Cape Town for some is just one adventure after another and is therefore a perfect spot for adrenaline junkies or those looking to try something new. There are various activities to suit all tastes and to overcome any and every fear that you might have! At a fraction of the cost of some countries (particularly those Western countries in the Northern Hemisphere), yet still meeting every safety standard, why not add to, and then cross a few things off, your bucket list?
Activities on offer
There are so many activities on offer for the adventurous type, adrenaline junkie or those just looking to try something new. The following list is not exhaustive and if there is something you were hoping to try then chances are you’ll find somewhere to do it here in Cape Town. Hopefully the list below will convince you that Cape Town is full of possibility or just inspire you to add to your bucket list and continue to hunt out new, exciting and possibly terrifying opportunities.
- Abseiling – where would be the scariest place to abseil in Cape Town? I know! How about down the sheer cliff face of Table Mountain? Yep, you can do that here.
- Bungee Jump – along the Garden Route you’ll find the world’s highest commercial natural bungee at an incredible 216m.
- Crocodile cage diving – seems like the South Africans just want you trapped in a cage and surrounded by predators.
- Full moon hike up Lion’s Head – a brilliant view once at the top but who’s up for descending a mountain in the dark?
- Helicopter rides – giving you a close up of Table Mountain.
- Hiking Table Mountain – the icon of Cape Town giving you the ultimate view over the city. If this seems like a bit too much there is always Lion’s Head or Signal Hill to try first.
- Kite surfing – Cape Town is super windy so why not sign up for a lesson and try something a little bit different?
- Ostrich riding – the fastest bird on land so obviously there are people who’ve tried riding them. Want a go?
- Paragliding – launching off the top of somewhere high and gliding down is a great way to get an awesome bird’s eye view.
- Quad biking – you choose between dirt tracks, the wine route or sand dunes and away you go.
- Safari – getting close to some of the largest land mammals and predators might not be that scary but a walking safari or the opportunity to pet one might be!
- Sand boarding – imagine snowboarding but with sand instead of snow! Much warmer.
- Seal Snorkelling – just off Duiker Island are lots of seals you can snorkel with. Not far beyond that are lots of Great Whites hoping the baby pups will swim out too far alone.
- Sea Kayaking – with two oceans to choose from you’re bound to spot some wildlife including the African Penguin at Simon’s Town.
- Shark cage diving – like to get face to face with one of the ocean’s most deadly predators whilst being trapped in a cage?
- Sky diving – the perfect opportunity for anyone to overcome a fear of heights.
- Surfing – might not seem that extreme but how well do you trust those shark spotters to keep you out of harm’s way?
- Zip line tours – there are some of the largest in Africa based in and around Cape Town so why not fly from tree to tree in the ultimate high ropes adventure?
How to find places and book?
We opted to use Cape Xtreme (also known as Cape to Addo) to book many of our tours as they were linked with our hostel. We found them to be affordable (they do a price match guarantee), safe and great fun. As always shop around to find the best fit for you but if you’re not sure what’s out there then when not contact them if only for some inspiration and price ranges.
Another great source of information is the Cape Town Official Visitors’ Guide which can be picked up from the airport information desk or any information/tourist office. This book is the ultimate guide and has lots of ideas on what can be done in and around the area. Up to date contact information is provided for recommended companies offering different packages including websites where you’ll find more information.
What did we try/do we recommend?
Unfortunately we couldn’t try everything with money being the number one limiting factor. Although all activities were cheaper than back in the UK we are currently travelling on a RTW trip and therefore have to think carefully about how we spend our money. We were looking predominately for new experiences and opportunities which were a little more unique to Cape Town that we couldn’t experience back home. We also had time constraints as we were only based in Cape Town for 7 weeks which might seem like a long time but there is so much more to do than adventurous activities including getting to understand the history, culture and local life. The third factor was obviously fear – I will admit that I will never bungee jump for fear of doing damage to myself, and before Cape Town would have told you I will never do anything involving heights. However, it now seems like I have begun to tackle that fear head on. Here’s a look at what we tried:
1. Sky diving
Skydiving was something I was initially terrified of, due to a fear of falling, but I was so glad I overcame this. The team at the drop zone were fantastic to calm my nerves and enable me to experience an adrenaline rush I will never forget. The video I brought home is testament to the fact that anyone can do anything – a fear can be tackled head on.
