There are so many adventures in Cape Town, it’s hard to count. Visitors can choose from every standard adventure sport, such as kiteboarding, surfing, mountain biking, hiking, and skydiving. However, for those looking for something different here’s an awesome list of Cape Town adventures that will be sure to give you some thrills.
These are all experiences that are unique to Cape Town and you can only find in a few other places around the world. Here’s a roundup of our personal favorite adventures while in the Western Cape.
Amazing Adventures in Cape Town
1. Shark Cage Dive
Ever since the movie Jaws, the fear of the Great White Shark has been palpable. It is after all the shark responsible for the highest number of recorded shark caused human fatalities. Near the southernmost point of Africa is “Shark Alley,” a strait between an island and beach home to thousands of Cape fur seals. Here, the Great Whites come for a feeding frenzy. In fact, you’ve probably seen it before in a nature documentary where the sharks are jumping out of the water with a seal in their teeth. It is here that you can have one the most surreal adventures in the world and that’s why it is one of our top adventures to have in Cape Town. Jump in the waters with these giants of the ocean and come face to face! We spent some time doing our research about the best provider given that it can be considered a controversial practice and found that Marine Dynamics is the company to go with,
Our tour kept us well fed, warm, had a professional staff, a marine biologist on board, and they made sure to put the client first. They’ve even won several responsible tourism awards – a big deal to us – and are very very very active in the conservation of these incredible animals. They are truly majestic in the water and if you don’t have respect for them before you go then you will certainly walk away changed. The sharks themselves are massive – close to 5m long – and their sheer size is awe-inspiring. However, most shocking of all is how calm things seem in the water as they swim by. While sitting in the cold ocean water surrounded by a metal cage you can hear the famous soundtrack to jaws playing in your head.
2. Bungee Jump
This adventure is not in Cape Town, and in fact, it’s pretty far. However, at just six hours drive outside of Cape Town sitting on the famous Garden Route we’re still adding it to the list. The drive itself is stunning and an absolute must when visiting South Africa. This is also one of the most thrilling things you can do in Africa. The experience of bungee jumping will give even the bravest an adrenalin rush. No “manning” up here – the jump is high.
Face Adrenalin has been throwing people off of the Bloukrans bridge since 1997 and has every intention of remaining fatality free after 25 years as a bungee company. You’re in safe and capable hands, unlike here. The bridge is 216 meters high, or 708ft, making it the highest bungee bridge in the world and at one point it held the world record for the highest commercial bungee in the world. If doing a bungee jump has been your dream there is no better place to do it than with Face Adrenalin off of this bridge.
Be forewarned! The moment you jump off the bridge and see an open 216m below you, the thought “I’m going to die” will cross your mind. It is terrifying, but it is followed by an overwhelming rush of adrenalin. Just live by their motto when you’re standing on the edge, “fear is temporary, regret is permanent.” I’m scared of heights, but if given the opportunity 100% jump again.
3. Go Canyoneering
If you haven’t heard of canyoneering, it is a must for any outdoor sports addict. It’s one of those great Cape Town experiences that can’t be missed. The basic premise is to find a canyon full of water and follow the flow. We went with Frixion Adventures who operate around the Cape Town area. Brett, the owner has been doing this for over two decades. It’s seriously impressive how fast he can move down a waterfall, which you’ll be doing a lot of.
Canyoneering involves cliff jumps, hiking, swimming, and lots of abseiling. Dropping off the face of a waterfall with a rope is an experience we’re not likely to forget anytime soon. When you lean back in your harness and jump off a 65m tall waterfall you won’t forget either. I can’t think of a better way to experience a waterfall. Descending one with water pounding into your chest and your feet on the rock wall. It rocks, literally!
The canyons around Cape Town itself make for a beautiful day of hiking. On a personalized tour, everyone will get a light breakfast, lunch, and plenty of hot soup to warm back up from the chilly river water.
4. Abseil Table Mountain
Standing on top of Table Mountain and looking down on Cape Town is an experience every visitor should have. The cable car up to the top is the most visited tourist attraction in Africa, after all. However, for those who like an adventure standing near the edge and looking down on the city isn’t going to cut it. Abseil Africa will happily “throw” tourists off of Table Mountain from 1000m up.
Abseiling off of Table Mountain offers some of the best views possible. The abseil is about five to ten minutes of dizzying heights as you look down on the Atlantic Ocean and Camps Bay. It’s a much different experience than canyoneering seeing as it is a dry rope at a much higher altitude for a shorter amount of time. We loved the experience even if we were scared out of our minds leaning back with no hands.
5. Swim with Cape Fur Seals
Swimming with Cape Fur Seals is one of the great water adventures in Cape Town. Yea, that’s right in Cape Town you can swim with the real-life plush stuffed animals from your childhood with Cape Town Bucket List. Except, these seals are a heck of a lot bigger, smell pretty bad, and can out swim a boat. I’m finding a new passion and that is spending time in the water. Any marine fan and even divers will love the experience of snorkeling with the seals and having a great adventure in Cape Town. Hout Bay has long offered tourists the chance to take a big boat out to a small island just outside the harbor where 15,000 Cape Fur Seals reside. However, the brave can now jump into the chilly waters of the Atlantic and go swimming with the furry animals!
