View of downtown Cape Town with Table Mountain in background

This is the third part in Laura Pedrick’s four-part photo journey through South Africa. Part 4 will be live tomorrow.

We fly to Cape Town by way of Bloemfontein, about a three-hour drive from Clarens. The flight (one hour and 45 minutes) takes us over the country’s Central Plateau (also known as the Great Karoo), a semi-desert scrubland that seems to go on forever. Descending into Cape Town feels like landing in an oasis; noticeably more green, it’s a tidy, colorful city edged in blue where the Atlantic meets its white sand coast. Nicknamed the “Mother City,” Cape Town served as a refreshment stop for merchant ships in the mid-seventeenth century as they were en route to pass the treacherous Cape of Good Hope.

Southern Sun Waterfront Hotel in Cape Town

We check in at the Southern Sun Waterfront Hotel, a 537-room resort that is conveniently located in the downtown business district.

Standard room at the Southern Sun Waterfront Hotel in Cape Town

It has all the standard amenities you’d expect in a modern four-star hotel: pool, spa, fitness room, restaurant and location just a short drive from the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, where we plan to have a sit-outside lunch while taking in the spectacular views of Cape Town’s famous Table Mountain on one side and Table Bay on the other.

Victoria & Alfred Waterfront in Cape Town has magnificent views of Table Mountain and the bay

The V&A Waterfront is home to more than 80 restaurants and countless retail stores and entertainment venues.

At Den Anker, we enjoy oysters prepared in beer and lobster bisque while watching boats sail into the 150-year-old working harbor. The Mediterranean climate is a relief compared to the fleece-wearing weather we just left.

Victoria & Alfred Waterfront in Cape Town
Bronze statues of four men who collectively brought down apartheid peacefully stand in the Waterfront

If you’re going to do one thing in Cape Town, it has to be taking the gondola up to the 3,500-foot summit of Table Mountain, the country’s most famous landmark.

One can reach the top of Table Mountain at 3,500 feet in less than five minutes in the new rotating cable cars

Recently renovated cable cars can bring 65 visitors at a time to the top while rotating 360 degrees during the five-minute ascent.

No better view of Cape Town and Robben Island than from the top of Table Mountain

The view of Cape Town and this continent’s southernmost coast is breathtaking. Also in clear view is Robben Island, site where Nelson Mandela served 18 of  his 27-year prison sentence under apartheid.

Climbers reach the top of Table Mountain and enjoy the view of the Atlantic below

What I could’ve done without, however, is getting a near-heart-attack every time I saw someone take a selfie outside of the protective barriers. Come on, people!

View from atop Table Mountain

On our way back to the hotel we stop briefly at the famously hyper-colored neighborhood of Bo Kaap, established in 1834 when Muslims were released from slavery.

The colorful Cape Town village of Bo Kaap

It’s unclear why exactly they began painting their homes and mosques with vibrant colors but it’s a tradition that has drawn visitors for many years.

The Muslim community established the colorful Cape Town village of Bo Kaap in 1834 when they were freed from slavery
Residents of Bo Kaap

You can’t fully appreciate Cape Town without exploring the Woodstock art district and a great way to do this is begin with a street art walking tour.

Street art adorns nearly every wall in the art district of Woodstock in Cape Town

A guide leads us down alleys and back streets that showcased incredible graffiti art, from four-story pieces that covered entire buildings to little installations tucked away in dead-end alleys.

Street walking tour in the art district of Woodstock

Having an expert identify the artists and the meanings behind their works made this a satisfyingly immersive experience.

Majolandile Dyalvane, founder of Imiso Ceramics, works on one of his pieces in his studio in the Old Biscuit Mill, Woodstock

The cultural revival that is uplifting this area includes bringing in some of the country’s best chefs. We were lucky to meet one of them, Karen Dudley, owner of The Kitchen.

Karen Dudley: chef, writer, owner of The Kitchen

This neighborhood eatery is wildly popular and is standing-room-only when we stop in for lunch. Well worth the wait.

Sweet potato, eggplant rattattoui, oyster mushrooms, rice and chicken for lunch at The Kitchen
Lunchtime at The Kitchen in Woodstock

For dinner we return to the city center and visit Ash, a trendy new restaurant with an open kitchen atmosphere and meat prepared in the old tradition of charcoal cooking.

