08
Oct

A Guide to Building Your Perfect Cape Town Itinerary

Posted By Trav
capetown-itinerary

Our real picture from the helicopter ride.

So, you’re heading to Cape Town, eh?

Or maybe just dreaming about it?

Either way, you’ve made a great choice, because Cape Town is one of the coolest, most fun, and most beautiful cities in the world.

If you’re taking an 18 day trip to Cape Town and want to do EXACTLY what we did, well, we’ve provided our complete itinerary.

And I’m flattered.

But more likely, you’re going for less days…or more days…or want to do some of your own things.

So to help you build your own perfect Cape Town itinerary, we’ve done four things:

  1. Broken down our itinerary day by day.
  2. Given you advice on what to do if you’re going for a longer or shorter time.
  3. Created an ordered list of “must dos”.
  4. AND created a cheat sheet of the best places to eat, sleep, and things to do.

So have a look, run with the things you like, and ditch the others.

And enjoy Cape Town, one of my favorite cities in the world!

Our Itinerary

Day 1 – Downtown Cape Town

(arrived late previous night, stayed at Park Inn Foreshore using Club Carlson points)

  • Had lunch at the Food Market at V&A Waterfront
  • Took a 20 minute helicopter ride.
    • Definitely opt for 20 minutes vs. 15 as this allows you to go behind Table Mountain.
    • Also, negotiate!  We were able to get it down to $80 per person.  Plenty of options all right next to each other, so just go around and ask their best price.
  • Sunset boat cruise.
    • Sunset cruise costs about 220 rand per person ($16).  Bring a jacket or sweatshirt because it’ll get cold when the sun goes down.
  • Had dinner at Quay 4 on the waterfront.
    • Avoid at all costs, this place is awful.
  • Slept at Park Inn Foreshore.

Day 2 – Downtown Cape Town

  • Moved to the Radisson Blu Waterfront, using Club Carlson points to book.
    • Easy, free parking on the street.  Cool views of the stadium on one side and the water on the other.  Walking distance to V&A waterfront.
  • Went to Truth Coffee’s flagship shop downtown for lunch.
    • Really interesting spot with Heather’s favorite coffee in Capetown and good food.  Highly recommended.
  • Went to the Eastern Bazaar for dinner.
    • Cheap and pretty good.  Interesting enough to check out if you have time.
  • Slept at Radisson Blu Waterfront.

Day 3 – Downtown Cape Town

  • Rained all day, so we actually stayed in for the most part, doing work and reading.
  • Walked to Origin Coffee stand at waterfront.
    • 2nd best coffee in Capetown, but by far the best hot chocolate.  Yum!
  • Lunch at the Food Market at V&A Waterfront again.
    • Followed by ice cream at The Creamery!
  • Went out for a drink at the Fireman’s Arms.
    • The oldest pub in Capetown (I love anything that is the “-est”)!
    • Good spot to hang out, no idea how the food is. I wouldn’t suggest walking there at night like I did though.
  • Slept at Radisson Blu Waterfront.

Day 4 – Downtown Cape Town

  • Spent morning sipping hot chocolate and coffee on the deck of Radisson Blu.
    • Walk out the pier (even if you aren’t staying there, maybe you can sneak in) for a great photo op of Table Mountain and the stadium.

Met up with Jacqueline from Adventure Capetown, who tailors day tours to your specific desires.  She took us to do all of the following:

  • Went to Knead Bakery for pastries.
  • Headed north and stopped at Milnerton Beach
    • Great views of Cape Town and a nice beach – but cold water!
  • Ate lunch at Klein Roseboom, a gorgeous little winery with great food.
  • Tasted wine at the Klein Roseboom tasting room.
  • Headed to the Ostrich Farm.
    • I wouldn’t go out of my way to see this unless you love ostriches, but they do have the world’s smallest ostrich here (those “-est” again!)
  • Headed to Bloubergstrand and Big Bay to watch windsurfers and eat dinner at Primi.
    • If you have a car, worth going here to windsurf or just check out a different part of Cape Town.
  • Went back to Park Inn Foreshore to sleep, using points again.

