Dig a little deeper and a series of unusual landmarks, buildings and places reveal themselves.
Here are 13 Places in Cape Town you don’t know about. Yet.
THE HIPPOS OF RONDEVLEI
Probably because of where the nature reserve lies – on the outskirts of the city centre alongside the less promising suburbs of Grassy Park and Zeekoevlei – it isn’t high on visitors’ to do lists when in the Mother City. But arrive as early as possible in the mornings and you might spot one of the hippos that make the vlei their home (that’s real live hippos in the city!).
To visit: Perth Rd and Fishermens Walk, Zeekoei Vlei open 7.30am – 5pm.
Wally’s Cave is all over Instagram with photos depicting the iconic cave mouth, the shadow of a leaping hiker usually within its cavernous, almost circular yawn. The cave, named after Wally Struthers who was still climbing the mountain four times a week at the age of 73, is on Lion’s Head.
To visit: take the overgrown path off to the right about 500 metres along the jeep track on Signal Hill
WOODSTOCK’S STREET ART
As Woodstock slowly gentrifies, the slew of hip coffee shops a testament to the steady emergence of a hub of creativity in the former semi-industrial area, it has also become a magnet for street art and graffiti by both local and internationally renowned artists. Particularly Lower Woodstock.
To visit: do a Google search for Woodstock street art tours
WE ARE STILL HERE MEMORIAL
This memorial mosaic is dedicated to the 7 000 children of all races sold as indentured labourers, long after slavery was abolished, in the Cape Colony. The street art includes some of the thousands of adverts for orphaned and destitute children published in the Cape Government Gazette between 1841 and 1921. It is pause for thought.
To visit: We are Still Here lies just behind the Cape Town Public Library on the corner of Longmarket and Parade Streets, Cape Town central
Also known as Erf 81, this is a farm on the slopes of suburban Tamboerskloof. Operating as an ‘eco-village’ for over 20 years the farm lies on Signal Hill but functions as far more than a farm. It gives temporary refuge to abandoned people and animals, it serves as art studios and it is home to an organic vegetable community – Tyisa Nabanye. Erf 81 is under threat of eviction by the Department of Public Works, who want the property back.
To visit their market: 062 4722 910 or 073 835 8418.
Did you know that you can climb Slangkop Lighthouse? And that it’s one of few lighthouses still manned by a light-keeper? The tallest lighthouse on the South African coastline lies on the rocks just beyond Kommetjie with a revolving electric lantern that flashes four times every thirty seconds. It’s a good place to spot pelagic seabirds.
To visit: Lighthouse Road, Kommetjie 021 788 1717
NOORDHOEK’S MILKWOOD FOREST
On the lower slopes of Chapman’s Peak lies a remnant of a milkwood forest, most of it within Monkey Valley Resort where the guest cottages lie in amongst the trees. Dense forests of Milkwood trees have historically graced the coastline and bays of Cape Town, particularly Noordhoek, Macassar and Gordons Bay.
To visit: 1 Mountain Road, Chapmans Peak
CONSTANTIA’S DIE HEL
This is one of Constantia’s nine public walking trails, known collectively as the Constantia Green Belt. They are country-style walks through forests, across streams and through grassy vales, the most popular of which is Alphen Walk alongside the hotel. Die Hel (or De Hellen – Dutch for ‘the slope’) has its entrance on Southern Cross Drive. Note: please walk in groups, not alone!
To visit: intersection of Southern Cross Drive and Monterey Drive, Constantia.
ARDERNE GARDENS’ CHAMPION TREES
Few visit the pretty botanical garden in the midst of Claremont, and yet it features six of South africa’s most remarkable trees. These Champion Trees (trees of exceptional importance and heritage value) include the incredible Moreton Bay fig (if you’re in any doubt, simply find the largest tree in the garden).
To visit: 222 Main Road, Claremont open 8am – 6pm
This is the only surviving water mill in the city that still functions as a mill, producing flour stone-ground by the power harnessed from the Liesbeek River. Josephine Mill forms part of a museum dedicated to the milling process. As well as the Mill Museum, find Caveau Wine Bar and Deli, and a shop selling freshly baked breads and flours. (Photo credit: © Danie van der Merwe).
To visit: 13 Boundary Road, Newlands, open Mon-Fri 9am – 1pm
MA TZU TEMPLE, MONTAGU GARDENS
This Taiwanese temple for fishermen lies concealed in the midst of a business park in Montagu Gardens (Cape Town is a popular port of call for Taiwanese fishing fleets). The temple is dedicated to Ma Tzu, the Taoist patron goddess of seafarers.
To visit: 5A Illy Industrial Park, Stella Road open 9.30am – 4.30pm
KOEBERG NATURE RESERVE
Found at the site of the continent’s only nuclear power station, just north of Cape Town near Melkbosstrand, the 3 000 hectare Koeberg nature reserve preserves threatened West Coast strandveld and is home to eland, zebra, springbok, gemsbok and a surprisingly large collection of birds. MTB and hiking trails make it a great reserve to explore.
To visit: 30 km north of Cape Town on the R27 open sunrise to sunset
HOLY TRINITY CHURCH, KALK BAY
One of the most beautiful sandstone buildings on False Bay, the Holy Trinity’s thatched roof and wooden gate, are a feature of the Kalk Bay village landscape and a wonderful example of early Victorian church architecture. The interior is beautiful.
To visit: 42 Main Road, Kalk Bay 021 788 1641
Cape Town Travel Plans
Reference: Secret Cape Town by Justin Fox and Alison Westwood, available online or at the Kirstenbosch book shop.