Jostling for prominence in the vibrant city of Cape Town, alongside the other more famous districts such as The V & A Waterfront, Clifton and Constantia, lies the colourful, dynamic area of Bo-Kaap.
Nestled under the towering magnificence of Table Mountain, on the slopes of Signal Hill, lies the pretty area known locally as the Malay Quarter. The district claimed its name, and distinctiveness, from its inhabitants; early slaves brought by the Dutch from the Far East – Malaysia, Indonesia and other Dutch interests of the time.
What sets Bo-Kaap apart from its near neighbours is the concentration of colour – quite literally a paint pot of life’s brighter colours; pink, orange, lime green, turquoise – which contrast so deliciously with the wide blue African skies and the Georgian/Victorian period properties.
With the influx of people came their culture, blending Cape Town’s more English sensibilities with the exotic Far Eastern Muslim ones, creating a special feel that characterizes everything from the food, to the attractions, shops and accommodation.
Take the Monkeybiz shop, for instance. What a fantastic name! Creating employment and empowerment for disadvantaged women in Cape Town, Monkeybiz harnesses the incredible beadmaking skills of their artists to produce unique souvenirs and presents – all made out of beads.
Animals, dolls, magnets, even drinks coasters all receive special love and attention to detail, bringing you distinctive gifts to take home, reflecting the colour and magic of Bo-Kaap and Cape Town.
Looking for that extra special experience – the chance to mingle with local people, get a feel for their culture? Then the monthly Bo-Kaap Crafts & Food Market Day is definitely something you won’t want to miss!
Held in the Schotschekloof Civic Center, Upper Wale Street – even the street name conjures up images of mystery and intrigue – on the first Saturday of the month the market is a veritable feast of food demonstrations, traditional food stalls and crafts; even a Malay dressmaker ready to design custom clothes is available to do your bidding.
Another art project that warrants special mention is Streetwires. As the name suggests, artists work with wire to design and create special pieces of homeware and other decorative items, often incorporating distinctive beadwork.
Visit the shop, chat with the artists and designers and really get to know the background to your special souvenir. Why not try a workshop and experience wirework for yourself? Look out for the amazing Christmas tree decorations that will put the sparkle into your festive holiday!
One of my favourite things to do in Bo-Kaap is the Cape Town Evening Cycle. Starting down in the V & A Waterfront, the cycle tour heads along the harbour towards Green Point and De Waterkant Village before heading into the City Bowl district of the town and finishing in Bo-Kaap in spectacular fashion with a glass of South African champagne, just in time to watch the glorious setting sun.
You really get a feel for this magnificent part of the world, its diversity and culture when you get to the heart of its people and districts.
Why not stay in the area and soak up the energy and colour, just right for recharging your batteries? Accommodation to suit every pocket from cheap accommodation to five star luxury; Georgian grandeur to modern glass and extravagance is available, concocting the perfect ingredient to your holiday in Cape Town.
For more great ideas on what to do and see, ComeToCapeTown.com will be delighted to assist you in making the most of your vacation and holiday time.