Day 5 – Downtown Cape Town

  • Went to Arnolds on Kloof Street for lunch.
    • Everyone says to go for breakfast, but we didn’t find out they had an all day breakfast menu until AFTER we ate lunch.  Opt for breakfast.
  • Walked up Kloof Street and found a great cafe called Beleza.
    • Incredible pastries and neat building.  Love this part of town – highly recommend you just wander around here.
  • Went to Greenmarket Square and bought some gifts for people.
    • Bargain, bargain, bargain!  I always start at about 25% of what they say and can usually get it at 50% or less.
  • Drove to Hout Bay.
    • Stunning drive through Camp Bay and down the coast
  • Ate at Fish on the Rocks in Hout Bay.
    • Certainly not the best fish and chips like everyone claims – they were average at best – but a neat spot if you are passing through right on the water.
  • Drove up Signal Hill for sunset.
  • Slept at Park Inn Foreshore

Day 6 – Downtown Cape Town then Wine Country (Stellenbosch)

  • Went to Truth Coffee downtown. 
    • Hot chocolate was just ok, not near as good as Origin, but Heather LOVES the coffee!
  • Dropped one rental car off at airport, picked up another one (don’t ask).
  • Drove to Vredenburg Manor in Stellenbosch/Somerset West to stay for a few nights.
    • Incredible place with amazing hosts, Leon and Luke.  We paid 1050 rand ($75) total for 3 people in one of their cottages and a fabulous breakfast was included.
    • LOVE this place (keep reading, you’ll see).
  • Went to Ken Forrester for first wine tasting.  
    • Nice people, just ok wine.  But, they told us to go to…
  • Annandale Farms for second wine tasting.
    • Our favorite winery of the whole trip.  An absolute must.
    • Incredible reds, super unpretentious, very “rustic”, and you can bring your own meat and bbq on their firepit if you want!
  • Dinner at Vredenburg Manor.
    • 4 course meal on the patio prepared especially for us.  390 rand per person ($29).  Really fun and special.

Day 7 – Wine Country (Stellenbosch)

  • Awesome breakfast (included) at Vredenburg Manor.
  • Went to Delheim for our first wine tasting of the day.
    • They have wine and cupcake pairing (woohoo!) but you have to set it up beforehand (boo!) so I didn’t get to do it.  You should.  And tell me how it goes.
  • Headed to Jordan for our second wine tasting of the day.
    • Prettiest winery we went to with decent wines.  Overpriced but pretty good food.
  • Lovane Boutique winery was our third stop.  
    • The smallest winery on the wine route, so I had to go (-est!).  Neat downstairs tasting room.
  • Walked around the quaint Stellenbosch downtown.  Worth stopping and doing, for sure.
  • Watched South Africa vs Japan at a packed college bar.  
    • South Africa lost in the biggest upset in Rugby World Cup history (whoops!).
  • Dinner at Col’Cacchio pizzeria in Stellenbosch.
    • Chain around South Africa but with good, reasonably priced pizza.  Not a bad option.

Day 8 – Wine Country (Stellenbosch)

  • Awesome breakfast (included) at Vredenburg Manor again.
  • Drove to Muizenberg, stopped to see the colorful beach huts.
  • Went to Boulders Beach to see the penguins.
    • Easiest place in the world to see penguins, so you have to stop and see it.
  • Ate lunch at Brass Bell in Kalk Bay.
    • Heard from a few people that this was THE place to eat in the area, but we were not impressed.
    • I’d recommend skipping it and trying Kalky’s (which we didn’t go to) instead.
  • Drove to the Cape of Good Hope.
    • Arrived with only 2 hours before closing, which wasn’t enough time.  I’d recommend having at least 4 hours so you can explore more.
  • Ate dinner at Thai Cafe in Stellenbosch.
    • They have khao soi, my favorite dish in the whole world, which was very surprising.  Unfortunately, it was just average, as was the rest of the food.  I wouldn’t go out of my way to eat here.

