Cape Town Travel Guide
Whenever people hear you're going to Cape Town a few things usually spring from their mouths. The first of which are usually movie titles, but once you get past that they suggest heading to Clifton. If you like Miami and crowded beaches that are full of fancy folks sure, opt for Clifton. However, if you're a nerdy bird like we are, and you're more fond of amazing views, chilling with penguins, and quiet vistas, read on.
Simon's Town is where it is at. Cute colonial shops, beautiful beach, warm water, and penguins, what more do you really want? To get there from Cape Town we recommend the very scenic (where many of the shots in this gallery come from) Chapman's Peak Drive. Amazing views and a very very pleasant drive. Not planning on renting a car? Well, you should. Car rentals are incredibly inexpensive and it's the best way to get around this area. If renting a car be warned that although Budget and other American car companies will give you the option to pay for gas in advance online and negate the charge if you don't return it with a full tank, the local branches in Cape Town will not honor this.
To see the penguins you can visit the penguin sanctuary (see the photo of people standing on that pier looking place) or you could walk past this to a tiny beach and swim with them. There is a small beach just past the sanctuary that is open to the public and is all sorts of delightful. You can actually touch the penguins although they might not like that and will most likely peck at you. It is quite thrilling to be so close to them and for us, the distance of less than a meter was more than enough.
A tech note about Cape Town. WiFi is not abundant and when you find it, you will have to pay for it (some companies offer 30 minutes free). For each hotspot it seems like there are dozens of connection options some of which you'll see throughout town others you will only see there. Pick wisely and you might just be able to use the same one at your hotel as the airport.
Like most hotels in the United States you have to pay for WiFi, but unlike hotels in the USA, you pay per data amount used as opposed to per day. Voucher cards with codes for varying data amounts are available. These usage vouchers cannot be used on more than one device at a time so if you were thinking of connecting your smartphone while you browse the Internet on your computer or tablet, think again. Take your best guess at the amount of data usage you'll need. Remember streaming eats up lots and is pretty much a bad idea with the speed of the network (don't expect Netflix or Skype to work well) being what it is but checking emails, tweets, and typing a text entry into your blog don't use much data.
Theft is still an issue so do keep your valuables with you and/or well hidden in your vehicle. When parking your car in the city you will most likely be approached by someone offering to watch you car. This could be police officer on the take, a local guy trying to make some cash, or someone hired by the establishment you are visiting. In any of these cases you should pay what they are asking and tip them or you should choose another place to park. While this has not happened to us, we have heard of vehicles getting vandalized when the "attendant" was not paid and tipped.
Always, like with any travel to a country that is not known for its political stability, be aware of what's happening in the country before you book your travel and depart. If the situation seems risky for Western tourists don't chance it, it's better to eat the cost of your airfare and visit another time than be in danger during political unrest (remember Zimbabwe)!
Cape Town is truly a lovely place to visit and is a destination, unlike so many these days, where your dollar goes quite far. You might just fall so in love with it, like we did, that you start looking at real estate in Simon's Town....oh the penguins!