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Top 5 experiences in the Cape
The Cape – comprising Cape Town and the Winelands – is one of the biggest attractions for visitors to South Africa and has much to offer. Here our South Africa specialist (and former Capetonian) Annie gives her top five experiences for those looking for something new.
1. Neighbourgoods Market (Woodstock, Cape Town)
Neighbourgoods Market is the place to go on a Saturday morning in Cape Town! Home to the Test Kitchen restaurant (in itself a highlight of a trip to Cape Town ), the Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock plays host every Saturday morning to a plethora of up and coming local designers. The perfect place to pick up souvenirs with a difference (think Capetonian themed cushion covers and bracelets made from old coins), it is also home to the Neighbourgoods Market. Go hungry and indulge in breakfast, elevenses and lunch all in one go whilst stocking up with tea time treats to see you through the rest of your day’s sightseeing. Steak sandwiches, paella, poffertjes, Belgian waffles and patisserie are there by the bucket load – this is the ideal place to indulge. It’s packed by nine, so go early, stake your claim to one of the long benches and take part in a relay to stock up on more and more treats to sample; you won’t be disappointed and you certainly won’t leave hungry…
2. Lion’s Head Full Moon Hike (Cape Town)
Ascending Table Mountain either by cable car or on foot is top of many visitors to Cape Town’s list, and with the breath-taking view from the top it’s not hard to see why. However, having lived in Cape Town for a year, my personal preference is to take a hike up Lion’s Head, which offers panoramic views equal to those from Table Mountain, but with the benefit of having Table Mountain itself in sight. This hike is apparently most enjoyable before sunrise; I’ve sadly never made it out of bed in time, instead favouring the once a month full moon hike. Starting from the Signal Hill road, this is a hike that is pretty much achievable for anyone and should take around an hour (depending on photo stops, water stops and catching your breath stops). The best thing about Lion’s Head is that the path corkscrews around, allowing for panoramic views across the whole city and across the Atlantic.
You begin by walking around the back and taking in the Atlantic Seaboard with Camps Bay glistening in the late afternoon sunshine, you will then work your way through Bantry Bay to Sea Point, Green Point, Robben Island, the Waterfront and if you really keep your eyes peeled, the Mount Nelson Hotel – instantly recognisable by her famous pink exterior. As you ascend there are two options: either the more direct ladders and chains (not for the faint hearted), or a longer path taking in another turn around the Head. Scrambling up the rocks towards the top you should be greeted by the burning sun beginning its descent into the ocean. Pick your spot, settle down with a bottle of chilled wine and watch as the sun (rather rapidly) sinks to be gobbled up by the Atlantic. It will very quickly turn from dusk to night skies and you are rewarded with the incredible sight of the lights being switched on throughout the city. Affix your head torch and begin the descent. By the time you get to the bottom of the ladder and chains, the full moon should be rising; this is the perfect opportunity to pause for a fabulous photo opportunity before making your way down to another of Cape Town’s great restaurants – completely guilt-free!
3. Betty’s Bay Penguin Colony
Boulders Beach at Simon’s Town is a well-known stop off along the Cape Peninsular route down to Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope, and is famous for the entertaining antics of the penguins that make it their home. As well as the boardwalks, there is also the opportunity to go to the next entrance and onto the beach itself, where you are guaranteed to spot penguins as you sunbathe and paddle in the calm waters. As lovely as this is, it is also incredibly popular and busy. Tourists jostle for the chance to capture Pingu in all of his glory with little regard for anyone else. This is where Betty’s Bay comes in… located much further out of town along the R44 coast road, this lesser known penguin colony is far more appealing to me. Away from the crowds (I think most people like me struggle to find it – it was only on my second visit that I struck lucky), there are greater numbers of penguins here in what feels like a far more natural environment. It’s next to a beach too, which although bracing is a lovely secluded spot for a walk. This is the perfect place to stretch your legs en route to Hermanus and forms part of an ocean safari (with the whale watching on offer at Hermanus) that can rival a day in the Kruger for entertainment value any day!
4. Picnic in Jonkershoek Reserve
Of course the main attraction of the Cape Winelands is the wine tasting, and boy are there a lot of vineyards to choose from! There is much more to this region besides the wine though; to me this is one of the most scenically beautiful areas in the country. Dominated by the peak of its namesake mountain, one of my top recommendations when it comes to things to do in the Winelands is to go to Jonkershoek Reserve – take a hike to waterfalls and enjoy a lunchtime picnic at a lovely spot by the river. Jonkershoek Reserve is picturesque year-round, with the water being a welcome relief during the peak of the summer, beautiful flowers in spring time and the chance of snow during the winter months – you will be wowed here. If walking’s not your bag, then you can explore on mountain bikes or even reach the picnic spot by car. En route to the reserve it is worth stopping off at Stark-Condé wine estate – not only is the wine delicious but the views up to Jonkershoek are incredible!
5. Arriving or departing by luxury train
Whether it’s the opulent grandeur of a bygone era travelling under steam on the Rovos Rail, or the luxury and convenience of the modern Blue Train, there is nothing quite like arriving into Cape Town and seeing Table Mountain come into view as your butler serves you another G&T. The perfect way to start a honeymoon or anniversary trip, or just for a once-in-a-lifetime luxury journey, you couldn’t be further from your daily commute with this!
All of these experiences can be built into our Luxury Self Drive Garden Route itinerary – with prices starting from just £1,900pp.
Get in touch with one of our South Africa specialists to start planning your tailor-made trip on 020 3141 2810.