Day 9 – Wine Country (Stellenbosch)

  • Awesome breakfast (included) at Vredenburg Manor...again.  
    • But this time, we got cinnamon pancakes with caramel banana sauce.  Ask for them…wow!
  • Did our first real exercise of the trip by going for a run.
  • Spent the day relaxing around Vredenburg and doing work.
  • Dinner at the Thirsty Scarecrow.
    • Awesome pub outside of Stellenbosch with their own, delicious strawberry beer.

Day 10 – Wine Country then Start of Garden Route

  • Awesome breakfast (included) at Vredenburg Manor…again
  • Lunch at the Farmer’s Kitchen – which is connected to the Thirsty Scarecrow.
    • Wow, some of the best food we had the entire time.  A must go for brunch or lunch (only open until 5pm).
  • Started driving out the Garden Route to Plettenberg Bay.
  • Stopped in Hermanus.
    • Great spot for whale watching – saw one as soon as we pulled up.
    • Wandered around the cute downtown area, bought a book at Hemmingway’s bookstore, which is a neat spot.
  • Drove to Arniston and stayed at “Marlene’s Fishing Cottage”.
    • Booked for us by Leon at Vredenburg Manor House.
    • This is a very barebones house with 2 bedrooms.  I wouldn’t recommend it unless you want a real rustic, out of the way spot.
  • Ate dinner at the restaurant/house next door, Willene’s.
    • Worst food we had the whole trip – if you somehow find yourself in Arniston (and why would you?) – avoid.

Day 11 – Garden Route

  • Woke up for sunrise over Arniston, the one plus.  
    • Then got chased by wild dogs, so even that got ruined.
  • Drove to Mossel Bay.
    • no real reason to stop here.  Keep pushing on to somewhere better.
  • Lunch at Salinas in Wilderness, which was recommended by Leon from Vredenburg.
    • Great call Leon!  Spectacular views over Wilderness beach and really good food.
    • Ask for the half grilled, half calamari platter (not on menu, I made it up).  It’s awesome, as are fish and chips.
  • Stopped and wandered around Knysna.
    • Cool town, much better place to stop and explore than Mossel Bay.
  • Drove to Plettenberg Bay.
  • Ate dinner at The Table in Plettenberg Bay.
    • Great salads and pizzas and fun place to sit outdoors.
  • Slept at Robberg Beach Club.

Day 12 – Garden Route

  • Ate breakfast at Robberg Beach Club (included)
  • Hiked the 5 hour Robberg trail.
    • One of the best things we did on the entire trip.  Incredible cliffside hike where you’ll see seals, whales, and maybe even sharks.
  • Ate dinner at Fat Fish.
    • After 5 hours of hiking, anything would have tasted good, but this was an awesome meal.  Definitely eat here – but call for reservations, they get busy.
  • Slept at Robberg Beach Club.

Day 13 – Garden Route then back to Downtown Cape Town

  • Ate breakfast at Robberg Beach Club (included).
  • Hung out on beach for three hours.  
    • Went swimming, water was cold refreshing!
  • Ate lunch at Salinas in Wilderness – again.
  • Got 3 speeding tickets driving the Garden Route back to Cape Town (do as I say, not as I do!)
  • Booked an apartment on AirBnB for next four night, arrived in Cape Town at 10pm and went to bed.

Day 14 – Downtown Cape Town

  • Went to the incredible Saturday market at the Old Biscuit Mill.  
    • If you’re here on a Saturday, this is a must for the food alone.
  • Drove to Klein Constantia winery set in a beautiful area south of Cape Town.
  • Ate late lunch/dessert at Jonkershuis restaurant at Groot Constantia winery.  
    • Jacqueline’s favorite “upscale” restaurant in Cape Town and real gem.
  • Went to The Devil’s Peak Taproom to watch South Africa in the Rugby World Cup…
    • …and sip on the best craft beer and cider in Cape Town.
    • Definitely head here for good food and drinks.
  • Ate dinner at Sawadee Thai restaurant in The Gardens neighborhood of Cape Town.  
    • Decent food at good prices.

