In today’s episode, we’re diving into the enchanting city of Cape Town, a place known for its rich history, breathtaking landscapes, and a plethora of diverse experiences.
Our special guest for this episode is Matt Newman, a long-time resident of Cape Town who brings a unique perspective on what this incredible city has to offer. Originally from the UK and with dreams of Hollywood, Matt’s story takes an unexpected twist that leads him to Cape Town, where he falls in love with the city and decides to make it his home.
Matt delves into the heart of Cape Town and reveals its hidden gems. He shares a captivating three-day itinerary, taking us on a journey from iconic landmarks to the picturesque countryside.
But Cape Town isn’t just about stunning landscapes; it’s also a haven for vegan food lovers. Matt discusses some of the most delectable vegan dining options in the city, offering a tantalizing array of choices for travelers with dietary preferences.
While Cape Town, like many cities, grapples with safety concerns, Matt Newman offers invaluable advice, drawing from his own experiences, to help visitors navigate the city safely. His insights provide reassurance to potential travelers.
So, if you’re ready to embark on a journey to a city that boasts natural beauty, wine country, and an array of vegan-friendly delights, Cape Town awaits. Stay tuned as we uncover the wonders of this vibrant and diverse destination!
In this episode we discuss:
- Matt’s recommended three-day vegan itinerary for exploring Cape Town:
- Day 1: City tour, Table Mountain, Castle of Good Hope.
- Day 2: Cape Peninsula exploration, Boulders Beach, Cape Point.
- Day 3: Winelands visit, Stellenbosch, Franschhoek.
- Discussion of Cape Town’s unique flora and landscapes.
- Transportation options in Cape Town: taxis, ride-sharing, public transport.
- Discussion on the safety concerns for travelers in Cape Town.
- Introduction to Vegan Tours Cape Town, offering tailored plant-based experiences.
- Business success, plans for expansion, and partnerships in the vegan community.
- Invitation to explore Vegan Tours Cape Town and planning resources.
Learn more about what we talk about
- Table Mountain
- Castle of Good Hope
- District Six Museum
- Robbin Island
- V&A Waterfront
- Simon’s Town
- Boulders Beach
- Cape Point
- Chapman’s Peak
- Stellenbosch Wine Route
- Vegan Restaurants
- Grumpy & Runt
- Lunch-Wild Eatery
- Lunch-Sunshine Food CT
- Breakfast/Lunch-Conscious Kitchen
- Aiko Sushi
Other World Vegan Travel content connected with this episode
- The Timbavati, Game Reserve in South Africa – A Vegan Paradise | Hayley Cooper | Ep 114
- Kilimanjaro Full Moon Summit: Vegan Trekking & Wildlife Safari Adventure
- Vegan Photography Trips in Botswana | Jennifer Hadley and Sharon Doak | Ep 108
- Living a Life of Purpose in a Crazy World | Peter Eastwood | Ep 106
- Bucket-List AFRICA: Vegan safaris and literary adventures
- Five Best Places in South Africa to see The Big Five | Ingrid Geertsema | Ep 105
Connect with Matt
Brighde: Hi Matt. Welcome to the World Vegan Travel Podcast.
Matt: Hi Brighde. Thank you so much for having me. It’s great to be part of the podcast and I’m a big fan, so thank you for having me.
Brighde: Oh, thank you. Thank you. I’m so excited to have you on because we’re going to be talking about a part of the world that is very dear to my heart, and that is Cape Town, this incredible, vibrant, interesting city. But, before we get into all of the great value that you’re going to give our listeners, why don’t you tell us a little bit about your story, about why you ended up in Cape Town? Because listeners have a very keen ear, they might be able to tell that you are not South African from birth. How did you end up in Cape Town?
Matt: Absolutely. So, I’ve lived in Cape Town for the past 12 years. I’m originally from the UK, and I am an actor, I was living and working in London, in kind of like my early thirties, and I wanted to stay in my industry, but at the same time, I wanted to have a life adventure. So I was planning to go to Los Angeles because it seemed like the most obvious place for an actor to kind of go, especially an English-speaking actor. I was kind of like working towards making all of this happen. And then I was on a job with a South African, and I was telling her about my plans and everything. I was having some visa trouble as well, and trying to navigate that in terms of going to America and stuff. She said to me, “Have you ever considered Cape Town?,” and I said, “Outside of visiting for a holiday, no. Why?” And she said, “You know, there’s quite an industry there for actors. There’s a film studio that’s just been built just outside of Cape Town.” This was in 2010. And she said, “Did you know, there’s a big seasonal commercial industry there.” And that was the end of the conversation. There was something about that very brief interaction that completely piqued my interest. So I went home that night. I went onto Google. I tried to find as much as I could about actors and acting in South Africa. I thought, you know what? I’m just going to take a 10-day trip, I’m just going to throw caution to the wind, and I’m just going to come to Cape Town and see what happens. I came down to Cape Town, I met with a couple of agents, and they offered me representation. Aside from that, I just absolutely fell in love with the city. There was just something so immediate about it. It was just an energy, I suppose, that just resonated with me. Also, the weather, coming from the UK, where you are kind of never really in summer, but you’re never really out of winter. And it’s this kind of always, you know, I know a lot is going on in the world at the moment with weather patterns, but yes, there was something immediate about it, just being in this African sun, being in this African light, that just did something to me perhaps on a molecular level. I don’t know, I can’t quite explain it. There was something very instant.
