Great Escapes: cure your wanderlust in Cape Town, South Africa

By YP cadet Christy Kwok

Where in the world can you brush shoulders with lions, sunbathe with penguins, and eat crocodile? It can only be Cape Town

By YP cadet Christy Kwok |

Latest Articles

Coronavirus: What’s the difference between quarantine and isolation?

#MoreViralThanTheVirus warns that students are not immune to Covid-19

Hong Kong's first month under the national security law

‘Dangerous Remedy’ book review: a fascinating tale of the French revolution - with a supernatural twist

Colourful houses line Cape Town's Bo Kaap area, formerly known as the Malay Quarter.

The big picture

Cape Town is a city of contrasts, where urban meets rural and old meets new — even lions and penguins coexist here.

Located in the Southernmost tip of Africa, Cape Town is one of the three capitals of South Africa. Rich in history, liveliness and landscapes, it’s not hard to see why it was awarded the best place to visit by the New York Times in 2014.

Cape Town can’t be condensed into a weekend getaway. Exploring the city ideally requires at least five nights, because there is simply so much to do: shopping, eating, extreme sports, sight seeing, safaris and many more... ready?

How to get there

When travelling from Hong Kong, there is no direct flight to Cape Town. The duration of the flight will also be a minimum of 16 hours. But don’t let that put you off — those long hours are more than worth it. Besides, that means more time to watch in-flight movies, right?

Malva pudding with custard sauce, a traditional South African cake dessert served warm with creamy custard vanilla sauce.

Today’s speciality

There’s nothing more Malva-lous than Malva pudding, a specialty in traditional Cape Malay cuisine. For anyone with a sweet tooth, this dessert has your name in it; the spongy yet chewy caramelised texture combines perfectly with the apricot jam infused into the pudding. It is then served hot, drizzled with cream and with a side of custard and ice cream. After all, why choose between cream, custard or ice cream when you can have all three?

Another must—try for any foodie is the extreme daredevil plate. This dish consists of some rather wild delicacies, including skewed crocodile, warthog and ostrich. But if you’re not sure you can stomach those, don’t worry; with plenty of alternatives, as well as low prices and huge portions, you won’t go hungry.

I’d love to say “everything”, but you’d never leave Cape Town. Instead, here the top five unmissable attractions:

Table Mountain: This flat-topped mountain is what makes Cape Town’s landscape so iconic. The view of this impressive mountain can be enjoyed from literally anywhere in the city, but the views from the top of it are even more spectacular. Tourists can either hike up the mountain or take the 360° rotation cable car. Once up there, you can overlook the whole of the city. If you’re lucky, you might also spot one of Table Mountain’s adorable quokkas.

Robben Island: A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1999, Robben Island is famous for being where Nelson Mandela, the former president of South Africa, was incarcerated for 27 years. As well as its high historical value, the island also allows you to view Table Mountain and Cape Town from afar.

Greenmarket square: This is the best place to find unique souvenirs, from hand woven baskets to delicate wooden statues of Cape Town’s animals. Just make sure you watch out for pick pocketers.

Wildlife: Cape Town offer all kinds of animal encounters. If you’re looking for cute and cuddly, head to Boulders Beach to visit the penguins. If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, the safaris will bring you up close to South Africa’s Big Six: elephants, giraffes, lions, cape buffalos, leopards and rhinos. For those in need of something even more extreme, why not take the plunge and go swimming with sharks?

Wildlife encounters are also a highlight of Cape Town.
Photo: Christy Kwok

Townships: The township tours allow you to see a completely different side of the city, providing a real insight into its culture, history and politics. South Africa still bears the scars of years of Apartheid, and they are fully exposed in these impoverished settlements.

Top photo spot

Bo-kaap was once one of Cape Town’s townships, but it has evolved int one of the city’s most vibrant and insta-worthy locations. The tiny, brightly painted houses fill the streets will colour, making it near-impossible to take a bad snap. Photographing Bo-kaap is like dipping your camera into the rainbow!

Edited by Charlotte Ames-Ettridge