Sailing into Cape Town, South Africa

The approach to Cape Town by sea from the south

The approach to Cape Town by sea from the south with a silhouette of Table Mountain

Sailing into Cape Town ranks among the greatest port arrivals in the world.  Coming from the Indian Ocean, you sail past Cape Agulhas (“cape of needles”) and its lighthouse — the geographic southern tip of the African Continent and a hazardous sailing area where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet — then you round the Cape of Good Hope (the most south-western point of the African Continent and due south of Cape Town) and then sail north to reach Table Bay and the Cape Town Harbour.

Cape Town panorama viewed from the ocean as we sailed into the harbour

Cape Town panorama viewed from the Atlantic Ocean as we sailed into the harbour

The Cape of Good Hope is frequently misconceived as the southernmost point of South Africa (and the continent).  Located at the southern tip of the “Western Cape” below Cape Town, it was famous with sailors hundreds of years ago as the point where they could begin sailing more easterly, after their long route south, to round Africa on the way into the Indian Ocean and the Far East.  Note that Cape Agulhas, the true southern point of Africa, is about 90 miles to the east, on the way to Port Elizabeth (and Durban, on the north east coast of the country).

Cape Town metropolitan area (under Table Mountain)

Cape Town metropolitan area (under Table Mountain)

The prominent geographic features of Cape Town are Table Mountain (center in the above photo) and “Lion’s Head” (the rightmost peak in the above photo).

Lion's Head and the FIFA 2010 World Cup stadium, Cape Town, South Africa

Lion’s Head and the FIFA 2010 World Cup stadium, Cape Town, South Africa

Much of Cape Town’s waterfront underwent modernization and experienced a building boom with the construction of the soccer stadium for South Africa’s hosting of the FIFA 2010 World Cup (along with a sister stadium in Durban — see an earlier blog on Durban).

A colorful, working Cape Town Harbour tugboat

A colorful, working Cape Town Harbour tugboat

The weather was perfect as we sailed during the early morning into the harbour and the V&A Waterfront.

Sailing into Cape Town Harbour

Sailing into Cape Town Harbour

The Cape Town Harbour is located “under” Table Mountain at (and adjacent to) the recently modernized and gentrified V&A Waterfront, with its many hotels, restaurants and shopping malls (in addition to several berths).  We were extremely fortunate to score a berth at Jetty 2 of the V&A Waterfront.  This meant we literally walked off the ship and into a maze of restaurants and retail stores.

The modernized V&A Waterfront of Cape Town's Harbour with Lion's Head in the distance

The modernized V&A Waterfront of Cape Town’s Harbour with Lion’s Head in the distance

Cape Town Harbour boats

Cape Town Harbour boats

We were fortunate that when we docked at Jetty 2 in the V&A Waterfront our balcony had a picture postcard perfect view of the harbour and Table Mountain.  The view changed constantly over the next few days as the fog rolled in and burned off.

V&A Waterfront and Table Mountain view from the ship's berth, Cape Town, South Africa

V&A Waterfront and Table Mountain view from the ship’s berth, Cape Town, South Africa

6 thoughts on “Sailing into Cape Town, South Africa

  1. Rich and Robin, you’re making me want to go back. NOW!! The view of Capetown Harbor, from out at sea, we missed because our trip to Robben Island was cancelled due to high winds. Don’t forget lunch or dinner in Franschhoek at Café Bon Bon, at Le Petite Dauphine. Reserves required. Tom and Celeste

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  2. Hope you will be able to visit Mandela’s cell on Robben Island, where he was imprisoned for many years and could plainly see the view of Cape Town which you have photographed.

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    • Yes, we have been to Robben Island (and in Mandela’s cell) on a previous trip to Cape Town. This trip we were able to spend a lot of time in the Winelands — stay tuned for upcoming blog posts!

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