Although Table Mountain and the coastline are rarely far from view, Cape Town is so much more than its bleached beaches and dragonfly-wing blue oceans. The Mother City has a vibrant fusion of Dutch, French, English, Xhosa, Malay and Afrikaner cultures. Hunting out the home grown is where its character comes alive. Local township shebeens set you up for soulful dining, microbreweries bring you coconut ales from Mozambique and fresh ocean catches come from fishermen still following age-old traditions.
Greeted as a friend rather than a traveller, Capetonians will invite you to street-side braais, break hot Xhosa bread with you and fill you in on where to buy biltong. You’ll meet surfboard shapers, traditional drummers, athleisure crowds and artsy entrepreneurs, all on the same laid back time schedule. There’s a saying in Cape Town called ‘now-now’, which can be used to mean anything from a few minutes to a whole day. It’s not uncommon for natives to be late for everything, not because they’re disrespectful, but because they’re so relaxed about life.
Scars are, of course, still visible and Table Bay’s Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela spent 18 years in prison, serves as a reminder of apartheid’s brutality. But with a slew of creative minds leading the way, Cape Town is also healing from the past. As well as an extraordinary art gallery converted from a grain silo, there are fine dining restaurants transforming the scene and third-wave coffee shops serving up the native African velvet bean to the tune of jazz.
With a love of all things local, our guides on the ground will give you a crackling sense of place. When you’re ready to see the less textbook side of Cape Town, we’ll make sure you know of the best people and places to visit.
Your journey will start with one of our UK team – someone like Laura, who's travelled extensively in South Africa. They’ll shape your ideas into the trip of a lifetime. But they won't do it alone. They'll draw on the expertise of our contacts on the ground, connecting you to the people who'll make your holiday one you'll always remember - ex banker who can show you the hottest foodie spots in Cape Town, the award-winning young sommelier who can introduce you to Stellenbosch's finest wines and the walking safari ranger who can guide you to the best game.
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