Cape Town, also known as “the Mother City” of South Africa, finds itself on several “places to visit” lists for 2014. And for good reason. It’s an exciting city, with lots of adventures and amusements.
1. Hike to the Top of Lion’s Head
Lion’s Head is part of the Table Mountain range, rising to 2,195 feet above sea level. The majority of the walk is challenging but the 360 degree view of the city and coastline at the top is worth the effort. The path circles around the mountain in a clockwise direction which gets more narrow and rocky. The last section is almost vertical. Metal rungs, ladders and chains are set into the side of the craggy cliff to assist in navigating the steep incline.
2. Take a Safari
Two hours north of Cape Town, Aquila Game Reserve is the place to go to see the Big Five in their natural habitat – lions, elephants, rhinos, buffalos, and leopards. There are several different ways to experience the safaris – by 4×4 vehicles, horseback, quad bike, or helicopter. Aquila is also a leader in the conservation and protection of rhinoceros. The rhinos have been victims to brutal and senseless slaughter and maiming for their tusks. Aquila also offers lodge accommodations for longer safaris.
3. Abseil off Table Mountain
Take the tram to the top then drop down into the abyss, if you dare! Abseiling, also called rappelling, off the cliffs of Table Mountain is one of the more adventurous activities in Cape Town. Trained guides will provide full instruction and all gear. No experience required. Bring your walking shoes and your courage — this is the highest commercial abseil in the world. The view will be spectacular…provided you keep your eyes open!
4. Enjoy the Nightlife
If you’re looking for a street full of frenetic energy and lots of fun options, Long Street will not disappoint. Café Mojito, a funky, Cuban fusion-decorated bistro and nightclub is the place to go for mouth-watering tapas. On selected nights the Rivertones reggae band blasts out Bob Marley and other tunes that rival anything Jamaica has to offer. And don’t even think of drinking anything but their signature Mojito’s… or two, or five.
5. Spend a Day at Camp’s Bay
Drive over to Camp’s Bay, and you just may not want to leave. Spend some time frolicking in the turquoise surf lapping onto the white sand beaches. The palm-lined beaches with the Twelve Apostles in the background make for stunning photo ops. Head to the main drag where you’ll find a plethora of trendy shops, funky restaurants and pubs.
6. Meander the Markets
With markets to suit every personality and taste, you could spend days drifting in and out of Cape Town’s bohemian markets. City Bowl Market on Hope Street the place to challenge your taste buds with a variety of delectable treats, savor rich coffee or shop for unique vintage clothing. The vibrant Bay Harbor Market offers art, fashion, music and entertainment. Eastern Food Bazaar is a Middle Eastern style souk where you can sample a variety of exotic cuisines at amazingly low prices.
7. Frolic with the Penguins on Boulders Beach
In the southern end of the Cape Town peninsula, Boulders Beach is a sheltered cove of soft white sand and granite boulders. The main attraction of the beach is a colony of thousands of African penguins. You can get quite close to photograph the fascinating black-and-white creatures waddling and sunning. But don’t get too close – their beaks can be sharp if they feel threatened. The best spot for viewing is the boardwalk near the dunes where the penguins amble under and around.
8. Relax at a Nice but Budget-Friendly Hotel
One of the lures of Cape Town is the availability of accommodations that are clean, cozy, well-located, and affordable. You can find boutique hotels like the Walden House located in the downtown area with access to tourist attractions and transit. Or, small but upscale hotels like Protea Sea Point with ocean views on one side, and the main street with small shops, cafes and bistros on the other.
9. Cage Dive with Great White Sharks
Not to be missed is the rare opportunity to see the magnificent Great White up close and personal. At the southern tip of Cape Town, Apex Shark Expeditions leads boat tours for an unforgettable experience. Submerging yourself into the bite-proof cage is safe, but not for the faint of heart. Luckily, viewing the sharks from the comfort of the deck to catch a breaching shark is also thrilling. A day with operators Chris and Monique Fallow is not only exhilarating but also educational as they strive for conservation and debunking myths about the sharks.
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