Day 15 – Downtown Cape Town

  • Drove to Hout’s Bay for the weekend market (open Friday, Saturday, Sunday).
    • If you miss the market at the Old Biscuit Mill or you just love markets (like us), this is worth the drive.
  • Went shopping at the Canal Walk Mall
    • Not exactly my idea – but still cool because it’s 3rd biggest mall in Africa.
  • Heather and her sister went to see a movie at the waterfront.
  • I ate dinner at Hudson’s Burger Joint (just ok) while trying to (unsuccessfully) stream NFL games on my laptop – big night out!

Day 16 – Downtown Cape Town

  • Hiked up Table Mountain via the Platteklip Gorge route.
    • Started at 10:00 am, reached the top at 12:30 pm.
    • Awesome hike but a bit difficult.  Wear good shoes and bring plenty of water and sunblock.
    • We “treated” ourselves and took the cable car down, which is what many people do.
    • Overall, this is a definite must do in Cape Town.  Fantastic views!
  • Ate lunch at Addis in Cape.
    • Fun, friendly Ethiopian restaurant with a good, filling lunch special (99 rand).
  • Drove to and wandered around Kirstenbosch Gardens.
    • Neat botanical gardens right at the foot of Table Mountain so you have great views (of what you maybe just climbed!).
    • Worth the visit even if you aren’t a “flower person” like me.
  • Ate dinner at Beluga.
    • Known as one of Cape Town’s best restaurants – rumor has it that Prince Harry dined here – it’s got good food at reasonable prices.
    • We opted for the “set menu”, where three courses are 190 rand and you can pick from a variety of options.  Great value and nice ambience.

Day 17 – Downtown Cape Town then back to Wine Country

  • I started my day by getting a shave and haircut at Yogi’s barber shop.
    • Awesome, old school barber shop in heart of Cape Town that’s an experience in and of itself.
    • Highly recommended for guys who want a trim – haircut and straight razor shave cost less than 200 rand ($15).
  • Went back to V&A waterfront for early lunch and to shoot some videos.
  • Camera battery died, so went back to Devil’s Peak Taproom to record a podcast while tasting beers and charging batteries.
    • Multi-tasking never tasted so good!
  • Back to the Old Biscuit Mill – close to the Devil’s Peak Taproom – for more filming.
  • Went shopping at Green Market Square to pick up last minute gifts.
  • Headed to the Beerhouse on Long Street for more “filming”.
    • Where I had to – in the name of research – sample 3 more beers!
  • Back to Devil’s Peak – yes, this is twice in three hours – for dinner.
    • Tuesdays has live music and a crazy burger and beer special for 65 rand.  Couple that with rugby on tv and I was in heaven.
  • Drove back to Vredenburg Manor in Stellenbosch/Somerset West.
    • We loved this BnB so much we went back for our last night and so we could have a great breakfast in the morning.
  • Went out to Thirsty Scarecrow to meet up with EPoP reader Bryan Teare.

Day 18 – Wine Country (Stellenbosch)

  • Awesome breakfast (included) at Vredenburg Manor…for the last time.
  • Drove to Cape Town airport.
    • One thing that is great about Cape Town airport is that it’s so easy to get to from both downtown and the wine region – 30 minutes max on the highway.
  • Shot intro/outro videos in the airport.
  • Got on the plane and headed off to New York via Abu Dhabi.
    • Cried because we were leaving the amazing city of Cape Town.

So there you have our exact itinerary for 18 days in the Cape Town area.  But here are our suggestions for people with more or less time in Cape Town.

