FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Cape Town: Good Vibrations

Apr 1, 2011
2011 / April 2011

Free time in Cape Town presents a pleasant but maddening quandary. With its botanic gardens, vibrant urban centers, outlying stellar wineries, gorgeous beaches and dramatic coastlines, this melting pot has an enviable repertoire that can easily seduce travelers to spend weeks, much less a single day, exploring.

A rousing introduction is a visit to Table Mountain, a sheer 3,520-foot escarpment and the city’s signature backdrop. A few years ago, the area was christened Table Mountain National Park (tel 27 21 780 9204) to grant protection to its 1,400 plant species, baboons and countless birds. Hikers can climb any of several summit trails, but a less strenuous option is the scenic Table Mountain Aerial Cableway (tel 27 21 424 8181). Atop the sprawling summit, a network of garden-like trails leads to different lookout points with jaw-dropping views of the city and Cape Peninsula.

From here it’s a short hop to Kirstenbosch National Garden (tel 27 21 799 8800), a renowned World Heritage site. At the southern tip of the African continent, Kirstenbosch is at the heart of the Cape Floral Kingdom, the smallest and richest of the world’s six such designated kingdoms; the kaleidoscopic plants found here thrive nowhere else outside the province. Walk its impeccably manicured grounds among the richest concentration of plants in the world.

A few minutes south are the verdant estates of Constantia Valley (tel 27 21 794 0542), cradle of the Cape wine industry. Five wine estates comprise the Constantia Wine Route, all offering winetasting in delightful settings. If there’s one estate to linger at, it’s Groot Constantia, the best known, displaying some of the finest Cape Dutch architecture in the country. Spend a couple of idyllic hours here tasting wine and talking with your hosts, and you’ll come to appreciate Groot’s fascinating wine history dating back to 1778.

See the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront (tel 27 21 408 7600), the city’s original harbor completely renovated and now a top attraction. It’s a real working harbor with authentic maritime charm and an unrivaled choice of shops, restaurants, brewpubs and entertainment options. To mingle with locals, head to Long Street located in the City Bowl area, one of the trendiest corridors in town. With blocks and blocks of sidewalk cafés, restaurants, galleries, bookstores, chic boutiques and street performers, the bohemian vibe showcases the city’s youthful, creative energy and is the preferred place to be as night descends.

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