Brighde: Yes. Well, I haven’t spent that much time in Cape Town, but certainly, your words resonated with me. That’s really how I’ve felt when I’ve been in Cape Town. So you have recently set up a vegan travel business in Cape Town, and you hope to share with vegan travelers the abundance that is like Cape Town and the surrounding areas, both from just a general sightseeing perspective and also from a delicious vegan foodie perspective.
So we thought that it would be fun for you to share a three-day itinerary for exploring this incredible area because I think a lot of people come to South Africa for the animals and the incredible National Parks, but there is so much more, just even within Cape Town and the immediate area. So, tell us about what a three-day itinerary for exploring Cape Town would be like.
Matt: Sure. So first of all, three days in Cape Town, your feet aren’t going to touch the ground because there is just so much to explore, and so much to just immerse yourself in. But of course, sometimes people are on a time restraint, especially if we have a lot of cruise ships that come into Cape Town as well. And sometimes they’re only here for like, maybe, two or three days. And so, let’s assume that you only have three days in Cape Town and you’ve just got to make the most of it. I would split it up into three different kinds of sections, and that would be probably a city tour, which will kind of incorporate a lot of the history of Cape Town. And then the second day would be like a Cape Peninsula tour. So you get to explore the coastline. You would get to explore the African Penguins at Boulder’s Beach as well as the Cape of Good Hope, where Cape Point is. Then the third day, I would absolutely one hundred percent recommend exploring the Winelands and going to Stellenbosch or Franschhoek, which are two beautiful towns, very old towns, like Stellenbosch is the second oldest town, in South Africa, outside of Cape Town, and do some wine tasting and just enjoy some of our delicious wine.
Brighde: What would be your preferred day one of the itinerary?
Matt: So I think it would be a good introduction, probably to start with the city tour because that would incorporate some of the history of the country as well as some of the history of the city. So, I think, you can’t come to Cape Town and not visit Table Mountain, you know, you have to try and include that in your itinerary. So obviously because we are kind of short of time, I would recommend taking the cable car up because it would take four to five minutes to get up there, and then you can just start enjoying the views immediately. You cannot hike up there, as well, as it will take much longer and sometimes people aren’t as fit and whatever else. So that would be the first thing that I would do on my day one, especially if the weather’s good. And that’s an important thing to bear in mind as well, is that a lot of it is going to depend on the weather because we have the South-Easter here during the summer months, which is very, very windy. Sometimes they close the cable car. And so you always keep a check on the weather if you are here for a short period, to make sure that you can include that in your days. But let’s assume that, that’s how you start your day, going up to Table Mountain. And then from there, I’d probably go to the Castle of Good Hope. It’s the oldest colonial building in South Africa, and it’s steeped in history. So it’s where in 1652, a Jan Van Riebeek set up a refreshment station for the Dutch East India Company when they were traveling down from the Netherlands, all the way across through to India, and Indonesia as part of the spice route. From there, I think by this time you’ll probably be quite hungry, so you’d need to have some lunch somewhere. There are plenty of beautiful vegan eateries or even restaurants that are offering vegan options. And then from there I would go to probably, the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront. It’s a big complex, it’s a working harbor. It’s the oldest working harbor in South Africa. It is, officially, the most visited attraction in the whole of the country. I think 24 million people visit every year. And from there, once you’ve kind of explored, maybe even have your lunch there, you can then get on the ferry and go across to Robin Island, which is a UNESCO heritage site. And a lot of people may be familiar with it from the fact that it was where former president Nelson Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years in prison. You go there, and they do a tour of the island, a tour of the prisons, and it’s fascinating. It’s a deep part of our history, and a part of the apartheid history as well in South Africa.
Brighde: I believe that getting tickets is not immediately evident like it’s a little bit complicated to get tickets. Can you explain about that?
Matt: Do you mean the tickets to Robben Island?
I can’t give a definitive answer, other than having to go to the V and A and go to the ticket office. If you’re going up Table Mountain, you can book in advance and you can get your tickets in advance. I’m not sure what’s happened there. For anyone watching this and listening to this, I would say at the moment, the best advice is, to go there on the day. And, again, it’s hard to predict because you may go on a very popular day, and obviously, the ferries only have so much capacity. But yeah, it is strange.
Brighde: Yeah, it’s really strange when we’ve had our travelers that have come to South Africa, and Botswana. It’s always been a little bit logistically challenging, trying to figure out, I guess, because it’s an island. And you’re very sort of limited by departure times, and it takes a bit longer because obviously, you have to get there. But the boat ride itself is gorgeous, isn’t it?
Matt: Absolutely. You get that whole kind of panoramic view of Table Mountain and the Atlantic Seaboard, and it’s photo opportunity galore. It is. It’s well worth a visit, just for the history and the background of everything that, you know, Nelson Mandela and all of the apartheid activists struggled for during those years.
Brighde: I have been to Robin Island once, and I was very surprised to see that there were actually some penguins on Robin Island too when we went to at least.
Matt: Yeah. Sometimes you do find them there. Obviously, a lot of the Cape fur seals, as you know, they’ve got kind of like a colony.
Brighde: Ah, yes. Now I remember
Matt: So there’s lots of wildlife, lots of bird life.
Brighde: After we’ve done the Robin Island excursion, what would you recommend? We’re probably getting towards the end of our day in terms of things to do.
Matt: Absolutely. I think that is probably about as much as you would be able to fit into the actual day. And you’ll probably be quite exhausted by then as well. I’ve done it with friends, family, and guests that have come to Cape Town. Everyone’s pretty exhausted by then. So it’s then back on the ferry, back to the V and A, and then maybe back to your accommodation or going straight out for an early dinner perhaps. And before getting a good night’s rest, because then you’ve got the second day to look forward to.
