How to Tour Cape Town Like a Local Capetonian

by Sandy Salle on July 3, 2014

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Article written by Amanda Evans, Hills of Africa Travel’s CEO

Not even a windy, rainy day could spoil the experience of the beautiful Cape Peninsula. I was pretty disappointed that we woke up to rain and wind before we departed for our tour of the Cape Peninsula, but with my short time to explore Cape Town between the We Are Africa conference, I wasn’t going to let it get me down. Even through fog I could tell the drive through the park and out to Cape Point was beautiful.

Proteas in every color grow along the side of the road through the whole drive and become more abundant and obvious as the sightings of homes becomes less and less. Winding our way through Table Mountain Park, we began to rise over the water—I’m not surprised so many ships sank off these treacherous coasts! The mates and captains probably couldn’t stop staring at the beauty long enough to steer clear!

As we parked at Cape Point, you could clearly start to see the Cape of Good Hope with it’s crystal blue waters crashing into the cliffs. The trolley ride up to the top of Cape Point was one of my favorite experiences in Cape Town. You can take the walk if you like, it’s not far, but the trolley is a very unique experience so we figured why not!

The little monorail takes you up the very steep climb to Cape Point, protecting you from the mighty winds at the top. Until you step out and WHAM! In winter, the winds blow so fiercely it could literally knock you over. We could almost barely hear our guide with the winds howling so loudly. But then again, the winds were also strong enough to push away the clouds that were covering the incredible views, standing quite literally at the edge of the world. Nothing quite makes you feel like a speck on the earth like being up at the lighthouse at Cape Point. If it weren’t for the very legitimate fear of being blown away (and the promise of penguins later in the tour!), I could’ve stayed all day.

After taking the trolley back down, we hurry off for pictures at the perhaps trite, but oh-so-necessary sign of the Cape of Good Hope. If you are lucky like us, you will catch a glimpse of kudu on the way down or even an ostrich!

The one animal you will not miss seeing for sure is the baboon. They are everywhere!

Next stop was the penguins. I was like a child on Christmas Day; I was so excited to see this tuxedo-donned creatures. I loved watching them waddle in and out of the water or pop up from behind some sea grass. The story goes that the penguins made their way over to this beach on the Indian Ocean side of Cape Town from Robben Island not so many years ago, and they are actually a relative new comer to this part of the Cape.

A boardwalk is built over the beach for the penguins to keep a safe distance between them and the paparazzi, but you can still get incredibly close to them. Just don’t stick your fingers out at them—they have quite powerful beaks and you probably want to keep all your fingers! The park there is very well maintained and the perfect stop off for a bathroom break. Check out more pictures of South Africa penguins!

Cape Town penguins

Cape wildlife

South Africa penguins

penguins of South Africa

After an early morning and a lot of walking around, we worked up a healthy appetite and made our way to Harbour House in Kalk Bay. Practically sitting in the ocean, you can actually see the sea spray hitting the windows if you are sitting near them. My sister had been to Harbour House a few years before and raved so I was very excited to try it. With not a shred of modesty and only the day after my birthday (why shouldn’t my birthday last all week?!) we ordered their entire seafood platter for two. It was amazing. The most fresh, delicious, well-prepared seafood, caught right out in the waters we were overlooking. My favorite was the Cape Salmon. It’s not like North American salmon we are used to.  It’s a mild, light, white flaky fish. Very common in Cape Town and paired perfectly with my Chenin Blanc!

We then headed out to Hout Bay for the Bay Harbour Market. It was like Mark read our minds. We were definitely looking for some cool “locals only” type experiences and he delivered. Hout Bay is his neighborhood and he wanted to introduce us to his favorite Saturday spot. The market is teeming with activity – handmade chocolates, South Africa food stands, live music, artisans, jewelers, crafters, and the list goes on.

I’m not ashamed to say I had to go to the ATM twice because I just kept finding these cool things I couldn’t leave without, including a very fine handmade shoulder bag. It was so fun to get a sneak peak into the weekend life of a typical Capetonian.

What I loved so much about our Peninsula Tours (and if I may toot our own horn: about all our Hills of Africa Travel’s South Africa tours), is the level of customization. At no point did I feel like Mark whipped this day out of a bag of itineraries. He took time to get to know us, focused on teaching us the things that interested us and showed us his city with great pride, right down to his own neighborhood. The beauty of the peninsula is unparalleled to any place I’ve been in the world – the food, the culture, and the history and just the bonuses to the views!

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Danielle July 3, 2014 at 10:08 pm

This article is magnificent! Thanks for the tour 🙂

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