Cape Town Culture


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Get to know the Mother City


Famed for being one of the world’s top destinations to visit, the Mother City (thus named as it was the first city in South Africa), hums with an energy uniquely its own. Its alluring cultural complexity comes from a tumultuous history of slavery, colonialism, and apartheid, which have left the city with a melting pot of people and heritages – today, the celebrated diversity that serves as its core.

There’s a wealth of cultural attractions and heritage sites to explore – and Rhino Africa offers multiple tours that go right to the heart of what the city is best loved for. From skipping up the cobblestone streets of the kaleidoscopic Bo Kaap and learning to make samosas in a tiny Cape Malay kitchen to walking through the historical grounds of Company’s Garden, and listening to jazz in an underground crypt – there really is something for everyone to discover. 

Bo Kaap & District Six

Home to the Cape Malay community, the Bo Kaap is perhaps best known for its rainbow of brightly coloured houses that light up the lower slopes of Signal Hill. The smell of spice is equally synonymous with the area as it’s here that some of the best curries and samosas are made – you can try making some while on a cooking safari in a lovely local lady’s home. It’s also a place of sound and energy – listen to the call to prayer from the historic mosque, and look out for minstrels practising for the Kaapse Klopse. This incredible parade dates back to Muslim slaves in the 19th century, and sees hundreds of musicians and dancers march through the streets, dressed in colourful sequined suits, singing, and playing all manner of instruments to ring in the new year. 

Once equally known for its music and diversity, District Six is today a sobering reminder of the travesty of the apartheid segregation laws. The District Six Museum was established to honour the residents who were forcibly removed from their homes under the Group Areas Act, with a collection of memorabilia, photographs and history to remind us of what the area once was – a stark contrast to what it is now.  

The Townships

South Africa’s townships are a legacy from apartheid, and a stark reminder of the reality the country is still coming to terms with. However, they are also places of unmatched energy – from the beauty of people’s rich singing voices to the colours of traditional dress, there’s an eclectic vibrancy one cannot find anywhere else. Rhino Africa is very invested in the community – particularly through Khumbulani School in Khayelitsha, which people are welcome to visit and donate to. Although many do opt to do township tours, a lot of people want to be involved in a hands-on way, by helping build schools and homes or equipping classrooms – a rewarding experience for both the local residents and visitors. 

Music

Whether attributed to the inspiring presence of Table Mountain or the fact that Cape Town has the most cultural diversity in the country, there is no denying the creative energy that flourishes in this vibrant city. Artistic people, places and exhibitions are plentiful and there is no shortage of live music, from jazz to rock, in and around the city. Suffice to say Cape Town is a city with a creative pulse!

The Food

Cape Town is known for its amazing food and restaurants. So much so, that Conde Nast Traveller named it the best food city in the world in its latest Readers’ Choice Awards survey. Check out some of our favourite restaurants here.

Art

Cape Town has a bustling art culture with world-class galleries and exhibitions happening all the time. Talented painters, sculptors, photographers and printmakers are continuously experimenting and offering new work. There are hundreds of galleries in and around the city. Here are five to get you started:

  • The South African National Gallery, Government Avenue, City Bowl
  • João Ferreira Gallery, 70 Loop Street, City Bowl
  • Everard Read – 3 Portswood Road, Green Point 
  • Michael Stevenson Gallery, Ground floor, Buchanan Building, 160 Sir Lowry Road, Woodstock
  • What if the World, First Floor, 208 Albert Road, Woodstock

Theatre

Theatre is big in Cape Town, with shows on at various arenas throughout the year. Here are our top four:

  • Artscape - hosts major drama productions, regular classical concerts, ballets, operas and more, and is home to the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra. 1-10 DF Malan St, Foreshore. Tel: +27 (0)21 421 7695
  • The Baxter - offers a wide range of performing arts, from kids' shows to Zulu dance spectaculars. Main Road, Rondebosch. Tel: +27 (0)21 685 7880
  • Kalk Bay Theatre - is an intimate theatre and restaurant near the ocean. 52 Main Road, Kalk Bay. Tel: +27 (0)73 220 5430
  • Theatre on the Bay - hosts conventional plays and one-person shows. 1 Link St, Camps Bay. Tel: +27 (0)21 438 3301

Visit our blog to find out more about Cape Town and the exciting things you can do while on holiday.

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