Brighde: So why don’t you tell us about day two? Hopefully, we’ve had a good night’s rest.
Matt: Absolutely. A good night’s rest. I’m sure you will be done. I think you’ll be exhausted from day one. But yeah, on day two, I think, it’s important to do, what we call, the Cape Peninsula. So it gives you a great idea of the wonderful coastline that we have here. So I would depart Cape Town, and I would go to, perhaps, maybe, somewhere like Kalk Bay or Simons Town. Kalk Bay is a fishing village. It’s still an operational, fishing village, but it’s a beautiful community there, and there are lots of lovely places to stop and have a vegan breakfast grab a coffee, and watch some of the boats going in and out of the harbor. It’s very picturesque. Then from there, I would, if you are in either Kalk Bay or Simons Town, then from there it’s just a short journey down to Boulders Beach. And Boulders Beach is where you will find the African Penguins. It’s one of two land-based colonies that we have in the Western Cape. So, one is Boulders Beach, and one is about 150 kilometers outside of Cape Town in a place called Betty’s Bay. But this is the best place to see the Penguins if you’re visiting Cape Town. It is a lovely setup. There are viewing decks and everything, but it isn’t invasive to the penguins at all. And you know, they’re obviously kind of used to kind of seeing people. At the same time, you are at a respectful distance. You just get to see them in all of their waddling glory. I mean, it’s just wonderful. There’s a lot that’s being done at the moment to try and increase the amount of birds that we have there and stuff. So, that is a wonderful experience and lots of people want to include that in their itinerary when they come to visit Cape Town. After that, I would head straight to the Cape of Good Hope, which is still part of the Table Mountain National Park. And there you will see a whole plethora of wildlife. I’m not sure if you’re aware, but there are six Floral Kingdoms in the world and one of them is in Cape Town. It’s the smallest of the six Floral Kingdoms, but it is one of the most biodiverse of all of them. It’s the only one that’s contained in a single country, and of about 9,000 species, which is huge, that we have in the Cape Floral Kingdom. There’s nowhere else in the world that you’ll find these plants. You’ll see a lot of that at the Cape of Good Hope. And that is also where Cape Point is, which is the southernmost tip of Africa. It’s worth mentioning that, that’s not where the two oceans meet. Some people are told that the two oceans meet at Cape Point, and that’s not actually quite correct. It’s about, again, another 150 to 200 kilometers up the South Coast to a place called Cape Agulhas. And that’s where the two, the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian Ocean, that’s where they meet. But, yeah, Cape Point is the southernmost tip of Africa, and the scenery that you’ll see in the Cape of Good Hope is just, again, spectacular. And you’ll see the Chacma baboons, and you’ll see ostrich, and you’ll see different kinds of buck, and yeah, lots of wonderful, wonderful wildlife. It’s a real experience.
Brighde: Yeah, I agree. I think it’s very often like this, sort of the gateway drug to South Africa, as a whole, in terms of the wildlife.
Could you explain a little bit about what the landscape is like?
Matt: So the coastline is very rugged. It’s very choppy. Even before the Dutch settlers arrived here, the Portuguese came to Cape Town, and it was Bartholomew Diaz who originally referred to Cape Town, or the Cape Coastline, as the Cape of Storms because historically there have been so many ships throughout history that have been wrecked. So it’s a very, very, treacherous, rocky, kind of coastline. But, with that comes immense beauty as well. And this is what’s interesting as well, about Cape Town and its surroundings. We have such diverse landscapes, you know. We have the beautiful fynbos of all the Cape Floral Kingdom, which you see in Table Mountain and through some of the Western Cape. And then you’ve got the Cape Winelands. You’ve got further afield, the Klein Karoo, which is a lot more arid. So it is really beautiful and it’s diverse as well.
Brighde: Yeah, I agree. I think a lot of people might think, well, I’m not interested in botany, for example. Like, why am I so interested in going to see this? But, I’m not super interested in botany, but this vegetation has to be seen, to be appreciated. It’s so beautiful. There are very few trees. It’s lots of shrubs. It’s this beautiful protea, which I think is the National Flower of South Africa. I mean, if you’re familiar with some Australian botany, there are some similarities I think. But really, it’s just so unique and gorgeous, and you know, you have to look closely to see how unique it is. But it’s so special.
Matt: Absolutely. I agree. It’s visually spectacular. And also well, it’s all the smells that come from these plants. There are certain days that I’ll be driving around and I’ll have the window open. When you are driving the car it is just filled with this kind of, scent of nature and it is just so extraordinary. But yeah, you are absolutely right. The king protea is our national flower. I was quite interested to learn that there are actually more species of protea, itself, and in Australia than there are in South Africa. But even though we have more species in general in the Cape Floral Kingdom. Apparently, there are even more species than there are in the Western Cape. So it’s Interesting. I guess you know, when, when the earth was split, millions and millions of years ago, I guess, you know, certain things kind of traveled and whatever.
Brighde: Yeah, for sure. So after we’ve done our visit of the penguins, and we’ve got and checked out Cape Peninsula, what do we do next?
Matt: I would say you’re probably coming towards the end of your day, but instead of driving back the way that we’ve come down to the Cape of Good Hope, we’d go back a slightly different way, and we will take in Chapman’s Peak Drive, which is voted, I think most of the time, the most spectacular coastal road in the world. The views are insane. They really are. And you have to, again, include that in your itinerary. It’s actually only just reopened the last couple of days. We had a really bad storm about three weeks ago, two, or three weeks ago now, and there were obviously different landslides. We lost vegetation and different trees and everything, but yeah, it’s up and running again now. Hopefully, when guests are here, they get to experience it, because again, it is just a photo opportunity galore. It really is spectacular. Just, you know, the scenery of just vast, vast ocean just until as far as the eye can see. It’s gorgeous.
