5 enthralling must-do activities in Cape Town

Author: Tom Kelly

Cape Town and the Western Cape region offers endless adventure activities at the bottom tip of Africa. Here are our five must-do activities and adventures in Cape Town…

1. Hiking Table Mountain

Towering over the city, this iconic lump of rock is an essential walk, scramble or climb when you’re in Cape Town. There are over 300 hiking routes to the top, from the most straightforward and popular, Platteklip Gorge, which follows an imposing ravine on the mountain’s north face and has great views over the city bowl, to the Hiddingh-Ascension, one of the wildest routes on a faint, rugged trail. The views from the top are breathtaking and once you’ve enjoyed a beer from the cafe you might have enough Dutch courage to abseil down (www.hiketablemountain.co.za, we don’t really recommend doing it drunk) – or you can just take the revolving cable car. Whichever you route you take up the 1,000m peak it will be a thigh-burner – pack lots of water and sunblock.

2. Biking the Cape of Good Hope

Biking the Cape of Good HopePhoto: Mario Micklish

Mountain biking the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve isn’t just about the numerous trails criss-crossing the peninsula, it’s about the wildlife. Expect to spot everything from baboons, eland and zebra to any of the 40 species of reptiles and 250 species of birds, including ostrich. And that’s before you reach the legendary Cape Point, the most southwesterly tip of the continent, where two oceans meet. Or if you’re more of a road biker, check out the beautiful Chapman’s Peak Drive from Hout Bay to Noordhoek, a meandering road cut into the rock with sheer drops to the sea below and mountains towering above. Or perhaps it’s best to do both…

3. Paragliding Lion’s Head

Paragliding over Hermanus

You can hike up Lion’s Head, a mountain between Table Mountain and Signal Hill, for an impressive view of the coast at sundown, but for a real bird’s eye view of the whole of the Cape Town area, jump off it on a tandem paraglide. The two-hour walk up only takes about 15 minutes to glide down, but the experience is sensational. Or try a longer flight from Hermanus, a town on the coast known for its whale watching, in sea breezes over the cliffs and ocean. See www.para-taxi.com.

4. Surfing Dungeons/Muizenberg

Surfer's Corner, MuizenbergPhoto: Andrew Deacon

The waters may be cold in the south Atlantic, but the consistent swells that hit the coastline throughout the year are too good to pass up – just make sure you don a thick wetsuit. For experts, Dungeons at Hout Bay has an extreme wave – or just go there and watch when Red Bull’s Big Wave Africa surf tour is in town. For beginners, try the gentle waves at Surfer’s Corner at Muizenberg, just 30 minutes from the city centre. There are plenty of bars and restaurants to recover in after all the hard work.

5. Shark dive Gansbaai

Photo: Tim Sheerman-Chase

You don’t need any diving experience to go cage diving with sharks but you do need a strong stomach to handle the rough boat ride and the smell of chum – the fish entrails thrown into the water to attract the sharks. The cage may seem a bit, eh-hum, ‘tatty,’ but companies are regulated and safety is paramount. Seeing shadows sweep past the cage is a real heart-in-the-mouth moment. If you prefer you can stay on the boat, and if one pops its head out for a Jaws-style moment it can be just as spectacular. Day trips generally cost between £90 and £150, see www.whitesharkadventures.co.za. Don’t forget a waterproof camera!

Intro photo: Damien Du Toit