Table Moutain, Lions Head & Wallys Cave
Cape Town is famous for its unique nature. The city is located in the very south of the African continent, at the tip where the Indian and Atlantic oceans meet, which is why the city also carries the name Cape of Storms – and for good reason. Not only the sea can be stormy, the mountains too, but that adds to the particular atmosphere of the place.
With or without storms, you have to make sure to visit the mountain tops that cut through the city as a ridge and dominate the skyline. An excursion to the top of Lionshead mountain only takes you 40 minutes, to get on top of Table Mountain you should schedule about three hours – but don’t worry, there’s a cable car.
Extratipp: Wally’s Cave is a big highlight. It’s a little cave on Lionshead, about two thirds up the mountain from ground level. Look out for the little path that forks off the main road, the one with the stairs – that’s the one. But mind you, you’ll have to hike up a rather steep path for about 20 minutes to get to the glorious destination.
‘Warning! Please look under your vehicle for penguins’ – read one of many interesting signs we discovered in Simon’s Town. There are plenty of signs everywhere raising awareness of stray penguins with suicidal behavior. Seems to be a penguin thing.
Just before we arrived at Boulders Beach we witnessed how a group of men was busy catching penguins that somehow escaped their protected areas and were in danger. These men brought the little buggers back to their friends and families. Boulders Beach is a unique place. There is a long tradition of peaceful co-existence between humans and penguins, full of mutual respect. In fact, it almost seems like the penguins are the ones in charge. How about that?
The cool thing is that the animals are tame and not bothered by human presence. And so we found the beach to be a hang out for humans and clumsy-looking, cute birds alike. Make sure to visit the beach if you get a chance. It takes about an hour to get there from the city, definitely worth it!
Drive through a rock
Not unlike Highway 1 in California, there is a road along the coast in Cape Town: Chapman’s Peak Drice. The street was basically hewn into a massive rock, which creates a unique and incomparable sensation for driving. How often can u say you crused underneath a rock? Well, there you have it. Below the turbulent ocean, and above the rock – what a feeling, what a joy that was. My suggestion for you would be to take the route from Noordhoek – one of Cape Town’s most beautiful (and least overrun) beaches – towards Hout Bay, where you will be greeted by a spectacular view.
If you’re not afraid of sharks, then Cape Town is a great surfing spot. Shark attacks are extremely rare, and on most beaches sightings are practically non.existent – but a small risk remains.
If you have the guts to do it, check out Muitzenberg, the ultimate surf spot for beginners. But there are plenty more locations close by, and you can rest assured that there’s a great beach for every level of skill.
Paragliding in Cape Town is a real experience, best enjoyed on a sunny, windless day. You fly for about 15 minutes, and it feels unlike anything else. It’s almost like you turn into a bird, gliding through the air like that. It’s hard to describe. It surprised me how natural it felt to be up there. This is definitely one of the things you should not miss when you’re in Cape Town.
Cape Town has several amazing markets, where vendors offer goods by artists from South Africa and from all across the continent. The markets really experienced a surge in popularity over the past couple of years. Not only will you find exotic food and skillfully made artisanal products made of leather and wood, there are also truly outstanding high quality textiles like linen and silk in unique designs and for great prices. It’s a paradise for souvenir hunters looking for items from far away cultures.
The city also has a bunch of food markets with specialties from all over the world, many of them internationally renowned delicacies. My personal favorite, and probably the most popular market in Cape Town, was the Neighborgoods Market in Woodstock.
Cool designs by newcomer designers, live music beats and #foodporn galore.
Cape Town has a fantastic coffee culture. Super stylish little coffee bars and cafés are scattered all over town, and the coffee is genuinely great. There’s no Starbucks in Cape Town (fortunately), instead the city boasts plenty of local chains that are so much better (YoursTruly and Bootlegger come to mind – the quinoa-choclate cake in Bootlegger alone is worth the trip to Cape Town). And here’s the best bit: almost every coffee place also serves fresh juices for a great price. Yummy!
4. Eat even more amazing food
If you like good food, Cape Town has you covered! I had some of the best food of my life here, and often for surprisingly little money. The level of food served in restaurants over there is extremely high. African cuisine is super tasty in its own right, but in Cape Town you usually get a big mix of influences, reflecting the history of South Africa and the fact that Cape Town is a melting pot of cultures from all over the world. I guess that’s one of the reasons why there’s something for every taste here, and why chef’s seem to specialize in unusual combinations and generally a big variety.
Whether you love a perfect beef steak (The Kloof Street House), sort of experimental tapas (Chalk & Cork) or whether you enjoy eating with your hands super casually (Madame Titou) – there is something for everyone. Well, maybe not so much for vegetarians, actually. Cape Town is definitely a place of meat eaters.
If you enjoy a good glass of wine, you should treat yourself to a visit of one of the many vineyards! South Africa is famous for its incredible wines, and there are many wineries in the vicinity of Cape Town that are open to visitors. The two most famous and arguably most beautiful towns in that respect are Constantia and Stellenbosch. I can warmly recommend Babylonstoren with its wonderful gardens and view over the vineyard, just perfect for a stroll and a delicious glass of wine. What else could you wish for?
Pet monkeys and get eyeballed by owls
Cape Town is home to a place called ‘World of Birds’. The institution was originally set up to breed birds, but it gradually turned into an emergency room for injured birds and abused pets, that should never have been kept as pets in the first place. World of Birds runs on donations and ticket sales, and today hosts a wide range of bird species that stay there temporarily while they’re treated or, in some cases, permanently.
Visitors get to see a number of extremely rare species, some of which were considered extinct at some point or other, like for example the Edwards Pheasant. The institution has actually started to specialize in breeding endangered animal species to subsequently release them into nature. It’s a very ambitious project, which was founded by a German woman by the way, and which ranks among Cape Towns biggest attractions. Some animals that were particularly maltreated, like the guenon in the picture, and some birds that arrived at the station in particularly bad health never fully recover and find a loving home in the station for the rest of their lives. Some cages are very open, like for example the owl’s cage. As a visitor it can happen easily that you find yourself trespassing on an owl’s territory and get the dodgy eye from one of those amazing birds up close. They are such beautiful creatures!
My personal favorite was the monkey cage, which is open to visitors for three hours per day, during feeding. You get to see (and feel) little squirrel monkeys, which jump around tamely and without fear of interaction with humans at all – quite on the contrary. If you’re not careful they’ll steal from you, but even if that happens these little guys are way to sweet to be mad at them for anything.
World of Birds has given a loving home to so many animals, definitely a place I am happy to support.