Brighde: I love it. I love it. All right, so we are back in Cape Town for the night, and in the morning we are going to do some wine country. Talk to us about that.
Matt: Absolutely. So I think this is why I like doing this on the third day because it kind of slows down the pace. You’ve been really busy for the first two days doing the history of Cape Town, South Africa, and kind of going down to you know, the Cape Peninsula, and everything, and now you can just kind of just sit back and relax a little bit. We have an extraordinary kind of wine region. I kind of focus a lot of my attention, when I’m doing tours, in the Stellenbosch wine region. It was the first wine route that was created, I think, in 1971, and there are about 150 wineries that you can choose from to visit. And that is just one of the numerous kinds of wine routes that we have. I think what’s just really, really wonderful about it, is just to be able to explore some of the Cape Dutch architecture that exists on these wine farms, some of the buildings, which is quite exquisite. And again, you’re spoiled for views because there are mountains all around. It’s very diverse. You’ve got vineyards that are going on for days, and it’s just beautiful. So, yeah. It’s a great opportunity to kind of slow down, and just take your way around, you know, whether you are with a guide like myself, or whether you are self-driving. Obviously, you have to have a designated driver because there’s zero tolerance for drinking and driving. We also have our own grapes here that were created in South Africa called Pinotage. Anyone who’s watching this, who’s really into wine, may have heard of it, but it’s not incredibly well known. That was created at Stellenbosch University and it’s a cross-pollination of Pinot Noir and Hermitage that creates Pinotage. A lot of people just love to be able to experience and try that when they come and visit.
Brighde: Yeah, something that really struck me when we did a day tour of the vineyards. We, at that time, it was quite a while ago now, we hired a guide and they drove us around so that we could indulge in the wines a little bit. And just some of these vineyards are just incredible estates in terms of, you know, just how fancy they are, and how beautiful they are, and how well set up they are for visitors, and they often have restaurants attached.
Matt: Absolutely. This is what’s so wonderful. To be able to taste wine where it’s actually grown, and then be able to have lunch on the wine farm. We’re so spoiled for choice, really. It’s what I try to include with my tour specifically as well, is like I said, trying to incorporate maybe some of the Cape Dutch architecture with some of the more modern wineries that exist and different scenery. It’s so diverse. Some people don’t like red wines, so they’ll focus more on the whites or vice versa. Even if you’re not into wine at all, I mean, there’s plenty of wine farms that actually do non-alcoholic wine tastings or they’ll just do certain pairings or whatever else with, you know, either confectionary. I’m not actually aware of any that are doing any kind of like vegan, you know, pairings in terms of, oh, actually no, there is one wine farm, Fairview Wine Farm, that does a vegan cheese wine pairing as well. So that’s also an opportunity there for plant-based travelers.
Brighde: Fantastic. And something that I’ve noticed recently, and something that I think is really interesting, is that there are starting to be some black-owned wineries as well throughout South Africa, and throughout this wine area, which I think is really, really interesting. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but you know, a lot of the reasons why these beautiful, big farm estates have become beautiful, big, wine estates, is based on the huge amount of labor that has been used, usually black labor to create these fancy wine estates, and it’s been really heartening to see that there are some black-owned wineries as well that, you know, I think people should seek out.
Matt: Absolutely. I agree. This is what is so extraordinary, really. If you think about our democracy and our constitution, and it’s only been since 1994, which is in the grand scheme of things, no time whatsoever for things to change. There’s still a long way to go in certain aspects, but it’s lovely that you mentioned that because there are now more black-owned businesses, which is incredibly important. We’re in South Africa, so people should be given and shown these opportunities, and also educated so that they know how to run a business. You know, you can’t just say, well, there’s a farm. And so there’s lots of opportunity, I think, now for these businesses and business owners to really develop their skills, and for opportunities for everyone, regardless of race, regardless of orientation. I agree with you. I think there is definitely a shift there, and it’s exactly as it should be, which is great.
Brighde: Yeah, I love that. I love that. I’m one of these people who will travel for vegan food. So are you able to speak to any places where travelers might be able to have vegan versions of South African food or sometimes I think this is really interesting, a lot of places, are starting to incorporate ingredients from South Africa, are those plants that we’ve talked a little bit about as well, and just great vegan food options in general. Can you speak to any of those since the places that we would be driving through or passed on this three-day itinerary?
