Cape Town’s Flat Flowered Mountain Aloe

I like to look back at my photos and among my favourites are those from Kirstenbosch Gardens, Cape Town. The flowers are beautifully breathtaking. One of the flowers I observed was  Aloe Marlothii or Flat Flowered Mountain Aloe. I have never seen such a big aloe in my life. The one that I have in my front yard is very small and does not have flowers.

Aloe Marlothii is a striking, robust, large, single-stemmed aloe with a majestic presence. The mountain aloe is undoubtedly one of southern Africa ‘s most rewarding aloes to grow and adds an interesting slant to aloe culture.

Aloe Marlothii is a succulent and therefore well suited to withstand periods of drought, owing to reserves of water stored in the leaves and stem. The thorns on the leaves and very rough, hard, dried leaves along the stem act as a defence against browsing animals. In times of extreme drought, kudu have been observed browsing the leaves despite the plants defences and may denude the leaves of the plant entirely. If conditions are favourable, plants recover within six months. Another defence against browsing is the eventual height obtained by A. Marlothii to escape browsing animals. By growing out of reach of browsers the species has a greater chance of surviving drought.

So, if you are into flowers and aloe species, and will be visiting Cape Town soon, do consider visiting Kirstenbosch Gardens situated at Rhodes Drive, Newlands, Cape Town, South Africa.. It is the largest of a country-wide network of nine National Botanical Gardens administered by the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI).

Operational hours are as follows:
Sep – Mar (Summer): Mon – Sun
08h00 – 19h00

Apr – Aug (Winter): Mon – Sun
08h00 – 18h00

Conservatory: Mon – Sun
09h00 – 17h00


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Halal food in Cape Town

When I visited Cape Town, looking for Halal Muslim food was very easy. This is due to the fact that about 10% of the population are made of Muslims. Other than that, there are some restaurants that serve only seafood.

If you are lazy to go find Halal Muslim food around the town, you can always go to Victoria Wharf’s Food Court at Victoria & Alfred Waterfront. There are quite a selection of Halal food there. There’s Nur, Anat, Subway and many more.

If you are not into Arabic/Indian/Middle East food, you can always opt for Texie’s. They serve Snoek and Chips, Seafood Platter, Calamari Gatsby, etc. Texie’s can be found all over Cape Town; there’s one on Adderley Street (just opposite Fountains Hotel where I stayed), there’s one at Sea Point, one at Grand Parade (near Cape Town City Hall). You can view the directory here.

 And of course there’s huge selection of seafood restaurants around Victoria & Alfred Waterfront.


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Personal safety in Cape Town

Prior to my trip to Cape Town in July 2011, I did a research about how safe is Cape Town. From what I read, mostly from personal encounters, walking/driving alone at night is not safe. Apart from that it is advised to avoid carrying large sums of cash and having cameras or video cameras hang around the neck.

My husband and I did all the above and thankfully we walked safely during the days of our 6 days trip there. We were very cautious about walking at night. The streets of Cape Town became very quiet after 7pm. There was once when my husband walked across the streets looking for snacks. We already had our dinner but the cold weather made us hungry. He came back after 10 minutes saying that the streets seemed dead. There was even someone tailing him but he sensed something not right and walked back fast to the hotel. After that, we just took away something everyday before making our way back to the hotel. There was one day that we took a taxi as it was already past 9pm. We went for a movie (Transformer) and dared not walk back to the hotel in the dark. We took a cab instead and paid R40. I know it was expensive but we were very concerned about our safety.

Cape Town is trying very hard to prevent crime and have made considerable efforts to safeguard tourists against crime. Surveillance cameras monitor activities in the central Business District and security guards watch over the major shopping centers and crime prone area.

safety station

The CCID’s security partnership, working with the Central City’s business community, the South African Police Services and other security organisations and stakeholders, have formed a tight security net around the City.

Due to this cooperative effort, the crime rate has dropped significantly and many incidents are prevented from happening. The valuable complementary services provided by the CCID security partnership ensures that additional officers are being deployed in the Central City 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

In case of emergency, here are important contact numbers for Cape Town:
Ambulance: 10177
Fire Brigade: 461 5555
Flying Squad: 10111
Mountain Rescue: 10111
Police: 467 8000
Police (Tourist Assistance Unit): 418 2852
Sea Rescue: 405 3500

I feel the need to share this article and hope it gives you an insight about personal safety in Cape Town.


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Art and nature stroll

Company Garden, Cape Town – 23 Jul 2011

The last place I visited in Cape Town was the South Africa National Gallery. I didn’t take any pictures inside because the house rules forbids anybody to take pictures.

The Great Vladimir Tretchikoff retrospective exhibition was on when I visited and I had great time looking closely at all his paintings. His main subjects are exotic people and flowers.The exhibition aims to examine Tretchikoff anew and place him in contemporary perspective. Many iconic works such as the “Chinese Girl” and “The Dying Swan” were on display.

For those not in the know, Tretchikoff (1913–2006) was one of the most commercially successful artists of all time. His painting, “Chinese Girl” (popularly known as “The Green Lady”), is one of the best-selling art prints ever. He was considered to be one of the richest artists, with earnings comparable to Picasso. He pioneered the idea of selling affordable copies of his works, enabling working class people to own art.

Tretchikoff was a self-taught artist who painted realistic figures, portraits, still life and animals, with subjects often inspired by his early life in China and Malaysia, and later life in South Africa. His work was immensely popular with the public, but is often seen by art critics as the epitome of kitsch (indeed, he was nicknamed the “King of Kitsch”). He worked in oil, watercolour, ink, charcoal and pencil but is best known for his reproduction prints which sold worldwide in huge numbers.

After the Second World War he settled in South Africa. Sadly, he suffered a stroke in 2002 that left him unable to paint, and died on 26 August 2006 in Cape Town. But his paintings are truly inspiring.

After the exhibition, we just strolled out at the Company Garden in front of the gallery.

Company Gardens is a large public park and botanical garden set in the heart of Cape Town, home to a rose garden, Japanese garden, fish pond and aviary.


The garden is generally teeming with locals (including geese), who seek out the fresh air and beautiful views of Table Mountain. The tree-lined avenue, with its benches and resident squirrels, forms a pathway between the suburb of Gardens and the city centre.

Company Gardens is the oldest garden in the country and is intricately bound with the arts in South Africa. Besides having the art gallery within the park, it is also the venue of a number of festivals, including the Human Rights Concert and the Youth Festival.

And these concluded my visit to Cape Town. I really hope to be able to travel to Cape Town again to visit all those places that I didn’t get to visit and to meet penguins and whales that I didn’t get to meet. Until I can do that, I need to save lots of money and bring my son along.

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