The Cape Peninsula is a 75 kilometer finger of rock curving out into the sea and seems as though it might have been added to the main body of Africa as an afterthought. It is justly ranked as one of the most beautiful places on earth displaying ruggedness subtly softened by changing patterns of light and colour and a breathtaking bloom of semi-tropical plants and flowers.
During spring the peninsula is arrayed in all its colourful glory and the world renowned Kirstenbosch Gardens are at their most beautiful. The Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve provides a wilder display of beauty and a walk along the paths between Muizenberg and Kalk Bay leads into a wonderland of flowers, caves and strange rock formations.
The summer months are clear and the days are long and bright. Although the famous south-easter blows the mornings are quiet and there are many perfectly still days. The surf on the western shores runs strong and high and the beaches are a paradise for sunbathers and swimmers. Anglers crowd the vantage points around the shores of False Bay and beneath the clear waters divers explore the reefs and wrecks.
From March to May the Cape is considered by many to be at its most seductive as the south-easter has died down, the sea still warm and the fruit is in full bloom as the days grow shorter.
Winter on the peninsula is green and fresh and plants of the protea family burst into colourful spectacles. Rains fall and the north-west wind blows but there are days of delightful tranquility. The land glistens with waterfalls and flowing streams and the sky above often boast some truly spectacular cloud formations.
Bakoven (‘Bakovenbaai’) – This is a small and beautiful residential area around a rugged and rocky bay on the southern borders of Cape Town. The name Bakoven (‘baking oven’) comes from a rock shaped like a baker’s oven which lies in the bay.
Bantry Bay - The coastline here is rocky, precipitous and stunning. Apartment buildings and holiday flats are clustered alongside steep roads on the slopes of Lion’s Head and overlook the bay. It was originally named Botany Bay after a botanical garden which planted for the cultivation of medicinal herbs and then the name Bantry Bay came into use when the botanical garden became overwhelmed by buildings in the mid 1900s. Traces of the original garden terraces can still be seen between Kloof and Victoria Roads.
Bellville - The expanding suburb of Bellville grew up around a village called Twelve Mile Stone which was exactly 12 miles from the centre of Cape Town. It was then renamed Bellville in 1861 after Charles Bell who was the surveyor general of the Cape. Leisure facilities include one of the best cycle tracks in the country and an Olympic size swimming pool and there are some massive shopping centres in the area. The handsome civic centre and theatre were opened in 1957 and the Elsies River meanders through the town where a pleasant park has been created in the valley. Bellville was built on the slopes of the 415 meter Tygerberg hill and was so named because of the pattern of the soil and vegetation resembling the spots of a leopard, formerly the leopard was known as a ‘tyger’. A fairly easy 4 kilometer walk along a gravel track from the suburb of Welgemoed leads to the summit of the Tygerberg which has magnificent views over the Cape Flats and all the mountains of the interior.
Bishopscourt - One of the finest of the Cape Town suburbs and was laid out in the grounds on the farm Boschheuwel (‘bushy hill’) which originally owned by Jan van Riebeeck. Part the original hedge grown of wild almond trees which was planted in 1660 along the top boundary of the farm still grows. The hedge is near the Hen and Chicken Rocks on Wynberg Hill and has been proclaimed a national monument. Among the handsome residences in the suburb is that of the Anglican Bishop of Cape Town, hence the modern name Bishopscourt.
Bloubergstrand - Is a seaside suburb with one of the finest views of Table Mountain and Table Bay in the whole of South Africa. Some of the older houses were built of timber which was washed up on the beach and are still standing today. The fishing is great and the rolling waves make it a popular spot for surfing and body boarding. Blouberg has some great night spots, pubs and restaurants. The south-easterly wind can be a bit annoying but this wind lays the tablecloth on Table Mountain and is changes the spectacular view. The village lies at the foot of the 231 meter berg called Blouberg (‘blue mountain’) which has a pronounced bluish tinge or glow from a distance. Blouberg is a very popular holiday destination and always has a great holiday atmosphere.
