Cape Town and the Cape Peninsula

cape town night - Cape Town and the Cape Peninsula

With spectacular Table Mountain as its backdrop, Cape Town is one of the world's most beautiful cities. A balanced blend of architectural styles reflects the tastes of dictates of the past, and today's more functional requirements. Between high-rise office blocks, Edwardian and Victorian buildings have been well preserved, and many outstanding examples of Cape Dutch architecture are found. Narrow, cobble stone streets and the strongly Islamic ambiance of the Bo-Kaap enhance the cosmopolitan ambiance of the city.

The Cape Peninsula Nature Reserve is part of the Table Mountain National Park and is one of the most popular tour choices in the Cape. It is well worth a visit. Here you'll find yourself on the southern most point of the African continent.

The Cape Peninsula is in a unique position in that the coastal environment lies at the junction of two major southern African marine (biogeographic) provinces, namely: the cool Namaqua Province on the west coast and the warmer Agulhas Province on the east coast. Cape Point forms the boundary between these two provinces. Because of this the biology of the marine area surrounding the park is tremendously diverse.

Many of the species found here are endemic to Southern African waters. Of the 2,008 marine invertebrate and vertebrate species identified along the southern African coastline from Namibia to Mozambique, 660 (33%) occur on the Peninsula (three percent of the total coastline).

All 24 species of rock pool fish that occur on the Peninsula are endemic to Southern Africa. On top of all that, of the 259 continental-shelf fish species which occur around the Peninsula, 88% are endemic to southern Africa. The large number of seaweed species found along the southern African coast reaches its highest density around the Peninsula.

The Cape Peninsula is the thin finger of land in the southwestern most corner of Africa with the city of Cape Town at its head. As you travel south towards Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope, the land gets narrower until the great Indian and Atlantic Oceans combine into one vast southern ocean, with nothing beyond except Antarctica. In 1578 Sir Francis Drake described it as "The fairest cape in the whole circumference of the globe", and it still is. The rugged Table Mountain range meanders down the centre of the peninsula, and long white soft sandy beaches and little rocky coves, line the edges. The flora and fauna is unique to the area and brightly coloured birdlife is prolific.

Numerous scenic drives are so spectacular they require an unhurried approach to appreciate their stunning beauty. The Peninsula can be divided into the Atlantic coast on the west (including the City of Cape Town) and the False Bay coast on the east. While on the west coast the water is rather chilly at an icy 8°-13°c, it does have an enviable ocean sunset. To take advantage of this nightly spectacle, it is traditional to take a bottle of Cape sparkling wine to the top of Signal Hill or down to the beach. False Bay has the advantage of having warmer water (13°-20°c), safer swimming beaches and a rail link to Cape Town. With nothing but water all around the peninsula, the weather can be a little unpredictable and the wind can whip itself up into a fury. Luckily when it is howling on one side it is normally quiet on the other, so you can always find a sheltered spot.

Cape Town's shopping attractions invite you to browse endlessly. Elegant malls such as the Victoria Wharf at the V & A Waterfront, antique shops, craft markets, flea markets and art galleries abound. Specialist boutiques offer an enticing array of unusual items not readily obtainable elsewhere. Gourmets and lovers of fine wines have a treat in store, with the Constantia Winelands producing some of the finest wines worldwide.