Matt: Absolutely. Yeah. We really are spoiled for vegan options in Cape Town. And then there are some that really cater incredibly well to vegans. We have had some casualties recently where places have closed. And I think it’s just been, as it has, a lot around the world. It’s, you know. It’s what’s happened after COVID-19 and people just trying to find their feet again. It hasn’t quite happened. And also the cost of living, which is affecting, I think, everyone globally. But, in terms of the vegan scene in Cape Town, you really are spoilt for choice. There’s a great place called the Sunshine Food Co which I just love going to. They do these wonderful, really healthy wraps and burgers. It’s a very tiny place in Three Anchor Bay, Seapoint area. It’s owned by a guy, a Zimbabwean guy. He grows his own microgreens, and the microgreens really kind of play a huge role in the burgers, and the wraps and everything. He always does this delicious side of Yellow Dull, and it’s just, it’s such a strange combination to have, like with a burger or a wrap, but it just works beautifully. I’m a huge fan of that. In terms of the kind of South African dishes that are kind of veganized, there isn’t any way I’d say specifically. There have been occasions where I’ve gone to places, and we have a thing in dishes called Bobotie, which is traditionally like a minced beef dish that’s topped with egg. But there’s a vegan version of that, which I’ve tried before, and it’s wonderful. I know the Plant Cafe in Camps Bay, actually. I’m sure they do the vegan Boboti, and that’s also got all the beautiful Cape Malay spices and everything because obviously, we have a big heritage of Cape Malay cooking and everything here, which Boboti kind of originates from. And then you have something called Malva pudding, which is kind of like a sticky sponge with custard that I’ve had as well. But, you know, aside from South African cuisine and dishes, there’s a great restaurant called Aiko Sushi, which does phenomenal vegan sushi. It has three or four pages on its menu of solely vegan sushi. I went there recently for my birthday, and it was just such a treat. It’s such a wonderful place. And then of course you can get all your, you know, there’s lots of places that, you know, cater, like I said before, like with burgers and different things like that. Pizzas you can, you know, you can always find. So yeah, we really are. You won’t go hungry at all. There are probably a few more kinds of fast junk food, fast food types of vegan restaurants. There are great fine dining restaurants as well, that cater to the vegan clientele and also Vegan High Teas. I mean, some of our five-star hotels, also the Mount Nelson, the Twelve Apostles Hotel, they all cater to Vegan High Teas, which is fantastic. I’ve been there a number of times, and they’re just exquisite. The pastries and the sandwiches that they create are just really extraordinary.
Brighde: I love that. Yes, we went to Mount Nelson. I think it was on Christmas Day actually. It was between two of our trips. And we had some travelers that had just finished one of our trips and they were hanging around for a couple of days. And then there were the travelers who’d arrived early for the next trip. And we all met, and we went to Mount Nelson, and it was incredible. Like, it’s a ridiculous number of choices of tea in this absolutely beautiful setting. And the service was incredible. It was so much fun.
Matt: It is such a special place. It’s a wonderful building. The grounds. I mean, it’s steeped in history. It is just, yeah, it’s a must place to visit, I would say, you know. Then we’ve got other places. We’ve got a solely kind of vegan donut shop called Grumpy & Runt, which is incredibly popular. We’ve got another place called, Eat Ditto, which is completely vegan, and they do vegan waffles and vegan ice cream. So, anyone that’s got a sweet tooth, you have to definitely check out those places as well.
Brighde: So a really famous thing that I think, there is a vegan version of, I’m not quite sure where to get it, but it’s a famous South African sub-sandwich. Can you tell us about that?
Matt: Yeah. So that’s the Gatsby, I think, that you’re probably referring to. So it’s like this huge, almost like a baguette, but it’s not as crusty as a baguette. It’s softer, and it’s filled with fries, and obviously seitan or whatever your kind of filling is, and you usually have to share it with at least one person, if not maybe two other people. Otherwise, you have to go with an absolutely enormous appetite. But, yeah, it’s kind of like a local favorite. It is a bit of a stalwart on the culinary scene, I suppose, of Cape Town.
Brighde: I love it. I love it. Yeah, I did not know that it was meant to be shared, and I bought one and got it delivered to the hotel at Uber Eats, I can eat a lot, but there was just no way that I was going to be able to eat all of that. It was really crazy.
Matt: I think people have made the same mistake many, many times.
Brighde: Have you got any other favorite places in Cape Town?
Matt: There’s a wonderful place I love going to for breakfast and lunch as well, but I love it for their breakfast. And that’s a place called Conscious Kitchen, which is on Kloof Street. There’s actually quite a lot of eateries around Kloof Street. That’s where Eat Ditto is, which I mentioned a moment ago. There’s also this new Indian place that’s opened up called Vadie Bailu, which is up the top of Kloof Street, it’s not a completely vegan restaurant, but they have some excellent vegan options, and I just love it for the ambiance as well. It’s like such a nice room to have dinner in, and it’s got a lovely energy to it, and they have a nice wine list. And it’s, but it’s not fancy. It’s not like over the top, but it’s a really great place. So I love going there for dinner if I’m in the mood for Indian food. But yeah, like I said, I mentioned the sushi. I mean, I love that as well. It’s very cool. But if you are going down towards, as I mentioned before, say towards like, Kalk Bay and Simons Town area. There’s also a place before that called Muizenberg, which is very famous for surfers and surfing. It’s where a lot of people go. And there’s a cafe there called Hang Ten, which has again wonderful vegan muffins, and they do, like wonderful carrot blocks and bagel for breakfast and stuff like that. There’s also a place in Muizenberg called The Commons, which again, I think is vegetarian, and vegan. So lots and lots of brilliant options to have along there as well. I would say for anyone who’s visiting Cape Town, there’s a website and an Instagram page called Cape Town Vegan. For any visitor that’s listening to this or inspired to come to Cape Town, definitely check out capetownvegan.com because it’s a directory of all eateries and restaurants, and it’s listed by suburb, it’s listed by whatever you are in the mood for. Like, you know, eatery by Indian food or Mexican food or pizza or burgers or whatever it happens to be. So it is a fantastic resource, it really is.
Brighde: So, getting around a new city can be challenging. So, how would you describe, like the ease of transportation, and navigation for visitors exploring Cape Town? Are there any tips that you can share?
