Cape Town Travel Guide

Activities & Events

Almost everything is possible in Cape Town, from a nice guided city tour through an adrenaline kick in an old fighter jet.

The easiest way to get an overview on things to do, nice restaurants, clubs, tours etc. is to walk into one of the visitors centres which are in several areas. (V&A Waterfront, City Bowl, Green Point etc.).

Cable Car to the top of Table MountainLower Cable Station, Tafelberg RoadPhone: +27 (0)21 424 8181Hours: Open between 8AM-10PM (usually 8:30), last car down is at 9PMPrice: R195 return ticket or R100 for one way (down)Both the cable car and the pathways on top of the mountain are wheelchair accessible. Always take something warm to wear when going up the mountain, even if it is a nice toasty 30C at the bottom of the mountain. Weather conditions at the top of the mountain are not the same as at the bottom. There is a cafe with a limited range of snacks, coffee, beer and wine at the top. Table Mountain is the home of a small animal, the rock rabbit (known locally as the 'Dassie') whose closest relative, DNA-wise, is the elephant, and you can see them running around on the rocks at the top of the mountain.
Climbing Table Mountain - Platteklip Gorge is the most accessible and therefore the most popular route for climbing up Table Mountain. You start from Tafelberg Road and proceed up a steep gully to the top of Table Mountain. It's a steep 2 hours but well worth the effort and you can jump in the cable car back down to spare your knees. Be cautioned that the cable car does not operate in strong winds so you need to check before departing. Take water, sun block, hat and jacket. The cloud comes down unannounced and the temperature could plummet. Poorly equipped hikers often have to be rescued. Although it is very steep this route is extremely popular and you are guaranteed to meet many people on the way up and down. The gorge is shaded in the afternoon but earlier in the day it can be extremely hot with very little shade. Most of the route involves rock steps which can be challenging and many people find coming down even harder than going up. Don't underestimate the time and energy required for the downward section of this hike. Remember to take lots of water - this climb can be hot! Wear appropriate hiking shoes. Leave plenty of time to get down before dark. As this is a well known route and easy accessible, many inexperienced hikers attempt the climb. Take care, or consider a guide. Meridian Hiking Club welcomes visitors on its organized hikes led by experienced climbers. There's a R15 daily charge per person.
Cape Peninsula— Go to the Cape of Good Hope via Simon's Town and the African penguin colony at Boulders. Visit Cape Point in the Table Mountain National Park, maybe have lunch there before taking a hike in a quieter part of the reserve to immerse yourself in the essence of the landscape. Then take Chapman's Peak Drive (if it is open) through Hout Bay and along the Atlantic seaboard via Llandudno and Camps Bay, stopping off at one of Clifton's famous four beaches.
Ratanga JunctionPhone: +27 (0)21 550-8504Hours: Open 10AM-5PM, but not open all year round. Usually open during summer, Easter and winter holiday periodsPrice: R25 to R100 depending on what rides you want to doEnjoy a day with your kids at this theme park.
SwimmingBeaches on the False Bay side of the peninsula are the most popular with swimmers as the water is warmer. St James has the most picturesque tidal pool on the stretch between Muizenberg and Kalk Bay, while Clovelly and Fish Hoek beaches wrap around a sheltered bay with soft, white sands. Fishing boats, hobie cats and kayaks launch from here too. Brave hearts can sun-worship and swim naked in the freezing water of the isolated and breathtaking nudist beach Sandy Bay near Llandudno. Major spot for gay tourists as well. There's a 1.5 km walk down from the parking lot. Camps Bay and Clifton also have great beaches to visit if you want to try the chillier waters of the west coast.
Surfing— Cape Town is one of the best places to surf. Muizenberg is a good place for beginners to learn to surf, Gary offers reasonably priced lessons from a shop facing the beach. Don't forget that the False Bay area (where Muizenberg is located in addition to Kalk Bay and Fish Hoek) is known for its sharks! If you're an experienced surfer, try the reef break at Kalk Bay, Outer Kom near Kommetjie or Misty Cliffs on the coast road near Scarborough. You could head up the west coast and sample Milnerton, Table View or Big Bay, although Big Bay is often crowded with people kitesurfing due to the windy conditions. When the swell is really cranking, the big wave surfers gather at Dungeons, near Hout Bay, for some of the biggest surfable waves in the world.
Kite Surfing— Cape Town is one of the most favourite Kite Surfing destinations in the world. The two oceans combined with the windy conditions make for a great Kite Surfing experience. Some of the most popular Kite surfing hot spots are Dolphin Beach in Blouberg Strand, Muizenberg and Langebaan Lagoon.
Winelands— Tour the beautiful Constantia Valley wine estates Groot Constantia, Buitenverwagting, Klein Constantia and Constantia Uitsig before checking out the Cape Winelands around Stellenbosch, Paarl and Franschhoek. Stellenbosch has the added attraction of being an historical university town and Franschhoek, well established as the food capital of the Cape, is home to three of the country's top ten restaurants. The views are extraordinary. Have a drink and a snack at Dieu Donne estate for an unsurpassable vista of the entire valley, or take your own picnic to the top of a little hill they have by the parking area. Most wineries charge for a tasting session, but usually refund it on a purchase. It's right next to the botanical garden.
Wine Tasting

