The Valley of Fish Hoek was created approximately a million years ago when the great waters of the continental shelf surrounding the Cape Peninsula subsided. The cold Atlantic and warm Indian Ocean embrace this rural lowland, with rugged, craggy mountains on either side. Fish Hoek is situated only 30 minutes from Cape Town. On a clear day you can see the spectacular Hottentots Hollands mountain range, and the well know land mark of Hanglikp. Fish Hoek is known as a 'dry' town - there are no retail liquor outlets in the suburb. This is an old law that was introduced at the time when wagon deliveries to Simon's Town were common - it was introduced to prevent the drivers from stopping off for a drink (or two or three) and arriving in an intoxicated state in Simon's Town
Fish Hoek Beach
Fish Hoek boasts a long stretch of a white sandy beach, and is one of the safest and warmest swimming beaches in the Cape. You can take a relaxing stroll down Jager's walk, which runs along the mountainside of Fish Hoek beach. Jager's Walk, a pathway along the rocky coastline takes the visitor as far as Sunny Cove where visitors can view the dolphins and whales that visit these shores annually. The beach has a playground for children, a refreshment kiosk and restaurant. The magnificent beach, reached through a secure parking area, is great for swimming, snorkeling, hobby-cat sailing and paddle-skiing. Visitors are sometimes treated to the sight of the local fishermen 'trekking' for haarders and yellowtail fish off Fish Hoek beach.
From late August the Great Southern Right Whales visit our Oceans and entertain thousands of spectators each year as they come close to shore to calf their babies and can often be seen frolicking in the bay. The elevated roads and parking bays provide excellent viewing sites.
21 Reasons to visit Cape Point
A Stormy History
- The most southwesterly point of Africa.
- Breathe the freshest air in the world - straight from the Antarctic.
- It's where the cold Beguela current on the West coast and the warm Agulhus current on the East coast merge.
- Situated in the 22 100 hectare Table Mountain National Park.
- One of the highest sea cliffs in the world - 249 m above sea level.
- The circumnavigation of the Cape of Good hope led to the establishment of a sea route to the East and
- subsequent trade.
- 26 recorded shipwrecks.
- Bird watcher's paradise - at least 250 species.
- Approximately 1 100 indigenous plant species, some of which occur no where else on earth.
- Variety of buck, baboons and other animals.
- Swimming at Bordjiesrif and Buffel Bay tidal pools.
- Numerous scenic walks and trails.
- Excellent angling and diving spots.
- Whale and dolphin watching from May to November.
- Historical monuments including the Diaz and Da Gama crosses.
- The funicular - scenic trips to the old lighthouse.
- Send an e-mail postcard from the E-Mail Shop to friends and family around the world.
- Enjoy the cleanest ocean waters.
- The Two Oceans Restaurant offers world class cuisine and spectacular vistas over False Bay.
- Two curio shops, each with an impressive range of high quality South African curios and Cape Point merchandise.
- A million points of view.
Bartholomeu Dias, the Portuguese seafarer, was the first to sail around the Cape. This was in 1488. On his return voyage - which must have been particularly stormy - Dias stopped at the south-western tip of Africa, and named it Cabo Tormentoso, or Cape of Storms.
King John of Portugal later gave it the name Cabo da Boa Esperanca, or Cape of Good Hope.
Another Portuguese explorer, Vasco da Gama, rounded the Cape on 22 November 1497 on his way to India.
The journeys of these explorers led to the establishment of the Cape sea route. This meant more regular sailings around the tip. It also indirectly led to a number of casualties along these unpredictable shores. Today, shipwrecks and stone crosses bear testimony to the treacherous and challenging historic sea route.
The lighthouse at Cape Point is the most powerful on the South African coast. It has a range of 63 kilometres, and beams out a group of three flashes of 10 million candlepower each, every 30 seconds.
But, through history, mariners had taken a rather dimmer view of warning beacons around the Point...
A lighthouse was built In 1857 - on Cape Point Peak, 238 metres above sea level. The equipment for the lighthouse had been shipped from England on board the barque Royal Saxon on 30 May 1857.
