True to its African location, Cape Town is home to a smorgasbord of wildlife – many of which are indigenous to the area, having roamed the natural landscape freely, well before the city of Cape Town and surrounding towns were established.
Today, the city centre and neighbouring areas are privileged to live in a harmonious balance with the land’s natural inhabitants, and many areas are protected in the form of national parks and/or nature reserves to ensure the continued conservation of nature and wildlife species.
While the Kruger National Park, which is located in the north of the country, remains South Africa’s most famous wildlife-experience, Cape Town has many options for viewing the country’s wildlife, both in their natural, free habitats, and through a number of well-managed rescue and rehabilitation centres. We’ve listed a few that are worth a visit:
1) Boulders Beach Penguin Colony, Simon’s Town
One of the only, natural land-based colonies of African Penguins in the Southern Hemisphere, Boulders Beach Penguin Colony in Simon’s Town is a protected, natural sanctuary for these birds. Completely free in their natural habitat, with no human interaction allowed, the colony can be viewed from a raised boardwalk alongside the beach. Part of and managed by the Table Mountain National Park, guests are required to pay an entry fee which is used to continue the protection and conservation of the species and their natural home. Adjacent to the colony is Boulders Beach which is open to the public for sunbathing and swimming, and it isn’t uncommon to spot a penguin or two exploring the neighbouring beach.
Image courtesy of Lakife
2) Butterfly World, Klapmuts
Conveniently located just off the N1 national highway, just outside of the Mother City, Butterfly World is a haven for rescued, rehabilitated and exotic wildlife. For a small entry fee, stroll through the centre’s large enclosure which is home to free roaming butterflies, parrots and cockatiels. There are also separate enclosures for snakes, spiders and reptiles, as well as other animals such as hedgehogs, meerkats and guinea pigs.
3) Cape Point Nature Reserve, Simon’s Town
Part of the Table Mountain National Park, the Cape Point Nature Reserve is the most southern point of the Cape Peninsula. The area is home to a number of indigenous animals, such as eland, bontebok, Chacma Baboons, grysbok, klipspringer, ostrich, Cape Clawless Otters and a myriad of birdlife and smaller mammals. This natural sanctuary for wildlife allows visitors to explore the area by car or by foot on a number of leisurely walks. Be careful not to get too close to any of the animals, and take note that feeding of the baboons is strictly prohibited.
4) LeBonheur Crocodile Farm, Francschoek
A short drive into wine country will lead you to this thrilling experience. The LeBonheur Crocodile Farm in Franschoek offers visitors the chance to view over 1000 crocodiles – and even get up close and personal with Africa’s fiercest predator in a cage dive experience. Visitors can witness live feeds during summer and are also able to have a photograph taken while holding a baby crocodile.
5) Giraffe House, Stellenbosch
Situated just outside of the city on the way into Stellebosch, Giraffe House is a centre for rescued and rehabilitated wildlife. At the sanctuary, visitors can experience a close encounter with various African wildlife, from zebras, eland, the Cape Fox, meerkats and wild cats such as caracals and servals, to snakes, spiders, and last, but not least, Gerry – the sanctuary’s famous hand-reared giraffe. Many of the sanctuary’s wildlife are rescued after a physical injury or displacement from their natural homes. Some of the animals are rehabilitated to be released back into their natural environment, while others are cared for permanently at the facility.
6) Monkey Town, Somerset West
From chimpanzees to white-handed gibbons, vervet monkeys, apes and lemurs – Monkey Town is located off the N2 highway in Somerset West, just outside of Cape Town. Another sanctuary for rescued, rehabilitated and displaced primates, a small entrance fee is required for the upkeep of the facility. Visitors can take a stroll through countless paths and watch over 28 different species of primates going about their daily monkey-business.
Image courtesy of Out & About
7) Two Oceans Aquarium, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town
One of the better known wildlife establishments within the city, the Two Oceans Aquarium is home to an array of ocean wildlife – from predator exhibits to kelp forests, sting rays and many other species that call the ocean home. Visitors are able to witness feeding times, participate in various educational programmes and even experience supervised tank dives and penguin encounters.
8) World of Birds, Hout Bay
This is the largest bird park in Africa, with over 3000 birds and animals on the property, including falcons, eagles, pelicans and secretary birds to snakes, foxes, monkeys and racoons, to name but a few. Stop for a casual lunch at the facility’s café or book a spot for the guided tour of the squirrel monkey enclosure and enjoy direct contact with these inquisitive creatures – just be sure to hide your jewellery from their quick fingers.
Stuck for time and can’t visit them all? Ask our friendly concierge team, available 24/7, should you need any assistance in arranging your wildlife-guided itinerary.
