Camps Bay in Cape Town, South Africa

6 Memorable Adventures in Cape Town, South Africa

At the base of majestic Table Mountain, Cape Town’s natural beauty has earned it comparisons to the likes of San Francisco and Sydney, Australia. However, Cape Town enjoys a unique history, near perfect climate, and much lower prices, making it – we think – one of the best value city breaks in the world. In case you need more inspiration, here are six memorable adventures you can have on the Cape on your South Africa vacation.

Table Mountain
The natural icon of the Mother City and a must-visit on any Cape Town tour, Table Mountain is one of the “New7Wonders of Nature.” It’ll provide a spectacular backdrop to many of your Cape Town photos, not to mention some superb views over the city itself. The easiest way to the top is the Table Mountain Cableway, and return tickets can be had for R240 (around US$16). Alternatively, intrepid hikers can try the ascent via Platteklip Gorge, which takes about 2.5 hours. A range of other walks can be taken at the top, either with a guide, or on your own. You can also enjoy a meal, pick up a souvenir at the summit’s shop, get your adrenaline pumping with some abseiling, or admire the sunset before you descend. Note that the Cableway does not operate in extreme weather conditions or high winds.

View from Table Mountain, Cape Town, South Africa
Scenic view from Table Mountain

Robben Island
Robben Island is an infamous name in South African history, housing political prisoners during the Apartheid era, most famously Nelson Mandela, and current President, Jacob Zuma. Cross Table Bay and meet one of the former prisoners, before a bus tour gives you an insight into the Island’s past. While its Apartheid history is most apparent, Robben Island has been used as a prison, or as a maritime and army settlement for several hundred years, so there’s a lot of history to discover on a half-day tour. The Murray’s Bay Harbour precinct also offers its share of sights, including the Moturu Kramat shrine, and the Island’s museum.

Suggested Day Tour:
Half Day Robben Island Tour

Robben Island Museum, South Africa
Robben Island Museum

Walk to Freedom
If you fancy a city tour with a strong cultural and historic focus, this walking tour is a must-do. It includes a sobering, but invaluable visit to the District Six Museum for a glimpse of Apartheid-era segregation, then continues to the Langa Township, the oldest housing scheme leftover from the regime. That history might seem at odds with the friendly residents you’ll meet in the Township today, as you visit the vibrant local market, an arts centre, a traditional healer, a local B&B, and a crèche. But the road to lasting change is a long one, meaning Langa is still an active hub for Black African advocacy, and an important window onto these issues in modern South Africa.

Smiling Boy and Girl in Cape Town, South Africa
Smiling faces of South Africa

Explore the Peninsula
You’ll need to go deeper into South Africa to find the big game, but the Cape offers some natural surprises of its own. Take a tour of the Peninsula to discover the expansive Cape Floral Kingdom, as well as the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, one of Cape Town’s most famous attractions. This is also a great trip for history buffs, covering the naval port of Simon’s Town, and Hout Bay’s harbour. The natural beauty of the region isn’t lost on locals either, and a wealthy few have made their homes along Millionaire’s Paradise, a stretch of coast between Clifton and Camps Bay. Still, if it’s wildlife you want to see, you might enjoy a cruise to Seal Island (at extra cost), or a visit to the penguin colony at Boulder’s Beach.

Suggested Day Tour: 
Full Day Peninsula Tour

Penguins Splashing Around in Boulders Beach, Cape Town, South Africa
Penguins splashing in the waters of Boulders Beach

Cage Dive with Sharks
The wildlife sightings on the Cape don’t stop at the shore, though you’ll want a real sense of adventure and nerves of steel for what comes next! The waters of the Western Cape are notorious for their large population of Great White Sharks. Being submerged with these beautiful creatures (safely separated by steel bars) is one of the most memorable experiences you can have on your Cape Town trip. Cages are lowered into the water, carrying four or five intrepid animal lovers at a time, for about 20-minutes in close proximity with the sharks. The Great Whites also tend to stay close to the surface, meaning you can enjoy some great sightings while you wait. Have your camera ready on a high shutter speed for those action shots when the sharks breach.

Suggested Day Tour: 
Great White Shark Cage Diving

Great White Shark Cage Diving, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa
Great White Shark cage diving

Blessed with what many consider to be “the perfect climate,” South Africa has grown a thriving wine industry just to the east of Cape Town. A trip to the Winelands takes a full day, but even a wine beginner will find it well worthwhile. The vineyards roll over hills punctuated by towering rocky features such as the Helshoogte Mountain Pass. There are delightful towns to discover as well, including Franschhoek, and the university town of Stellenbosch. Topped off with a cellar tour, it’s a delicious day of flavours and sightseeing that deserves a spot on your itinerary – or an overnight stay if you’d like to see and taste more.

Suggested Day Tour: 
Winelands Tour

Suggested Itineraries:
3-Day Cape Winelands – Stellenbosch
3-Day Cape Winelands – Franschhoek

Franschhoek Wine Tram, South Africa
Wine Tram through Franschhoek
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Christian Baines
Christian Baines

Globetrotting Contributing Editor -
Christian’s first globetrotting adventure saw him get lost exploring the streets of Saigon. Following his nose to Asia’s best coffee, two lifelong addictions were born. A freelance writer and novelist, Christian’s travels have since taken him around his native Australia, Asia, Europe, and much of North America. His favourite trips have been through Japan, Spain, and Brazil, though with a love of off-beat, artsy cities, he’ll seize any opportunity to return to Paris, New York, or Berlin.

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