South Africans are affectionately known as the Rainbow Nation, yet this still does not accurately reflect the diverse culture and complex ethnic heritage you will find here. Cape Town (fondly called the Mother City) in particular is the oldest, and also one of the most culturally diverse, cities in South Africa. Considered a gateway to Africa at large, this bustling, beautiful metropolis hosts a unique and exciting mix of first and third world cultures. Best of all, each has influenced the historical architecture and exquisite cuisine you can enjoy when you’re in Cape Town.
Far before the Christian era, there were communities of people who thrived by hunting, fishing and gathering in the Cape region. These were the ancestors of the Khoisan people, referred to by many as “the Bushmen”. Living in small, loosely knit groups they were highly mobile and widely dispersed for millennia.
If you’d like to know more about these incredibly skilled hunter-gatherers, visit the San cultural centre – !Khwa ttu. It’s just 70km from Cape Town and you’ll be able to explore a replica San village, as well as savour delicious, game-inspired cuisine. Try succulent eland kebabs and mouth-watering springbok carpaccio or even traditional venison bobotie in the garden-fresh restaurant.
The AmaXhosa are one of four nations, known as Nguni. While originally these tribes were settled in the Eastern Cape, over time they also migrated to the Western Cape, eventually trading cattle, copper and iron with the San people. Today, a visit to the Lwandle Migrant Labour Museum is a must. Explore the educational photographic and interactive installations and even go on a guided walking tour of the township. For a truly tasty experience, visit Mzoli’s in Gugulethu for authentic “shisa nyama”. Munch on tender steak, pork chops or juicy boerewors, with pap and chakalaka.
While there are plenty of architectural reminders of the Dutch colonisers around Cape Town the best way to see these is at the Stellenbosch Village Museum. For some truly splendid “boerekos” in the traditional Afrikaaner style, visit Fyndraai Restaurant at the nearby Solms-Delta wine estate.
You’ll also notice the influence of the French Huguenots in the beautiful Cape Winelands, especially in quaint towns like Franschhoek. Exploring this heritage is a treat at the Huguenot Memorial Museum and you can also enjoy exquisite French fare with a contemporary flair at the Orangerie at Le Lude.
The British rule in the Cape has also infused the city with several English influences. None of which is more loved than an Afternoon tea at the Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel. Just a stone’s throw from Company Gardens, this is a tranquil oasis in the bustling city centre. Bite into finger sandwiches, freshly baked scones, and sip on a house blend of Darjeeling, Kenya, Assam, Keemun, Yunnan, Ceylon, and rose petals from the garden.
In the 18th century, the Dutch colonies sent many people from India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and the Indonesian Archipelago to the Cape. Their descendants became known as the Cape Malays and many of them eventually settled in the historical suburb of Bo Kaap in Cape Town. You really can’t go wrong with a visit to the Bo Kaap Kombuis while you’re in the area. Be sure to try the dhaltjies, frikadelle and beef tomato bredie!
From Bo-Kaap cuisine to museum tours and community walks, the wonders of Cape Town are simply never-ending. This diversity offers visitors a truly unique melting pot of things to see and do. From Table Mountain to the famous Cape Winelands and everything in between, Cape Town memories are always made for a lifetime!