Boulders – This is one of the most charming swimming beaches of the Cape Peninsula. The Boulders is a jumble of large granite rocks breaking the coastline which provide numerous sheltered inlets and reefs. The water is clear and the undersea world is adorned with seaweed and populated with shoals of extremely tame fish. Along the walk up the shore to Seaforth beach lie small secluded beaches and inlets which cannot be reached by car and are ideal for picnics or a lazy summer days far away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Camps Bay - A favourite with sunbathers and holiday makers as Camps Bay has a wide and sandy beach. A large tidal pool and is overlooked by Lion’s Head and the Twelve Apostles. The sea here is cold for swimming and the backwash is occasionally dangerous. From the Camps Bay shore Geneva drive leads up to Kloof Nek which climbs through the trees on the slopes of Lion’s Head. Camps Bay is a very popular holiday destination and is dotted with many bed and breakfast and guesthouse accommodation establishments. From Kloof Road many fine views can be seen through the trees. Silver trees grow on the slopes of Lion’s Head and many hundreds of them can be seen especially when the south-east wind agitates them into a flurry of silver leaf waves. Camps Bay was named after Ernst Friedrich von Kamptz who landed in the Cape in 1778.
Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve - Much of what Sir Francis Drake described as the fairest Cape is now the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve. It covers 7680 unspoiled hectares of the southernmost part of the Cape Peninsula and stretches from Schuster’s Bay in the west to Smitswinkel Bay in the east. The coastline is 40 kilometers of South Africa’s most dramatic scenery including the famous Cape of Good Hope. A favourite scenic drive runs from Simon’s Town through the reserve to Cape Point and at Buffels Bay there are enclosed tidal pools and large grassy areas for picnics and braais.
The reserve is particularly lovely in spring and the countryside is strewn with a patchwork of colourful wild flowers. Tortoises and many other small creatures live among the shrubbery but larger animals have never really taken to the area. Antelope and even elephants have migrated here and have left because of the harsh weather conditions and attempts to reintroduce zebra and antelope have not been successful. Eland and Bontebok are prominent in the reserve. Baboons have always roamed the area and they are often seen combing the beaches for shells and food. Among the many species of birds that can be seen are the ostrich, white-fronted plover, black-backed gull, cormorant the Cape sugar bird, Cape francolin, crowned lapwing, yellow billed duck and the Cape weaver.
Fishing is particularly good from the many rocky vantage points on both sides of the peninsula. The ledges of the steep Rooikrans (‘red cliff’) enable anglers to fish directly into deep water and many great catches have been made from here including yellowtail and even tunny. Plans to establish the reserve originated in 1928 when the area was threatened by the growth of seaside resorts and it was only on 11 April 1939 that the reserve was proclaimed by the Cape divisional council.
Cape Town – Known as the mother city of South Africa is cradled by the ever imposing bulk of Table Mountain, Devil’s Peak and Lion’s Head. This was the famed Tavern of the Sea’s and still is a vital haven for the world’s seafarers. The city was born on 6 April 1652 and it was on that day that Jan van Riebeeck gazed in wonder at Table Mountain and dropped anchor in Table Bay. Soon after that he had built an earthen walled fort and planted a vast garden of fruit and vegetables and thus the new city had begun to grow.
Table Mountain is often visible 200 kiometres out to sea and to sailors was a shelter from the stormy seas and a place of many conveniences. They could stock up with meat, fresh fruit and vegetables and wine was a plenty. Their ships could be repaired and their sick were cared for in a large hospital.
Legends of earlier visitors also lingered and Phoenicians and Arabs from the days of Sindbad the Sailor are reputed to have been among the many sailors who foundered in storms off the Cape Peninsula. Others are said to have found the eggs of giant birds on the shores of Table Bay.
Today Cape Town remains the great tavern of the seas and countless ships have used its magnificent docks. The mammoth tankers that round the Cape of Good Hope which are too large to dock are re-supplied by helicopters.