If You Have More Time in Cape Town:

  • Hit up Cape Town attractions we missed such as Robben Island, District Six museum, and Castle of Good Hope.
  • If you’re adventurous, dive with great white sharks (I’m definitely doing this when I come back).
  • Spend a night or two at towns along the Garden Route.  I’d recommend Hermanus and Knysna.
  • Check out even more wineries around Cape Town by heading to Franschoek or Paarl (or both!).

If You Have Less Time in Cape Town:

  • Out of the three regions – Cape Town, wine country, and the Garden Route – I’d cut out the Garden Route.
    • The drive is boring and far (and you may end up with speeding tickets!) and you can get the same feel by going to coastal towns much closer like Hout Bay.
  • Pick up the pace.
    • We did things slower because we had more time and had to film stuff.  Cape Town is easily navigable, so you can fit a lot of the stuff we did in downtown Cape Town in a few days.
  • Take a day tour out to wine country.
    • If you’re really pressed for time, you can do a wine tour in one day (like EPoP reader Nate). We loved staying out there and spending time in Stellenbosch, but a day tour will allow you to at least see it.

And since I have no idea how many days you have or your travel style, here is an ordered list of what I think are the things you can’t miss in Cape Town.

It always helps to know the “best of the best”.

Things I Wouldn’t Miss (starting with the most important)

  • Hiking Table Mountain – if hiking is too hard, you can take the cable car up and down.
  • Cape of Good Hope – stop to see the penguins at Boulders Beach!
  • A trip to wine country – whether that be one day or a week, get out there.  And if you’re in Stellenbosch, go to Annandale, our favorite winery.
  • Old Biscuit Mill Saturday market.
  • Helicopter ride over Cape Town.
  • V&A waterfront – wander around, take boat cruise, eat at the market.
  • Truth Coffee in District Six for coffee lovers and Devil’s Peak Taproom for beer lovers.
  • Drive up Signal Hill.
  • Drive out to Milnerton/Big Bay for views of Cape Town.
  • If you do drive the Garden Route, hike Robberg Trail in Plettenberg Bay.

Have you been to Cape Town?  If so, what are some of your favorite recommendations?  What did you love?

21 comments

  1. Brock says:

    Holy cow, what a list!

    I have been to SA 2x, many years ago. Unfortunately I wasn’t really able to experience much of the culture because I was in the bush for weeks.

    Definitely on my list of places to revisit. This time I will be hanging around civilization and get to experience many of these places.

    Thanks for doing like all of the research for us! :)

    1. Trav says:

      @Brock- Yeah, it took a long time to write out, but I love details and digging in to other people’s itineraries before I go places, so I figured I’d be thorough!

      What were you doing in the bush?

      1. Brock says:

        Big hunting trip. Part of my previous life. I spent two weeks out there with my parents, and then a few years later, I went back and spend a month of there without the parents lol.

        The only culture I got to experience was just in a super small area, in the woods lol. It was neat, but it wasn’t all that I wanted. I crave more. I neeeed more :)

        1. Trav says:

          @Brock- Well, time to head back again. Pretty cool that you had that experience though!

  2. Mattie H says:

    Spent a week in Capetown last Fall. It remains segregated and unsafe. My woman friend was discouraged by locals to hike Table mountain alone because of fears of rape and/or mugging. We were warned not to stand out on the street when calling a taxi to take us to the hotel from a restaurant. The local white population lives in gated communities or homes with extensive security systems. Anyone who goes and doesn’t see this is wearing blinders. I would not return.

    1. Trav says:

      @Mattie H- I agree with you that you have to proceed with more caution than other places, especially European cities or touristed Asian cities. However, I don’t think the reality falls in between what some people tell you (i.e. – you can’t do anything and have to be scared of everyone) and what people who normally travel to safer places are used to.

      I do agree that the disconnect between the rich and the poor is strong, but honestly, the same can be said for almost all American cities, and many large cities all over the world. There are parts of Philadelphia I would never venture in to at night, and there are others that I feel fine in. Again, proceed with caution, but I wouldn’t let that scare anyone away from the absolute beauty of the city.