However, because of its high position, clouds and fog often obscured the lighthouse. In fact, for an alarming 900 hours per year on average, its light was invisible to ships at sea at a certain angle. After the Portuguese liner Lusitania ran aground on 18 April 1911, the lighthouse was moved to its present location above Cape Point, only 87 metres above sea-level.
Work on the site commenced in 1913. Transporting the building material there proved difficult. They had to use cranes, dynamite, trolleys and trucks. The sand was mined from a nearby cave. Labourers carried it in bags up a zig-zag path. Water was also carried about half a mile and then sent down a pipe. The weather also played its part in delaying the project: the men had trouble staying on their feet when the strong south-easter was blowing.
The lighthouse was eventually brought into operation after the First World War - on 11 March 1919. The light had a candlepower of 500 000 cd. Electricity was introduced in 1936, which increased the candlepower to 19 000 000 cd.
A stone replica of Vasco Da Gama's cross which was planted there in 1487 stands tall on the hillside above the beach. It marks the spot where the Portuguese explorers had come ashore.
On the night of 18 April 1911, the Lusitania, a ship of 5 500 tons, with 774 people aboard, struck the Bellows Rock below the lighthouse.
TheThomas T Tucker was an American Liberty Ship, built in 1942 and was intended for carrying troops and supplies during World War II. Relying on a faulty compass, she hit a rock in thick fog near Olifantsbos just off the Point.
The Phyllisia, 452 ton Cape Town trawler, struck the jagged rocks just 100 m off the rugged coast of the Cape Point Nature Reserve at about midnight on 3 May 1968. Eleven of her crew reached the shore in life rafts, but 14 still remained on the trawler. Two South African Airforce helicopters lifted them from the craft.
The Nolloth, a 347 ton Dutch trawler, ran aground, surround by jagged rocks in rough seas after she was struck by an unidentified underwater object. It is believed to be the Albatross Rock.
Map to Cape Point
At the tip of the Cape Peninsula - 60 km south-west of Cape Town - the rugged rocks and sheer cliffs cut deep into the ocean to split False Bay from the colder waters of the western seaboard. This outcrop of the Table Mountain National Park is called Cape Point. And this is where our adventure begins...
To reach Cape Point from Cape Town, you have two options if you're travelling by car:
For the most spectacular journey, take the M6 route via Hout Bay and drive along Chapman's Peak. Then, from Noordhoek, follow the magnificent coastline to Kommetjie, Sweetwater, Witsand, Misty Cliffs and Scarborough, where you head inland and all along the top of a mountain plateau.
Or take the Blue Route (M4) to Muizenberg, Fish Hoek and along the coast to historic naval village of Simon's Town. Then continue along the coastal road to the entrance of the Table Mountain National Park. A scenic drive through the reserve leads you to the parking area at Cape Point.
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden is world-renowned for the beauty and diversity of the Cape flora it displays and for the splendour of its setting against the eastern slopes of Table Mountain.
Kirstenbosch grows only indigenous South African plants. The estate covers 528 hectares and supports a diverse fynbos flora and natural forest. The cultivated garden (36 hectares) displays collections of South African plants, particularly those from the winter rainfall region of the country.
A part of our heritage
People used Kirstenbosch long before the arrival of the European settlers in the 17th Century. Traces of large pear-shaped stone implements and round perforated stones which were used to weight pointed digging sticks are all the record that exists.
In 1660 a hedge of wild almond (Brabejum stellatifolium) and brambles was planted to form the boundary of the colony. Sections of this hedge, known as van Riebeeck's hedge, still exist in Kirstenbosch. The forests were harvested for timber during the early years of the colony. Little is known about this early woodcutting period but overgrown tracks where the timber was hauled out of the forest and small ruins can still be found.
The origin of the name Kirstenbosch is uncertain, a number of families with the name Kirsten lived in the vicinity and some how the area became known as Kirstenbosch (Kirsten's Forest).