The city is one of the world’s primary export ports for fruit and wine and is a major base for fishing. It is also the principal container port of South Africa. It has a cosmopolitan population and an atmosphere of many cultures and foods. In Cape Town colours of East and West are well blended and its past, present and promising future create a stimulating air of romance, vitality and excitement. Personally I believe Cape Town to be the most beautiful city in the world.
Castle of Good Hope - The Castle was built between 1666 and 1679 in the shape of a five pointed star. The 10 meter walls were built of stone and earth. One bastion was built at each point of the star and contained living quarters or storerooms. Dungeons were built below sea level and no attack was ever been launched against the Castle. Today the Castle houses a military and a maritime museum and is a popular tourist attraction. Facing the gateway to the Castle is the old governor’s house, known as the Kat and from the balcony proclamations and criminal sentences were read. Today the Kat is now the home of a superb collection of paintings and antiques.
Chapman’s Bay – This bay is spacious and sandy which lies between Chapman’s Peak and Kommetjie and the beach is well worth exploring. The wreck of the 1500 ton Kakapo lies half buried on the beach. The ship ran aground in a north-westerly gale on 15 May 1900 on its delivery voyage from a British shipyard to the Union Steamship Company of New Zealand.
The crew of 24 walked ashore and all attempts to refloat the ship failed. Eventually parts of its steel plating were used to flank the railway line at Fish Hoek and the local residents used the coal from the ships bunkers. The wreck was used as a set in the film Ryan’s Daughter.
The bay was named after John Chapman who was sent ashore near Hout Bay in 1607 from the English vessel ‘Consent’ to see whether it was a harbour or not and because of unfavorable weather Chapman was almost abandoned and the bay became known as Chapman’s Chance and thus the peak above the bay being named Chapman’s Peak. When Hout Bay was given its present name the bay immediately to the south became known as Chapman’s Bay and is the earliest English place name that has survived in South Africa.
Claremont – This is a quaint residential suburb under the municipality of Cape Town. It is still wistfully referred to as ‘the village’ and its rugby team is still known as The Villagers. It has a major shopping centre and a superb public park, known as Arderne Gardens. The gardens were once part of the estate known as The Hill which was acquired in 1840 by an English immigrant named Ralph Arderne. Here he planted one of the finest collections of trees in South Africa, including Norfolk Island pines, Indian rubber trees, Atlas mountain cedars and North American swamp cypresses. The gardens are also renowned for azaleas and rhododendrons.
Clifton – is a residential suburb with four sandy beaches which is more ideal for sunbathing than for swimming as the water is very cold, however the beaches of Clifton are sheltered from the south-easter by Lion’s Head. The beaches are separated by rocky projections from the mountain and are sometimes only reachable from the road by steep flights of steps. Many of the beachside bungalows and apartment buildings are supported against the steep mountainside by concrete stilts.
Clovelly - A picturesque seaside resort where the sea washes against the railway station buildings and a sign, surely unique, cautions travellers: No fishing from the platform. Originally this station was known as Trappies (little steps) because of the steep flight of stairs leading to the houses above. Clovelly was once known as the Klein Tuin (little garden) and also the name of a farm owned by the De Kock family whose original homestead still stands. The name Clovelly is reputed to have been given by an English woman, a guest of the De Kocks, who fancied that the place closely resembled the village of that name in her native Devon.
Durbanville - The town of Durbanville grew up around a rural settlement with the exotic name of Pampoenkraal (‘pumpkin corral’). Its attractions include the Durbanville horse racing track and gliding from Fisant Kraal airfield. Most of all are the wines that come out of the Durbanville Wine Valley. The Meerendal Wine estate with its beautiful Cape Dutch style homestead and the ever popular Durbanville Hills wine estate are a must see and a meander from Durbanville to Blouberg through the wine valley is a treat for all visitors to the Cape.