Cape Town has some of the worlds best wine producing vineyards and arguably the worlds most scenically stunning on its doorstep. The wine regions of Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Paarl are all with in an easy hours drive, these historic and lush regions offer stunning views and world class wine tastings. You can self-drive but this come with limitations, often the best farms are closed to the public and then there is the drinking and driving issue. The best value and safest way to see the winelands is to trust your day to a dedicated wine tour company.

Deep Sea Fishing
Ama Feesh ChartersPhone: +27 (0)21 788-9689Price: Per charter, R4500 for inshore fishing, R6500 for offshore fishing, 1 to 6 peopleAt the time of writing, the telephone number and web site were not available.
Millers Point & Simonstown - on the way to Cape PointPhone: 50Price: from R4'000 per boat (4 pax) per day in False Bay to R5'000 for Tunacontact Rob Naysmith
Shark cage diving
SABP ToursPhone: 0027 21 426 2838Fax: 0027 21 426 0201SABP Tours offers a diving opportunity to witness the great white shark.
UnrealDive ExpeditionsPhone: 0027 71 684 7136Fax: 0027 86 6 178 334Get up close and personal with the Great White Shark. This is the only place in the world where you can do this trip in one day.
Diving

Cape Town is located near two oceans, the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean. Because of the Benguela Current the Atlantic Ocean is relatively cold (about 8°C to 14°C). The Indian Ocean is warmer (12°C to 17°C), and here you can see the more colourful fish. The official border between the two oceans is at Cape Agulhas, but currents and eddies take the warmer water further west and these waters can reach the eastern side of the Cape Peninsula in False Bay, so from a diving point of view, the Cape Peninsula may be considered the interface between the two marine biological regions, and there is a notable difference in character between the waters of the two coasts of the peninsula. This manifests itself in the different range of marine life found on the two coasts. These regions are the South Western Cape inshore bioregion and the Agulhas inshore bioregion.

Permits:

The waters around the Cape Peninsula have been declared a Marine Protected Area (MPA). Permits are required to Scuba dive in any Marine Protected Area. This is a politically controversial issue due to disputes on whether due process was followed and whether the government department exceeded its authority, but the consequence is that a tax is imposed on all Scuba divers who dive in an MPA. The permit (valid for 1 year) may be purchased for R75 (2009) at a some branches of the Post Office, or a temporary permit valid for 1 month may be purchased at most dive shops.

Failure to present this permit when requested by an official of MCM may lead to harassment and possible arrest.

Dive Sites:

Detailed information and suggestions on local conditions, service providers and more than 100 local dive sites is provided in the guide to Diving the Cape Peninsula and False Bay.