The water is bone-chilling cold, especially in Spring when we went, but with thick wetsuits, you’ll survive. The seals are very curious and playful. They recognize something new is in the water and will stop by to check you out. The highlight for us was when the young pups brushed against us trying to play. The first one to dart at you is alarming, but after some time it becomes great fun. Just check out the video below:
We’re really happy to report that we had a stellar experience with all of these tour providers. Yes, all of the adventure activities are a tad bit dangerous, if handled improperly. However, at no point did we ever feel we were in danger with anyone.
All of the providers we recommend were outstanding and professional. Please remember that all of these activities, excluding bungee jumping, are weather dependent.
Where to stay in Cape Town
We’ve given a full tour of Cape Town and have a number of great places we can recommend staying from luxury to budget. It all really comes down to what you’re looking for. With a full day, you need accessibility, high-speed internet, a quality night’s rest, and some good food. After a long day of adventure sports, we aren’t always in the mood for the party atmosphere of a hostel or the work involved in a self-catering apartment.
Cape Town has some fabulous Airbnb’s to choose from. We stayed at many around the city and it makes us feel more at home when we are abroad. You can check out some tips and read more about getting an Airbnb coupon code here. Or just take this coupon for your first stay!
The Tintswalo Atlantic
Due to its charm, class, level of service, intimacy, character, and stunning location, The Tintswalo Atlantic takes our top accolade. We loved our room so much we never left them except for a quick dip in the heated pool and to have dinner. With only eight individually designed rooms the hotel is charming and intimate. Rooms have features such as tubs with views over the bay and a wood stove for when the winter winds blow. Evenings at the Tinstwalo feel like a dream with sunsets over in Hout Bay, bubbles, plush bathrobes, and some evening canapés. To give it that final boost to the top it’s the only accommodation in Cape Town that is located inside Table Mountain National Park, how fitting. In the end, though, what separated the Tintswalo from the other hotels on this list is the intimacy.
The Capital Mirage
The Capital Mirage is one of the newest hotels in Cape Town. The modern digs are studio apartments and perfect for business travelers. The studio apartment allows for a more like home for those needing to stay a week or more. Amenities like real high-speed internet (our tests got 26mbps), washer and dryer, full kitchen, multiple restaurants on site, and a TV that connects to your laptop set it apart from other hotels. When finished with the day guests can head to the roof where The Vue bar offers stunning views of Table Mountain and a rooftop pool. In the digital age, this is the hotel that checks off all the best hotel boxes. They also get bonus points for bringing us room service sushi at a good price.
What to pack for Cape Town
We never travel without travel insurance with World Nomads. World Nomads offers incredible flexible and great plans!
Sometimes it’s nice just to have a real book in your hands when traveling. We recommend picking up a Lonely Planet to get you through the wireless nights.
Make sure to protect your eyes from the sun in Africa since you’re near the equator. There are a lot of options for sunglasses and everyone should own at least a pair. It’s best to make sure they do have UV protection for the health of your eyes.
We made our first investment in quality polarized sunglasses with a pair of SMITH Optics Lowdown 2. Truthfully, not everyone needs to invest $150 in a pair of sunglasses, but they do make a huge difference from the crappy $10 ones.
Skin cancer is for real! Don’t forget your SPF when traveling to the around Africa. We recommend ordering some online before leaving the house as you will need it underneath the African sun and it can be very hard to find outside major cities.
We highly recommend getting an eco friendly sun cream that does not contain harmful chemicals. They’re mineral based and usually only cost a few dollars more to help protect our oceans. If you’re not going to swim in the ocean just go with a reliable name brand.
Hiking Shoes or Boots
If you’re wondering what necessities to bring to Africa then sturdy shoes are perhaps the most important thing you will need before you get to Africa.
Lightweight pants that are made from synthetic material are tremendous to have in your pack. It’s what we wear most days when traveling around Africa as they’re comfortable, antibacterial, and protect our legs from mosquitos (malaria).
We recommend neutral colored pants as they’re great at hiding dirt and can match most shirt colors. What’s great is they’re useful beyond Africa as they are a travel staple and we pack a pair everywhere we travel.
I like two pairs, one pair is made by prAna and rolls into capris and the other are convertible pants. For men, prAna makes the Stretch Zion Pant, a tremendous pair of hiking pants for a reasonable price.
I love my buff. I usually wear it for keeping my hair back, but it’s also served its purpose as a scarf and wet rag too. Buffs last for years and aren’t only helpful in Africa. I actually wear mine every day when I’m snowboarding in the mountains. It’s been one of my top travel accessory investments ever!
Grayl Ultralight Water Bottle
It’s not advisable to drink the tap water in most of Africa. We previously used the Lifestraw Go for all those times during our travels when the water is questionable. However, over time we became annoyed with the water bottle as the filter aged and clogged. Plus the bottle leaks when it is on its side.
We now switched to the Grayl Ultralight Purifier. It’s a more simplistic design than the Lifestraw that is more effective and does not leak. Most importantly it is a purifier, not a filter. The Grayl water bottle system purifies water vs. filters which removes viruses and virtually removes all threat of waterborne illnesses.
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