False Bay - The name of False Bay was given because ships coming from the east often confused Cape Hangklip with the Cape of Good Hope. This 30 by 30 kilometer inlet of sparkling blue water is contained between the mountains of the Cape Peninsula and the Hottentots Holland range and projects into the sea at Cape Hangklip. During the summer the warm Mozambique-Agulhas Current from the Indian Ocean is deflected into False Bay. This is the gloriously blue water of summer holidays with a temperature of around 22 degrees. In winter the north-west wind takes over and the warm water in False Bay is displaced by the greenish flow of the Benguela Current from the Atlantic Ocean. The water temperature drops to around 15 degrees. Surfing conditions are at their best with a heavy swell and an gusty offshore wind. False Bay is one of the world’s principal angling areas and of great value and significance to many marine biologists. It is bordered by many delightful seaside resorts and a 35 kilometer stretch of beach.
Fish Hoek - This thriving seaside resort is unique in South Africa because the sale of liquor is prohibited in Fish Hoek. Fish Hoek was originally a farm which lay across the road connecting the naval base at Simons Town with Cape Town. Lord Charles Somerset was fearful that the area would become a den of iniquity so prohibited the sale of liquor on the property. This restriction still prevails. The name Fish Hoek is the anglicized version of Vishoek (fish glen). Fish Hoek lies on the eastern side with a fine beach verging on a bay which provides safe swimming and excellent boating. Eish SA has many guest houses and hotels listed under the accommodation category so please feel free to browse our selection.
Foreshore - Before the Second World War work started on the construction of a new harbour known as Duncan Dock. Vast quantities of sand were dredged up during the building of the dock and created 145 hectares of level ground which makes up the present Foreshore and today it is almost completely built up.
Glencairn - A Scot from the original Glen Cairn is reputed to have named this tiny village and he was famed for wandering about the valley playing his bagpipes. A road leads through the glen up to Da Gama Park which is used to house naval personnel.
Among the breakers between Glencairn and Simon’s Town the top of a steamships engine cylinders can be seen. These mark the grave of Clan Stuart, a naval collier which was blown ashore there on 20 November 1914. The ship was carried gently ashore by the south-easter and the crew ended the day playing billiards and drinking beer in the Glencairn Hotel. The ship settled in the sand and refused to budge.
Green Point – Is a residential area adjoining the Cape Town city centre. Green Point nestles on the slopes of Signal Hill and looks down on Green Point Common. This common has many sports fields and includes a soccer and athletics stadium, tennis courts, cricket grounds and a golf course and is now home of the 2010 World Cup Soccer Stadium.
Groote Schuur - Cecil Rhodes acquired the Groote Schuur (‘great barn’) estate in 1891 and bequeathed it to the South African nation on his death in 1902. It is a delightful estate on the slopes of Devils Peak and includes the Cape Town residences of the President of the Republic, the prime minister and deputy prime minister, Rhodes Memorial, the University of Cape Town and the Groote Schuur Hospital. Groote Schuur estate shares its name with that of the prime ministers official residence.
The house was the creation of Cecil Rhodes and the famous architect, Sir Herbert Baker and the building was originally a storage barn built by Jan van Riebeeck. It had been converted into a house in later years by English owners and then acquired by Rhodes and he rebuilt the house. Adjoining the grounds of Groote Schuur Rhodes built a second house and was named Woolsack which was used as a summer residence by Rudyard Kipling, a great friend of Rhodes. This house is now used as a residence by the University of Cape Town. The official residence of the President of South Africa, Westbrooke, is close to Groote Schuur and the three houses stand in a fine setting of trees and gardens.
Hout Bay - The name Hout Bay is the anglicized version of Houtbaai (‘wood bay’). In its mountainous setting, Hout Bay’s entrance is guarded by the peak known as the Sentinel and makes a beautiful picture. There is a substantial fishing harbour in the bay and nearby factories process crayfish for export. The harbour is the home port for a fleet of fishing vessels and it is the scene of considerable activity especially in winter when snoek are in season. Smoked snoek and other seafood are sold in the area.
