For the first couple of days and second week of our South Africa trip we used Cape Town as our home base. Although people talk about the city being dangerous and private security is everywhere, I had a great time and never felt unsafe.
Where To Stay
Urban Chic Boutique Hotel – we opted to stay on Long Street our first few nights in Cape Town since we knew we’d be staying in a house in Camps Bay the second week. The hotel was small but nice and breakfast was included. There were a few bars we hopped around to at night but if I did it again I’d probably opt to stay at the beach the entire time.
Camps Bay – as I just mentioned, we rented an awesome house with a pool overlooking the water in Camps Bay. We were with 15-20 people at any given time so a house was a great option for us as spent most nights hanging out and having a braai [barbecue in South Africa], but the neighborhood was cute and coastal regardless.
What To Do (in Cape Town)
Hike Table Mountain! Definitely not one of the hardest hikes I’ve done, but still challenging and so worth it for the amazing views. There is also a cable car (which we happily took down) but make sure to double check that it’s not closed due to wind if that’s the route you choose to go.
Visit Bo-Kaap – this neighborhood isn’t far from Long Street, where we stayed the first couple of days, and doesn’t take very long to visit. We just wandered around and took in the colorful buildings before finding a place nearby to have a quick snack and some drinks.
Paraglide off of Lion’s Head – this was a spur of the moment decision. The last day we were there we were enjoying some lunch (and drinks) and started to see paragliders landing on the grass across the street from us. Curious, we decided to find out what it was all about and discovered that you could hike a bit up Lion’s Head Peak and then paraglide back down to the beach. Unfortunately, I can’t remember where we were eating or what the company was that we went with – but if you’ve got an itch for more adventure when you’re here it’s a fun time!
The Victoria & Alfred (V&A) Waterfront – a little touristy for my taste but we wandered around, found drinks and food and enjoyed the views. My favorite part was probably the shopping – check out the Watershed and V&A Food Market if you find yourself in the area.
What To Do (day-trips from Cape Town)
Shark Diving! No matter if it’s your cup of tea or not, you’ve probably heard of Shark Alley in South Africa. Although it makes for a pretty long day trip from Cape Town – I think it’s worth it (and you also don’t have to make it a day trip – you can always stay somewhere else along the way or stop there on your way to another part of SA. I was a bit nervous about being claustrophobic in the cage but it was fine — honestly I was concentrating too hard on how freezing I was. The water was about 40 degrees Fahrenheit. You’d basically hold your head (and hands) above the water until they’d tell you to duck down if a shark was swimming by. Depending on how much the sharks are swimming by could make a difference on how long you end up in the cage. I think we lasted about 20 minutes. There were opportunities to go back in again but I passed while shivering on the sun deck.
Hout Bay, Seal Island, Chapman’s Peak Drive, Boulder’s Beach, Cape of Good Hope – yes, all of that was in one LONG day trip. We started out with a quick stop in Hout Bay before hopping on a boat to check out Seal Island. Then we made the drive over Chapman’s Peak (beautiful) before arriving at Boulder’s Beach where you can go visit the penguins. After that we drove close to the Cape of Good Hope where we each got a bicycle to ride a couple of miles to Cape Point – the most southwestern point of the African continent.
Tips – It gets windy at the Cape of Good Hope! We hike up to the top of the Light House and I thought we might blow off. Also, your tour guide will probably warn you about baboons before you hop on your bike. It’s true. They are scary. And loud. On our ride down we saw some baby baboons in a tree and stopped to look at them. Moments later their parents came running over making wild dog type noises and scaring the crap out of us. Not sure I’ve ever been so happy to have a getaway bike at my disposal.