Roar Africa

Exploring Africa Since 1688

Friday, March 13, 2009

72 HOURS/CAPE TOWN, Worth Magazine

So you have just 72 hours in Cape Town and you're wondering what to do? May we suggest extending your stay? Whether or not that's an option have a look at this article just published in the Feb/March 2009 issue of Worth magazine. It is packed with insider tips. Roar Africa was proud to play a part in the creation of the piece and thankful to be mentioned.

The full article is reproduced here as well as a scanned original version. (click to enlarge).

An Insider's Guide to Three Memorable Days

THE LATE NEW YORK TIMES reporter R.W Apple Jr., who may have been the paper's most widely traveled journalist, was infatuated with Cape Town. Its bounty, as he saw it, included "a seacoast that rivals Maine's and Big Sur's, a harbor that rivals Gibraltar's and Hong Kong's and Rio's, and what must surely be the most beautiful vineyards in the world." Layer onto those extraordinary foundations a city that has been transformed in recent years by a newly unleashed creativity and cosmopolitan flair.

Though there's beauty everywhere, there are also reminders of the country's brutal past (apartheid was only abolished in 1990). As the city gears up to host the World Cup in 2010, new hotels and stadiums are being built, but shantytowns remain. Cape Town is a study in contrasts. Come for the glamour and beauty but also to witness the complexities of modern Africa.

My top choice for couples is Ellerman House (180 Kloof Road, Bantry Bay; +27.21.430.3200;, a former private residence with fewer than a dozen rooms. Set on a cliff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, the property includes a fabulous restaurant, spa and gardens. Best room: the contemporary Ellerman villa, with three bedrooms and a private chef. For families or those in a larger group, I recommend the historic Mount Nelson Hotel (76 Orange St.; +27.21.483.1000;, run by Orient-Express Hotels, which has recently been renovated and sits at the foot of Table Mountain and close to the waterfront, Another reliable high-end choice is the harbor-facing Cape Grace (West Quay Rd., Victoria & Alfred Waterfront; +27. 21.410.7100;, which has a sleek, modern atmosphere and excellent service.


A great way to get your bearings is to hire a driver to show you around the peninsula. (Roar Africa provides wonderful guides and custom itineraries. 877.762.7237; The center of Cape Town is nestled at the base of Table Mountain. To the north lies the popular commercial waterfront district, to the northeast are the legendary vineyards, and to the southwest are beachfront communities. As you wind your way down the Atlantic coast to Cape Point (Africa's southernmost tip), you'll pass lovely houses and possibly a troop of baboons crossing the road. The Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve (+27.21.782.9356), known locally as Cape Point, boasts hiking trails and incredible cliff-top views of the coast. Along with baboons, the reserve features hundreds of plant species and more than 250 species of birds, several species of antelope and the Cape Mountain zebra.

On your way back from Cape Point, have lunch at The Food Barn (Noordhoek Farm Village; +27.21.789,1390; in Noordhoek. One of Cape Town's most revered chefs, Franck Dangereux, opened this restaurant as a place for families to enjoy fantastic food in an unpretentious yet glorious setting. It's too far from Cape Town to come for dinner, but perfect for a road-trip lunch stop. Adventurous types can take a gallop along the beach at Noordhoek Beach Horse Rides, (+27. 82. 774.1191; horseriding. Be sure to stop at Cape Boulders Beach (False Bay Coast near Simonstown), home to the continent's only penguin colony.

Start your evening with sundowners, as cocktails are called, at the Cape Grace Hotel's Bascule Bar (+27.21.410.7238; on the Marina. This elegant whiskey and cigar bar hosts great African jazz bands, and is particularly lively on Fridays. A little mellower, the Radisson Hotel (Beach Road, Granger Bay; +27.21.441. 3000;, has a spacious deck right on the ocean, providing unobstructed views of the sunset and cushy lounge chairs. Farther down the beachfront road is Wakame (Mouille Point; +27.21.433.2377), another fabulous option for cocktails or dinner, also right on the water. It has a trendy outdoor lounge, hip crowd and excellent sushi. For something really low-key, join the beach crowd at La Med (Glen Country Club, Victoria Rd.; +27.21.438.5600;}, between Clifton and Camps Bay. Here, you can sip cocktails and watch paragliders jump off Signal Hill and land on the football field in front of you. Among the top restaurants to choose from: Ginja (121 Castle St.; +27.21.426.2368) and Haiku (comer if Burg and Church St.; +27.21.424.7000; Both serve excellent fusion food. There is also Salt (Ambassador Hotel, 34 Victoria Road, Bantry Bay +27.21.439.7258), which boasts Cape Town's most dazzling restaurant location: it's perched above the sea and rocks of Bantry Bay.The emphasis is on fish, with Cape Malay influences in the curried sauces and relishes. Reserve in advance and request one of the window tables overlooking the bay.

  • WHEN TO GO:The best time to visit is February and March. December and January are peak tourist season, but the hotels, restaurants and beaches are crowded, and the weather is not as reliably sunny as it will be a month or two later.
  • GETTING AROUND:If you rent a car, make sure that you feel comfortable driving on the left side of the road. Also, to park downtown, you will have to pay uniformed parking attendants who patrol their particular beat with small handheld meters. When you return to your car, the attendant will deduct the appropriate amount-about $1 an hour.
  • TIP: Restaurant kitchens generally close around 10 p.m., so don't plan on eating too late.


