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International travel destination: Cape Town, South Africa

By By Kari Iverson, Contributing writer
Published On: Nov 12 2012 03:01:15 PM CST
South Africa shore sized

Kari Iverson

Kari Iverson spent months traveling around the world. Get her tips on what to see and do in Cape Town, South Africa.

For travelers from the north, winter grows long and a warm destination is often a desired escape.  If you are looking to mix relaxation with adventure and gain a multicultural experience visit Cape Town, South Africa. 

 

Cape Town is a unique city; it offers stunning views of the city from Table Mountain and Lion’s Head Mountain, delicious wine tasting at the vineyards in Stellenbosch and breathtaking sunsets on the rocks of Camp’s Bay.   

 

If you’re looking for an adrenaline rush, cliff jumping might be for you.  Tour guides have different locations they bring visitors so they can safely take part in the fun.  Another popular adventure for tourists in Cape Town is to go diving with great white sharks.  Sharks are among the most feared predators in the world. Shark diving will give you the opportunity to see the great whites up close and personal as they charge toward the cage that protects you. 

 

Slightly less frightening, but nonetheless exhilarating, beaches all over Cape Town are known to be great for surfing.  Beaches in Muizinberg are especially good for beginners since the waves are somewhat smaller. 

 

Taking a tour of the peninsula is a must when in Cape Town.  Get a taste of South African culture from the beautiful white sand beaches of Muizinberg to the adorable penguins at Boulders Beach near Simonstown, a quaint naval town.  Make sure to take time to taste a few South African treats along the way.  Savor the taste of a Don Pedro, a sweet milkshake with a hint of whiskey, hazelnut alcohol or Baileys -- it lives up to its infamous reputation.  Later, in Simonstown, enjoy a South African lamb-filled “pie” from the bakery Sweet Nothings while sitting on the boulders along the ocean.

 

Finally, travel to the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve and Cape Point.  Standing on the most Southwestern point of Africa and looking over the never-ending ocean is incredible.  If visiting during whale watching season, many are lucky enough to see Southern right whales and Humpback whales.  Troops of baboons and wild ostriches also run free on the reserve.  Finishing the day at Table Mountain, a dramatic flat-topped mountain with stunning views of the city, for sunset is the perfect end to a beautiful day around Cape Town.

South Africa is known as the “rainbow nation” because of its diversity.  Although it is difficult to turn your head away from the scenic views along the coast, it is important to recognize that not everyone in Cape Town lives a glamorous life. 

 

There are more than 100 townships -- unofficial settlements -- in Cape Town where thousands of people are crammed into shacks and unsanitary living conditions.  Most live without running water or electricity; walls of homes are made with tarps, metal or whatever can be found.  Families struggle to send their children to school and find work.  However, if you can make your way past the physical appearance of the township and experience the culture behind the walls you leave the township a changed person. 

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