As I mentioned in my previous post, Cape Town has a lot to offer, especially outside of the city. In this second part of my piece on Cape Town I'm going to cover the main attractions and things to do in the surrounding area that I highly recommend.
‘The only way to backpack South Africa’
This was another one of our favourite days in Cape Town and an absolute must so you can explore Cape Point and Hout Bay amongst other National Parks. I did think it would be brilliant if you hired a car and could do the tour of the cape at your own pace, but doing it with Baz Bus gives you the opportunity to meet like-minded people and gives you an experience you wont forget! The cost is R540 (£40) I believe the tour was worth every penny. It included a lovely lunch, refreshments, snacks and park entrance fees.
I booked the tour before we left for South Africa but there’s always opportunity to book through your hostel, like at ‘The Backpack’. The bus collects you from your hostel early in the morning of your chosen day and then begins the Baz Bus adventure! Our guide was fantastic and got the journey rolling with jokes and meet and greets on our way to our first stop, which was Hout Bay.
Hout Bay is the first stop on the Baz Bus tour; the ticket for the boat ride isn’t included in the Baz Bus fees and will cost you R65 (Around £5). I highly recommend the boat ride as you get to witness Seal Island first hand.
If you’re into nature programmes you may recognize the name Seal Island or you may have seen articles in Newspapers recently about Great Whites circling the island and attacking the seals. Sometimes unexpecting onlookers have witnessed Sharks attacking the seals, so it is a thrilling ride wondering what to expect and seeing the seals in their natural environment. The boat ride usually lasts about 20 minutes and is a manageable journey for fellow seasick people like me (Nothing like the Robin Island experience)!
If you're lucky enough after the boat ride locals may tempt a seal out of the water with fish and if you give them a small donation you get to pet it and may even get a sneaky kiss like I did. Fishy!
Boulders Beach/Simons Town
Simons Town is a beautiful colonial beach town and is most famous for Boulders Beach. Tickets are included with your Baz Bus trip so no extra costs on entry to the reserve.
Boulders Beach is a colony for African penguins, 2 penguins settled there in 1982 and now the colony boasts to have more than 3000 penguins! It is a wonderful and unexpected sight to see penguins on a hot African beach; there are a number of viewing decks to watch from as the beach is unfortunately only for the penguins! It is one of the main attractions of Simons Town and a must see when you visit Cape Town.
Around Boulders Beach and Simons town there are some really nice little cafés and pretty shops, I came across a Tibetan café where we went and had a cup of tea and escaped the hot afternoon sun. I do wish we had spent more time in Simons Town as it would be a wonderful place to spend a full day!
Cape Point Nature Reserve
Cape Point Nature Reserve is one of the stops on the Baz Bus tour; it’s a fantastic (and steep: there is a cable car to the top) walk up to the lighthouse in the Park, which allows you 360° views of the peninsula. The views are breath taking and well worth the short trek! You will be at the bottom of Africa where two oceans meet!
Cape Of Good Hope is another one of the stops on the Baz Bus tour, great photo opportunities as you stand next to the “Cape Of Good Hope’ Sign detailing the exact location you are stood; the most southern-western point of the African continent!
Every Saturday from 9am-2pm Stellenbosch has its very own slow market. It’s very easy to get to and somewhere you HAVE to visit whilst you’re in Cape Town. Trains depart from Cape Town's main train station in the city centre (a short walk from ‘The Backpack’ hostel) regularly and it usually takes around 1 hour to get to Stellenbosch. Two return tickets cost us £4. The journey is picturesque with rolling wine lands and stunning scenery. Once you arrive in Stellenbosch it’s a 15-minute walk to the market.
When you arrive at the Market you cant help but feel you’ve discovered a little gem, the colours, the smells, the food, the art, the people. It was a dream! Vibrant and busy. I couldn’t help but wish I lived there so I could visit an event like this every week. We drank the wine, ate delicious wraps (which I still think about now), took in the art and then moseyed around the different stalls, chatting with the friendly owners. It was a wonderful morning that we enjoyed thoroughly and if you're in Cape Town on a Saturday make sure not to miss it!
At the Slow Market hidden away in the gardens, near the painters, is another little market called the Treasury Market. Quaintly decorated, with buntings and flowers, the treasury market is a great place to witness South Africa’s budding craft makers and artists.
Cheetah Encounter, Spier
The Cheetah encounter is another experience not to be missed. It is only 5 minutes drive away from the Slow Market in Stellenbosch so it would be the perfect end to a brilliant day in the wine lands. Unfortunately this is where the hired car would come in handy as public transport to and from the Sanctuary is non-existant. Fortunately I got talking to a lady who had a stall at the slow market who had a shuttle number and organized a pick up for us. I do suggest asking around when you're there as everyone is very happy to help.
The cheetah outreach is a brilliant encounter for all ages, not only to educate yourself on the dangers cheetahs face but also to have the chance to get up close and personal. I do suggest purchasing the cub encounter, which is a little dearer at R220 (£16) instead of the adult (R110, £8) as even if the cubs are almost fully grown you can get a little closer and more hands on with them. It was a wonderful experience and one for the scrap book.
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden
Kirstenbosch was somewhere we didn’t get a chance to visit which I was disappointed about as it’s a world-renowned botanical garden and I have a friend who went and said it was spectacular! You can spend anywhere from an hour to a day there, with the entrance fee being only a couple of pounds and a restaurant within, it makes for a great day out! There is a bus that departs from Cape Town to Kirstenbosch daily, so it’s worth checking online for times.
You can book tours to have anything from a wine tasting afternoon to a wine tasting day! We didn’t have time to do a wine tour but I noticed you could book things like this while you were in Cape Town with your hostel. I have to say whichever tour length/type you took looked like fantastic day out as you got a chance to see a lot of the cape and visit different places, as well as try South African grown wine!
Shark Cage Diving
Is a MUST while you are in Cape Town prices range in the £100s but the trip is well worth it and the experience is priceless. There is a lot of tour operators you can go through and the best advise I can give is either ask at your hostel or better yet wonder about the V&A Waterfront where you will be inundated with information and offers
Which I am sure you can haggle to a reasonable price! Another note to remember, as Great Whites are very common on South African beaches always remember to check what shark flag is flying when you visit the beach!
So, that concludes the second and final blog of my Cape Town adventure, I hope you have enjoyed reading and I hope I have inspired some of you to make Cape Town your next destination! As I mentioned in my first post, Cape Town was only the beginning of our African Adventure, so keep your eyes peeled for more of my posts!