Matt: It is very easy to get around. I mean, like a lot of modern cities, you know, we have Uber, which I think a lot of people use, and it’s reliable and it’s safe. We do have a public transport system. We have the My City Bus, which basically services most of the inner city. And I know for a fact that tourists have absolutely used that to get to different places. The network is so far, but, it’s good if you’re just kind of like staying local and whatever. And also the train service is now going through a bit of a redevelopment, which is really exciting and it’s very cost-effective. So if anyone wanted to go to Muizenberg or to Kalk Bay, they can actually get a train from Cape Town Central Station and they can get the train down. There aren’t many throughout the day. They kind of service more the first thing in the morning, and then later on the afternoon. If you’re going for a day trip then you can obviously, you know, easily kind of coincide that and it’s safe. Then we’ve got these new trains where the carriages aren’t kind of parked and compartmentalized. So it’s like one long carriage where you can see from one end to the other, the security on the trains. And I’d say, within about the last 18 months, we’re really starting to get somewhere with it again. But, I would say absolutely, like you can either use private taxis or Uber. I mean, they’re cost-effective. They’re easy to get around, and I think it’s something that a lot of people are familiar with now.
Brighde: Yeah. Yeah, for sure. A question that I have about the public transportation options, is that’s really cool that, that is improving. How are those accessible in terms of payment and knowing the schedules? Is it all integrated with Google Maps? Because sometimes the timetable is, you know, you need a special app to know when the service is coming, and that kind of thing. Like how do you navigate all of that?
Matt: Yeah, we are not particularly, at least to my knowledge, we’re not particularly kind of linked up to any kind of one app. So, I mean, when I use the train, I just hop online and I think, I go onto something like capetowntrains.com, or so I think, that’s the website, something similar to that, and it basically has the timetable on there as to whatever direction you are going, and you know, and that’s always been fair. That’s always been actually very accurate whenever I’ve used that. In terms of the My City Bus, I think you do have to buy a card, and then you have to load money onto it. So that’s something that maybe people visiting Mayfield, it’s a bit too much of a hassle. Depending on if they’re here for maybe a couple of weeks, then it’s probably a good idea because then they can get around. But there is actually a “My City” app for the buses. So there, there’s an app that exists for that, and that will give you all of your routes, and your schedules, and your timetables. And I think that it’s quite accurate in the sense that if there’s a delay, if there’s been an accident somewhere and there’s a roadblock or something’s happened, then it kind of says that it’s gonna be delayed. So, yeah. So that is available.
Brighde: So, let’s delve a little bit into your business, which is Vegan Tours Cape Town. What inspired you to create this service, and what do you do on your tours to make sure that these are kind of like a vegan experience?
Matt: So I was inspired to create Vegan Tours Cape Town because based on research that I was doing, nothing really existed for the independent traveler that was kind of geared towards veganism and plant-based, tourists and guests visiting Cape Town. So, you know, after, like I say, the research and everything, I know for a fact that obviously vegans and plant-based tourists are coming to Cape Town. So they’re obviously probably having to do a lot of their own research and try to create their own itineraries. So I decided to launch this business because some people don’t want the hassle with that. They want to be able to come on holiday. They want to be able to hire a qualified tour guide who can show them around, that can explain all of the history and the culture, and take them to where they want to go. I’d say that so far, my main tour, or my flagship tour, is the private vegan wine tour. So it’s a full-day tour. I pick guests up at around nine-thirty in the morning, and then we drive out towards Stellenbosch, and then we’d go to our first wine estate. And for the first estate, I like to include a cellar tour ‘because I think that’s something quite interesting and something quite unique, where lots of people drink wine, but they don’t really know how it goes from the grape to being in the bottle, to then enjoying it, kind of thing. So it’s not an incredibly intense experience, but it’s just like a very brief overview of wine-making, and as I said, how it goes from the grapevine into the bottle and all of the processes in between. So we start off with that, and then we do some wine tasting at the first farm. We then go to a second farm, and this is probably my favorite farm, I think, that I’ve discovered in Stellenbosch. It’s called DeMorgenzon. And they basically play classical music in the vineyards twenty-four-seven. And it’s because the winemakers believe that because the vine is alive, like anything that’s alive, responds to music in terms of the vibration, and how it makes it feel. So, you know, in terms of studies, and whether they can prove that it improves the wine or not, I don’t think that they can necessarily go so far to kind of say that. But I think it’s really, really interesting what they’re doing there. And I just love the idea behind that. And I think they were also inspired by, there was a, there was a test that was done. I can’t remember what it was called now, but, they basically asked people to name their five favorite songs, and then the songs would be played and other songs would be played in between. They would be poured wine, and they would taste wine, and then they would grade the wine and say whether it was a four out of ten six out of ten, or ten out of ten. And it basically turns out that the wine was completely the same throughout, but what changed people’s opinion of it, was whether they were listening to their favorite song or whether they were listening to something they didn’t like. If they didn’t like heavy metal or whatever it happened to be, they would change their opinion of what they were tasting. So, there’s something that was linked into that, with their idea and their wanting to play this classical music in the vineyard. And it is just so extraordinary. It’s such a beautiful place to visit. So, that’s where the second wine tasting takes place. And then from there, we go on to have lunch at our third wine farm. And there’s a four-course, vegan harvest table that is prepared for guests, and I was there literally with some guests just on Sunday, and it was just wonderful. Really, really great food. Very well thought out, very well considered. And it’s a wine farm called Warwick Wine Estate. They offer vegan picnics as well. I think they’re one of the wine farms that are really trying to put veganism on the map as far as wineries go, which is really exciting. And then we finish off the afternoon with our fourth wine farm, wine estate, and it’s usually either Tokara or Delaire Graff. And I usually like finishing there because it’s quite different to some of the previous farms. So DeMorganzon has a Cape Dutch homestead. It’s very picturesque, or it’s very pretty, and it’s very historical, whereas the final two, or Takara, or Delaire Graff, is a bit more modern, but it has these spectacular views that surround it. So I know for a fact that Neethlingshof, which is our first farm in DeMorgenzon, doesn’t use any pesticides, they don’t spray anything whatsoever.
