It was in the early hours of the morning when I stepped off the plane in Cape Town. The arrival in the second country I’ve visited in Africa was very different from when I walked across the tarmac at the Kilimanjaro Airport in Tanzania four years ago. The most noticeable difference was the missing smell of wood burning fires which greeted me in Tanzania, a scent I will forever associate with that country. As we drove from the airport to the Victoria & Albert Waterfront in Cape Town where our hotel was located, my tired eyes stared out the window trying to take in everything at once: the gated communities, the townships outside of town, the prominent mountains, people on the streets and at times the lack of people.
We were there to photograph the area around the Cape and not to do touristy things around town, still we spent a fair amount of time on the Waterfront eating and in search of photo opportunities along the marina. The building I looked forward to the most was the Silo. I had read about it in the Modulør magazine, a leading magazine on all things architecture, construction and real estate. This is one of the few free magazines offered at the airport that I look forward to. It was on a flight to Madeira last year when I spotted an article about this fascinating building and thought it would be wonderful to be able to see it in person. Little did I know, I actually would one day. Built in 1921, the grain silo was decommissioned in 2001 and reopened in 2017 as a museum for contemporary African art and a prestigious hotel. Without visiting the museum, or staying at the hotel, it isn’t possible to enter the building, so I never saw the architecture from the inside, but the building from the outside is just as intriguing. The glass bubbles are a part of the hotel rooms. Imagine the views!
Apart from the Silo, the Waterfront is a fun place to spend time. Music is played, there are shops to visit, and plenty of cafés to sit in. We loved walking around the enjoying the laid-back feel of the place. I got a kick out of seeing a sea lion frolic in the marina three times. I love the way these animals have such a graceful way of gliding through the waters.
The first thing to do on our list was to climb Lion’s Head for a 360° view of Table Mountain, Cape Town and the Atlantic. But unfortunately we were told by a ranger that the trail was closed due to maintenance. Instead we headed towards Signal Hill to catch the sunset with views of Table Mountain and Lion’s Head. We were not disappointed.
Bright and early the next morning we headed north to Bloubergstrand. I love the ocean and once there it’s hard to tear myself away. The waves never cease to calm me and the sea air always clears my head.
In stark contrast to the softer beaches of Bloubergstrand, was rocky Milton Beach to the south of Cape Town.
The third beach we photographed that day was Maiden’s Cove. Instead of rocky shores, we were greeted by huge boulders, grey skies and crashing waves. With a lot of patience, we were able to see the sun in the late afternoon.
As we sat in a beachside café in Camps Bay, we were blessed with a beautiful sunset.
Early on our last full day, we drove towards False Bay and our first stop St. James to see the colorful beach houses. We were there at high tide and again the waves were aggressive. We wondered what the waves must be like in winter when the ocean is usually rougher.
The one touristic thing we did was to visit the penguins at Boulders Beach. I was in awe at the beautiful beach which looked a bit like the way I imagine the Seychelles to be: turquoise water and huge boulders. After clambering over boulders and wading through cool water, we were able to walk alongside the penguins and watch them swim in the sea or sunbathe.
Our short visit was coming to an end and our last stop for long exposure photography was the Slangkop Lighthouse before we drove up Chapman’s Peak Drive on our way back to Cape Town. Chapman’s Peak Drive was built between 1915 and 1922 and hugs the side of the cliff. The views reminded me of Madeira’s coast, equally as wild and potentially dangerous.
Where to stay:
Radisson Red: a hip hotel right on the edge of the Waterfront
Where to eat:
- Karibu Restaurant: restaurant on the Waterfront offering food with South African flavors
- Café Alfredo: the perfect place to enjoy a sandwich and people-watch while listening to live music on the Waterfront
- Waterfront Food Market
- Kloof Street House: the most amazing restaurant ever and the place to be. An old Victorian house set in a secret garden, the restaurant boasts original flooring, ceilings and fireplaces. The food is fantastic and the service superb.
- Big Bay Waffle Company: we enjoyed savory breakfast waffles along with sweet dessert waffles only meters from the beach in Bloubergstrand.
- La Belle Bistro & Bakery: Lovely view of Camps Bay paired with a menu which is hard to choose from because every thing sounds (and is) very tasty.
- Ohana Café: only the train tracks separated us from the beach in Kalk Bay as we enjoyed our freshly squeezed juices and delicious brunch fare.