Cape Town

Cape Town safari: 6 ways to have an authentic Cape adventure

Leaping sharks, giant giraffes and all the sashimi you can catch – welcome to the Cape, Africa’s natural wonderland. Words by DAVID BRISTOW

There are a few myths about Cape Town we need to debunk: that the 52-kilometre Cape Peninsula it sits on marks the tip of Africa (it doesn’t – that’s Cape Agulhas, southeast of the city), and that it’s where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet (also Cape Agulhas). But there’s one Cape Town truth that’s undeniable: its amazing natural landscapes. Case in point: Table Mountain is a huge block of sandstone soaring 1,086 metres high above the city, and every way you turn there it is. Here are a few more ways to tour the city’s natural bounty.

1. Smell the fynbos

Cape Town, Safari, King Protea
Guenter Fischer/imageBROKER RF/Getty Images

‘Fynbos’ is the term for the scrubby indigenous vegetation that blankets the Unesco World Heritage area known as the Cape Floral Region, stretching from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth, and as far as 200 kilometres inland. Table Mountain National Park resides in the fynbos and contains more flowering species than the whole of Britain. A good way to rub noses with the wilder side of the city is on a hike up the mountain – either up the exposed Platteklip Gorge, or on the more scenic Skeleton Gorge by starting in the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. You could also run, ride a horse or mountain bike on the network of trails and bridle paths. tmnp.co.za

2. Cape point

Cape Point sits at the tip of the Cape Peninsula, and is not the meeting place of two oceans but rather where the warm Agulhas and cold Benguela currents converge. With warm water on one side and icy cold on the other, the sea around the Cape Peninsula is one of the world’s marine biodiversity hotspots. Sub-Antarctic species on one side and subtropical on the other, just a kilometre or two apart in distance but half a hemisphere in terms of ecosystems. capepoint.co.za

3. False Bay

Cape Town, Safari
Dan Callister / Alamy Stock Photo / Argusphoto

This 30-kilometre-wide bay is a protected marine area and perhaps the least appreciated spectacle of the Cape. The mostly placid bay is home to surfers at beachy suburb Muizenberg and teems with hundreds of dolphins; at least seven species of shark, including the leaping great whites; four whale species; and too many birds to count. You can also go shark cage diving or whale watching: whichever rocks your boat. muizenberg.info/activities

4. West Coast

What did Planet Earth look like five million years ago? An hour’s drive north to Langebaanweg will reveal all. At West Coast Fossil Park, you can see where extinct animals – including gigantic giraffe, giant hyenas, sabretooth cats, African bears and elephants with four tusks – lived, died and eventually became fossils. Close by is Langebaan, within the West Coast National Park, a wetland where migrating water birds such as curlew sandpipers gather to fatten up for the long journey home in summer. In winter (July-September) the park becomes a celebrated wonderland of wild flowers. fossilpark.org.za

5. Take the waters

Cape Town, Safari
Heiko Meyer/laif/IC

We’re an outdoor kind of town and on any given day you’ll find us kayaking, swimming or surfing. The original Dutch name for the city was Kaapstad (literally ‘cape town’), but Joburg locals like to call it Slaapstad (‘sleepy town’). It’s true, we’ll do just about anything to avoid a hard day in the office. Sunbaked waveriders hang out at Surfer’s Corner in Muizenberg while the hotshot boarders prefer Noordhoek, Kommetjie or the big waves at Dungeons, Hout Bay, which are best in midwinter. kommetjie.org

6. Catch your own sashimi

Being a seaside town, at the small fishing harbours of Hout Bay and Kalk they throw your lunch from the boat virtually onto your plate. You can even catch your own by chartering a boat out to the big-game fishing grounds along the continental shelf off Cape Point. Prizes include many kinds of game fish including tuna. hookedonafrica.co.za

Cape Town, South Africa, Safari
Andrea Traber / EyeEm / Getty Images

Cathay Pacific launches a seasonal three-times-weekly service to Cape Town from Hong Kong on 13 November

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