You think you know a place, especially somewhere like Cape Town, yet vibrant cosmopolitan cities such as this have a pulse of their own, ever changing and evolving, carving new niches, appeasing new interests, playing to changing tastes, pushing their roots to the fore whilst inviting constant exploring. It’s what draws us back for more, what keeps us interested, what makes us love them.
– One of the best ways to get around is undeniably the Hop on Hop off City Sightseeing Bus, which offers numerous routes that stretch from the Two Oceans Aquarium to as far afield as Hout Bay and Constantia. They’ve recently added a walking tour and visit to Langa and Gugulethu too. Best value is their 2-day ticket. The Red Bus water cruise is a fun way to see the working harbour.
– The Company Gardens offers a perfect reprieve for the family with the beautifully revamped restaurant, food garden depicting the days of Van Riebeeck, giant nests in trees and friendly squirrels and pigeons you can feed. There is even free wifi if you feel the need to connect with the world.
– Don’t forget the museums either; the South African National Gallery always has interesting exhibitions on and the South African Museum provides an informative overview of our history, fauna and flora. The Cape Town Holocaust Museum and Jewish Museum are also found here.
– Take to the skies with NAC Helicopters for an aerial view of the city, it takes on a mini town perspective, especially as you approach the docks and Table Bay. Currently NAC Helicopters is promoting its ‘2 Flight Special’ where they fly you to the 12 Apostles Hotel and Spa to enjoy a 3 course meal and are then shuttled back to town. All inclusive for R1750 per person, which is excellent value. The 2nd flight refers to the flight of wines you will enjoy with your meal.
Muizenberg Beach from the sky.
– Swim with seals. I know we all identify the Atlantic waters with the Great White Shark and shark cage diving, but for something more authentic and special try seal snorkelling with Animal Ocean, run by owner and zoologist Steve Benjamin. Together with his team of marine guides they take you out to Seal Island near Hout Bay and let you climb into the water with these playful and beautiful animals.
– As part of the Cape Town Partnership’s determination to make the heart of the city every more inviting, they offer their flagship monthly City Walks, creating FREE opportunities to enjoy the inner city as a place to play and meet as it is brought to life with fascinating stories of past and present, captivating public art, beautiful spaces, dramatic architecture and a dynamic food and retail culture. Look out for the dates of their guided walks and join in the fun.
– While doing so a couple of months back I made a rich discovery. Ever wondered where a distance reader calculates it’s reading from? I did until I was shown ‘kilometer zero’ in the centre of the city at the Old Town House on Green Market square. Another reason to walk Cape Town.
– First Thursdays Cape Town is a free cultural experience where art galleries and other cultural attractions in the central districts stay open late on the first Thursday of every month. What started in late 2012 with just 6 art galleries has grown into one of the city’s foremost cultural experiences, attracting thousands of people every month. The night is as much about experiencing art and culture as it is about exploring the city on foot. I’d suggest browsing the highlights and picking up a printed map at one of the listed venues, to help plan your route.
– If you love exploring a destination on your own, but could do with a bit of background knowledge and storytelling guidance, download Voice Map. A beautifully simple walking tour app, that has a narrator guide you through routes such as the Woodstock Street Art Tour, Sea Point Promenade, Blouberg A History, Green Point Park and more, with in depth educational options like ‘Being a woman in Cape Town’ and ‘Slavery in the Cape’. A must have for Cape Town and the other cities they feature.
– Speak to strangers. This is a friendly city and many of those you encounter selling their ware, watching your car and busking for change, have important stories and lessons to share.
On Government Avenue I was lucky enough to meet Lissu Chughuda of the Wataturu tribe in Tanzania, who was strumming his guitar and singing reggae infused songs in his dialect. ‘Music makes us happy, it’s why the devil doesn’t like it, and many musicians struggle through life’ – he told me. As well as tales of tribal tattoos, finding power to fight lions, his adornments and how he arrived in Cape Town.
– Visit with the flower sellers, who have always been a wonderful feature of the city, supporting their trade by taking away a few bunches of freshly cut and tended flowers.
– For shopping, the Watershed at the V&A Waterfront still seems somewhat undiscovered with its vast selection of products from ceramics and furniture to textiles, fashion and jewellery, it makes the perfect place to find gifts and something uniquely Cape Town. Not only a place to shop, the Watershed also offers a range of treatments available for your mind, body and soul in the Wellness at the Watershed on the mezzanine level. The Watershed is located on Dock Road, next to the Two Oceans Aquarium.
– The Sea Point Promenade runs the length of the Sea Point beach front from Bantry Bay to Mouille Point and is the perfect spot for a quiet stroll or run, allowing you to mingle with the locals. You could even bring your skateboard or rent one of the bicycles from next to the Sea Point pool.
There are urban art installations, beaches to enjoy and areas dedicated to outdoor gyms and dog’s enjoyment. The beaches are a little rocky, but make a good place from which to kayak or SUP. The pool an excellent place to cool off. The area next to it with food vendors and coffee for sale, makes a good place to start your walk.
– Watch out for shows schedules and who’s performing at the Kirstenbosch summer concerts. At this time of year, the Galileo open air theatres is also showing a collection of classic and new films at the V&A Waterfront, Kirstenbosch and Hillcrest quarry. Great fun with food trucks and stands, craft beer and an invitation to bring your blanket and enjoy the movie under an African sky.
– You no longer have to travel to enjoy zip lining, with SA Forest Adventures now offering an exhilarating activity on the privately owned Silvermist Estate, which has a lovely restaurant too. This is one of Africa’s longest and highest Zip line tours and you’ll love it! Try the tandem if you can, makes you go faster.
Ziplining Cape Town Style near Hout Bay.
– Did you know that Cape Town has it’s own Monopoly game? It features all of the city’s finest landmarks and has a distinctly fun and adventurous feel to it. If you’d like one they are on sale at The Taj Cape Town, the only hotel featured. Such fun for the holidays.
Go forth and explore and remember not to rush it, it’s at a slower pace that true treasures are discovered.
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One of the many murals found around the city, this one on Long Street.
Thank you Avios for sponsoring these posts and inspiring me to think about the Hidden Treasures that I love exploring in and around Cape Town.
NOTE: Top pic of seal provided by Animal Ocean.