If the open ocean does not appeal to you, the Two Oceans Aquarium also offer diving opportunities in their 2.2 million liter tank.

Diving at Two Oceans AquariumPhone: +27 (0)21 418-3823Hours: 9AM, 11AM and 1PM dailyPrice: R400 (R325 if you bring your own diving gear), this includes the R70 aquarium entrance feeYou need to be in possession of a valid diving license (PADI, CMAS, NAUI, BSAC etc.). Swim along with the Ragged tooth sharks, Yellow tail, Kob, Musselcracker, Bull rays and a lonely turtle. The dive master Iain, a barrel shaped bearded little man with a distinct Scottish accent, is both nice and knowledgeable and accompanies you into the aquarium ready to fend off the sharks with his broomstick should they become cuddly. Dive time is around 30 minutes. For advanced divers, the Kelp forest tank puts you into the water with more and bigger local reef fish than you will see in the sea.
Events

There are many organized events in Cape Town throughout the year. An official calendar of events is available from Cape Town Tourism.

Cape Argus Cycle TourPhone: +27 (0)21 685-6551Hours: March every yearPrice: Entrance fee is R250 for entrants on the African continent or the equivalent of 50 Euro's everyone elseTotal distance is 109 km. Start in downtown, cycle down the eastern side of the peninsula, past Simon's Town and back up the western side of the peninsula.
If you are not involved in or interested in cycling, avoid Cape Town on this weekend, as it is almost impossible to go anywhere as so many roads are closed.
Two Oceans MarathonPhone: +27 (0)21 671-9407Hours: On Easter Saturday each yearPrice: There is a pricing scale for each of the runs. The Ultra Marathon, R190 for South African residents, R300 for the rest of Africa and R555 for the rest of the world. The Half Marathon, R125 of South African residents, R215 for the rest of Africa and R335 for the rest of the world. The Fun Runs are priced from R10 to R20An Ultra marathon (56 km), a half marathon (21 km) and a number of fun runs ranging from a 56m Nappy Dash to a 8 km walk or run. Maximum 10 000 entrance accepted per year per race distance (fun runs excluded).
If you are not involved in or interested in the runs, avoid Cape Town on this weekend, as it is almost impossible to go anywhere as so many roads are closed.
Cape Town Jazz FestivalCape Town International Convention CentrePhone: +27 (0)21 422-5651Hours: Normally held during late March
Cape Town Minstrel CarnivalMarches throughout the city ending at Green Point StadiumHours: Usually New Years day and a couple of days later during JanuaryAlso known as the Kaapse Klopse, these brightly dressed singers and dancers spend months preparing for this annual event.
Kirstenbosch Summer Sunset ConcertsKirstenbosch Botanical GardensPhone: +27 (0)21 799-8783Hours: 5:30PM-6:30PM every Sun, late Nov to early AprilPrice: R50
Mother City Queer ProjectHours: Sometime during December each yearPrice: R100 to R350. The sooner you buy a ticket the cheaper it isBiggest gay and lesbian party of the year.
Spiers Summer Arts FestivalPhone: +27 (0)21 809-1111Hours: From October to MarchAt the time of writing, the web site was not available.
City Harvest FestivalPhone: +27 (0)21 422-1418Hours: April 20th 12PM-10PM and 21st 9AM-6PMThe City Harvest Festival exhibits the Capes finest wines, food, with live entertainment including bands. Talks by Cape winemakers on the winemaking process. Chocolate feature planned. Host venues include Signal Hill Winery, Caf Mao, Riboville, WineSense and Sundance Caf.
Safari

Big Five Cape Town safaris are becoming increasingly popular. There are numerous safari game reserves with in 2 hours drive from Cape Town which is a great option if you don’t want to venture too far from the city.

Hiking

There are many hiking trails in and around the city, from short walks to multi day hikes.

