many diversions of Cape Town include sport, the beaches, mountain,
scenic day-trips, sunsets, wine and fine dining. Just about every
gay taste is catered for in the Cape Peninsula. Expectations are
high and by all accounts - and by the increasing number of gay
and lesbian travellers - guest houses, B&Bs, clubs and pubs are
of top international standard. Gay lifestyle demands a vibrant
nightlife and Cape Town has it all from dancing, cruise bars,
video shows, restaurants with cabaret and strip shows, coffee
bars, shops and steam baths. If you want to cruise, but prefer
fresh air and sunny skies, there are some beautiful beaches and
It is easy to see why Cape Town has become one of the top gay
destinations in the world. The best way to find out what's on
is to pick up the Cape Review from any newsagent, book store or
corner shop. Also freely available are the Cape Gay Guide and
the Pink Map: helpful street maps accompany lists of accommodation
establishments, gay owned / orientated businesses, and a range
of services from florists to raunchy M2M studios. Confirming that
South Africa is truly a Rainbow Nation, a number of establishments
proudly sport the distinctive, multicoloured gay flag. Throughout
Cape Town you're sure to spot them fluttering in the breeze.
Virgin and KLM all offer fairly
regular flights to Cape Town. It is possible to fly direct but
do expect a brief stop over in Amsterdam or Johannesburg. Flying
out in January (peak season) meant most return flights were in
excess of £600. We found our flights on Netflights
which is a useful price comparison site. I only trust as everyone
says it is cheap when you get there. Sod it, the weather is miserable
in the UK, I'm going anyway.
Scene - Bars, Clubs and Saunas
Waterkrant Village is the official gay village with Cape Town,
equivalent to Oxford Street in Syndey, Old Compton Street in London.
The majority of bars, clubs, restaurants and saunas are all within
easy walking distance. First of all enjoy the prices. Most drinks
are literally around a £1 including cocktails. In the last couple
of years due to redevelopment in the area Bronx Action bar has
relocated to the old Club 55 site which as now closed.
Bar (35 Somerset Road Tel: (021) 419 9216), 5 drinks cost
50 rand/£3.5. Packed music bar at weekends with a young local
plus tourist crowd. Great atmosphere and cute shirtless bar boys.
The party continues early into the morning. In fact most bars
don't get busy until late but continue until 4/5am. Monday's is
also Karaoke night with a slightly more mixed crowd. When this
venue relocated they literally took the old bar and fittings with
them along with the bell that gets rung everytime a punter leaves
a heathy tip. Aparently the upstairs is also due to be redeveloped
into a dancefoor.
next door you'll find The
Loft Lounge calling itself an up-market Groove Bar which opened
in April 2010. The bar has a more relaxed atmosphere compared
to the Bronx and is ideal as a pre dinner meeting place. The is
a weekly drag show on every Sundays where you enjoy the delights
of Maxime Magic, Victoria Caballiere and the other girls. Again
drink prices are cheap and it was fairly full when we visited.
Manhattan (74 Upper Waterkant, Cape Town; T: 0027 21 421 6666)
is an understandably popular, roomy restaurant with tables amidst
mirrors and male nude art, sprawling out onto terraces. Terrace
tables available. Food Nachos, steak, spare-tibs, grilled chicken.
With some of the cutest, flirtiest waiters in Town, it also has
a busy bar out front.
Sauna: If you fancy some gratutious 'health and beauty' many
boyz head round to The
Hothouse (Tel +27 21 418 3888) european gay sauna complex
with large steam room, two jacuzzi spas, relaxing lounge with
two bars and obligatory rest rooms. It is open 12pm to 2am Mon-Thurs,
24hrs at weekends. HIV is a very real issue in Africa so play
Mother City Queer
Project held every December Events run across the city climaxing
on the last Sunday with parades in central Cape Town and a huge
Cape Town Mardi Gras - 30th January to the 2nd February
Pink Loerie Carnival - 1st - 4th May 2010
Do be careful when leaving any of the gay venues late at night.
Try not to get too 'pissed' and our advice is to head straight
to the taxi rank at the petrol station to taxi you back to your
hotel. Don't walk around late at night especially alone and try
not to look like lost, rich tourist trash or 'shit faced' even
if you are. We have heard of too many people get mugged in the
area, so only carry enough cash for the evening. Leave your mobile
phone, camera, ipod. If you are driving it is also customary to
pay the local lad 2 rand to 'look after your car'.
Bears / leather queens are catered for by Bar Code and Rosies.
Rosies also has a couple of pool tables. Rosies is situated across
the road from Manhattans, Bar Code is tucked behind 55. Manhattans
is a mixture of restaurant and bar. Popular early evening and
wise to reserve a table at weekends.
Things: We do you start? You are literally spoilt for choice
when it comes to stunning scenery and landmarks. Here are some
of the highlights. I'd also recommend getting The
Time Out Guide to Cape Town or similar travel publication
enabling you to plan your holiday in advance.