Brighde: I love that. I love that. Oh, that sounds like such an enjoyable day.
Matt: Yeah, it’s great. And then I get people back to the accommodation around five, five-thirty, and then the evening is theirs if they feel that they want to then go out for dinner.
And soon I will be introducing probably a Cape Peninsula tour with some of the places that I’ve mentioned already in the podcast, but that will then also incorporate a Vegan High Tea, because I just thought that’d be quite a nice thing, you know, to offer. And then customized tours. If anyone has either been to Cape Town before and there are things that they haven’t seen, or if they’ve never been to Cape Town, but there are things that they really, really want to include in an itinerary, whether it’s a, “I want to go to Boulders Beach,” but I also want to make sure that I go here for lunch, or I go here for breakfast, then I can create that as well. So I’m very open to, to, you know, creating itineraries for people based on their preferences.
Brighde: I love that. And I’m guessing you usually take people around by car?
Matt: Absolutely. If you go to my website, there’s availability for either, I like to include solo travelers as well. I don’t want to exclude anyone as much as possible. So there is, you can either book for one person or four people. Well, one person, two people, three people, or four people is on the website. And then anything over and above that, then if you just drop me an email depending on, you know, what your requirements are. Then obviously price and everything would be dependent on that because it would depend on the size of the vehicle, and how many people there are.
Brighde: I love it. I love it. Fantastic. Can you tell us about any exciting future projects or developments that you have for this fledgling business?
Matt: Yeah. I mean, my main aim at the moment is to obviously try and build as many relationships with business owners that exist in Cape Town that are aligned to either veganism or plant-based diets. And to try and kind of build the, as I say, build those relationships, and try and see how I can incorporate my business into theirs, and theirs into mine, and just basically see where that goes. As I said, it’s very much in its infancy, but I’m very excited about the potential of it. We know that globally, veganism is on the rise, and you know, now we’re through the pandemic. Travel is very much back on people’s agenda. What I hope more than anything is that people do find me through their Googling and through their research, and if anyone needs even just general advice, to basically come to me and just ask exactly, you know, if anyone needs any help, then I’m open to that. But in terms of where the business is going, I would love to obviously employ people as well. At the moment it’s just myself that’s running it, but to be able to have other vegan tour guides, and create a business, and create, you know, something where I’m actually able to employ someone that has a family, and that would really be special, that would really be awesome.
Brighde: I love it. I love it. So a big concern that often bubbles up for people when they are thinking about going to South Africa and Cape Town is safety. I will say that our travelers, they’re really excited about coming to Cape Town, but, this is something that bubbles up a lot. I think it is a definite concern, a real concern. It’s not just something that’s sort of been blown out of proportion. You know, Cape Town does have, and many South African cities, unfortunately, do have a problem with crime. So can you provide some insights into the safety of Cape Town, and maybe any tips or resources for travelers to ensure a worry-free experience?
Matt: Sure. I’m really glad that you’ve asked this question because you are absolutely right. I think that probably, possibly, is the number one reason why maybe more people don’t visit South Africa and they don’t visit Cape Town. I can understand why. Obviously, our statistics aren’t particularly good, compared to some countries, but what I will say, is that I think, as far as the country goes, Cape Town is probably one of the safest places. Really, it is. In the twelve years of living here, I’ve never personally been a victim of physical crime or violent crime, whatsoever. And I think a lot of it is down to the individual, just to remain aware, as you would be in any kind of big city where there is a big, high density of tourists around. So there’s always going to be opportunists. My top tips would be the same, whether you are in Cape Town, or whether you are in Barcelona, London, or Buenos Aires, you know. Just be mindful about waving anything around that’s valuable. If you’ve got like a fancy mobile phone or a lovely camera or anything like that, just be very mindful about what you are doing, and just try. I think what’s difficult, is to try and remain aware of your surroundings, because when you are looking at some of these fantastic views and you are trying to take in something, you obviously are in that moment, and sometimes you’re not always aware of who’s around you or what’s around you, but in terms of waving around valuables, that would be my number one thing. I would also say, be careful about, you know, don’t walk around alone or in small groups at night because again, there’s always going to be opportunists. Be very careful when you’re at ATMs, not to get distracted. There are always people who are trying to distract you and trying to either see your pin number or something’s going on. And so a lot of it is common sense, but, admittedly, you know, we, like I say, we don’t have particularly great statistics when it does come to crime. But, just to reiterate, I’ve never personally been a victim of crime, and actually, none of my close friends or family are here.
The media unfortunately does perpetuate a certain situation, and if it’s an agenda that suits a certain media outlet, then obviously that’s going to go a certain direction. Anyone who’s listening to this, and anyone who is inspired to want to visit Cape Town, I would say, just be brave about it. I’m almost certain that you won’t regret it. I think it will probably change your life.