Hout Bay beach is attractive and but the water is cold. The village has some atmospheric streets and in former years wood was cut here for use in Cape Town, hence the name of Hout Bay. At one time the area was also the scene of mining for manganese which was shipped from the harbour. The old mining jetty still partly survives the battering of the sea although mining has long since ceased. The ruins of several strong points which guarded Hout Bay also remain. They include the Gordon Battery above the old manganese jetty and the West Battery close to the crayfish processing factories. Both were built by the British during the Napoleonic wars. On a rock overlooking the beach is a bronze leopard, 1,4 meters high and weighing 295 kilograms which was sculptured by the late Ivan Mitford-Barberton, who had his studio in the village. Eish SA has many guest houses and hotels listed under the accommodation category so please feel free to browse our selection.
Kalk Bay - The fishing harbour at Kalk Bay is always busy especially around June and July, the peak of the snoek season. Catches of 40 000 snoek landed in one day are not uncommon. The bay was named Kalk (‘lime’) because of lime kilns set up here in the 17th century to produce lime for painting buildings. Many of the white walled homes of the Cape owed their appearance to the lime from these kilns. The harbour is a favourite resort for the Coloured community of the Cape Peninsula.
Kenilworth - The Kenilworth Racecourse is the scene of the Metropolitan Handicap the principal horse race of the Cape run in January each year. The race course is situated in the lower part of the suburb, adjoining the military base of Youngsfield. The suburb grew into a residential area around the original homestead of Stellenburg farm. The Dutch governors are said to have kept the kennels of their hunting hounds here. The name Kenilworth was applied first to the estate, and then to the railway station.
Kirstenbosch - The National Botanic Gardens of South Africa at Kirstenbosch were a gift from Cecil Rhodes to the nation. In 1895 he purchased an area of flowering plants, shrubs and trees on the eastern slopes of Table Mountain. It was the side of the mountain known as Kirstenbosch, apparently named after J. F. Kirsten, an official of the former Dutch government of the Cape.
The property covered the eastern slopes of the mountain from the bottom right to the highest point at Maclears Beacon and provided a varied habitat suited to a wide variety of plants. After the death of Rhodes in 1902 the slopes remained untouched until 1911 when they were selected as the site for a national botanical garden. This was proclaimed in 1913 and Kirstenbosch was planned as a garden where the indigenous flora of South African plants which would be preserved and studied. About 4 000 of the 18 000 species of plants of Southern Africa are cultivated in the garden which covers 560 hectares. Kirstenbosch is a garden for all seasons and spring is especially beautiful with a brilliant display of flowers.
The lecture and exhibition hall and the offices of the Botanical Society of South Africa lie in the garden grounds. The Compton Herbarium houses more than 200 000 specimens and is near to the tearoom. At the springs of the Liesbeek River is an attractive sunken bath known as Lady Anne Barnard’s bath named after the famous 19th century letter writer. According to popular belief good luck follows any who throw coins into the bath. Kirstenbosch is open daily from morning to evening. Botanical literature is sold in the office of the society.
Kommetjie - A pleasant village and seaside resort built around a natural inlet in the rocks. The inlet is basin-shaped, hence the name of the village, meaning ‘little basin’. Surfing is good in summer when the south-easter brings a powerful swell towards the shore. Some years ago a school of whales died after beaching themselves in the inlet. No valid explanation for their behavior has been formed.
Maitland – Is a suburb on the northern boundary of Cape Town. Voortrekker Road runs through it with the Wingfield military aerodrome on the west side and Cape Town’s principal cemetery to the east. The cemetery is known as Woltemade Cemetery in memory of the great South African folk hero, Wolraad Woltemade. In 1773 Wolraad Woltemade repeatedly rode his horse into the waves of Table Bay to save 14 men from the wreck of the ‘Jonge Thomas' before he drowned along with 138 men from the ship.
Miller’s Point - Originally a whaling base Miller’s Point is one of the recreational showpieces of Southern Africa. It is owned by the Cape divisional council, which maintains a tidal swimming pool, numerous picnic and barbecue sites and a superb caravan park. Views over False Bay from this area are dramatic. Miller’s Point has a restaurant, spacious lawns, pleasant walks and is safe for swimming with a rich underwater life.
