Bo-Kaap Cape Town's Vibrant Houses, History and Cape Malay Cuisine - Story at Every Corner
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  1. Soumya Gayatri
    October 23, 2018 @ 4:33 am

    This is so cool. The whole town looks like a painting. I like how they decide the colors of their houses. It is so cute. I will definitely visit this place when we plan a trip to South Africa. I guess I will have to do with your pictures for the time. 🙂
    I like the concept of having a garden on the roof. Very similar to what people in Mumbai are trying to do these days. And I like Story #3 but #1 seems more plausible. Which one do you think?

    • Jyoti
      October 23, 2018 @ 8:36 am

      Hi Soumya, that’s a good way of putting it… the whole Bo-Kaap neighborhood looks like a painting with Table Mountain in the backdrop and cobblestone streets below. If you go to Cape Town you can’t miss it. Its walking distance from the waterfront, the best restaurants, and many happening places.
      I think story #1 is made up and the rest of the stories are true. For e.g. #1 says that it all started in 1970s but in fact, they had the colored houses of Bo-Kaap in the eighteenth century. They were whitewashed during apartheid years based on pictures we can find. The houses were re-painted when South Africa became a democracy.
      I love the idea of roof-top gardens too.
      When you go there, check if you can find a house visit. I’d love to hear all about it 🙂

  2. arv
    October 25, 2018 @ 7:49 am

    I have seen these colored houses in pictures but had no idea about it until I read your post. Stunning pictures as always and your write up is quite detailed. I don’t think I will find a better post on Bo-Kaap.

    • Jyoti
      October 25, 2018 @ 9:41 pm

      Thanks Arv! Appreciate your taking the time! I learned a lot of about Bo-Kaap, its history, culture, and current struggles on this trip. I happy to share.

  3. Monique
    October 26, 2018 @ 8:04 pm

    This is a fascinating post! You especially made me miss home with your food descriptions♥ Thank you for sharing these stories with us, hopefully it will encourage people to visit and understand the complexities of South African history.

    • Jyoti
      October 26, 2018 @ 8:59 pm

      Ni Monique, I do hope the same for everyone. I learned so much about the complexities of South African history on this trip – the rich culture of the Bo-Kaap, the hardships of township living, the luxuries of our Cape Town apartment, the wealth on the waterfront, the inhumanity of Robben Island and the beauty of the natural wonders.
      I hope you’re able to find South African food.

  4. Suzy
    October 26, 2018 @ 10:05 pm

    This is really fascinating! I didn’t go here when I was in SA but wish I had. I leaned a lot from your post about the history in South Africa. I remember being blown away by just how multicultural SA is when I visited, which I loved given the horrible history of segregation. These houses are such a beautiful and vivid depiction of culture and individuality. What a great way to make a statement! Thanks for sharing all the different stories about how where the tradition came from, I wonder which is true?

    • Jyoti
      October 26, 2018 @ 11:42 pm

      There’s always a chance for another trip to SA 🙂 I’m glad you found the read interesting.
      You’re so right about the hugely multi-cultural community, despite each community being separated into their own little neighborhood for many decades.
      “Making a statement” is the best way to think about this! They chose life and color to express joy and happiness.
      I think the true reasons are a combination of the stories. But I hope someone is an expert and will confirm

  5. Ruth Rieckehoff
    October 26, 2018 @ 11:14 pm

    Definitely a place with a lot of interesting stories. Reminds me a bit of Old San Juan (in Puerto Rico). The houses in all the historic center have different colors. If you ask locals, they will probably come with several reasons and stories. I think the colors have a lot to do with the Caribbean and how life is lived on the island. However, I think residents receive a financial incentive to paint their houses in a shade different than their neighbors.

    • Jyoti
      October 26, 2018 @ 11:23 pm

      Hi Ruth, that’s a good comparison! Although I think we didnt go to Old San Juan. Financial incentives was one of the reasons we thought for Bo-Kaap too. But in this case, all the tourists are probably more pain than good for the neighborhood.

  6. Elisabeth
    October 26, 2018 @ 11:28 pm

    This is such a comprehensive and insightful post. Thanks for all the interesting background info such as the tourism board paying people to paint the colourful houses. South Africa has been on my list for a while and I hope I can go there soon!

    • Jyoti
      October 26, 2018 @ 11:35 pm

      Hi Eilsabeth, thanks for your kind words.
      ‘tourism board….’ was just one our guesses. It’s not the case in reality 🙂 I think the real reasons are in the stories the guide told us… maybe not 100%.
      We loved it in South Africa! It’s beautiful and fascinating.

  7. corina
    October 26, 2018 @ 11:39 pm

    this is great, love your detailed facts about this beautiful colourful place . Will he heading to SA on ONE WEEK! and have planned to visit this place… now it is a definite must do place thanks to your post. I guess it is a pretty safe area? travelling with young children…

    • Jyoti
      October 27, 2018 @ 10:53 am

      Hi Corina, I so glad to have written it just in time for your trip to SA. I would love to hear all about your experience!
      I felt very safe. All the parking lots and apartment buildings have a lot of security. Many streets around Cape Town city have a lot of homeless. So we made it a point to buy extra food and give out at each meal.
      In Bo Kaap we didn’t see any homelessness or poverty, just a few tourists taking pictures and residents talking with friends and going about their daily business. It seems like a very family friendly neighborhood.
      Depending on your kids age and walking abilities, just know that the streets are Cobblestone lined and a little steep in places.
      Happy to share any tips.

