Some Cape Town hotel - day tour suggestions?


Jul 6th, 2014, 12:18 PM
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Some Cape Town hotel - day tour suggestions?

I will make my first visit to Cape Town in early September (been to Johannesburg twice) for a meeting that I will attend Tuesday - Friday near UCT (with a tour within the city, probably a township, and some social outings, probably V&A). I think we are staying at the Vineyard hotel for the meeting part of my trip.

I plan to fly in early, arriving late on Thursday or morning of Friday and will be traveling around by myself (50s female) unless I can find someone else coming in for the meeting early (no luck so far). So, I will have part of Friday, then Saturday, Sunday and Monday before reporting for the meeting.

I was thinking of finding a hotel in the bowl for the vacation days. Vineyard looks isolated, so taxi everywhere, but also a hassle having to move from one hotel to another, so I want to check my thinking with you guys. I know exact location is important for safety and access to services. I can get a decent rate at the Westin Convention Square · Lower Long Street (says shuttle to V&A), Park Inn Foreshore on Heerengracht Street, or Portea Breakwater Lodge near V&A.

What I want to do is:
Friday - half day - book a Robbens Island tour in advance or visit V&A or another neighborhood you suggest. Table Mountain would be great, but because afternoon I would expect clouds? Everyone says Cape Town is a beautiful city. Are there any certain neighborhoods I should visit to see this beauty or is it the setting with the mountains and the ocean that make it beautiful?

Saturday (or Monday) - I want to take the Cape Point full-day tour to see the penguins and the scenery. It looks like Hylton Ross may have a group tour where I can just buy one seat rather than a 2-person minimum.

Sunday - full day to Hermanus to look for whales. Here I am unsure. Whale watching is uncertain even when out on a boat. Driving to a place to watch from shore seems like a shot in the dark to me. I've been on fantastic whale watching boat trips in Alaska and Canada's Bay of Fundy and disappointing ones off California. Is the scenery and the towns worthwhile even if no whales? Hylton Ross says they run a tour on Sundays in season.

Monday (or Saturday) I am interested in the wildflowers. The only group tours I have found are 3-4 days, so I may have to pay the price of a private tour for the day. 34South suggests a trip to Bloubergstrand, West Coast National Park and Tienie Versfeld Flower Reserve as a day trip. Does this sound reasonable?

I think Friday morning I can try for Table Mtn, but I know that the clouds may not cooperate.

You can see my interests are more rural/nature than city/museum. I am not interested in the vineyards this trip.
Kay2 is offline  
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Jul 8th, 2014, 02:36 PM
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I saw lots of whales last October while driving around the Cape peninsula. I would inquire about the possibility of spotting closer to the city so you would not have to take the whole day trip to Hermanus. Much of this drive to Hermanus passed beautiful scenery, but as I recall, some of it is on highways, too.

Do remember that the views, while spectacular, are only part of the attraction of Table Mountain; there are so many plants and small animals to spot as well.

I would include Kirstenbosch Gardens, where you can go in a taxi without joining a tour.

You will want to see the architecture in the Bo Kaap and perhaps in Die Waterkant as well.
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Jul 8th, 2014, 05:39 PM
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We just got back for a 2 night stay in Cape Town at the Westin. It was an amazing hotel and I would highly recommend it. We arranged private car pick up/return from the airport directly with the hotel. On the way, the driver asked us if we were interested in the hotel booking any tours. The weather had been rainy before we arrived so Robbens Island was closed due to rough seas. We opted for a wine tour and it was arranged by the Westin.

We had a room on the 18th floor - part of the Executive Club. It included the free breakfast and cocktails in the 19th floor Club. The room had floor to ceiling windows and a view of the wharf/harbor area from the room.

Service was great at this hotel.

Have you considered a private tour of Cape Town itself and the coast? We used Lesley Cox for a full-day tour. She took us to Table Mountain and down to the Cape and we saw the African Penguins. We crammed a lot into a fully day tour and we highly recommend her - [email protected] You get to set your own pace and itinerary this way.

Bottom line is you'll love Cape Town. Beautiful.
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Jul 8th, 2014, 06:29 PM
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Thanks for the suggestions. I have the K Gardens on my list once I move to my conference hotel closer to there.

I will consider the Westin for sure, though I won't be on the Club level.

If I can't round up a group, then a private tour is really my only option for places like wildflowers. I've marked Lesley Cox's name.
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Jul 9th, 2014, 09:26 AM
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I'm glad you're including Kirstenbosch Gardens; it's great.

As an aside, readers, is it Robben Island or Robbens Island? I always thought Robben, but I've seen it spelled Robbens sometimes, and am wondering if I'm wrong.

Celia is offline  
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Jul 9th, 2014, 03:05 PM
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Robben, I always thought, and had read.
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Jul 10th, 2014, 08:09 AM
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Our favourite first day in Cape Town, when we arrive in the morning after long, international flights, is to go and check in at our accommodation and then head to Rhodes Memorial for lunch - there are fantastic views of Cape Town from the restaurant and the food is excellent. Book ahead - it is very popular - and ask for a table outside with a view.
They will move you indoors if it is cold or raining.

After lunch, depending on the cloud over the mountain, we either ride the cable car to the top of Table Mountain or head to Kirstenbosch for a stroll though the gardens. Be certain to visit the gift shop at the main/lower gate of Kirstenbosch - expensive, but a good selection that will give you an idea of the popular souvenir items. Not too taxing first-day activities but a lovely way to start your visit to Cape Town.

When you book the penguin, Cape Point/Cape of Good Hope tour, be certain to ask which direction the tour is taken in. You want to travel the loop in a clockwise direction (ie. down the east coast of the peninsula to the penguins in the morning, then Cape Point/Cape of Good Hope and then back to CT along the west coast/Chapman's Peak Drive at the end of the day), so that you are driving along Chapman's Peak at sunset and are able to stop and enjoy the sunset over the ocean. A good tour will know this. A great tour will stop at one of the many viewpoints along the drive and open a bottle of wine to share with you as the sun sets over the Atlantic Ocean.
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Jul 20th, 2014, 09:21 PM
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Kay2, we were delighted with our stay at An African Villa in the city bowl area of Cape Town. It's run by the 4 owners, and they took such amazing care of us. They set us up with a local tour guide for the townships, and he had formerly lived in one of the townships, so his perspective was important to us. I'm a bit behind in my trip reports! I reveiwed this hotel on tripadvisor, and I have typed up a short trip report as well, but haven't posted it yet! I will post it both here and on tripadvisor. Our trip was in September/October. It was the longest trip we've ever taken.

When we return to South Africa again, we'll definitely revisit Cape Town, and stay at An African Villa again. We also saw the west coast, and the Little Karoo area, and the foothills of the Cederberg. Hope to post that short trip report this week here on Fodors!

Have fun!
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Jul 21st, 2014, 05:19 AM
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Agree with eskrunchy! On Table Mountain, look for the Rock Hyrax or “Dassie”. It looks like a gopher but what's fascinating is that it oddly has the closest evolutionary relationship for its teeth and feet to the African Elephant! I thought that was such a neat thing to learn when I was there.
Loved Cape Town! Enjoy!
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