WATCH | A Bo-Kaap walking tour with Google

Despite having lived in Cape Town for over five years, I only made a proper jaunt through Bo-Kaap on a walking tour with Google recently.

One of the go-to marketing images for the Mother City, its colourful houses, cobblestone roads and Insta-perfect photo opportunities creates a Smartie-box urban landscape unique in this world.

READ: Bo-Kaap and gentrification: When your home becomes a tourist attraction 

But beyond the picturesque trappings that sometimes elicit tourists to just stop in for 10 minutes for a selfie and then leave, Bo-Kaap has a long history of resilience, the breaking of chains and a cultural and religious identity that residents hold very dear to their hearts. 

The next time you visit Cape Town (and even if you live there) lace up your walking shoes, charge up your phone and try out this walking tour with a few Google apps to fill you in on the area's history - and remember to respect the privacy and property of residents.

You can also try a guided walking tour for free, see more about it here. 

PICS: Colourful Bo-Kaap featured in NatGeo's spectacular 'Cities' entries for Travel Photographer of the Year Contest

1. St George's Cathedral

An important landmark where much resistance against oppressive regimes took place, and near to the Iziko Slave Lodge where those who helped establish Bo-Kaap once lived in shackles.

Tip: Use Google Maps to help guide your way from here.

church in cape town

2. Auwal Masjid

A brisk walk up Wale Street will take you the beginning of Bo-Kaap, and the first mosque built in South Africa. Be on the lookout for the beautiful wolf mural.

Tip: Point Google Lens at the buildings which will give you more about their history. The app is very handy for identifying anything, even words in languages you don't understand.

READ: This app turns your phone camera into an all-knowing exploration device 

mural of a wolf

3. Faeeza's Home Kitchen

Head up Dorp Street - look out for the high-five mural on your left - to Faeeza's restaurant that offers traditional Cape Malay cooking and classes. Past it, down the steps, you'll find a little alley that opens up onto Wale Street, with murals of Tuan Guru, the first Imam of Auwal Masjid and once a beloved Islam teacher.

Tip: Take some photos on the steps and save it on Google Photos where you can create a movie with all your photos of your Bo-Kaap adventure to share with friends.

alley way looking into wale street

4. Mosque Shafee

Walk down Chiappini Street to Mosque Shafee, where you'll spot many tourists wandering around. 

Tip: Streets are quite tight here so always be on the lookout for cars.

group of tourists outside mosque

5. Bo-Kaap Museum

Head back to Wale Street and listen to the stories of the area's residents and learn even more about its history. Right across you can also stock up on spices and koe'sisters from the spaza shop.

Tip: Google Translate can help you with the Afrikaans if you get stuck.

shop sign for koesisters

6. Monkeybiz Gallery

Right next door is this community-focused bead shop, with an array of African animals all specially made with love.

Tip: You can find out if they have any workshops for learning how to make the beaded artworks and jewellery. 

PICS: Feel at home on this Caribbean island that looks almost exactly like Bo-Kaap 

beaded craft artwork shop

7. Lion Battery

Work those legs up to the top section above Bo-Kaap to see the Noon Gun fire every day at 12 (except Sundays and public holidays). Remember it's incredibly loud!

Tip: If you don't fancy the walk, just grab a taxi up and down.

navy officer attending to the noon gun cannon in c

8. The Capital Mirage

While recovering from your ringing ears, head back down for either lunch or a cocktail at The Capital Mirage, which has an amazing aerial view of Bo-Kaap, and a great end-off to your tour.

Tip: Seafood is the way to go here if you decide to eat.

WATCH: What are a South African?

aerial view of cape town city

*Disclaimer: Gabi Zietsman was hosted by Google in Cape Town.

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