Hoerikwaggo Table Mountain TrailCape TownPhone: +27 (0)21 465-8515Price: R635 per day3 Day, non-strenuous, luxury trail through the city, botanical gardens and Table Mountain National Park.
The Orangekloof Hiking TrailCape TownPhone: +27 (0)21 465-8515Price: R4206 Days, Cape Point to Table Mountain.
Table MountainHours: Always open, but you might want to start early enough to catch the last cable car downPrice: No fees are charged3 km (all uphill), 1 to 3 hours, Platteklip Gorge to the Upper Cable Station.
Chapman's Peak23 hours, non-strenuous with breathtaking views of Hout Bay and Noordhoek and rich flora, especially proteas. The trail begins on the Hout Bay side of the peak about 750 m from the main view-point on scenic Chapman's Peak Drive. Park by the trail head and follow the path out of the picnic area. It soon forks but both routes take you to the same place. Turn right at the next junction, from where the path is clear. Return same route. No permit required.
The Amphitheatre in the Kalk Bay mountains3 hours. Start at the sign on scenic Boyes Drive and climb up towards the rocks above which are peppered with scores of caves, many of which are not recommended for novice cavers so be careful. Take a torch. Follow the right forks in the trail and you'll be rewarded with increasingly spectacular views of False Bay. Head straight up through Echo Valley and through an ancient milkwood grove. Come back the same way if you don't have detailed directions. No permit required.
Cape Town has a very good network of trails to suit every level of fitness. Many of these trace the contours of the mountain and wander through the protea bushes and fynbos, often with breathtaking views. Many require no permit, although most of Cape Town's reserves have entrance fees. Hiking in a group is strongly recommended. The outdoor store Cape Union Mart has a hiking club with organized group hikes most weekends. Pick up a programme at one of their stores. You must phone the hike-leader first and pay R10.
Paradise TouringPhone: 021-7131020For guided walks up the mountain with a botanical guide.
Cape Eco-ToursPhone: 082-4604847A good one for twitchers to use and is a member of Bird Life South Africa.
Trax ToursPhone: 0734956115Guided hiking and cycle tours in Franschoek and Stellenbosch, including wine tasting.
Meridian Hiking ClubPhone: +27 82 498 0361Price: R15 per person (or R120 annual membership)This club organizes hikes ranging from easy day walks to strenuous rock scrambles on the mountain and multi-day hikes. Look up the calendar on the web site for details of current hikes. It is very popular with tourists.
In the air
HeliCape Town International Airport and V&A WaterfrontPhone: +27 (0)21 935-1619Go on an exciting charter, or fly with an instructor and take control on an intro flight. Heli offers the premium helicopter experience in Cape Town. Scenic flights, airport transfers, wine tours, flight training
Cape Town Helicopter ToursV&A WaterfrontPhone: +27 (0) 72 327-2840Helicopter Wine Tours Western Cape, visit, Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and or Paarl from Cape Town.
See the cape from above with a scenic helicopter flightEast Pier Road, V&A WaterfrontPhone: + 27 (0)21 425-3868Price: From R400 per person per 15 minutes
ThunderCityCape Town international AirportPhone: +27 (0)21 934-8007Price: You need endless pocketsGo supersonic in a fighter jet.
Skydive Cape TownCape TownPhone: +27 (0)82 800-6290One of the most scenic dropzones in the world, a 30 minutes drive up the R27 just after Melkbos.
Para Taxi16 Pebbles Crescent, Coral Grove, Royal Ascott, MilnertonPhone: +27 (0)82 966-2047Price: R850 for a tandem flight
Kayaking
Gravity Adventure GroupPhone: +27 (0)21 683-3698Provides training (African Paddling Association approved) as well sea kayaking in the West Coast National Park.
Sunset cruises
Waterfront Boat CompanyQuay 4, V&A WaterfrontPhone: +27 (0)21 418-5806Price: R90 to R190Take a relaxing sunset cruise on the Condor to Greenpoint and back or do the champagne cruise. One to one and a half hours.
Tigger 2 ChartersPhone: +27 (0)21 418-0241Price: From R180 to R720 per person depending on cruise
Townships tours