  8. Hiral Pandya
    October 27, 2018 @ 1:45 am

    This post got me hooked till the end. Colourful houses always excites me as I search for them in every place I visit. It was a wonderful read and I loved reading all the stories. Great article!!

    • Jyoti
      October 27, 2018 @ 4:27 pm

      Hi Hiral, thanks so much for stopping by. I love colorful houses and neighborhoods with character. Another place with unbelievably colorful houses is the island of Burano, next to Venice –

  9. Alma
    October 27, 2018 @ 1:46 am

    Lovely article, and interesting reading about an area that I’m familiar with from someone else’s perspective. Malva pudding is actually a cake base, with a sweet syrup over it and usually served with custard – your guide is right, it contains eggs but very much like a normal cake.

    • Jyoti
      October 27, 2018 @ 4:30 pm

      Thanks, Alma for explaining the malva cake. It seems to be very popular not just in Cape Town but all over the country. We also found it in Kruger at the Mariott. I didn’t realize it was a cake beneath the thick milky syrup.
      Its wonderful to get your approval. So I know I haven’t misunderstood 🙂

  10. Brianna
    October 27, 2018 @ 5:12 am

    Gorgeous photos! I never would have guessed this was South Africa. The food sounds so yummy, fantastic write up!

    • Jyoti
      October 27, 2018 @ 4:31 pm

      Thanks Brianna! I was impressed by Southern African countires… much more than I had expected.

  11. sue
    October 27, 2018 @ 9:39 am

    Went to Bo Kaap when I was there but didn’t know the story. We took a lot of beautiful photos but didn’t know much. Thanks for taking the tour and sharing.

    • Jyoti
      October 27, 2018 @ 4:32 pm

      Hi Sue, happy to give context to your pictures. Thanks so much reading.

  12. Josy A
    October 27, 2018 @ 9:46 am

    This is such a fantastic post! You must have taken so many notes during your walking tour to be able to share so much with us. I loved the possible stories behind those bright houses, but the history about the area and the Afrikaans language language is all fascinating too.

    This is the first thing I’ve read on Saturday morning. What a lovely way to start my day.

    • Jyoti
      October 27, 2018 @ 12:53 pm

      Thanks Josy for your lovely words. I’m so happy you loved the start of Saturday morning.
      I do take a lot of notes as I we walk. Many times I take notes with the pictures so I remember exactly. In Bo-Kaap trip I got permission from the guide to record him. So, I was able to remember the details a lot better. I wouldn’t have remembered the Afrikaans and Dutch words for more than a minute so I even wrote them down 🙂

  13. Madhu
    October 27, 2018 @ 9:49 am

    What a fascinating write-up and stories behind the colourful houses.but whatever may be the reason..these houses look so distinct and beautiful.loved it.

    • Jyoti
      October 27, 2018 @ 12:46 pm

      Good point Madhu 🙂

  14. Dagney
    October 27, 2018 @ 10:27 am

    This is so amazing. Puts some of the coloured houses in the UK to shame! I love the different stories behind the houses, as well. 3 and 4 seem most likely to me. I think the rules they have are really interesting. Although it makes sense that you would consult with your neighbours! Great guide, Bobotie sounds delicious. Definitely saving this for later 🙂

    • Jyoti
      October 27, 2018 @ 12:49 pm

      Hi Dagney, London has some beautiful neighborhood. I loved the country side of London.
      3 and 4 certainly are more plausible. I guess the rules like the home owners association rules we have in my neighborhood community, but implemented differently.
      I’m going to try looking for the Cape Malay food around home 🙂

  15. Amy
    October 27, 2018 @ 4:20 pm

    Wow the houses are really gorgeous. I learned so much from your post, it sounds like the walking tour is super informative.

    • Jyoti
      October 27, 2018 @ 4:24 pm

      I do find walking tours to be super informative. More so because I’m curious about everything. I have tons of questions that the guides can answer… unlike the apps and guiding machines that seem to be so popular these days.
      Thanks for stopping by.

  16. Carryn
    October 27, 2018 @ 8:07 pm

    What an interesting read. I lived in Cape Town for many years and didn’t know the history of the Bo-Kaap until now. Thanks for sharing

    • Jyoti
      October 27, 2018 @ 9:05 pm

      Hi Carryn, you welcome! I’m glad to share. It’s interesting how we pay less attention to our what’s near. I bet there is a lot of history right here at home that I know nothing about.
      Thanks for stopping by.

  17. Anisa
    October 28, 2018 @ 3:05 am

    I just love the colors. I think it is even brighter than Burano. When I was in Burano, I was told that the colors were for directions so that fisherman could easily find there houses after drinking!

    • Jyoti
      October 28, 2018 @ 11:21 am

      Hi Anisa, I loved the colors in Burano too! Definitely gorgeous and I wrote a post on it 🙂
      Thanks for sharing the reason. Now that you mention, I remember someone said that when we were there.

  18. Noraly
    October 28, 2018 @ 7:40 am

    South-Africa, and especially Cape Town had been on my bucketlist for a loooong time. I have a good friend who lives there and every year we plan to meet up there, but end up traveling somewhere else. Thanks for writing such a thorough post with so much background info! I always love knowing more history about a place when I visit. Aaaah I MUST go to cape town!! 🙂

    • Jyoti
      November 12, 2018 @ 6:52 pm

      Hi Noraly, I do hope you make to Cape Town and see your friend. When you do please send a note about your experience. I’d love to hear all about it.

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