Known for its vast array of extreme sports and activities, the Mother City keeps even the most adventure-seeking tourist pumping with adrenaline. The unique landscape of this southern tip of Africa makes seeking outdoor adventure not only easy, but incredibly worthwhile.
No matter the size of your appetite for risk Cape Town has you covered! We’ve put together a list of must-try adventures in Cape Town:
1. Get up close and personal with Great White Sharks: There are a number of shark-cage dive operators in the region, and most cage dives can be completed without a scuba license. A shark cage diving outing typically lasts a full day, starting early in the morning and ending late in the afternoon. The best dives, however, require a drive outside of the city, with the best-known spot being the small town of Gansbaai on the east coastline. An option closer to the city is Seal Island on the False Bay coast, which is also a great location, accessed via Hout Bay harbour.
Image courtesy of Apex Predators.
2. Explore the sea bed in search of sunken ships and mysterious caves: Cape Town is home to many world-class dive sites, such as Llandudno’s SS Maori shipwreck, with major boat launch points to be found at Miller’s Point, Hout Bay harbour and OPBC in Granger Bay. For those seeking a diving qualification, there are many PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) schools in the city. There are also dive shops and operators for qualified divers who want to join an organised dive encounter.
3. Abseiling off the New 7 th Wonder of Nature: Table Mountain is an explorer’s dream-come-true – and what better way to explore the famous mountain than by abseiling down from one of its many peaks! Depending on the location, weather and any personal preferences, this is an activity that can be enjoyed any time of year provided it is not raining.
4. Kloofing across the city’s many gorgers and ravines: If the idea of navigating down a river gorge like a true explorer sounds like fun, kloofing is sure to be a memorable adventure. This activity includes hiking, boulder hopping, wading, swimming, climbing, sliding and jumping off cliffs as you make your way down a river. For safety purposes, it’s best to join an experienced kloofing group when exploring new areas.
5. Get a bird’s eye view with a paragliding experience: “Tranquil but exhilarating” is one way to describe paragliding. Using a specially adapted parachute and harness, you will essentially soar like an eagle after taking a gentle jump from the top of a mountain or cliff. Tandem and solo paragliding trips can be arranged in and around Cape Town.
6. Take water sports to a new level with kitesurfing: Forget old-fashioned windsurfing, kitesurfing combines wakeboarding with kite flying and allows you to surf Cape Town’s waves like never before.
Image courtesy of High Five.
7. Off-road quad biking trails: This is an activity that can be enjoyed by most members of the family – suitable for most ages and fitness levels, depending on the track and terrain. Using heavy duty quad bikes (also known as All-Terrain Vehicles or ATV), head off road to explore the terrain from a different viewpoint.
8. Climb and hang off a rock cliff: Not surprising in an area known for its mountainous terrain, rock climbing is a popular sport in Cape Town. In addition to a wide range of mountains, hills and rocks to explore, there is also a great indoor climbing gym in Observatory called City Rock, which caters to climbers of all experience-levels.
9. Exhilarating race car driving course: For a real adrenaline-pumping activity, consider the idea of racing like a professional in a top-end race car at Cape Town’s Killarney Race track. There are a number of high-end race cars to choose from, with group or individual packages available. All races are organised through Fantastic Racing who take care of all gear, cars, training and safety guidance.
10. The ultimate rush – jumping out a plane: Cape Town is littered with beautiful locations that are ideal for skydiving. Tandem and solo jumps can be arranged for jumpers of all experience-levels through a number of operators, many requiring a short drive just outside of the city.
Whichever activity you end up choosing, there is no doubt that extreme sporting in Cape Town is a sure-fire way to add more fun to your life! Remember – one of the safest, simplest ways to plan your adventure sports in Cape Town is to use an established operator who has ample experience in the activity of interest. For guidance on which companies to approach, ask our 24-hour concierge desk.
Planning a holiday to Cape Town? Pepperclub Hotel & Spa offers the ideal base to begin your adventures, with all the comforts you need for a memorable trip. For more inspiration and ideas, you can also check out our guide to unusual things to do in Cape Town!
As South Africa’s second largest and most cosmopolitan city, Cape Town offers its fortunate visitors a seemingly unlimited array of sights and activities. Full of natural beauty and far-stretching urban landscapes, many would say it is impossible to capture every aspect of the city and its surrounding areas during a short, three-day stay.