The townships are the places where people were forced to live (based on race) under the apartheid regime. To some extent townships continue to retain their apartheid-era racial make-up, for a variety of reasons. Townships have also grown to cover far larger areas of land than in the apartheid days. This is a result of urbanization, especially over the past 10–15 years. Touring a township may seem strange, even inappropriate, but it is a good way to learn about South Africa's history, and the poverty that many people continue to live in. People in the townships are friendly and the children love visitors. Some townships however can be dangerous (see the warning on the South Africa page) so don't go alone unless you know what you're doing. The townships tours are safe. If you want to bring sweets or gifts for the children, it is best not to give it directly to them, but to give it to the tour guide who will distribute them later.

Tours can be booked directly or through one of Cape Town's many booking agencies. Tours run once or twice per day. Be aware that if you're given the chance to try some township food, that a 'walkie-talkie' is often made from the feet and beaks of poultry. The very best way to see a township is by foot and to stay overnight at one of the many township B&Bs.

There are several tour companies which offer tours.

Andulela ToursPhone: +27 (0)21-790-2592Offers a variety of different tours, including jazz, soccer, poetry, and culinary tours. Their emphasis is on meeting people, not looking at them.
Cape Fusion ToursOranjezicht Cape TownPhone: +27 (0)21 461-2437Offers hands-on African cooking experiences in Langa at a local cooking school. This gives you an insight into the culture, the people and their cuisine.
Langa Heritage WalkLenotholi Avenue, LangaPhone: +27 (0)21 695-0093
Luhambo ToursCape Town, MilnertonPhone: +27 (0)21 551 04 67Specialised in township tours (Gugulethu and Khayelitsha) and wine tours
Sam's Cultural Tours45 Mshumpela Way, LangaPhone: +27 (0)21 694-6370
Sipunzi's Black Cultural Township Tours1818 Makhaza KhayelitshaPhone: +27 (0)82 769-7072
Wildlife

There are a number of small nature reserves in and around Cape Town.

Koeberg Nuclear Power Station and Nature ReservePhone: +27 (0)21 550-4667The 3000 hectare buffer zone around the power station has been converted to a nature reserve with Bontebok, Genet, Steenbok and many other antelope.
Table Mountain National ParkPhone: +27 (0)21 701-8692Table Mountain National Park forms part of the Cape Floristic Region UNESCO World Heritage Site. The park covers a large area of the Cape and incorporates a number of park areas. Most of it is free access; the only places you need to pay are at the Cape of Good Hope, Silvermine and Boulders.
Wine tours

With South African wines becoming more and more popular worldwide, the number of tourists who visit Cape Town to learn more about the local wines is growing. The impressive variety of vineyards in Cape Town and the surrounding Cape Winelands make the choice which one to visit and which wine to taste very difficult. It is always a good idea to rely on one of the established wine tour operators. Guests should insist on a specialised guide with a thorough knowledge of South African wines.

Taste the Cape Travel and Tours ccKirstenhof,Cape TownPhone: +27 (0) 798 120 220A tour company specialising in wine and food tours with a registered tour guide.
Whale watching

Mostly you will see Southern right whales, but on occasion you might also spot humpback and killer whales. Bottlenose and dusky dolphins also frequent False Bay.

The Southern Right wales visit each year between June & November to mate and calve.

From viewpoints next to the coastal road between Fishhoek- Sunny Cove railway station through Glen Cairn to Simon's Town one can often spot whales less than 100m from shore.

At Cape Point whales can often be seen passing below.

A number of operators also offer Whale Watching Cruises.

Simon's Town Boat CompanyPhone: + 27 (0) 83 257 7760Price: R750 per adult ( 2012 prices)The sole permit holder for boat based whale watching in False Bay (Permit No. 0806336).
Waterfront Boat CompanyShop 5 Quay, V&A WaterfrontPhone: +27 (0)21 418-5806Price: R3503 to 4 hour cruise in the bay and you are almost guaranteed to spot whales.

source: Wikivoyage

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