Sunseeker: Cape Town
There's a mountain to climb (or take the cable car)
Sunday 01 February 2004
Why go now?
Why go now?
To take advantage of the warm summer sunshine. February is one of the best months to visit, with daytime temperatures hovering around a hot 28C. Expect long, dry sunny days and sensational sunsets at around 8pm. Cape Town enjoys a year-round temperate, Mediterranean climate with most of its rain falling during the winter months, between June and August.
Any other reasons to go?
One reason is to celebrate a decade of democracy and freedom - this year sees the 10th anniversary of the ending of apartheid. Two other reasons are the favourable exchange rate and the many new restaurants which have opened recently. And the stunning Chapman's Peak coast road - shut for years - has finally been reopened, which means speedier and more scenic access to the must-see sights of the Cape Peninsula and Cape Point.
Where should I stay?
The Table Bay Hotel (00 27 21 406 5000; www.suninternational.com) is situated right in the heart of the V&A Waterfront development on the antique breakwater. It has panoramic views over the bay to Robben Island and back to Table Mountain. The hotel, which offers five-star corporate-style luxury, has 329 rooms, two restaurants, a lounge and bar. There is a sun terrace, swimming pool, health spa and fitness complex. Rooms cost from £332 per night. The Cape Grace Hotel (00 27 21 410 7100; www.capegrace.com), a swanky, waterfront hotel built along the sleek lines of an ocean liner, is one of the smartest addresses in town. There are great views over the V&A yacht basin and back to Table Mountain from its 121 rooms. The hotel has a fabulous, award-winning restaurant, a whisky bar offering more than 400 whiskies from around the world and a new, stylish spa for use by guests only. Rooms from £298 per night. Another superb hotel is Kensington Place (00 27 21 424 4744; www.kensingtonplace.co.za), voted one of the top 101 hotels in the world. One of the hippest hotels in Cape Town, it is set in the foothills of Table Mountain, with easy access to the city centre, the historical sights, beaches and vineyards. This boutique establishment has eight rooms with marble baths, private terraces and original art. Rooms from £194 per night.
What shouldn't I miss?
No visit to Cape Town is complete without a trip to the top of Table Mountain in the rotating cable car. To avoid the queues go for the first cable car of the day at 8.30am. For the energetically inclined, climb the mountain. The best and easiest access is on the signed trails from Kirstenboch Botanical Gardens. To avoid the heat of the day begin climbing at around 7am and allow three hours. Take a trip to Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated. Boats leave hourly from the waterfront and booking ahead is essential. You can also pay a visit to the Robben Island Museum (00 27 21 413 4200; www.robben-island.org.za). Best new restaurants in town are Wakame (00 27 21 433 2377) offering Zen minimalist chic and the best sushi in town, Tank (00 27 21 419 0007), serving superb seafood, and Ginga (00 27 426 2368), dishing up some fabulous Asian fusion cuisine.
Who should I call?
Abercrombie & Kent (0845-070 0611; www.abercrombiekent.co.uk) offers a seven-night b&b break at the Cape Grace Hotel from £1,640 per person, based on two sharing, including return flights on British Airways and private car transfers.
What if I can't afford that?
Travelbag (0870-890 1461; www.travelbag.co.uk) offers a five-night b&b break at the Palm Garden Hotel from £785 per person, based on two sharing, including return flights with South African Airlines.
Where can I find out more?
South African Tourism (0870-155 0044; www.southafrica.net). If you want to do some driving around the neighbouring countryside, Europcar (0870-607 5000; www.europcar.co.uk) offers one week's car hire in Cape Town from £152, including all charges, taxes and unlimited mileage.
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