Brighde: Yeah, I agree. I mean, unfortunately, a couple of our travelers, ended up being victims of crime when they came on our trips. It was before we had actually met them. And despite our suggestions about how to, you know, look after themselves. Luckily it wasn’t violent. It was, you know, purely a financial loss. One traveler had their phone pick-pocketed from them. So again, it’s a really great idea to make sure that your phone is. I mean, I always keep things in front of me in a very well-zipped-up thing, and just make sure that I have it all of the time. So that was extremely unfortunate that she had her phone stolen. And another one, he was a victim of a scam, and this was extremely upsetting to hear about. And luckily, his bank was going to cover these charges. I think I can’t remember entirely the details, but when he was very tired and disoriented, he, and again, I, I can’t remember the details, but I’m sure he was a very savvy person, but, you know, scams can happen to even the most savvy people. But somehow he ended up going to an ATM and withdrawing money, and he wasn’t familiar with what it was all worth. And he ended up, sort of, giving this money to someone to pay for something very small. It was a very strange thing, but again, I think it’s just, don’t let it stop you from going to South Africa. I think that you know, just be aware that these things happen. And also I think it’s important to say that, you know, hotels, and tourist businesses and restaurants, they’re really well set up to look after their clients. So whether that means that there’s very good security to get into hotels and things like that. You can always ask a restaurant to call a trusted cab to get you home in the evening. These kinds of things are going to help. And I will say that whenever we go to South Africa, I always am very conscious of just doing a little bit of a security brush up in terms of the access to, you know, bank accounts and credit cards, and just making sure I’ve got a two-factor authentication set up, that I’ve got fingerprint access for my phone, and all of these things, really, to just make sure that I’m going to be protecting myself. This is just good sense for life really.
Matt: Absolutely. I mean, it really is. And also, like wherever you are, you know, traveling and visiting, you know, have photocopies of your passport, and have photocopies of your credit cards or different things that are, that are left somewhere separate, and so that you have that, you know, in case your passport is stolen. Because obviously, that’s going to be a huge hassle in trying to, you know, navigate that while you’re in a foreign country, and depending on where you are from, and where your consulate is, and having to make contact, and all of that. But, I’m glad that you’ve settled that because it is good to kind of be a bit mindful about where you are going. A lot of it is common sense, and I mean this in the nicer sense. I think some people, like when we go on holiday, because we just want to let go and forget and be frivolous, and you know, sometimes common sense does go out the window a bit.
Can you share one personal highlight or favorite memory from your time living in Cape Town?
Matt: Sure. One thing that really sticks with me is when U2 came to play at the Cape Town Stadium, and it was part of their, I think it was called their 360 tour, where they had this big spider type of sets that they were touring around the world. And it was fantastic. I was here and the tickets had gone online before I’d arrived in Cape Town. And it was just, you just couldn’t get a ticket for love or money. I was so desperate to see them. I love U2, I’d never seen them live. And so I just thought, you know, coming from London, I know there’s always people outside, venues, maybe trying to sell tickets, and I was like, I really want to see them. So if I have to pay a little bit above and beyond, you know, the actual selling price of the ticket, then I will, I’m prepared to do so. So I went and stood outside the stadium and everyone was going in. Everyone’s going in, and all of a sudden I just heard this voice. Someone just said, “Do you need a ticket?” And I was like, “Yes, yes, I do, I do, I do! Do you have one?” They said, “Yeah, there you go!” And I was like, “Okay, how much do you want for it?” “Oh, no, no, no, it doesn’t. Don’t worry about it.” I was like, “No, please. How much do you want for it?” And they’re like, “Oh no, don’t worry, my friend couldn’t come. You are welcome to have it.” So that was an extraordinary moment, because then I got to experience U2, and it was a phenomenal concert, and I just loved it. But I think what it says more than anything, and looking back on it, what I’ve realized, is that there is so much about what the South African person is like. They are such warm, hospitable people. They didn’t want anything from me. They just were happy. They didn’t want this ticket to go to waste. And I really think it’s one of the biggest assets of South Africa, is its people. They’re incredibly resilient. The country historically has been through so, so much. You’d think that people would just be so fed up. And yes, they are fed up some days, especially with load-shedding and things like that. But their spirit, the South African spirit is like nothing that I’ve ever experienced anywhere, that I’ve ever traveled in my life, really. They’re just such beautiful, warm, hospitable people. And I hope that anyone who does visit Cape Town will experience that. They may not end up with a ticket to a concert, but I do hope that they will experience, this wonderful warmth from the South African.
Brighde: Yeah, I agree. It’s a really interesting, fascinating, diverse country and city, and I would wholeheartedly recommend people to check it out. One day, when Seb and I are no longer tied to where we are at the moment, we have an elderly cat, but we really hope to spend a really good slab of time in South Africa and Cape Town because there is just so much to see and do in this really amazing country.
So, you know, I want to thank you so much, Matt, for taking the time to be on the podcast. I really appreciate it. Would you mind telling us how people can get in contact with you to find out more about your vegan tours, and maybe follow you on social media as well?
Matt: I would love people to know, and I would love people to get in contact with me. So, you can go to my website, which is vegantourscapetown.com, and my social media on Instagram is vegantourscapetown, as well as Facebook, vegantourscapetown. So if you go to my website, at the moment you’ll see that we’ve got the wine tour that’s on there, and then you’ve got the choice of that or the customized tour. If someone, as I mentioned before, does want to do something quite specific that I haven’t actually created yet, I will be launching the Cape Peninsula tour very soon. So that will also be on the website. But, yeah, check out my website and if anyone, like I said, wants to just touch base and they’re coming to Cape Town, they just want a little bit of advice, I’m happy to offer that. I don’t expect anything from it. I just want people to come here, and I want people to have just the most wonderful time because it really is a mind-blowingly beautiful, wonderful city.
Brighde: I love it. Thank you so much, Matt. Thank you for taking the time to be on the podcast.
Matt: Thanks for having me Brighde, and thanks for your time as well. And yeah, I hope you enjoy your next visit to South Africa.
Brighde: Yeah, I’ll be there, in just over a year. We’ll have to have a coffee or a sandwich.
Matt: Maybe we can share a Gatsby
Brighde: Perfect. Thank you.
Matt: Thanks Brighde.