2. Hiking Table Mountain
It’s an iconic site and as soon as you arrive in Cape Town you can’t wait to get a glimpse of it. Once your here you can see it from almost everywhere and it is a stunning backdrop to the city. Sometimes it is so clear and looks so flat it could almost be a painting. At other times the cloud descends over it making it look like it is covered in a table cloth that is in constant flux like a lava lamp.
Hiking up it is no easy feat which is why they have the cable car option. However, if you start early before the Sun gets too hot, stick to the marked routes (we went up Platteklip Gorge and down Kasteelspoort) and be prepared (e.g. plenty of water) then it is a great way to challenge yourself and get a view of the city and bays you can’t get easily (or cheaply) in any other way.
3. Shark Cage Diving
South Africa has the largest concentration of Great White Sharks in the world in a place called Shark Alley in Gansbaai just outside Cape Town. Whole day tours will take you from Cape Town on a two hour journey to Gansbaai. Once there you will receive breakfast and a full briefing before getting on the boat. It’s only a 20 minute journey to get to the anchored cage and then it’s time to wetsuit up! Everything is provided on board including the wetsuits and boots, masks, cage, drinks and snacks. You can even arrange the hire of underwater cameras in advance or just purchase the video made by the videographer on board.
Be prepared to feel seasick and prepare accordingly. Unfortunately the pills didn’t work for several people including us but it was all worth it once in the cage. The water is freezing and has chum floating around in it to attract the sharks but once they come in close to see what the bait is then you’re in for a treat. Juvenile and adult sharks can be seen as well as both genders. The largest we saw was 4m in length (a female) and we saw six different sharks in the time we were there on numerous occasions as they keep circling the boat. It’s not that scary underwater even though they seem to be watching your every move but when they wrestle with the crew for the bait and breech the water then you do wonder whether you chose a big enough boat!
4. Full moon hike
According to locals you are not a true Capetonian until you have ascended Lion’s Head on a full moon night. Never have I seen so many people all trying to climb a mountain in one go. If you like a peaceful walk then this is certainly not the time to come but if you’re looking for a unique atmosphere and a once-in-a-month experience then look no further. The last section involves scaling ladders and possibly chains (depending on the route you take) but it is worth it to catch the Sun setting on one side and full moon rising on the other side. As it starts to get dark the lights of the city come on and it’s a view like no other. At this point it doesn’t feel too adventurous but then you remember you have to descend in the dark. Some people are still coming up (bad timing on their part) and it is a little unnerving perching on an outcrop of rock waiting to go down whilst others are trying to clamber up. A torch helps but you can only see so much and as well as falling off you have to watch out for scorpions and possibly other poisonous creatures that lurk in the dark.
5. Mountain biking
Biking is a popular way of travelling along the sea front between Sea Point and Cape Town Downtown with several different companies offering affordable bike hire on a turn-up basis. For those looking for a more adventurous biking experience, there are some mountain biking opportunities available if you’re willing to travel further afield. We opted to go mountain biking in a reserve at the !Khwa ttu San Cultural Centre, offering the opportunity to traverse up and down hills and along dirt tracks whilst zebras and various antelope run around the reserve with you.
What didn’t we do/have we still got coming up?
As we don’t want to have all our experiences in one go and one location we have set aside some of our adventurous activities for upcoming trips. We shall be completing a safari whilst working on the Kariega Game Reserve just outside Port Elizabeth as our first stop out of Cape Town. We have also kept learning to surf and sand boarding for when we go down under on our upcoming Oz adventure. Hopefully we’ll be looking for more adventurous activities along the way too.
Once you’re all out of adrenaline remember there is so much more on offer in Cape Town. Check out our “Cosmopolitan Cape Town” blog post for how you can explore local life, find out about history and culture or where the best spots to eat are.