Cape Town is a unique mix of history, culture and natural beauty; the perfect place for a curious photographer.
We might be slightly biased, as we’re lucky enough to call the city our home, but we think Cape Town is rather excellent for photography. With its colourful neighborhoods and cultures, its vibrant street scenes, and its incredible natural framing by mountains on the one side and rugged coast lines on the other, Cape Town offers a diverse range of photographic opportunities. As we’re about to launch a new Cape Town photo tour (stay tuned!), here are five reasons why coming here with your camera is a great idea.
– Text by Alberto Giammattei, images by Sarah Isaacs
1. Extraordinary landscapes
Lodged between mountains and ocean, the city of Cape Town is in a unique location. The iconic Table Mountain, with its surreal flat top, hovers above the city centres and frames it in an impressive way. Venturing to the top of the mountain, or onto its smaller sister Lion’s Head, also provides stunning and far-reaching vistas of the surrounding areas – and it’s especially photogenic at sunset or sunrise. The coast lines and beaches are equally impressive; visit the white sandy beaches of Llandundo and Kommetjie, the road around Chapman’s Peak (a road carved out of the mountain), and the beach at Table View with its iconic view of the city across the water, and capture a great variety of seascapes. Moreover, just south from the city sits the Cape of Good Hope, the southern tip of the peninsula, where the two oceans meet. From there, you can admire and capture the vastity and the power of the ocean. And along the road to get there, you’ll be treated to astonishing coastal landscapes, with the rocks diving directly in the sea or crumbling into rocky beaches.
2. Nature at its best
The Western Cape offers a great variety of flora and fauna. Climbing the Table Mountain and reaching its top, you will be able to see lively vegetation and different animals, like caracals and rock hyraxes. Cape Town is also the home of the African Penguins: Boulders Beach is a vast penguin colony and one of the few places in the world where you can get very close to those animals. And, for those who love wildlife photography, you are in easy reach of Hermanus or Cape Agulhas, where you can enjoy a cruise to spot all the so-called Marine Big 5, that include whales, sharks, seals, dolphins and penguins.
3. Vibrant cultural photography
Cape Town has a rich and intriguing history, which is evident all around the city. One of the most interesting stories is the one of Bo-Kaap. Originally, the houses of this neighbourhood were built and leased to slaves and they had to be white. When slaves were finally allowed to buy the houses, they painted them with many different colours to express their freedom. Not far from Bo-Kaap there is District Six, where you can discover what apartheid has done to people living there and meet some of the original inhabitants in the District Six Museum. Finally, walking around the Company’s Garden or the V&A Waterfront, you can see and capture the statues of the people who have contributed to the development of the city as we know it today.
4. Street photography
If you are passionate about street photography, Cape Town gathers very diverse neighbourhoods, each one with its own peculiarities and exciting to be discovered through a photo tour. Bo-Kaap, with its colourful houses, is not the only picturesque district of the city. For example, Woodstock, the oldest suburb of Cape Town, with its unique atmosphere, will give you the chance to take great pictures of people or street art. Here you can find a mix of art, and modern design.
5. Not only photography: food & wine
Cape Town is heaven for foodies and wine-lovers; a great opportunity for food photography – or for putting your camera down for a minute for some culinary breaks. High-quality food is everywhere and affordable. You can find all the cuisines of the world here; a reflection of the multicultural environment of the city. However, while in South Africa, you may want to try some of the local specialities. One of them is Bobotie, a dish where you can recognise the Malay influence on the culture of the city, made by minced beef topped with a custard of eggs and milk. Moreover, the Western Cape is famous for its incredible wineries. The oldest ones are in Constantia, which is in easy reach of the city centre. A collection of stunning wine farms, often with 16th and 17th century Cape Dutch farmhouses, offer wine tasting, great food, and views of vineyards on rolling hills.