The English Occupation in 1811 brought about a change. Two large grants of land were made. Colonel Bird built a house at the foot of Window Gorge, planted chestnuts and probably built the bath in the Dell. Henry Alexander built a house on the site of the old tea house.
The Ecksteen family acquired both properties in 1823 and later the land passed on to the Cloete family. They farmed the area and planted oaks, fruit trees and vines. This photograph shows the Ecksteen home around 1900. It stood on the site of the present Lecture Hall.
In 1895 Cecil Rhodes purchased the property from the Cloete family and appointed a caretaker. The land became rundown with masses of pigs feeding on the acorns and wallowing in the muddy pools. Rhodes Avenue, also known as the Camphor Avenue, was planted in 1898. In 1902 Rhodes died bequeathing Kirstenbosch to the people as part of his great Groot Schuur estate.
For nearly 400 years, Robben Island, 12 kilometres from Cape Town, was a place of banishment, exile, isolation and imprisonment. It was here that rulers sent those they regarded as political troublemakers, social outcasts and the unwanted of society.
During the apartheid years Robben Island became internationally known for its institutional brutality. The duty of those who ran the Island and its prison was to isolate opponents of apartheid and to crush their morale. Some freedom fighters spent more than a quarter of a century in prison for their beliefs.
Those imprisoned on the Island succeeded on a psychological and political level in turning a prison 'hell-hole' into a symbol of freedom and personal liberation. Robben Island came to symbolise, not only for South Africa and the African continent, but also for the entire world, the triumph of the human spirit over enormous hardship and adversity.
The Robben Island Museum Tours Department includes some ex-political prisoners who act as tour guides on Cape Town's World Heritage Site.
One such guide is Lionel Davis, who, in April 1964, was sentenced to six years on Robben Island, after being found guilty of conspiring to commit sabotage. Now Lionel lives on the Island with his family and is the chairperson of the Robben Island Village Association.
Today, Lionel speaks evenly of his former jailers and the appalling conditions he had to endure in the early 1960s and 1970s at the Robben Island Maximum Security Prison. Guides such as Lionel bring to life a South African heritage, which speaks to all people of heroic endurance in the face of adversity and the triumph of the human spirit over evil. To book, contact:
Canal Walk Information Office:
Tel: (021) 555 3100/3600
Fax: (021) 555 3040
Cape Town Tourism Information Office:
Tel: (021) 405 4500
Fax: (021) 405 4524
Nelson Mandela Gateway:
Tel: (021) 413 4200
Fax: (021) 419 1057
Since the first person laid eyes on Table Mountain, it has exerted its powerful and charismatic pull, enchanting and drawing any and all who fall under its spell.
The way to the top has never been easy, and for many centuries only a handful of bold and enterprising people could say that they had climbed it.
By the late 1870's, several of Cape Towns more prominent (and possibly less fit) citizens had suggested the introduction of a railway line to the top.
Plans to implement a proposed rack railway got under way but the outbreak of the Anglo-Boer war put a halt to the plans.
By 1912, with a strong desire to gain easy access to the top of Table Mountain, the Cape Town City Council commissioned an engineer to investigate the various options for public transport to the top.
The engineer, a Mr. H.M. Peter, suggested that a funicular railway running up from Oranjezicht through Platteklip gorge would be the most suitable option.
A vote was held with the vast majority of Cape Town's residents voting in favour of the funicular.
Since it's opening, 75 years ago, over 15 million people have taken the trip to the top.
The cableway has since become something of a landmark in Cape Town, and has carried some of Cape Town's most illustrious visitors, including King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II. As well as Oprah Winfrey, Sting, Stefi Graf,Arnold Schwarzenneger, Magaret Thatcher,Prince Andrew, Micheal Schumacher,Brooke Shields, Micheal Buble, Tina Turner,Jackie Chan, Dolores O'Riordan, Skunk Anansie, Paul Oakenfold.
In 1993, Dennis Hennessy, the son of one of the founders of TMACC, sold the company. The new directorsimmediately set about planning anupgrade to the existing infrastructure.
