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Day trips in Cape Town

If you want to do a day trip in and around Cape Town you have many options to choose from. For example, the Big Six (www.capetownbig6.co.za) attractions of Cape Town is the perfect place to start. But remember to start your day trip early as Cape Town is big with lots to see.

Table Mountain

Table Mountain (http://www.sanparks.org/parks/table_mountain/) a Natural World Heritage Site, is a must see. You cannot visit Cape Town and not go to the top of the mountain. It has more plant species than the entire British Isles in total (1470 species).

From the top of the mountain (just over a 1000m above sea level) you have a beaufitul 360 degree view of Cape Town and surrounds which makes for great pictures. Most visitors take the Cable Way up the mountain. Students get special discount here so remember to take your student card with. The Cable Way rotates to also give you a 360 degree view up the mountain. On top there are also many hiking paths all over and down the mountain. And don’t be surprised if you spot some Dassies along the way. You can also hike up the mountain and then take the cableway down, or vice versa. Either way, always make sure to check the weather and cableway times before you start a hike. In bad weather Cable Way operations are halted.

Very importantly however, if you decide to hike up the mountain Plattekloof Gorge is advised for first timers. Take enough water with (2L per person), good shoes and a warm jacket. The weather on top of the mountain is very unpredictable and it can get very cold within a few hours. It is also advised to take an extra dry shirt with, as you will sweat a lot when hiking up.

Also look out for their sunset specials during the summer months. You can take your own snacks and wine with and have a picnic on top of the mountain. Cable way tickets are much cheaper just before sunset and it also stays open for longer. Check out the website for these specials and operating times during summer.

V&A Waterfront

The V&A Waterfront is visited by over a million visitors per month. It is built next to a working harbour which gives it a great deal of energy. It has over 400 shops, restaurants, pubs and hotels all catering to the needs of tourists and visitors. In addition it also has its own aquarium that has over 3000 animals. So for a nice day trip on its own, a visit to the Waterfront is well worth the while.

Robben Island

Robben Island is another World Heritage site in Cape Town. It was home to many political prisoner including Nelson Mandela during the country’s infamous past. But it was not always a prison. From 1846 – 1931 it was a hospital for leprosy patients, mentally and chronically ill patients. During the Second World War it was a training and defence station.

Today it is a living museum and can be visited to see where Nelson Mandela and the other political prisoners were locked away. The ferry to Robben Island departs daily from the Nelson Mandela Gateway at the Clock Tower Centre in the V&A Waterfront. The entire trip and visit can take up to four hours. Not only is it a living museum, but also a nature conservation area which is home to African penguins and other wildlife. Unfortunately the ferry trip has been described by many as the best part of the visit. Once on the island you’ll be shuttled around the island to the museum and taken on the old prison tour. You are not permitted to leave the group and wander off to explore the island by yourself.

Boat trips

For short boat trips along the Cape coast you will again have many options to choose from. There are shipwreck’s to visit, seal watching, sundowner cruises along the coast, sailing or just cruising around the Cape harbour. These charters start from either the V&A Waterfront or Houtbay, depending on your destination. The waters around Cape Town can get rough so if you suffer from sea sickness, it is advised to get some tablets and take them early.

To sail or cruise along the Cape Coast try the Waterfront Boat Company (http://www.waterfrontboats.co.za). They have different vessles available all offering different water experiences.

If you’re interested to check out the Seal colony at Duiker Island in False Bay, try the Circe Launches and try their different cruises on offer. Prices are very good and are all departing from Hout Bay Harbour. Drumbeat Charters, also departing from Hout Bay harbour, is another charter doing seal watching as well as shipwreck and other cruises.

Cape Charters provides luxury ocean cruises and game fishing. If you prefer and/or want to try offshore tuna fishing check out the Two Oceans Sport Fishing Charters departing out of Simonstown (False Bay).

Cape Point

Cape Point is another one of the Big Six attractions of Cape Town. It is located at the most southwesterly part of Africa and forms part of the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve. It also has a shop and a restaurant, seaside picnic spots, hiking routes and bicycle routes. Here you will have beautiful views of the Atlantic ocean, lots of wildlilfe and greenery. It is home to over a thousand species of indigenous plants some of which are found nowhere else in the world. If you’re lucky, you might be able to spot the very elusive Cape Mountain Zebra.

On route to Cape Point you will pass the Cape Point Ostrich Farm. Here you can get some more info on the life cycle of ostriches, buy some leather and egg shell products, or relax with a cup of coffee and a light lunch.

Finally, there are a lot of baboons in this area who have become a nuisance from people feeding them. They are always nice to take a picture of, but please do not feed the baboons. There are rangers to protect you from aggressive baboons, so stay close to them if you can.

Peninsula drive

If you just want to take a nice day long drive through the Cape Peninsula (http://www.capepointroute.co.za), get a map and follow the M3 starting in the town centre, down to Muizenberg (spot the nice colourful changing rooms), past Kalk Bay and Fish Hoek. Then make a quick turn to Boulders Beach to check out the cute penguins, then turn back and over the M6 towards Chapman’s Peak. This is a toll route where you must pay to get through. Drive all along this beautiful strech of coastline down to the Republic of Hout Bay.

Stop over for some great calamari at the Hout Bay harbour and then head on through to Camps Bay for a sundowner, past Seapoint beachfront and to the V&A Waterfront to complete the route. But don’t be fooled, it might sound short here, but it will take you a few hours to complete the route.

Wine routes

The Western Cape is world famous for its exquisite wines. In and around Cape Town there are various well known wine route areas to choose from, each with their own sub-routes and distinctive characters. They are all good and offer wine tasting, cellar tours and on-site wine sales. Many also have restaurants and picnic areas. So depending on what you are in the mood for and how far you wish to drive you can choose between any of the following wineroute areas: Stellenbosch (http://www.wineroute.co.za) , Franschhoek, Paarl, Helderberg and Constantia.

There are also companies that offer wine tours. These are convenient as they know all the nice farms and then you also don’t have to worry about drinking and driving. But check out their prices as some operators can get very pricy. For a full list of Western Cape wine routes if you want to travel further than the peninsula, check out here.

Horse riding

Horse riding (http://www.horseriding.co.za) on Noordhoek Beach is very popular and caters for all types of riders (from beginners to the pro’s). Here you will experience one of the most idyllic beaches on the planet on horseback. Due to its popularity booking is advised prior to your visit.

Whale watching

The coastal areas around Cape Town are popular amongst whale watchers. Although whales can be spotted all along the Cape’s coast, the town of Hermanus, one hour outside Cape Town, is the most famous spot for whale watching, especially during the Whale festival in September. For more details and good spots to check out some whales, go to http://www.whaleroute.com/areas/southafrica/index.htm. You can make a day trip of it, or a longer weekend trip. Or go onto the water and check out the whales on a charter (http://www.southernrightcharters.co.za) up close without disturbing them. Other than the whales, Hermanus is pretty much a sleepy town and great for relaxing.

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