Mountain offers stunning views over Cape Town and surrounding
areas. Access is via rotating cable car (130 rand/£9). Drive half
way up the mountain and then get the cable car to the top. Fantastic
views of Camp Town and Camps Bay and seeing the clouds rolling
off the top of the mountain is breathaking. NB: The cable car
won't operate if it is too windy and prey they don't have a power
cut half way up and you're left dangling.
Point. Hire a care and drive down the coast to Cape Point.
On the way enjoy the stunning scenery around Houts Bay, stop off
at the historical naval port of Simon's Town, see the penguins
at Boulder's Bay and then the breathtaking views from the lighthouse
Point itself. Hopefully the tram will be working to take you
to the top. Don't forget your camera for this day.
National Botanical Gardens (Rhodes Drive, Newlands Private
Bag X7, Claremont. Tel: +27 21 799 8783)
Founded in 1913, Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden is
world-renowned for the beauty and diversity of the Cape flora
it displays and for the magnificence of its setting against the
eastern slopes of Table Mountain. Kirstenbosch grows only indigenous
South African plants. The estate covers 528 hectares and supports
a diverse fynbos flora and natural forest. The cultivated garden
(36 hectares) displays collections of South African plants, particularly
those from the winter rainfall region of the country.
Vineyards. South Africa is famous for it's wines, notably
Sauvignon Blancs, Chenin Blancs and Chardonnay. Drive inland from
Cape Town towards Stellenbosch and you'll find yourself surrounded
by vineyards. Pick up a local guide to work your way around. Most
of the vineyards obviously offer wine tasting and many have excellent
restaurants. I'd like to recommend Tokara
as two vineyards that stood out. Next time you are in your local
Majestic or even Tesco's it would be nice to put a place to the
wine on offer and say I've been there.
Victoria & Albert Complex is a modern shopping centre aimed
squarely at the tourist with tourist prices. The complex has some
good restaurants situated around an attractive marina with great
views of Table Mountain.
Oceans Aquarium with its huge shark tank and large number
of fish on display. The Aquarium also promotes a strong eco message.
You can also book a sailing or fishing trip from here and well
as visiting Robben Island, home of Nelson Mandela for many years.
Many of the hotels now offer wireless internet access. There are
numerous internet cafes along Main Road in Sea Point. We'd recommend
the Catwalk Internet Cafe (catwalk.tv) which has numerous terminals,
fast connections and charges just 10 Rand/70p per hour.
Beach Clifton, between 2nd and 4th beaches. Popular with
gay men. It is a beautifully clean white sandy beach with
clear blue surf and large waves pound the shore. The sea
around Cape Town is cold enough to freeze the nuts off a
brass monkey. Non existant ozone layer means it is very
easy to burn on any of the beaches so cover up with a hi
factor sun screen.
sunbathing is allowed at Sandy Bay. (take the Llandudno
turn-off from the Camps Bay Road, follow the signs to Sandy
Bay followed by a half-hour walk to the nudist beach). The
gay part of the beach is unsurprisingly the fathest end.
Cruising and other activities take place in the bushes here.
Our advice would be to stick to Clifton 3.
out. You really are spoilt for great restaurants in Cape Town.
Sea food is obviously high of the menu, but we also have some
great steaks and your also will see ostrich or crocodile on some
menus. Most restaurants offer fantastic quality and variety at
exceptional prices compared to back home. Many of the wineyards
also have their own restaurants servery delicious food (see Tokara).
The Nose restaurant www.thenose.co.za (Cape Quarter, Dixon Road,
Green 021 425 2200 offers a superb selection of wines and simple
yet apertising menu. Thai restaurant Tom Yum (Regent Road, Sea
Point), was enjoyable, with cute waiters. Wang Thai a second thai
restaurant is also very good. Caprice (seafront overlooking Camps
Bay) serves excellent lunchtime cocktails and bar snacks. Tides
Restaurant, Camps Bay (tides.co.za) offers upmarketing eating
surroundings, good food and dishy waitors. Great sunset views
over the bay.
also Wakame - Trendy seafront
bar with excellent food and smart bar / roof terrace to watch
the sun go down.
Useful information: Currency: Rand. 100 cents to the rand. Exchange
rate:14 rand/£1. Jan 2010. See
XE.com for the latest tourist rates
Parking. Although most streets don't have parking meters, there
will be someone there to watch your car. It is customery to tip
them 2 rand when you collect your car.
to speak gay South African. The brits may have Palare,
whereas South African queens have their own selection of
widely used phrases. Not for the faint of heart
Dear / Term of Affection
Detail - Cape Town's monthly gay lifestyle newspaper. (www.detail.co.za)
Exit (www.exit.co.za) South Africa's monthly gay paper.
shop under the Southern sun can be found at the Victoria
& Alfred Waterfront complex, a large, attractive waterfront
shopping mall full of cafes, eateries and boutiques on the regenerated
sea front by the old harbour: a bit of a theme park in truth.
Enjoy a meal or drink at one of the many bars or restaurants offering
Great views over the harbour towards Table Mountain and trips
to Robin Island are available from the harbour.