Cape Town is a study in the enthralling beauty of nature. On one side you have glorious mountain ranges, on the other, the Atlantic and Indian Oceans and in between unique flora and fauna species that are unique to the city. There is an abundance of parks and nature reserves around the city with the government taking an active role in conserving the biodiversity heritage. It really is paradise for the outdoorsy nature lover.
In Cape Town, the only question is, what’s your poison? Is it hiking? Camping? Surfing? Swimming? Road trips? Is it visiting gardens and nature parks?
From leisurely walks in the city to invigorating hikes, there’s a little something for everyone.
UCT Rhodes Memorial
Let’s start out nice and easy. It’s such an easy hike that most ‘true’ hikers would not consider it a hike which makes it even more appealing for the beginner in me. It’s a leisurely walk from the University of Cape Town’s Lower Campus up to the historic Rhodes Memorial. Enjoy a wonderful view of Cape Town at the top and a beverage at the restaurant next door before your walk down.
You’ve not truly been to Cape Town until you’ve done Lion’s Head. The distinct slope next to Table Mountain known as Lion’s Head offers magnificent views of the city and takes about 2 – 3 hours according to the Inside Guide. It’s a beginner’s trail though for the ‘unfit’ such as yours truly, expect to take a little more than three hours.
Cape Point Nature Reserve
Cape Point Nature Reserve is at the tip of the Cape Peninsula and it has been declared a Natural World Heritage Site. To call it beautiful is such an understatement, it’s borderline criminal. It’s all ocean and mountain and rocks. Enchanting. It should take you two hours to two days depending on the amount of time you have to explore.
This has to be the most well-known hiking point and the overall landmark in Cape Town. It’s also one of the most difficult, at least according to me, as a result, full disclosure, I did not hike up Table Mountain. I did the lazy man’s thing and took the cable car up and down. There I said it and I’m not ashamed either. The view from the top, phenomenal. It definitely lives up to all the hype.
Gardens and parks
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden
It’s called Cape Town’s answer to Eden and boy does it live up to the name with its unique flora. It’s wonderful for picnics, leisurely strolls and they have open air nighttime movies and concerts that are as wonderful as you imagine them to be. The hike is within the park is far from strenuous and everyone including children can do it. The reward for the hike is a beautiful treetop canopy walkway named The Boomslang.
Located in the CBD, the historic garden was first made public in 1848 and is a haven in the middle of the busy city. The garden has botanically and historically valuable trees, a bird aviary and a rose garden but the crème de la crème has to be the adorable squirrels scurrying around within the park. It really doesn’t get better than that, picnicking under the canopy trees while bushy-tailed squirrels scurry about.
One of the best ways to tour and road trip in the city is on the double-decker hop-on, hop-off red bus. The bus has a variety of differently priced packages based on the route and stops. The packages include among others, a walking tour of the city of Cape Town, Township tours, Harbour or Canal Cruise, Sunset bus, Cape Point and Cape of Good Hope.
This is a must-do should you ever find yourself in Cape Town. It’s the priciest of all the items on the list but only because it’s a longer activity requiring days to complete. It takes you on a breathtaking journey filled with mountains and valleys, amazing beaches and great flora as well as numerous activities for the adventurous. There’s no regretting this trip.
The beaches are something else, each one more breathtaking than the last.
There really is no shortage of activities for nature lovers in Cape Town. I haven’t covered Kayaking, Surfing et al because, and this is not an excuse, it’s God’s honest truth, my ancestors were taken captive over the waters so I don’t mess with water activities. I’ll go to the beach and walk about, even go into the water but that’s it. My ancestors are in there so I don’t mess with that.
If you do can and do try out any of these places, holla at your girl and let me know how it went.
Here’s an article on top 6 essentials when travelling to get you started.