Chef working in the open kitchen at Ash, a trendy new restaurant in Cape Town
30-day dry-aged beef at Ash restaurant

Before turning in for the night we pop in at The Gin Bar, a hidden little gem which makes the best gin cocktails in the city.

Bartenders at The Gin Bar offer up only four choices of gin-mixed cocktails: “Head,” “Heart,” “Soul,” and “Ambition”
My choice at The Gin Bar is “Soul,” a citrusy spice mixture gin cocktail

Another Cape Town must is spending several hours touring the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden. It is considered to be one of the most beautiful and greatest gardens in the world.

An interesting random photoshoot at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden
A large Silver Tree in Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden

With Table Mountain’s majestic backdrop, the 1,300-acre sanctuary grows and maintains over 9,000 of South Africa’s 22,000 indigenous plant species. The entrance fee is just over $4 and only $1 for children.

A Protea bush (the national flower) at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden
Visitors pointing out an owl in a tree at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden
Andrew Phillip Jacobs, our guide for this day and 40-year employee at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, engages with a volunteer who frequents the park

On our last day in Cape Town, we take a 30-minute drive to Stellenbosch, a picturesque village that is one of the oldest historically preserved towns in the country.

Schoon: It’s not just a bakery, it’s a collaboration of artists and artisans under one roof

We schedule a “Classic Cape Cuisine Walk” with Bites & Sites Cultural Food Tours that includes visits to the town center, historic sites, sampling of traditional Cape food, and a wine-tasting.

Wine-tasting at Brampton Wine Studio in Stellenbosch

Highlights of our journey were Schoon—a collaboration of artists and artisans under one roof—Eikenboom Butchery, Brampton Wine Studio, and the lovely Oude Werf Hotel, the oldest hotel in South Africa. For this tour, the cost is about $35.

Eikenboom Butchery in Stellenbosch
Lunch being served at the Oude Werf Hotel, Stellenbosch
Trio of traditional dishes: bobotie with chutney, chicken pie and snooker fishcake, fish pate, sweet potato for lunch at the Oude Werf Hotel, Stellenbosch
Front lobby at the Oude Werf Hotel, oldest continuous working hotel in all of South Africa
A deluxe room at the Oude Werf Hotel, Stellenbosch

On the outskirts of Stellenbosch is Vergenoegd, a charming Dutch gabled roof wine estate, which is the only vineyard that I’m aware of that ceremoniously parades a thousand ducks past visitors twice a day.

Vergenoegd Wine Estate in Stellenbosch
Twice-a-day parade of the well-known runner ducks at Vergenoegd Winery

The ducks play an important role in pest control efforts, eating snails and other harmful bugs in the grape fields.

Vineyard pest-control efforts rely heavily on the ducks eating snails and bugs. A breeding program keeps the workforce strong and effective. Shown here is a day-old duckling.
Wine-tasting in the courtyard of Vergenoegd Wine Estate in Stellenbosch, one of the oldest vineyards in the country

Seated outside we enjoy the smell of sea air from nearby False Bay while sampling some of this vineyard’s finest wines.

Duck tender Johanne Pietersin holding one of his ducklings

After checking in at the Evergreen Manor and Spa, an establishment that describes itself as a luxury guesthouse with character, we leave for a home visit and dinner in the township of Kayamandi.

Riel and Christina Meynhardt welcome us to their Evergreen Manor and Spa in Stellenbosch
My room at the Evergreen Manor and Spa in Stellenbosch

This is a suburb of Stellenbosch that was established in the 1950s to house exclusively black laborers working in nearby farms.

A group of girls welcome us to the township of Kayamandi with a song a dance

Our lovely host, Nocawe, invites us into her grandmother’s home for a meal that begins with boiled sheep stomach (interesting) and Amagwinya (deep-fried fat cakes) and some chicken brai.

A group of excited girls waiting for us to enter their home in the township of Kayamandi

After desert she lets us sample some beer that she’s in the process of brewing in her kitchen.

Our host, Nocawe and her mother
Our host, Nocawe, invites us into her mother’s kitchen where they are in the process of brewing beer. The tradition is to bow to the gods while taking a sip. One of the writers in our group obliges.
Nocawe’s prepared meal

We return to the charming Evergreen Manor late in the evening, sleep hard, and then rise very early to catch our flight out of Cape Town to Hoedspruit, our final destination in South Africa—for SAFARI!

In part 4, tomorrow: Safari with just a touch of luxury.

For more on travel to South Africa, visit


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