Apart from upgrading the restaurants and machinery, new cars were purchased. Unlike their predecessors, the new cars, or Rotairs, have a revolving floor that allows passengers a 360-degree view of the city and mountain as they travel.
Work on the upgrade began in January of 1997 and, for several months cranes and the comings and goings of large helicopters carrying building materials dominated the mountain skyline.
The new cableway was officially opened on the 4th of October 1997, the anniversary of the original launch, almost 70 years previously.
The Table Mountain Aerial Cableway Company celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2004 and remains the most popular tourist attraction in Cape Town Come up and Join Us!
For more information please visit www.tablemountain.net.
In 1982 two breeding pairs of African penguins (once known as Jackass penguins thanks to the braying sound they make) moved into prime beachfront estate at Boulders beach between Simonstown and Cape Point. Today there are over 3 000 of these birds living here and the area is now a National Park. Penguins can be viewed up close as they frolic in the water and waddle on land. Sometimes it's hard to tell who is watching who. You're likely to see penguin pairs strolling along the boardwalks and in the park. This is the one place in the world you will be able to swim and sunbathe with penguins. In a survey done by the BBC, Boulders Beach was rated one of the five best beaches to visit before you die. All in all, a great place to meet the locals.
Franschhoek Wine Valley lies deep in the Cape Wine lands and is South Africa's very own "French Corner". Here, amidst luscious vineyards and gracious Cape Dutch farmsteads, a picturesque village emits proud, ever-present memories of a 17th century Huguenot culture. A place towards which, an emancipated Nelson Mandela turned, as he began his long walk to freedom....
260 m Elevation
Location: In the Mountains, Riverside
Indulge your palate with internationally acclaimed, eclectic cuisine by selecting from eight of South Africa's Top 100 restaurants.
Enjoy a horseback ride, take a stroll, or make your choice to visit over twenty-five wine farms. Or simply amble among an array of art shops, galleries and specialist stores that grace the village centre. To satisfy more adventurous spirits, the valley provides the idyllic setting for walking trails, hiking, cycling, horse riding, fly-fishing and golf. What's more, paragliding offers the brave and free-spirited a stunning bird's eye-view of the area!
The town of Stellenbosch developed from a colony of settlers to whom land had been granted on the banks of the Eerste River. The name Stellenbosch was given to a small island in the Eerste River by Simon van der Stel, Commander of the Cape, who had encamped there with his entourage in 1679.
The valley was fertile and particularly suited to agriculture, and the river banks and surrounding areas well wooded by beautiful tall trees. The Dutch East India Company intended that fruit and vegetables be grown here to supply ships en-route to and from the East Indies. The early settlers were encouraged to plant oak trees as the oak lined street bear testimony today, and the country's second oldest town (after Cape Town) became affectionately known as "Eikestad" - town of oaks.
In 1859 after years spent seeking permission from the authorities, a theological seminary was established and this lead to the town's proud heritage as a leading educational centre. In 1918 a university was founded and this was followed by the subsequent establishment of many other educational institutions.
Today the impact of many architectural influences over the last three centuries - Cape-Dutch, Georgian, Regency, Victorian and Cape-Dutch Revival - are to be seen in the meticulously restored buildings situated in the charming town centre, and on the surrounding wine farms.
Follow the R310 right into the town of Stellenbosch, pass the station and stop at the bottom end of Merriman Avenue. From here you will have the best view of Stellenbosch's mountain panorama: to the right the Helderberg, Stellenbosch Mountain (1,175m); with Jonkershoek Valley and Twin Peaks (1,494m) in the distance; to the east the Simonsberg (1,390m) which is connected to Botmaskop and the rest of Jonkershoek mountains by the saddle of Helshoogte.
is a short climb up the dunes above 19th Avenue. The shallow cave was used by prehistoric man as shelter. Victor Peers and his son discovered the fossilized skeleton of Fish Hoek man in this cave. Peers Cave affords wonderful views across the valley and a peep intro stone-age history.
Elsies Peak walk
is for the more energetic the view is definitely worth the walk, straight up Outspan Road to the top of the mountain to a protected area abounds with indigenous fynbos (delicate bush).