South African Museum and Planetarium
The South African Museum, Cape Town © Josephou
The imposing South African Museum, dedicated to natural history and the human sciences, contains a huge variety of fascinating exhibits from entire chunks of caves bearing rock art, to traditional arts and crafts from several African tribes. Astoundingly, the museum houses more than one and a half million specimens of scientific importance, including fossils which are almost 700-million years old. The vastness of the collection means that for every object on display thousands more are kept in storage. The natural history galleries are full of mounted mammals, dioramas of prehistoric reptiles and a collection of whale skeletons, which can be viewed with the eerie sound of whale song echoing in the background. In some ways the South African Museum, established in 1825, is still very old-fashioned, but it is nevertheless well worth a visit for its impressive collection.
Alongside the museum is the Planetarium, which has a changing programme of thematic shows involving the southern constellations. Booking ahead is necessary for Planetarium shows. These two attractions are based in the lovely Company Gardens of Cape Town, a part of town worth exploring even if you don't visit one of the many museums in the area.
Address: 25 Queen Victoria Street, Gardens
Opening times: Daily 10am to 5pm (museum).