Cape Town’s Bo Kaap (or ‘High Cape’ as it’s known in colonial circles) has recently been revitalized as a tourist hotspot, attracting international and local visitors looking to sap up some of its incomparable energy, culture, colours, scents and architecture.
While some come in search of Cape Malay home-style cooking, others prefer the fantastic photo opportunities offered by this unique Mother City neighbourhood. If you’re staying in one of Cape Town’s central hotels, the Bo Kaap is definitely worth a visit and is easily accessible on foot from Cape Town Lodge.
A flurry of birds on a wire set the scene as you turn off Buitengracht Street into Wale; before long some homebound school children run excitedly across Rose Street as their parents emerge from their colourful houses heeding the call to prayer. Try as I may, I can’t pigeonhole the sounds and scenes that greet you on a visit to the Bo Kaap but I can tell you about some of the distinctive charms of the community that are worth checking out.
Noon Day Gun
The Cape Town Noon Gun has been signaling lunch time in the Mother City since the beginning of time. Well maybe not that long but about as long as myself and most living Capetonians can remember anyway. Exploding across the city bowl at precisely 12:00pm daily (except on Sundays and public holidays), it’s generally louder on cloudy days because of reflection (deflection?!?). The Noon Gun has the potential to make you fall off your chair in shock and wake you up saving you from missing a lunch date or important business meeting.
Whatever myths and anecdotes you may hear about it, Cape Town’s Noon Day Gun is an integral part of daily life in the city centre and you can visit it yourself.
The Noon Gun Tearoom offers tours to the Noon Day Gun where guests are given a short history of the tradition, witness the actual firing of the gun then back to the restaurant for lunch. Get to the Noon Gun Tearoom & Restaurant (273 Longmarket Street) before 11:45am to take the tour.
Connoisseurs of fine coffee and art collectors will go crazy for Haas Collective in the Bo Kaap. Incorporating an art gallery, shop and coffee roastery all in one; Haas has set a new precedent in the Mother City when it comes to enjoying life’s little luxuries.
Sip on a specialty coffee and enjoy a snack in their fashionable café not before picking up an endearing trinket in the attached gallery/shop.
Further exploration of the cobbled streets of the Bo Kaap leads you to one of the neighbourhoods best kept secrets – Bistro on Rose. A new addition to this photogenic neighbourhood, Bistro on Rose honours the history and traditions of the Bo Kaap by creating fusions of refined French country cooking with Cape Malay flavours.
As the sun sets over Signal Hill, the Bo Kaap takes on a whole new façade of sights, colours and sounds; testament to the dawn (or should that be dusk) of a new era in the former Malay Quarter.
Experience the Bo Kaap yourself – check out the latest Travelstart Cape Town Hotel special at Cape Town Lodge (just a 2 minute walk from the Bo Kaap).