shebeen (illegal maize beer bar) under the protective wing of a township inhabitant.

A township trip is not ‘fun’, but educational and a guide is vital. Literally. On our trip several shanty kids mimed ‘shooting’ us. On the other hand the denizens of the ‘pub’ we visited didn’t mind sharing a bucket of ‘beer’ with us, especially since we paid for it.
Unemployment in these shanty towns runs to 90% but there seems to be a certain acceptance of their lot, with men in particular chatting, drinking and gaming their lives away.

Langa Township ladies and their shacks, South Africa

Life inside Langa.

Townships certainly look hideous and depressed, but on the positive side the South African government generally supplies water, electricity and housing free of charge.
There are newer concrete accommodation buildings around too, ugly but solid. We were told that frequently township residents are offered decent free apartments in the city centre provided they pay the service charges, but no takers.

District Six Museum, Cape Town, South Africa

The excellent District Six Museum about the destruction of a lively neighbourhood community due to apartheid.

The District Six Museum tells the story of those that lived in District Six in 1963, a multicultural area that was re-designated as a white only area. The staff who work at the museum all used to live in the District and are happy to share their stories.