Mosterts Mill - One of the best-known historical monuments of Southern Africa. It was built in 1796 and named after Sybrandt Mostert who ground wheat here. His farm was bought by Cecil Rhodes in 1891 but the windmill was no longer in operation. It was restored in 1936 and is maintained in working order. The original threshing floor is still next to the windmill.
Muizenberg - ‘White as the sands of Muizenberg, spun before the gale’. So wrote Rudyard Kipling. He was a lover of the Cape and during his long summer visits here he swam in the sea and walked along the beach. The Beach stretches without a break in a gentle curve for 35 kilometers from the suburb of Muizenberg all the way to Gordon’s Bay which is nestled below the slopes of the Hottentots Holland Mountains.
Baden Powell Drive follows the shoreline and provides a panorama of glorious beaches and serene mountain ranges on either side of False Bay. Muizenberg is one of the Western Cape’s great playgrounds and people flock here to swim and fish. The beach is wide and safe with no backwash and few currents. The sand slopes very gradually into the sea and the bed is completely free of rocks and pebbles.
Several species of shark including the fearsome great white are found in this area but they remain subdued and very few shark attacks have been recorded over the years. This is due to the shallowness of the water near the shore and the plentiful supply of seals and fish further out and also the fact that the water temperature seldom exceeds the danger level of 25 degrees beyond which sharks seem to become particularly aggressive. The water around Muizenberg is warmed by currents circulating in False Bay and hovers around 22 degrees in the summer months. In winter the water cools to around 15 degrees and the swimmers make way for the enthusiasts of Surfers Corner. The prevailing north-westerly winds build up waves that are powerful and sporting.
Muizenberg takes its name from Sergeant Wynand Willem Muijs who was in charge of a small outpost here in 1743. He became commander of the garrison that was eventually established. When a road was built from Cape Town to Simon’s Town, Muizenberg became a staging post with an inn that was famous for its cuisine. A fishing village grew close to the beach and today the trek fishermen still land great catches of mullet, yellowtail, galjoen and steenbras.
As new roads and the construction of the suburban railway made the area readily accessible, the beaches of Muizenberg began to attract more visitors. Fishermen’s cottages were bought as holiday homes. Guest houses and hotels were built. In 1899, Cecil Rhodes, then at the height of his fame, bought Barkly Cottage on the outskirts of the village and Muizenberg suddenly became fashionable. Wealthy families mainly from Johannesburg moved in and a millionaire’s row of elaborate villas sprang up. Today the suburb of Muizenberg is still largely Victorian and Edwardian in character and is a faded and strangely neglected little place with few amenities. The beach remains in all its glory and man has not yet succeeded in spoiling it. But on a summer day when the wind is away Muizenberg is superb.
For the anglers all seasons are good and each month bringing its own species of fish into False Bay. A unique visitor from the sea often arrives after the south-westerly wind, the rare nautilus shell. Gulls relish the small sea creatures inside and they search the beaches at first light tearing the fragile shells to pieces and gulping down the contents. So hunters of these highly prized marine specimens must begin their search before the first glimmer of dawn.
Newlands - The choice suburb of Newlands is among the Capes most fashionable areas. Imposing houses stand among beautiful woodlands and the gardens are especially lush and green. The suburb began as a logging area and farm Nieuwland (‘new land’) on the upper reaches of the Liesbeek River. It became popular after Governor Willem van der Stel built a country house here in 1700.
Today many of the wealthy citizens of Cape Town have their homes along the shallow valley of the river. Traces of a cottage named Paradise, where the famous 19th century letter-writer, Lady Anne Barnard, once lived, can still be seen among the trees on the right hand side of the double carriageway just before it reaches the intersection with Newlands Avenue. Pleasant pathways wind past the ruins and into the cool shadows of the woods. A second home of Lady Anne, The Vineyard, stands further down the course of the Liesbeek. The river then flows close to South Africa’s finest cricket ground before meandering off towards the sea.
Noordhoek – Is a well sheltered and wooded glen in the folds of Noordhoek Peak. There are many agricultural smallholdings and a manor house, formerly the home of politician Sir Drummond Chaplin. Eish SA has many guest houses and bed and breakfasts listed under the accommodation category so please feel free to browse our selection.
