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It’s hard to describe Cape Town’s visage in a single superlative - it might just be the most visually striking city in the world. This captivating city appears carved out of rock, flanked by the ever-present mountain ranges that decline sharply into the shimmering ocean below. The way that the city appears to nestle itself up against ranges, crowned by the Lion’s Head peak always feels appropriate for “The Mother City”. The mountain ranges perched against the glimmering sea aptly reflects the feel of this gorgeous destination - elegant yet rugged, sophisticated yet down to earth.
The ultra-fashionable Victoria and Alfred Waterfront provide upscale shopping and dining, while Long Street pulls a Jekyll and Hyde act transforming from bohemian day hang to Bourbon Street-esque party capital come dusk. The wine growing valleys of Stellenbosch, Constantia and Franschoek combine breathtaking scenery and outstanding wines. With this much competition, many vineyards go above and beyond - boasting art galleries and even wildlife conservation programs. Though the finer things in life are nice, Cape Towners are often most content with a braai (South African style barbecue) while enjoying a sundowner - enjoying a couple drinks at (you guessed it), sundown.
South Africa is an adventurous destination at its core, and Cape Town doesn’t shy away from this reputation. Hike the Platteklip Gorge up to the crest of Table Mountain for stunning panoramic views of the valley or wander down the laid back surf beach of Muizenberg. Lion’s Head and Signal Hill (also known as the more comical Lion’s Rump) are stunning hikes in their own right - all four within city limits. If you’re looking to get further afield, the historically significant Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point are simply remarkable. Numerous tour companies provide diving trips as well as heart-thumping caged shark dives. If existential terror isn’t your thing, there’s always the adorable Boulder Beach penguins - no cage required.
Though affluent and diverse, Cape Town still very much bears the scars of apartheid and is host to many nationally significant apartheid-era sites. The District Six museum somberly remembers the historic district where former slaves and migrants were marginalized; the Slave Lodge remembers the conditions that slaves of the Dutch East India Company were forced to reside as they toiled away. Robben Island is perhaps its most significant apartheid-era historic site, an inauspicious looking island with 400 years of unsavory history. From prison to leper colony to military outpost to prison again, Robben Island is most known for its legacy as political prison, beginning in 1961. For decades, Robben Island was used as a political prison, detaining apartheid opponents including the illustrious Nelson Mandela for 18 years of his 27 years imprisoned. In many ways, Cape Town remains spatially and economically segregated in many of its townships - like much of South Africa, it remains a work in progress to attempt to make amends for the damage of Apartheid.