We have however put together the ideal three day itinerary which can serve as your guide to fitting in the best of what the Mother City has to offer:
COFFEE OR LUNCH ON BREE
On your first day in Cape Town, why not take advantage of Pepperclub Hotel & Spa’s central location by exploring trendy Bree Street and grabbing a coffee to start the day, or a quick lunch at one of the many trendy cafés that are within walking distance. For a decadent all-day treat, head over to Jason’s Bakery (185 Bree Street) and try their famous bacon-wrapped peanut butter croissant, drizzled with maple syrup. Alternatively, Café Frank (160 Bree Street) may appeal to the more health-conscious traveller, offering a variety of healthy, gourmet dishes such as their beetroot, pear, feta, mint and sunflower seed salad.
Alternatively, explore these top 5 coffee roasters in and around Cape Town.
Arguably one of the city’s most iconic destinations, Table Mountain is an absolute must on any Cape Town visitors’ itinerary. Due to weather dependency, we strongly suggest ticking this activity off the list on the first day of decent weather conditions as Cape Town is known for its rapid change of “four seasons in a day” weather conditions.
Regardless of your preference for exploring this New 7 th Wonder of Nature – be it on foot, by air or cable car – there is an option for almost every liking. If you opt to use the cable car, tickets can be purchased online or at the lower cableway station on Tafelberg Road. But remember that during peak holiday season, queues can be lengthy, and you will need to set aside enough time for your visit. If you are more adventurous and prefer to hike up to the top, read our recent article, Discover Table Mountain – New 7 th Wonder of Nature, which includes information on some of the suggested walking routes for the Table Mountain National Park.
DINNER AT THE V&A WATERFRONT
The Victoria & Alfred Waterfront has become one of the most visited destinations in South Africa – and for good reason. It’s a buzzing harbour surrounded by an entertainment area, world-class restaurants, shops and bars. Fit some holiday shopping in before picking out a restaurant to dine at along the harbour’s edge. Pepperclub Hotel & Spa offers its guests free shuttle services to the V&A Waterfront daily, so be sure to enquire with our concierge desk for the shuttle transfer times.
THE TWO OCEANS AQUARIUM
Cape Town’s aquarium is conveniently located at the V & A Waterfront. Housing over 3 000 marine animals, including sharks, turtles and penguins, the Two Oceans Aquarium is one of the finest in the world – and a great family outing. There are also educational programmes available at certain times of the year as well as shark tank diving experiences for the brave!
HOP ON, HOP OFF RED CITY SIGHTSEEING BUS
Surely one of the best ways to experience and view top attractions within the Cape Peninsula with limited time, the open-top double decker Red City Sightseeing Hop on, Hop off bus leaves daily from the kiosk outside the Two Oceans Aquarium at the V & A Waterfront. Buses run regularly and offer informative audio commentary about Cape Town’s major attractions in 15 languages, with a special audio channel just for children. Buy one ticket and hop on and off at any of the exciting stops, including Table Mountain if you didn’t manage to get to it on your first day, Boulders Beach Penguin Colony, and various museums around the City. Your ticket is valid all day, so you can take your time to explore your favourite attractions.
SUNDOWNERS IN CAMPS BAY
Camps Bay is renowned for its white sandy beach and promenade lined with shops and restaurants. Pack a picnic and enjoy the sunset on the beach or have a drink and dinner at any of the many cafés dotted along the beachfront strip. Pepperclub Hotel & Spa also offers a complimentary daily shuttle services to and from the Camps Bay beachfront which eliminates the hassle of trying to find a parking bay.
Open daily from 8am to 6pm, the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens is world-renowned for its spectacular scenery, indigenous flora and themed gardens, all set against the picturesque backdrop of Table Mountain. Set some time aside for a relaxing walk through the garden with lunch or tea at the restaurant or tea garden, or bring your own picnic for some quiet family time on the lawns.
CONSTANTIA WINE ROUTE
The oldest wine-growing area in South Africa, the Constantia Wine Valley offers visitors a unique blend of the finest wines in a setting of unsurpassed beauty and heritage. Groot Constantia Estate, the oldest wine producing farm in the country, is a great place to start. If you’re looking to explore the region, other top-notch estates in the area include Buitenverwachting, Constantia Glen and Eagles Nest.
Buitenverwachting is also famed for its elegant restaurant, so this is a great spot to stop for lunch.
DINNER AT MAMA AFRICA
On your last night, take a stroll down vibrant Long Street and soak up the electric city atmosphere. If you’re looking to sample some local cuisine, we suggest Mama Africa (178 Long Street). Offering lively marimba music, traditional flavours and friendly staff, Mama Africa is a firm favourite among locals and tourists alike.
Alternatively, when you need a taste of home – explore these cultural food options in Cape Town.
Looking to plan a more tailored itinerary to suit your personal tastes and preferences? Our Concierge desk is on hand 24-hours a day to provide assistance and help you experience Cape Town in the best way possible.
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