If the skies are blue and the southeaster wind is not blowing, take the cable car up Table Mountain. Grab some coffee and a muffin at Vida e Caffe (34 Kloof St.; +27.21.426.0627) for breakfast with an unforgettable view. Go early, as the cable car lines can be long. (Bring a sweater or jacket, as the summit can be chilly.) When you descend, pay a visit to the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens at the foot of the mountain (Rhodes Drive, Newlands; +27.21.799.8783;, which comprise nearly 90 acres of gardens celebrating indigenous flora. Pathways wend around gardens, streams and rolling lawns. A huge variety of birds inhabit the gardens and the sweeping views from the upper slopes are spectacular.

Two fascinating ways to explore the country's history are the District Six Museum (25A Buitenleant St.; 27.21.466.7200; district and Robben Island +27.21.413.4200; District Six bears testament to the apartheid government's brutal destruction of a mixed-race suburb in the 1960s, and Robben Island is where Nelson Mandela and other ANC members were imprisoned during apartheid. You can have lunch at the iconic Mount Nelson Hotel (76 Orange St.; +27.21.483.1000;, near the District Six Museum, and then head to the waterfront to catch the ferry to Robben Island. The two-and-half-hour island tours, which are led by former inmates, are extremely popular, so be sure to reserve in advance.

A fabulous option at sunset is to walk through the Bo-Kaap area, where the Cape Malay people (of Indonesian origin) settled. At Marco's African Place (15 Rose Lane; +27.21.423.5412;, the food is as authentic as the live bands that spice things up. For a memorable dinner, reserve a table at Gold, the courtyard restaurant in the historic Martin Melck House (96 Strand St., De Waterkant; +27 .21.405.1540), home to the Gold of Africa Museum ( world's first museum dedicated to the history of African gold is set in a strikingly restored landmark building that literally dazzles, as it is filled with gold. Gold features tastings from all over Africa along with regional dance shows.


A fun way to spend a morning and get a sense of Africa's incredible crafts and arts is to visit the new Neighbourgoods Market at the Old Biscuit Mill. (9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.; 373-75 Albert Rd.; +27.21.448.1438; It opened less than two years ago, and in that time it's become a weekly ritual for many Capetonians. Browse the farmers' stalls outside for oysters and artisanal cheeses before visiting the shops in the refurbished Old Biscuit Mill complex. Heartworks (98 Kloof St., Gardens; +27.21.424.8419; and Gardens Centre,Mill St.; +27.21.465.3289) has an irresistible collection of local ceramics and crafts. Next door, Whatiftheworld(208 Albert Rd., Woodstock; +27.21.448.1438;, a collective of artists' galleries that opened last year, draws international art lovers with surprisingly inexpensive works.

If you don't have time to overnight in the world-renowned wine towns of Franschhoek (, Stellenbosch ( and Paarl (,you can get a sense of their beauty and bounty closer. One of my favorite vinyards is the beautiful 300-year-old Klein Constantia (+27.21.794.5188; kleinconstantia. com) just a I5-minute drive from the city. Legend has it that on his deathbed Napoleon refused everything offered to him but a glass of his favorite sweet Constantia wine. At a tasting you can experience its golden color and smooth, lingering flavors. You'll also learn about the history of Cape Dutch architecture.

The best spot for lunch in the area is Constantia Uitsig (Spaanschemat River Road, Constantia; +27.21.794.6500;, a working vineyard with two restaurants. The more casual Uitsig (+27.21.794.4480) serves Italian cuisine with flair; La Colombe (+27.21.794.2390;, a formal French restaurant, has been voted the best restaurant in South Africa for the past two years.

If you want to relax after lunch, there's a new Clarins spa (+27.21.794.0433) on the property, and thanks to the exchange rate, you can indulge in a spa treatment for a fraction of the cost you would pay in the U.S.

For those who would rather shop than spa, the easiest one-stop option is the V&A Waterfront (+27.21.408.7.600; Yes, it's a mall, but it's safe and offers a range of options, including Carrol Boyes and Pa Kua Design, which carry lots of contemporary African crafts and housewares.

It sounds touristy, but a sunset cruise with the stunning backdrop of the harbor and Table Mountain provides a special farewell flourish. Boats depart daily from the waterfront, but you can also charter a private yacht and request a wine tasting or champagne and local specialties such as crayfish braai. When you dock, the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront will be buzzing with revelers, jazz musicians and sailors, who all converge at dusk to play. For a relaxed but refined dinner, reserve a table at 95 Keerom (95 Keerom St.; +27.21.422.0765; Set in an elegantly restored 17th-century townhouse close to the Houses of Parliament and the Supreme Court, the restaurant has its own fishing boat and serves delicious food with a focus on local ingredients.


Note from Roar Africa:
Cape Point is not in fact Africa's southernmost point. The southernmost point is Cape Agulhas which is about 90 miles (150km) Southeast of Cape Point.

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