In October, 2012 I came across a flyer for short term study abroad experience in South Africa. I glanced at it for a few minutes, and then pushed it aside to look at on a later date. I probably wouldn’t have believed you if you told me that seven months later I would be embarking on a three week journey to Cape Town with 10 fellow University of Illinois students and three instructors.
If South Africa isn’t on your top list of places to go, I suggest you change that! You don’t want to miss out on this country full of vibrant culture, down to earth people and beautiful sights to see. If you ever have the opportunity to travel to South Africa, be sure to take along my list of ten places to go in Cape Town.
Table Mountain was named on of the “New 7 Wonders of Nature” in 2011. It is a mountain that is flat like a “table” so you can walk across the top. You can either take a two hour hike up to the top or there is also the option to go on a quick cable car ride. Once you arrive to the top of the mountain, you can look down over the view of the ocean and see the city of Cape Town as well.
Cape Point and Cape of Good Hope
These are two addition landmarks with picturesque views that you should not leave Cape Town without experiencing. Cape Point has a historic light house that was built in 1859 and still stands today. Cape Point over looks beautiful blue waters and the Cape of Good Hope which is know to be most south western tip of Africa. After going up to Cape Point you can take a drive down to the Cape of Good Hope to take a picture by the sign that has the geographic coordinates and make it bucket list official.
University of Cape Town
Although we didn’t get to go into UCT, we did get to explore the campus’s outside courtyards that has beautiful statues and overlooks the entire city of Cape Town. Since we were only in Cape Town for three weeks, we didn’t take any classes at the university, but it is indeed a very reputable school with a nice campus, so I wish we could’ve spent more time there.
Townships are a big part of South Africa’s history and are still a part of the country today. These areas are where citizens were forced to live during the Apartheid and it is where a good amount of the population still resides. Make a point to visit the townships at sometime during your stay.
Aquila Private Game Reserve
Make sure to catch a safari at Aquila when you’re in South Africa! At this particular place, you receive breakfast and lunch buffet style and a tour around the land in a jeep. There are rhinos, hippos, elephants, springbox, lions, leopards, cheetahs, and more! It was a great experience and unlike anything you will ever see in the United States.
Have you always wanted to pet a cheetah? You’ll have the chance to at the Cheetah Sanctuary in Cape Town. This organization houses other animals as well, and tries to prevent the extinction of these exotic animals.
Langa Baptist Church
This is a church that is known and visited by people all over the world. Everyone was up on their feet singing and dancing for almost the entire service, and it was definitely a life changing experience. It was awesome how warmly complete stranger embraced us and welcomed us into their church to worship.
This is where past president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, spent 18 years in prison. You take a boat ride to the island and then take a tour of the facilities. You hear stories from past inmates and also are able to view Mandela’s prison cell. Robben Island was a big part of South Africa history, and one that should be remembered.
This is where the boat leaves to Robben Island, but there are lots of things to do when you return to the waterfront. Not only is it another great place for pictures, but there are lots of restaurants and shops to spend time at. There is also a ferris wheel that you can go on to get a great view of the city and the water.
Last but not least, Hout Bay is a harbor and marketplace that attracts many tourists. If the weather is good, you can go out on a boat to see seals. The market has many vendors selling food and souvenirs of all different kinds.
In addition to these ten places, there are so many other beaches, restaurants and landmarks that should not go unnoticed during your Cape Town trip. South Africa is a country unlike any other, and going there was an experience that I hope everyone has a chance to have at some point.
Credit: This lovely article is by Shannon Kelly. Read the blog with pictures here.
About the author: Shannon Kelly is a Journalism major at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is involved with the student newspaper, new student programing, and greek life on campus. She has a passion for travel, loves animals, and never turns down an adventure. Always looking for a reason to laugh and be spontaneous, Shannon also enjoys music and movies