A very warm welcome to the ExpatCapeTown Newsletter in March 2010.

Autumn in Cape Town is a great time to enjoy nature and learn more about the local wildlife.

The days are not as hot anymore and the morning mist lies on the seaside suburbs more often now. But as the days are still warming up, you can be sure the time for getting a walk in nature especially in the National Parks around Cape Town is perfect at this time of the year.

The last month has been a bit hectic for many of us with some early bits of flu hitting Cape Town. Nothing serious although the measles outbreak in some city schools set the Health Department in action to mass vaccinate the kids at the local schools. So be sure to get your vaccination records up-to-date.

This newsletter is really coming late for this month, but is still full of good tips for your outings. One word of caution though: Please beware when walking barefoot in nature, there is plenty of little unpleasant surprises waiting for the unsuspecting. Well, do not take me wrong, encounters with Cape Town wildlife usually is not life-threatening, but spider bites and sea urchin stings, not to mention scorpion stings or snake bites can be quite a nasty affair.

As the weather gets wetter again, the little mosquitoes try to find a way too to keep alive, but you can protect yourself well with the well known smell of citronella candles or South Africa’s top export, the Tabard insect repellent, when dining outside in the evenings. But luckily the Cape is malaria free, so you will not have to worry too much, just keep the repellent or/and antihistamine handy ;)

This is what you will find in this issue:

1. Hot Tips for Travelers and Expats: Wildlife Viewing in Cape Town

2. Event of the Month: Grease - The Musical

3. Inside Cape Town: Living in Melkbosstrand

4. Typical South African: laduma and biltong

5. Cape Town Insider Tips: Know where to get…?

Hot Tips for Expats and Travellers: Cape Town Wildlife Viewing Tips

Many visitors and expats think that living in South Africa means living in the wilderness. But as you will experience living in Cape Town means living in a cosmopolitan city as well as living close to nature with an exciting array of possible wildlife encounters. But to see the Big Five you have to take some special plans and routes and join a real South African safari.

Read my Cape Town Safari Tips here.

However, even if there might be no more freely roaming lions or leopards on Table Mountain, you will be able to enjoy some great wildlife viewing in and around the Cape Peninsula at many locations.

These are the main wild animals you will encounter:

Chacma Baboons: They can be spotted from the Parking on top of Sir Lowry’s Pass near Somerset West or along the coastal roads from Simons Town to Cape Point or around Tokai Forest.

Penguins: These cute animals can be seen in Simons Town at Boulders Beach and at Kogel Beach near Betty’s Bay. At Boulders you can swim in the warm lagoon and splash in the waters while the penguins bath right next to you. Beware of sea urchins along the boulders, my little one just made painful acquaintance with these little sea creatures there.

Cape Mountain Zebra: Cape Point Nature Reserve is a great place to spot all kind of wildlife, there are free roaming ostriches, springboks and other antelopes freely roaming in the park too.

Whales: You do not have to drive out to Hermanus to see the huge mammals splashing in the water, in the season ( May to November) you can spot them along the False Bay and the Atlantic Coast too. We have seen them from Blouberg Beach even! Good spots are also Misty Cliffs, Boulders Beach and Fish Hoek.

Dassies: Also called Rock Rabbits or Rock Hyrax. These cute little mammals with their big black eyes can be seen in Table Mountain National Park and at Cape Point. They live in bigger herds, so if you see one, wait there are usually many more to come.

Snakes: If you are keen to spot one of the deadliest snakes, the Cape Cobra, you should head out to West Coast National Park. When we visited the park, we always saw one of the big snakes crossing the road or by the roadside. Just be careful and do not approach them, better take a picture from the safety of your car.

Birdviewing: Try Rietvlei Nature Reserve between Milnerton and Tableview. Go into the Reserve from Pentz Drive at the Aquatic Club. There are some great birdhides from where you can watch the flamingos and pelicans as well as the abundant birdlife, but beware of the snakes which live in the reserve too.

Giant Tortoises: See them in the Tygerberg Mountain Reserve near Durbanville in the Northern Suburbs, where you can find really huge example of the turtles roaming freely.

White Lions: Fortunately not free roaming, but well secured behind high fences are these beautiful creatures at Vredenheim. Head out to Stellenbosch and listen to Willie’s tales about the white lions who live in the spacious enclosures. There are also blue wildebeest, elands, zebras and ostriches on the grounds of the wine estate.

