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Out of Cape Town: The insider’s guide to Cape Peninsula

Venture south along the Atlantic coast to Cape Town and there’s a host of South Africa’s contrasts and wonders waiting to be discovered.

By Triona McBride

Sitting at the edge of South Africa’s famous Winelands and the picturesque Garden Route coastal drive to the game reserves of the Eastern Cape, Cape Town is one of the most stunning city locations on the planet.

From the food, wine, and luxury hotel lovers’ paradise that is the boardwalk marina at the V&A waterfront, to the majestic Table Mountain which presides over the city, Cape Town is a rich European-style coastal city and a never-ending pleasure to explore.

No visit is complete, however, without venturing south around the Cape Peninsula to see the contrasts and wonders waiting to be discovered. Travelling along the peninsula’s Atlantic coast, the first thing visitors encounter is the crescent-shaped hillside Camps, Hout, and False bays. These city suburb beach villages are foodie havens, millionaires’ playgrounds, and breezy oceanside lookouts.

Look down from the table of your world-class balcony meal, and you’ll see high-fashion photoshoots taking place on the sands blow. Look further and you’ll be able to watch the seals and birds who have made the fertile waters and sun-kissed rocks their home.

After moving on to the twin tips of the peninsula, obligatory pictures at the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point mark your personal discovery of this unique point at the end of Africa. But it is the land around the photo opportunities which truly makes this patch of green so interesting.

Cape Point Nature Reserve is 7750 hectares of floral kingdom sitting at the cliff edge 200 metres above the white water where the ocean meets the rocks below. Home to over 1080 species of flora, this tiny reserve has more plant varieties than the whole of Great Britain’s green and pleasant lands.

Cape Point is home to rugged land kept alive by the hardiest of indigenous plant life, but that doesn’t prevent it from being home to a huge range of wildlife too.

On the land mongooses, chacma baboons, porcupines, bontebok, zebra, eland, ostrich, grysbok, leopard tortoises, chameleons, lizards, and snakes all jostle for life while, albatrosses, gannets, petrels, gulls, cormorants, oystercatchers, African goshawk, black eagles, rock kestrels, owls, and peregrine falcons circle hungrily over the potential meals of the land and sea beneath them.

In the waters below, depending on the time of year, some of the most incredible marine life on the planet can be spotted without the need to set sail on a vessel of any kind. Stingrays, dolphins, seals, orcas, humpback whales, southern right whales, and, spectacularly, the notorious great white shark are all frequent visitors to these unique waters.

It might be possible to get lost in the wonders of this natural wonderland, but there is still more to see on the eastern side of this magical peninsula.

Before arriving at the final stop of Simonstown, a short walk down the coastal rocks to Boulders Beach unveils one last wildlife treat. The adorable colony of African penguins who have made this tiny bay their home are a highlight of any visit to this corner of the world. Take your swimming costume and you could even dive in to swim with the feathery critters.

After drying off, there’s time either to see out the day or stay overnight at the historic hipster village of Simonstown. Postcard streets of bric-a-brac stores and boutique cafes sit side-by-side with opportunities for water sports and entertainment for visitors of all ages.


South Africa with MSC Cruises

Duration: 5 nights

Where: Cape Town, South Africa | Wallis Bay, Namibia | Cape Town, South Africa

Ship: MSC Sinfonia

Price: From $199 pp

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Published 03.22.22