Paardeneiland - Little of the original flavour of Paardeneiland (‘the island of horses’) remains today. It lies in the delta of the Salt River and has been leveled and the river channeled into canals. It is now completely built over with factories and industrial business sights but has a good view of the Table Bay harbour.
Parow - In 1865 Johann Parow, a Prussian sea captain, was wrecked in Table Bay. Having been dumped on the shores of South Africa he made the best of things and became a farmer. He left his name to the town which has now grown up on his lands.
Robben Island - 9 kilometres off the shore of Table Bay lies the tiny Robben Island. Only 3 kilometers long and 1,5 kilometers wide with its highest point being a mere 35 meters above sea level. Such a tiny island has played an extraordinary part in the history of the Western Cape.
When the first European navigators entered Table Bay they found the island to be smothered with birds and seals and it became a source of abundant food and supplies. The penguins’ eggs were especially relished and the seals we hunted for their pelts.
Several names were given to the island. The most enduring proved to be the Dutch Robben (‘seals’) Island. In 1575 the Portuguese landed a small party of convicts on the island, built a storehouse and left the men to plant vegetables and barter for livestock from the mainland tribes. What happened to that settlement is unknown. Similar convict settlements were attempted by the British in 1614 but also failed.
When Jan van Riebeeck founded Cape Town in 1652 he found the island -
“Covered with small bushes and grass, with sweet smelling herbs and flowers and streamlets of fresh water”.
Above all there were no predatory beasts or cattle thieves so he decided to use the island as a Sanctuary for his livestock. Also around this time Van Riebeeck released eight rabbits on the island which he had brought from Holland. Unfortunately their numbers increased to such an extent that the vegetation on the island was destroyed and the cattle had to be taken back to the mainland. In 1658 the island became a maximum security prison and was up until 1994. The first lighthouse on the coast of South Africa was set up on Robben Island, a pitch of rings burning on the top of a pole and it has since been replaced by a modern beacon.
Stone quarried by convicts on the island has been used for the construction of several of Cape Town’s buildings. Captain Cook visited the island and found the ‘pretty rabbits’ delightful of which he took several to Australia and earned the enduring displeasure of the country’s farmers.
Today Robben Island is most noted for being the prison island for Nelson Mandela for 26 years and a very popular tourist attraction in Cape Town.
Rondebosch - A fashionable suburb, Rondebosch (‘the round bush’) is noted for its trees, gardens and schools. The Rustenburg School for Girls has on its grounds the original summer residence of later Dutch governors of the Cape.
Rondevlei - The renowned bird sanctuary at Rondevlei (‘round marsh’) is South Africa’s leading ornithological field research station. More than 170 species of birds can be found among the shallow, reedy marshes, which occasionally dry out completely. The birds are particularly abundant here during January and February and can be studied from observation platforms.
St. James - Named after the first church built here, this suburb is well sheltered from the wind and has a pleasant beach and tidal swimming pool. South Africa’s first marine biological station was opened here in 1903 but this is no longer in existence. Among the attractions is the cottage formerly owned by Cecil Rhodes where he died on 26 March 1902. It is maintained as a museum and contains many of his possessions and photographs.
Sandvlei - The shallow lake formed by several streamlets which reach the sea at Muizenberg. Sandvlei (‘sand marsh’) is a pleasant stretch of water reserved for light yachts and canoes. The edges of the lake are well grassed and shady and are used by picnickers and fishermen. The lower reaches of the vlei have beds of prawns and the upper reaches contain large carp. Pelicans are common and on the eastern side of Sandvlei an interesting residential area has been created known as Marina da Gama. Canal extensions of the lake have been built and houses erected on waterside plots. A large recreational island, Park Island, has also been built and is linked to the mainland only by a bridge.
Scarborough – Here a cluster of weekend cottages stand close to the oddly shaped roadside landmark known as Camel Rock. The beach at Scarborough is flanked by picnic sites and camping grounds. The surrounding countryside is wild and covered with bush.
