The Coastal Journey

The Coastal Journey

Cape Town’s unique story begins with the birth of Table Mountain 800-million years ago and the discovery of human footprints dating back 117 000 years. Today, it’s a colourful and harmonious fusion of ethnic diversity and a city overflowing with opportunity.

While walking through the streets and meeting the locals, you will fall in love with its natural beauty, creative freedom and incredible spirit. Cape Town is the city where the unexpected is always just around the corner and the beautiful province of the Western Cape lies ready to be explored across the city border.

The Mother City is the starting point for your Cradle of Human Culture journey. Here’s a snapshot of some of the places and experiences you could include in your itinerary.

Peers Cave

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Peers Cave above the dunes of Fish Hoek on the Mother City’s False Bay coast connects today’s urban dweller with early Stone Age man. In 1927, amateur archaeologist Victor Peers found human remains dating back around 12 000 years in this ave, and he and his son Bertie excavated these, as well as rock art, stone tools and other artifacts over several years.

The area, accessed via a hiking path from a parking lot on Ou Kaapse Weg, has been declared a National Monument, and the Fish Hoek Valley Museum has a display of photographs from the Peers excavation, stone tools found in the valley, and other items.

The museum also documents the history of the small coastal town, has displays about the whales and dolphins frequenting the coastline here, and offers historical information about whaling in the area.

Iziko South African Museum

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(Image: Craig Foster)

The Iziko South African Museum in Cape Town’s historic Company’s Gardens was founded in 1825 and has over the decades attracted millions of visitors to see its collections ranging from fossils to historical tools.

Among the many displays is a multimedia compilation of artefacts and objects offering a deep insight into the lives our early human ancestors, Homo sapiens. See the results of some of the archaeological research conducted along the southern Cape’s coastline over the past 25 years, including replicas of the archaeological artefacts discovered at Blombos Cave.

The museum houses more than one and a half million scientific specimens (some carefully stored), and some of the exhibits go back a mind-boggling 700-million years. There are stone tools made by our ancestors 120 000 years ago – but there are also artefacts from the last century. You will also see video material recreating the lives of early humans.

Celebrating our common ancestry, the exhibition presents compelling evidence that our ancestors originated in Africa. No visit to Cape Town is complete with a visit to this space to put our modern existence into a greater perspective.

Donald Greig Gallery and Foundry

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(Image: Donald Greig Gallery and Foundry)

Art is one of the threads that tie our contemporary lives to those of our ancestors, and this is beautifully illustrated through the work of sculptor Donald Greig, who produces amazing bronze works capturing the spirit of Africa’s wildlife and birds.

Greig’s sculptures are admired and respected for the research that goes into them, and for his attention to detail. He has contributed to many local and international private and corporate collections.

Visit the Donald Greig Gallery and Foundry in the heart of Cape Town's historic harbour area at the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront. Immerse yourself in his beautiful artworks and dwell on how they fit into a wider cultural context spanning thousands of years.

Maboneng Township Arts Experience

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In the true spirit of public art, the Maboneng Township Arts Experience turns township homes into art galleries and outdoor spaces into performance districts. The project, which has been going for around 10 years, has transformed more than 50 homes into galleries, facilitated exhibitions for over 40 artists and encouraged many township residents to invest in meaningful art.

Maboneng means “a place of lights” in Sesotho and not only does the project bring art to residents and visitors, its programmes also contribute to training, the empowerment of women and young people and the generation of income.

Bo-Kaap

Bo-Kaap

A short walk up the hill from Cape Town’s city centre lies the picturesque Bo-Kaap district, a vibrant reminder of the city’s diversity and rich cultural past.

The area with its brightly coloured historic homes, steep cobblestone streets, mosques and minarets became the home of many freed slaves after the abolition of slavery in the Cape. Its Muslim character remains an integral and important aspect of its enduring heritage.

The Bo-Kaap Museum was established in 1978 to represent the home of a typical 19th-century Muslim family in the Cape. It is being transformed into a more comprehensive social history museum telling the story of the community within a wider context.

The Norval Foundation

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(Image: Norval Foundation)

In Steenberg in the city’s southern suburbs is the impressive new Norval Foundation centre for art and cultural expression. This fascinating place exhibits 20th- and 21st-century art from South Africa and beyond in a sustainable, natural setting.

The Sculpture Garden, outdoor amphitheatre, modern and light exhibition spaces and library all contribute to an experience that is meant to be “multisensory” and focused on a broader appreciation of visual art.

