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Cape Town unplugged

CAPE TOWN, Dec 16 – Having toured and sampled the various tourism products in Kenya, I developed the desire to experience and even compare the offerings in the country with other destinations in the world.

Fortunately the opportunity came knocking during a business trip I recently took to Cape Town, South Africa.  

To be quite sincere, I have raked through my mind in an effort to come up with the appropriate words to describe Cape Town, but none seems like an appropriate adjective.

 Perhaps I should borrow the famous words of British explorer Sir Francis Drake who described it as ‘the fairest Cape in the entire World’.

“The natural beauty of Cape Peninsula is regarded by many as amongst the most magnificent sceneries in the world,” were the words of our tour guide in his introduction to the pleasant trip he was promising to offer.

Mike Markey is a professional guide who is passionate about his country and the owner of Sherwood Tours, the company that was in charge of spicing up our business trip.

As the bus engine purrs to life my thoughts immediately drift into comparing Cape Town to the cities of Nairobi and Mombasa and boy, don’t we have a long way to go!

Cape Town is a well designed city, clean and well maintained. The buildings are painted, lawns well kept, garbage points placed all over the town and the roads can only be compared to the pictorials the Kenyan government has been using to sell the Vision 2030 Strategy.

The roads are all tarmacked, marked, and wide enough, with working streetlights (referred to as robots in that part of the world) and last but not least pathways and pedestrian walks to complement the roads.

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We begin our trip on the Eastern side of the Cape which contains the main street (known as Adeli Street) that passes by the University of Cape Town on both sides of the road. The University consists of lovely old buildings and architecture that is quite pleasant to the tourist’s eye.

Just neighbouring the university is the president’s official residence but hidden in the woods. At this point our tour guide Mr Markey points out that Cape Town is the legislative city of South Africa, while Pretoria is the administrative capital.

“What this means is that Parliament sits here, but all the administrative functions are carried out in Pretoria, with most diplomats owning residences in the two places, making it a very expensive venture,” Mr Markey observed.

Our next stop is the Cecil John Rhodes Memorial Park, a beautiful point from which to view the whole town. It is located within the table mountain and is needless to say the point at which the remains of the man after whom the site is named are buried. Rhodes is a key part of the town’s history as he donated most of the land within which Cape Town is built.

We then drive through the upmarket areas of Cape Town which include Bishops Court named after the bishop whose official residence used to be in the area for quite a while and Constancia where Cape Town’s vineyards are situated.

Cape Town is a very windy place so the less windy an area is, the higher the value of property, our guide explained.

Mr Markey further informs us that due to the falling prices of vines most farmers are opting to sell their land thus threatening the loss of beautiful scenery that dots this side of the Cape.

We end our tour of the Eastern side of the Cape Peninsula at the Table Mountains Park, from where we see the southern tip of Africa at the Cape of Good Hope.

A cable train ride and a trek to the watchtower is one experience you cannot afford to miss. The wind and adrenaline-filling experience is one the adventurous at heart would truly enjoy. We then broke off for lunch at Simon Town one of the fishing towns in Cape town.  

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Our second leg of the trip begins at the Boulders an area sheltered between Simons Town and Cape Point on the eastern side of the peninsula. Although set in the midst of a residential area its one of the few sites where penguins can be observed at close range, wandering freely in a protected natural environment.

From this side of the Peninsula you get a very good view of the 12 disciple hills. For me, what made Cape Town a very attractive tourism destination is how the ocean and mountains intertwine.

We later drove through Camps Bay, a popular residential area right next to the ocean, and where one of the town’s most popular restaurants, Blues, is situated.

Mr Markey explains that the restaurant’s popularity is because it has one of the top Chefs who, according to him, makes very good food.

Along this area you find a variety of restaurants that serve all kinds of cuisine. I recommend dining here in the summer; you get to watch the sun set pretty late against the ocean. It’s a must-do especially for the romantic at heart.

Being a coastal City, the residents of Cape Town are laid back, where residents take to their business casually. Majority of residents here are white South Africans.

It’s an upmarket City many designer shops where goods are pricier than Johannesburg.

Touring Cape Town got me thinking that if Kenya wants to remain competitive as an African tourism giant, then focus must be paid to our infrastructure.

“Infrastructure, infrastructure, infrastructure!’ as Prime Minister Raila Odinga pledged while launching his presidential manifesto at the height of last year’s election campaigns.

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