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Boulders Beach is a sheltered sandy beach with large granite boulders that forms part of the Table Mountain National Park. The real pulling point however is the population of penguins that wander the beach and paths. The sea is a bit cool even in summer, but it's worth donning some goggles and jumping in for the opportunity of seeing these graceful swimmers in their natural environment. Access to Boulders Beach is from the town of Simon's Town, about one hour south of Cape Town and costs R45 (price November 2011) per adult. Swimming is an extra R45. The swimming is on Boulders Beach, but the boardwalks leading to most of the penguins is actually on Foxy Beach.
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The Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden is one of the most beautiful botanical gardens in the world and covers a large area southeast of Cape Town, at the back of the Table Mountain. The well-kept gardens will easily occupy half a day, especially if you stay for lunch or a drink as well. The gardens open at 8:00am and are open to around 6:00pm or 7:00pm depending on the season and the entry fee is R40 per person. The gardens can be reached by driving down the M63, which connects Hout Bay with the southeastern suburbs of Cape Town.
Providing a stunning flat-topped backdrop to the city, Table Mountain is a 1,000-metre high plateau surrounded by steep cliffs and flanked by Lion's Head to the west and Devil's Peak to the east. The summit can be accessed either via a cable car (cost: R195 return, November 2011), or a two-hour hike for the more adventurous, and offers unparalled views of the city and the coastline. Visitors are advised to only attempt it on a clear day however, as the mountain is often covered by a 'table cloth' of cloud. Also, the cable car will not go when it's windy, which it often is as well. You are adviced to buy your ticket beforehand or online, as the waiting lines on a good day can be hours! The main vegetation is the unique Cape fynbos, with an estimated 2,200 species of plants on the mountain alone. If you have the extra cash, an abseil off of the side of the mountain offers fantastic views and palpitation! The 112-metre descent is one of the highest single drops in the world.
The weather on the Cape Peninsula is characterized by warm, sunny and dry summers and mild but wet winters, comparable to a Mediterranean climate, but with somewhat cooler summers and definately much more wind. Temperatures are highest in and around Cape Town and at the same time can be much lower at the southern point near Cape of Good Hope. November to March is the most stable weather, while the shoulder seasons of April/May and October can be good as well. June to September is relatively cool and wet.
In Cape Town, average maximum temperatures range between 24 and 27 °C during summer with lows around 14-16 °C. Average highs during winter are still an exceptable 18 °C while nights are mostly around 8 °C.
Cape Town International Airport (CPT) is about 20 kilometres from Cape Town.
South African Express flies between Cape Town and Walvisbaai and Windhoek in Namibia, Gaborone in Botswana and Maputo in Mozambique. KLM flies between Amsterdam and Cape Town directly. Singapore Airlines and Malaysia Airlines fly from Singapore and Kuala Lumpur to Cape Town as well. The latter has flights onwards to Buenos Aires. Cape Town has flights to Istanbul, Düsseldorf and Munich, New York as well and several African cities, mainly in the south of the continent.
South African Airways, Sout African Airlink, Kulula.com and Mango all fly to and from Cape Town from a number of South African cities as well, including Bloemfontein, Durban, Port Elizabeth, George and Johannesburg.
Shosholoza Meyl is the national railway, with services between Cape Town and several major South African cities. Most of the connections are budget, but there is a Premier Class train between Cape Town and Johannesburg.
The main routes are:
If you are coming from Johannesburg or Bloemfontein, take the N1 all the way, those coming from Port Elizabeth along the Garden Route will probably be on the N2. If you are coming down from Namibia, you should take the N7 southbound.
Distances (on main N routes) to other cities to/from Cape Town include:
There are many companies offering services to and from Cape Town, but the main operators are Greyhound South Africa, Intercape and Translux. They serve both several international as well as many domestic destinations.
The Baz Bus is a bus where you can hop on and of and is mostly used by backpackers travelling on a budget. They are dropped off at hostels. There are three routes. One is running between Cape Town and Durban.
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The Royal Mail Ship "Saint Helena" travels regularly between Saint Helena and Ascension Island, Walvis Bay and Cape Town. The schedule is primarily designed to meet the needs of locals and cargo for St. Helena, and thus follows a timetable but not a consistent routing. In general terms, the ship leaves Cape Town once a month, before heading to St. Helena, sometimes via Walvis Bay. From St. Helena it will then run 1 or 2 shuttles to Ascension Island, before returning to Cape Town, again sometimes via Walvis Bay. Occasionally, Cape Town is omitted, and the ship returns to St. Helena directly from Walvis Bay.
For travelling directly to Tristan da Cunha, there are only a few boats a year from Cape Town (and sometimes Namibia). If you are lucky enough though, the trip takes 5 or 6 days and will mean you have to spend months on the island. Tickets roughly cost about 1000 to 1200 for a return trip. It's best to check the Tristan da Cunha website for details.
There is a train connecting Cape Town with both Muizenberg and Simon's Town, to the south/southeast of Cape Town.
Getting around the Cape Peninsula is best done by car. International companies such as Avis, Value Car Hire, Hertz and Budget Rent-a-Car and national branches including First Car Rental and Tempest Car Hire have branches at Cape Town International Airport.
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