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Cape Town
Cape Town

Cape Town

Thursday, October 6, 2005

At Cape Point, where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet, is Cape Town. With a beautiful natural backdrop and sitting in a bay, it ranks with Sydney, Rio and San Francisco as one of the most spectacular cities on the planet. Cape Town is shaped like a bowl and is a vast amphitheatre, formed by rocky sandstone masses and shadowed by Table Mountain. In days gone by, lions roamed the mountains, but "civilisation" has caused their demise. Today only porcupines, tortoises, grysbok, rock rabbits and lots of dassies remain. The dassie, or rock hyrax, while closely resembling the guinea pig, is the closest known relation to the elephant! Another foible of this interesting continent.

Since the end of apartheid, Cape Town has become a mecca for tourists, surfers, photographers, models and anyone looking for a photogenic location, making it the country's top destination. The city's most popular attraction is a cable car ride to the top of Table Mountain. Its beautiful beaches run a close second.

Table Mountain is often covered by clouds, referred to by locals as "the tablecloth". The city is spread out below and you look across to the Cape of Good Hope and Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was held. It is free of prisoners now, and since 1997 has been open to tourists. Most people are stunned when they see the tiny cell where Mr Mandela spent 23 hours a day for 19 harsh years.

The prison became known as the African National Congress University, as it was there that leaders of the black resistance worked on their cause. This paid off when Mr Mandela became President of South Africa in 1991. Now tours of the prison are conducted by former political prisoners, and they tell it exactly how it was. You will learn about Robben Island's dismal years as a leper colony, mental hospital and army base, before becoming a prison.

South Africa is referred to as the "rainbow nation", as it is made up of Zulus, Cape Malays, Europeans and Indians. Some of the wealthiest Africans live there in extravagant houses, but sadly, many shanty towns still exist.

At noon each day a gun booms out across Cape Town. It is a tradition which told rock-breaking convicts they could stop for lunch, but to locals today it would be unthinkable to not have it.

Like all good cities, Cape Town has lots of shopping and eating opportunities. The most popular place to shop is the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront — colourful, modern and busy.

The Cape has perfect soil and conditions for wine growing, resulting in a number of estates, noted for their unique Cape Dutch architecture, and even if there was no wine, people would probably still go there just for the beauty of the area.

Location

The southern tip of South Africa

Cost

Best Western Cape Suites Hotel accommodation starts at around $160 a night.

Flight Centre has return airfares to Cape Town, valid for sale until October 31, 2005 (March 31, 2006 from Perth) and valid for travel between October 1 and November 14, 2005. Perth-only travel dates are between October 1 and November 14, 2005, and January 16 and March 31, 2006.

Return economy fares including taxes are:
  • Perth $1794
  • Melbourne $1904
  • Brisbane $1908
  • Adelaide $1916
  • Sydney $1923
    To book call Flight Centre on 131 600

    Please note that the prices listed are valid at the time of filming.

    More information

    Best Western
    Ph: 131 779
    www.bestwestern.com.au
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