Around Cape Town. Things to do.

We visited South Africa during a 3 months roadtrip through southern Africa
(South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho and Swaziland).
October - December 2014.

Average Exchange rate: 1€ = 14 Rands 


Your visit to Cape Town will be incomplete if you don´t go to the surrounds. Just for the landscape, specially around the coast, you have to go! 
Very scenic drives following the coast from Cape Town to Cape Point and from Sommerset West to Stony Point heading to Hermanus. And the possibility of seeing pengouins (even for free).
Add Cape Wineyards, in the Sommerset-Helderberg-Stellenbosch-Franschoek area. Beautiful old estates where you can taste the wines (cheap!) in quiet gardens surrounded by mountains.

It´s better if you have your own transport. But there are many tourist tours in the area. And it´s possible to reach Stellenbosch and Simon´s Town by train. Or you can try to hitch-hike or share with other tourists with car around!

You can check the area in this map.



Take your time. There are many stops on the way.
We did it in 3 days: one for Cape peninsula, one for the Cape Wineyards and one heading east to Hermanus.

Note:

Some national parks in Western Cape have a regional management with Cape Nature, other ones a general one with SAN.
 Western Cape parks included with Wild Card


   CAPE PENINSULA   

Follow the coast south of Cape Town. Really beautiful. On of the tops around Cape Town. A must-do

It´s much better if you have your own transport. But there are buses from Cape Town to Hout Bay. And then you can try to hitch-hike (the area is safe, many tourists around).


Cape Peninsula is a fantastic day ride from Cape Town, the complete tour (return) is around 140 km.

Detail distances:
Cape Town- Cape Point: around 70 km. 
Cape Point-Simon´s Town (pengouins): 25 km 
Simon´s Town- Muizenberg: 15 km
Muizenberg-Cape Town: 25 km

  Things to do:  
  • From Cape Town to Cape Point: enjoy the views on the way.  The scenic road is really beautiful. 
The places you will cross are:
          - Sea Point
          - Clifton
          - Camps Bay and the 12 apostoles view (stop and have a look from the beach).

          - Llandudno
          - Hout Bay
          - Kommetjie (wild beaches).

From Cape Town to Hout Bay, it´s a populated area, with expensive houses, beaches, mountains.The road is quite narrow, not many places where you can stop to take pictures. Drive slowly.
Then south of Hout Bay it becomes wilder.
The road is tarred and good. Famous with bike riders.

Warning: south of Hout Bay, there´s a toll (38 R, cash, almost 3 €) for the 10 km long Chapman´s Drive (too much for such a short ride! But...). The road is beautiful, like all the complete way. There´s a view point where you can stop.
If you don´t want to pay the toll, from Hout Bay you have to go inside to Constantia and then to Kommetjie. Longer and may be not so interesting.

In all this area, there are beaches where you can swim (rough sea in average). And many trails in the mountains (part of the Table Mountain National Park, free). 

  • Cape Point National Park  or Cape of Good Hope: walk around the lighthouse.
    There´s an entrance fee (110 R, 8 €, included with the Wild Card).  Open from sunrise to sunset.  It´s part of Table Mountain National Park sanparks
Complete information: www.capepoint.co.za
Lots of tourists, buses, cars. Really crowded. They say it´s the place where Atlantic and Indian oceans mix. 
Roads are tarred. It´s around 13 km from the entrance gate to the cape parking.

It takes around 3 hours to walk the main loop, if you want to do the walks from the main parking to the lighthouse, the Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope (cliffs and beaches). It´s up and down.
They give you a map. Easy. 

If you don´t want to walk up from the main parking to the lighthouse, there´s also a funicular (one way 45 R, return 55R).
And another tarred road heading to a parking just behind the Cape of Good Hope.
Also other walks and beaches if you are going to spend a complete day there in other areas.




  • See the pengouins colonies in Simon´s Town. Even for free!  
In Boulders Beach (part of Table Mountain National Park), there´s an entrance fee.
Price: 60 R (included with the Wild Card). Closed at 18:30.
There are wood platforms from where you can see many pengouins. Funny animals.  There are many!
This place is very touristic, all the buses, cars and tours stop here on the way to or from Cape Point, so many people around. 
The visit is not too long, just a short walk from the parking (there are 2 parkings and 2 view platforms, with the same ticket).
We recommend you to go there late (17:30 - 18:00), just before the closing time, when there are just a few tourists.

Want to see pengouins for free? Yes, it´s possible. Just walk down from the main parking to the beaches. We saw them so close.
       
    Boulders with fee... next beach for free and so close!

    NOTE: You can see another big pengouins colony at Stony Point on the way to Hermanus, costs only 10 R. And not too many tourists.

    There´s a train station in Simon´s Town (3 km west from the pengouins) connected to Cape Town, if you don´t have transport.