Cheetahs: If you are keen to touch the fastest cats on this planet, you should pay the Cheetah Research Center at Spier in Stellenbosch a visit. You will learn why these species is kept at the enclosure and be able to come in close contact with the wild cats.

Ostriches: They roam freely in Cape Point Nature Reserve, but you can visit West Coast Ostrich Farm and Cape Point Ostrich Farm too where you can learn about these giant birds.

More great activities for the whole family here.

Event of the Month: Grease - The Musical

The cult musical Grease is back in the Mother City.

Cape Town’s Artscape Theatre is presenting a very entertaining show for the whole family during the next month.

The reviews are raving, so if you like musicals with vibrant colours, songs to sing along and beautifully bright costumes, you just have to see this musical.

Book your tickets now through Computicket.

What else is on in Cape Town in March?

More great events and shows in March 2010.

Living in Melkbosstrand

In this section you will find every month insiders’ tips and advice about one of the many suburbs of Cape Town. So you know where to stay and where to go. This month I choose to bring you some more info about living in Melkbosstrand where quite a few expats choose to live.

Why Melkbosstrand? Being one of the safest locations around Cape Town this seaside town has still a laid back feel. Spacious mansions are to be found on Atlantic Beach Golf Estate which makes this suburb sought after by expats and South Africans keen on top security. Many foreigners choose the estate life because of the easy living for young families but also the pearly white sandy beaches in the vicinity. But there is also safe living outside the well regulated estate life. And visitiors to Cape Town will treasure not only the peaceful surroundings but also the stunning views towards Table Bay. There are several medical practices in Melkbosstrand and the new private Blouberg Netcare Hospital is only a short 10 minute drive away.

Where to stay? Many bigger houses with huge open plan living space and good sized gardens with pools, older beachside accommodation as well as some townhouses outside the prestigious Atlantic Beach Estate. There are some fine guest houses and B&Bs in the area as well as a four star lodge and self catering accommodation on Atlantic Beach Estate.

Where to go? Enjoy the splendid beaches, go cycling or walking in the Koeberg Nature Reserve, if you do not mind the sight of the reactor or go further afield to have a day out at the stunning turquoise blue waters of Langebaan Lagoon a short 40minute drive further to the North. Watch the sun setting over the Atlantic Ocean from one of the beachside restaurants or have a go at the 18 hole golf course at Atlantic Beach Golf Estate.

Where to do your grocery shopping in Melkbosstrand? You will find a small shopping center with amenities like doctors practices, drug store, Woolworths and several clothing stores as well as a health food store in the centre, for better shopping facilities, you will have to drive to Blouberg where you will find a wider variety of grocery shops and other amenities.

Typical South African terms

What means "laduma"? This term is coming from the Zulu language and means "it is thundering" and stands for "Goal". It is a popular cheering expression during football matches when a goal is scored.

What is biltong? This cured and dried meat is a typical South African snack and similar to beef jerky, however it is different in taste due to its ingredients. Biltong is usually marinated in vinegar before being cured. It is not only made with beef, but also available from game meat like kudu and springbok. Kids love to take these protein rich meaty bites in their lunch boxes in South Africa.

Cape Town Insider Tips

What else? Have you tried these…?

Where to get great Thai food? If you like Thai food the "Wang Thai" is a stylish restaurant with big terrace and offers not only excellent food, but some of the best views along the Atlantic Ocean for admiring the new Cape Town Stadium. So head to Milnerton’s Lagoon Beach, let your kids splash in the safe lagoon and enjoy the meal. Fast, friendly and delicious, that’s how we experienced them. But be advised to book ahead on weekends.

Where to get insights into Cape Town’s history? See the interesting exhibition of Cape Town’s historical settlements in the Military Museum at the Castle of Good Hope or learn about the Anglo-Boer War in the museum with an interactive display. And do not miss the firing of the really tiny, but loud signal cannon and the key ceremony, which is on weekdays at 10 and 12. Please enquire for times at 021-787-1260.

Where to buy good school shoes? Many expats tend to import leather schoolshoes from overseas, but you can find good quality shoes for school at Green Cross stores which are located in various bigger shopping centers, at Woolworths or at Timberland.

What’s coming in the Next Newsletter?

As ExpatCapeTown wants to bring you the most up to date stories and insights, please be patient and let me surprise you with more great news about the Mother City.

Just be assured, there will be lots of more great tips and advice, so be sure to subscribe my newsletter and take a look at my website which is ever expanding.

And please come back with more great tips from your site, all kinds of comments very welcome! Contact me here.

Have a great time in Cape Town or wherever you are!


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