  3. jim says:

    I started a 30 day cruise from Cape Town and I have to agree with you about being a beautiful place. I stayed at the Raddison Blu in May when they still honored the stay the second night free. Nice hotel and my room was right on the ocean with a beautiful view. I did Robben Island and did many of the things that you did. The food was great and I would recommend this city to anyone.
    Also I just received that I got a free night certificate from Club Carlson just by calling them up and asking for it.
    Thanks

    1. Trav says:

      @Jim- Looks like I need to call them up and ask for it too, then, for all 3 of my accounts!

      Yeah, we didn’t have an ocean view at the Radisson Blu, unfortunately, but the deck and the pier did the job.

  4. Melodie says:

    could you please comment on how you flew to Cape Town and explain what mileage program you used and the routing you took both directions? Did you fly economy class and if so, how was it on the respective airlines you used? Did you feel safe while in Cape Town? Thank you for everything.

    1. Trav says:

      @Melodie- I actually bought my tickets using cash (crazy, right?). I did this because it was a mistake fare and I only ended up paying $300 per person to fly there, so it was better than using miles!

      If you are going to use miles though, it’s much better to try to use United miles (and transfer Chase points to United) because they don’t charge fuel surcharges. If you try to use AA miles, the only way to get to South Africa with AA is using British Airways, and you’ll get hit with big fuel surcharges (at least $300 per ticket, maybe more).

      Yes, I felt safe, but you have to proceed with caution. This isn’t like a European city. Definitely don’t go out at night, especially alone. During the day, most things are ok, but just be aware of your surroundings.

  5. You did some of the super awesome things! Glad you enjoyed! With a little more time I was able to…

    – Hike to the top of Lion’s Head with a bottle of wine. Open at the top and enjoy the view.
    – Do a tour of the townships with one of the cool local companies.
    – As mentioned, District 6 museum, the great white cage dive, and Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned.

    1. Trav says:

      @christian Nommesen- Yeah, I should include Lion’s Head on the “things to do with more time” list. I was bummed I didn’t make it up there. I also really, really wanted to do a tour of the townships, but we didn’t have time and Heather wasn’t super in to it.

      Seems like you had an awesome trip there…how many days did you go for?

      1. I had a great trip. I was there for about five weeks working remotely (https://christiannommesen.wordpress.com/2010/09/21/out-of-africa-2010-2/)

        I took one week off to go over to Zambia and Botswana for safari.

        I also really enjoyed wine country. I was able to hike to the top of Table Mountain three times on three separate trails. Great workout! Only took the cable car down once…

        I had heard lots of stories of danger in the city, but armed with a smile, I found I could make friends with any. Although I was a little wary carrying my laptop in my backpack searching for reliable internet at 2am a few times. But in all, no worries, and great times. I’d like to take home one of those little penguins!

  6. Doug says:

    Awesome itinerary. So far the Food Market has been delicious and we loved the Eastern Bazaar tonight. We’re actually staying at an AirBnB right down the block from the Radisson and love the waterfront location. We’re gonna have to hit up Truth Coffee after some shark diving tomorrow! Thanks for all the recommendations Travis & Heather!

    1. Trav says:

      @Doug- Yeah, that’s an awesome location, and AirBnB has some incredible places in Cape Town. Only bummer is that we can’t be there to hang out with you guys!

  7. D says:

    Cape Town is my favourite city in the world
    next time you should to the chapman’s peak drive from Camps bay, its amazing, one of the best scenic drives in the world and also watch the sun set on signal hill
    Ive been there about 5 times and there’s still a lot to do

    1. Trav says:

      @D – Yeah, we did do that drive, it was amazing. LOVE that city…can’t wait to go back!