Seal Island - A passenger launch runs daily in summer from Kalk Bay to Seal Island. The island is densely populated with seals hence the name Seal Island which is also a well known hunting ground for the great white shark.
Sea Point – Definitely Cape Town’s liveliest and most densely populated suburb right on the beach. Sea Point is a beautifully congested cosmopolitan area noted for its restaurants, delicatessens and bustling nightlife. When in Camps Bay one goes into holiday mode. Eish SA has many guest houses and hotels listed under the accommodation category so please feel free to browse our selection.
Silvermine Nature Reserve - The reserve is named after a shaft sunk here in 1687 by prospectors searching for silver but fortunately no silver was ever discovered although there were traces of manganese. The reserve is notable for its walks and wild flowers especially around the old reservoir which is a great spot for a Sunday braai or picnic. A forest track leads to the mountain summit above the reservoir and at the top is a superb view of Hout Bay.
Simon’s Town - The principal base of the South African Navy Simon’s Town is steeped in naval history. In 1671 the Dutch East India vessel Isselsteijn found the bay to be so excellent a harbour that the governor Simon van der Stel founded the port which was named in his honour. The British developed Simonstown (as it is also known by some) as a base for their South Atlantic squadron.
The town that grew around the harbour was distinctly nautical in atmosphere. Many celebrated naval personalities visited or were based in Simon’s Town and the epitaphs on tombstones in the churchyard record a colourful history of sea fights and other misadventures. Compressed between mountain range and sea the town has attractive winding streets.
Smitswinkel Bay - The name Smitswinkel (‘the blacksmith’s shop’) was given to this pretty little bay because of two rocks that jut out of the sea which resemble an anvil and a bellows. The bay is reached by a steep footpath and the slopes of the cliffs are populated by numerous baboons.
Swartklip – Many fishermen congregate at Swartklip which is renowned for the great white sharks that lurk offshore. There is a gull sanctuary in the cliffs. Along the promenade dotted with its lawns and garden the largest salt water swimming pool in the southern hemisphere can be found.
Tokai - Originally Tokai was a farm graced with a superb Cape Dutch farmhouse. The land has been cut into housing developments and the homestead remains complete with tales of a haunting by the ghosts of a horse and rider. As the story goes the son of a former owner was dared to ride his horse up the steep steps into the manor. Then proceed to the dining room and walk around the guests seated at dinner table. On his way down the horse stumbled and the boy was tragically killed and lost the bet, but his ghost is said to ride again on certain nights.
The name of the estate originated from the Tokai hills of Hungary. The Tokai Forest extends up the slopes of the Constantiaberg range and was established in 1883. In the cliffs of Constantiaberg the entrance to a cave known as Elephants Eye can be seen. Legend claims it to have been the retreat of a princess of an early Hottentot tribe and its former name used to be the Princeskasteel (‘castle of the princess’).
Twelve Apostles – The drive around the Cape Peninsula between Hout Bay and Camps Bay runs along the foot of a mountain ridge known as the Twelve Apostles. Formerly known as the Gable Mountains these buttresses were given the name of the Twelve Apostles by the British governor, Sir Rufane Donkin, who fancied that he could identify the various apostles in their shapes. The buttresses are impressive in their steepness and Victoria Road provides a popular scenic route. To the west is the Atlantic Ocean with its rocky shore littered with huge granite boulders and to the east is the high sandstone ridge of the Twelve Apostles. To the north is a superb view of Lion’s Head dominating Camps Bay. Eish SA has many guest houses and bed and breakfasts listed under the accommodation category so please feel free to browse our selection.
Wynberg – As Cape Town’s largest suburb, Wynberg (‘Wine Mountain’) has a magnificent park known as Maynardville. Wynberg was named after James Maynard who lived there and was a member of the old Cape legislative assembly. In 1949 the Cape Town municipality bought the property and it is now a public park with a popular open air theatre. Old cottages on the upper slopes of the suburb have been restored and antique shops flourish in the Wynberg area.