13 Facts You Didn’t Know About Cape Town

Cape Town, the oldest city in South Africa, ranks high on every traveler’s must-visit list. With a rich heritage, wild party scene, stunning landscape, and relaxing beaches, Cape Town has a little something for everyone. Check out these facts about the Mother City that will make you wish you were there right now!

  1. In 2014, Cape Town beat 51 other countries to be chosen by the New York Times as the best place in the world to visit.
  2. The Cape of Good Hope was originally called the Cape of Storms. Not exactly inviting, huh? The name was ultimately changed to please the king of Portugal.
  3. The Blue Flag Campaign awards deserving beaches that meet certain cleanliness, safety, and security standards. There are a total of eight Blue Flag Beaches in the Mother City including Llandudno, Clifton, Muizenberg, Camps Bay and Strandfontein.
  4. Approximately 800,000 people visit Cape Town’s most iconic landmark, the Table Mountain, every year and at least two couples get married on the mountain every month. Imagine the stunning pictures in their wedding album!
  5. Robben Island is infamous for housing political prisoners, including Nobel Laureate and former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela. The island also housed the mentally ill as well as leprosy patients.
  6. The Cape Floral Region is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is home to over 7000 plants that aren’t found anywhere else in the world. In fact, there are more flower species here than in all of England, Ireland, Wales, and Scotland combined!
  7. If you love sledding, then you’ll go crazy over Cool Runnings, the only toboggan track in all of Africa.
  8. Although it may not seem like it today, the famous Castle of Good Hope actually had a sea view back in the day with the entrance right at the water’s edge. However, land reclamation has slowly but surely caused the coastline to move west.
  9. The Lion’s Head is an iconic mountain in Cape Town, but it has nothing to do with big cats at all. In fact, the last lion in the area was shot in 1802. One story suggests that Dutch settlers called the peak Leeuwen Kop or Lion’s Head and the adjoining summit Leeuwen Staart or Lion’s Tail because the two along with the space in between seemed to resemble a crouching lion. What do you think?
  10. The world’s first ever heart transplant by Dr. Christiaan Barnard took place at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town in 1967. The original theater where the surgery took place is now a museum, aptly named The Heart of Cape Town.
  11. The Mother City Queer Project is the ultimate LGBTI carnival in all of Africa and it takes place every year in December!
  12. Many people visit to Cape Town to see the “Big Five” namely elephants, buffalos, rhinos, lions, and leopards. But, did you know that there’s also a “Little Five” list that includes the ant lion, elephant shrew, leopard tortoise, rhinoceros beetle, and buffalo weaver?
  13. You can go whale watching between August and September in False Bay. You can also check out the only penguin species in Africa, called the Jackass penguins at Boulders Beach. Happy Feet, anyone?

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