  8. TravelerGirl says:

    South Africa calls itself the Rainbow Nation. I spent six weeks there two summers ago doing a medical rotation at the Eerste River Hospital, where the poor blacks from the neighboring township are the hardest hit from the country’s history of Apartheid and segregation. My experience there was brilliant as South Africa offers a true gem of a cultural rich heritage that is on tap everywhere you go. However, a few things to keep in mind. The colors of the rainbow (the blacks – the people who originally inhabited South Africa when the white Afrikaaners from Holland arrived – these people were never enslaved; the whites – the descendants of the northern Holland Afrikaaners; and the colored peoples of South Africa – the descendants of the imported enslaved peoples from Malawai and Madagascar and the slave owners – these people look mixed) don’t mix much. When Apartheid happened, blacks were forcefully moved to the townships, the colored people were moved to the suburbs, and the whites kept all the best waterfront property to themselves. Today, black South Africans do the most movement from day to day, from their townships where they live in squallor, to the white parts of town where they work. Coloreds work outside their suburbs, so they also go between their neighborhoods and the white parts of town. The white people, however, don’t have to move between the neighborhoods much, unless like the white doctors I worked with in the township hospital, they are doing their three-year stint of public health care work to pay back their student loans.

    The itinerary listed here clearly stuck to the white parts of town, missing most of what makes South Africa unique. If you really want to understand Cape Town and South Africa’s history, you cannot miss the items on the list which they missed: Castle of Good Hope (where South Africa’s modern colonial history began), Robben Island (where Mandella spent most of his 27 years in captivity) and District Six Museum (which is an easy walk from Greenmarket Square in downtown Cape Town). They also missed out on many more enriching experiences that are culturally relevant, including a personal township tour of Langa (I recommend hiring MC’s company, you can find him on TripAdvisor.com), the Iziko Slave Lodge Museum, the Company Gardens (build by the Dutch East India Company), St. George’s Cathedral (Desmund Tutu’s head church, and where he helped sequester Apartheid protesters at the ends of their protest marches) and its jazz club downstairs (started by a music professor at University of Cape Town), as well as Long Street, and lots, lots more.

    I arrived in the country by myself, lived with a colored family in a suburb 20 minutes from downtown, and explored every day inside Cape Town and always by myself. In contrast to other people who wrote to say they felt unsafe or walked around in fear of being raped, I never felt like that, ever. I have long traveled by myself. The secret is not to look like a tourist, but rather to look self-assured, and not to do stupid stuff like hold your cell phone out casually or wear a loose purse off your shoulder. Walk with purpose and know where you’re going. Carry a map so you don’t get lost.

    One cool thing about being a white American in South Africa is that as soon as you open your mouth to speak, the locals know you’re not from there. Use this to your advantage. White South Africans still for the most part have an arrogant and racist Apartheid-era attitude toward the blacks and coloreds, and ignore and act like they don’t exist (this is MUCH worse in Johannesburg than down in Cape Town, where even during Apartheid, the segregated groups of people were more integrated than in the north part of the country). Black South Africans love Americans, mainly because they see that we just elected Obama as our President! (The black people there LOVE Obama!)

    Cape Town is a great place! But don’t go there for merely a vacation. Go there to travel … to learn the history (which is incredibly recent and hugely available), understand the experience of the different groups of people who lived through Apartheid (take a taxi wherever you go and ask the drivers where they were the day Mandella was released … that’s everyone’s 9/11 or JFK moment in SA), and gain a new perspective on what racism and its lasting consequences really mean. This will make you a better American and if you’re white, more understanding of the black experience here.

    I highly recommend reading Mandella’s book “Long Walk To Freedom” while you’re there. It will really help bring your experience and the country’s amazing history alive.

    1. Trav says:

      @TravelerGirl- I totally agree with you – we spent most of the time doing somewhat typical tourist stuff and would LOVE to go back and do a lot of things you mentioned. Thanks so much for all the advice and the insight – it is an incredible country with a lot of different layers, and I can’t wait to keep peeling those layers off, much like you’ve done during your time there!

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