In a sense, the work here is a continuation of early art you will see on your cultural journey across the Cradle of Human Culture – the foundation believes that artists make a profound contribution to the lives of communities, and the aim is to make art widely accessible through a self-sustaining centre.

Zeitz MOCAA

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(Image: Zeitz MOCAA)

The spectacular Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA) is the culmination of an ambitious project to create the world’s largest museum for 21st-century art from Africa and its diaspora.

Before you even set foot inside the exhibitions, you will be blown away by the architectural splendour of the building: more than 100 galleries over nine floors are housed in a transformed historic grain silo dating back to 1921. Once the tallest building in Africa, this remains an important landmark in what is still a working harbour.

An addition to exhibiting a wide range of significant art by Africa’s greatest, the space develops and supports educational and enrichment programmes; encourages intercultural understanding; and guarantees access for all.

Community art tours

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Art is a living thing and culture continues to evolve. The old suburb of Woodstock just outside the city has in recent years undergone significant urban renewal, and vibrant street art and large murals have added to its character.

Join artist Juma Mkwela on a guided art tour of this bustling, edgy hub of creativity. You’ll pass former factories transformed into studios and agencies, trendy eateries and markets, among older industrial buildings.

There are various tour options on offer – longer walks also include a gallery visit and interaction with locals. You will leave with more insight into the community art you’ve seen, as well as the meaning behind it.

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Cape Town
50km to next stop

Cape Town’s story begins with the birth of Table Mountain 800-million years ago and the discovery of human footprints dating back 117 000 years. Today it’s a colourful and harmonious fusion of ethnic diversity.

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2
Dylan Lewis Sculpture Garden, Stellenbosch
6km to next stop

The seven-hectare Dylan Lewis Sculpture Garden in Paradyskloof, Stellenbosch, is set among lush indigenous vegetation. The project was born in 2009 when its creator, the artist Dylan Lewis, started shaping the contours of the garden.

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3
Dine with a local, Stellenbosch
420km to next stop

The Stellenbosch 360 tourism initiative’s Kayamandi Township Tour and Dine With a Local experience offers visitors to Stellenbosch the chance to dine with locals from different backgrounds and learn about their daily lives, stories, hopes and aspirations.

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4
Cango Caves, Oudtshoorn
93km to next stop

Recent archeological finds have shown that humans lived and sheltered in the Cango Caves for at least 80 000 years.

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5
Dine with locals, George
95km to next stop

Book a two-hour Dine with a Local experience through the George Tourism office to share a home-cooked meal with locals and enjoy music, poetry or dancing together.

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6
Nelson Bay Cave, Plettenberg Bay
141km to next stop

Make your way to the scenic coastal holiday town of Plettenberg Bay to track some more fascinating Stone Age cave discoveries at Nelson Bay in the spectacular Robberg Nature Reserve, jutting 1.8km out into the sea.

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7
Cape St Blaize Cave, Mossel Bay
9km to next stop

The cave at Cape St Blaize, above the area’s lighthouse, is the site of some of South Africa’s first archaeological excavations. More recently, parts of the cave were explored by scientists as part of the major Mossel Bay Archaeology Project.

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8
Pinnacle Point, Mossel Bay
110km to next stop

Step back in time and imagine the lifestyle of the Middle Stone Age people who lived at Pinnacle Point, a provincial heritage site south of Mossel Bay on the Garden Route, between 170 000 and 40 000 years ago.

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9
Blombos Cave, Stilbaai
29km to next stop

At Blombos Cave, researchers have found unquestionable proof of Homo sapiens – or “modern intelligent human beings” – living in the area around 77 000 to 133 000 years ago.

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10
Tidal fish traps, Stilbaai
218km to next stop

At Stilbaai, more than 20 ancient stonewalled fish traps represents the technological evolution of early fishing practices in the area.

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11
Waenhuiskrans Cave
110km to next stop

Continue your exploration at the picturesque seaside town of Waenhuiskrans, also known as Arniston, about 25km from Bredasdorp.

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12
Klipgat Cave, De Kelders
30km to next stop

Access the two chambers of Klipgat Cave, located a stone’s throw from the seaside village of De Kelders near Gansbaai, via the Walker Bay Nature Reserve.

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13
Phillipskop Mountain Reserve, Stanford
160km to next stop

The 246ha Phillipskop Mountain Reserve lies on the southerly slopes of the Klein River Mountains 10km east of Stanford. This is where you will find Phillipskop Cave, a local rock heritage site.

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