  • False Bay: long beaches
After Simon´s Town and Fish Hoek, it´s a flat area with long beaches, between Muizenberg and Sommerset West (neighborhoods of Cape Town area). Total distance of False Bay is around 40 km.
Many campsites in the area. Surfing.

This area is well connected by public transport to Cape Town.

Here you can go back to Cape Town´s center (this is what we did), or head to the Cape Wineyards or follow the coast to Hermanus. 


   CAPE WINEYARDS   

The Cape wineyards are located near Cape Town, in different valleys around Sommerset-Helderberg-Stellenbosch-Franschoek-Paal area.

It´s much easier if you have a car but if not, many tours from Cape Town and also public transport to Stellenboscha and other towns.
But most of the wine estates are spread out, on the valleys.

Detail distances:

Cape Town- Stellenbosch: 40 km
Stellenbosch-Sommerset West: 20 km
Stellenbosch- Franschhoek: 30 km

Many wine estates are open to the public (free entrance), offer wine tastings (fee) and also have restaurants, shops and accommodation. Some are really old, founded in the 17´s century.

You can find complete guides at the Cape Town tourist offices (free).



   Things to do in Cape Wineyards:   
  • Visit the wine estates.  Our favourite ones were the oldest ones, with manoirs and old white buildings. Usually the entrance is free, you pay only fos tasting wines.Just choose a few ones.

    You have many options to choose: 
    - The closest place to Cape Town is Constantia, just behind the other side of the Table Mountain (20 km from the center). Groot Constantia is the most famous wineyard in this area. We did not go, expect many people.
    - Stellenbosch: many wine estates around. University town, with many coffee shops and relaxing feeling in its cente, with a few old buildings. Quick visit. Many tourists around. Otherwise it´s a quite big commercial town.
    - Franschhoek. Beautiful valley surrounded by mountains and nice road from Stellenbosch (30 km away). Small tourist village.
    - Somerset West -Helderberg. With beautiful mountains in the surrounds but less estates. Vergelegen is one of the most famous ones but there´s a 10 R entrance fee!

    We visited these 3 wine estates:
    Blauuwklippen (between Helderberg and Stellenbosch). Old buildings. Beautiful property. 
    Boschendal (between Stellenbosch and Franschhoek). Nice views. Big picnic restaurant area.
    La Motte (in the Franschhoek valley). Old estate. Big tasting room with old style.

  • Wine tasting.  Usually all the wineyards have wine tasting. The prices depends of the estate, but we found it really cheap. The normal price for wine tasting (at least in the estates we visited) is:  35 R for 5 wines, 50 R for 7 wines. 

   WHALE ROUTE ... TO HERMANUS  

Another plan to do around Cape Town is head further east. This route from Cape Town to Gansbaai (around 200 km) its very beautiful through Cape Overberg, following the coast from Gordons Bay to Hermanus (without toll) with great views of the Cape peninsula and False Bay, the “whale route” (cause you can see the big animals from the coast, there are whale signs). Many lookouts to enjoy the views at the beginning of the route.

  Things to do    

  • See pengouins colony at Stony Point (Betty´s Bay).  Less crowded than the one at Simons Town and much cheaper (10 R, not included with the Wild Card). Rocky point with boards. 9:00 to 17:00.
  • Visit the Harolds Botanic gardens (18 R). All the groups stop there. Small garden just after the pengouins. We can´t recomend it because we did not enter.
  • Visit the Kogelsberg Reserve: if you want to spend time around… Mountains with walks, we did not go.
  •  See whales at Hermanus. If you want to see whales close to the coast, this is the place. From june till december. We saw them at the end of November.


    Rocky coast with small cfiffs. There are trails around to see the whales, along 10 km. Parkings near (at the city center, you have to pay, but just a few meters away, it´s free).
    It seems that the best place to see them it´s at the end of the bay, just before the long beach (Siever´s Point and Kwaaiwater lookouts). It´s where we saw them. Just be patient. Nearly touching the coast!
  • Dare with the sharks in Gansbaai. Rocky coast (walks around De Kelders and Dangerous Point if you are staying around for a while) and long wild beaches a few km to the east, quiet place. Gansbaai is famous for the shark cages (the other place to do this activity is at Mossel Bay). The official price seems to be around 1.300 R but you can get it much cheaper, for 900 R, if you go to the port or negotiate with a backpackers in town. Differents companies. We were not interested in this activity (not too much else to do otherwise in Gansbaai).

Warning: if you want to reach Cape Agulhas from Gaansbai, there´s no tarred road (the tarred road only continues for 20 km past Gansbaai to reach Pearly Beach). And the gravel road seem to be in bad conditions. But maybe plans soon and a new direct tarred road will be completed. Right now, you have to go back to Stanford, follow the R316 and reach Agulhas via Bredasdorp.

1 comentario :

PEZ VIAJERO dijo...

Thanks so much for the info posted!

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