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
One of the top adventure activities in Cape Town is seeing a great white! 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.
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. See our full review here.
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.
Travel Tips for South Africa
- Languages Spoken: The most widely spoken language is Zulu, then Xhosa, followed by Afrikaans. However, just about everyone speaks English.
- Capital: South Africa has no legally defined capital city. Instead, there are three South African capitals. They are Pretoria (executive capital), Bloemfontein (judicial), and Cape Town (legislative).
- Currency: South African Rand 4 (ZAR) – $.
- Visa: Some nationalities are issued a 90-day visa on arrival. Check with your embassy for the best information. The visas are consecutive, not concurrent, don’t be like us and get kicked out.
- Weather: Hot and humid especially during the summer months.
- What to Pack: Depends on the season and where you are at. Definitely bring hiking shoes, a bathing suit, and a jacket.
- Malaria: Not a major threat in South Africa. In the rainy season, areas around Kruger and the north are at mild risk of malaria.
- Stay Connected: Vodacom, Telcom, OneCell, and MTN are the cell phone and internet providers. Check here for more information.
- Adaptor: You’ll need this adaptor in Southern Africa.
- Tipping: This is a tipping country and visitors should expect to tip for anything from a lunch out, to gas station attendants, to security guards in parking lots. Tips to car guards can be anything between 2 and 10 ZAR while 10% is the norm for waitstaff.
- When is the Best Time to Visit Cape Town: See our full post for the weather in South Africa.
Book A Safari Near Cape Town
Traditionally if you wanted to book a safari you’d have to go to a travel agent and have them book your safari for you. They made suggestions for camps and lodges then presented you with a large bill. Most of the industry still operates in this fashion.
However, Timbuktu is a new platform that allows you to select the lodges you’d like and see the pricing per day that way you can select the best itinerary for yourself. They will then contact the lodges and help you through booking your safari. With experts on staff, they can also provide suggestions and arrange the little details much like a travel agent.
What to Pack for Cape Town
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 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.
For those Cape Town summers, it’s a tremendous idea to have a comfortable sundress. Not only is a dress more comfortable, but it’s also cute and can bring you from day to night easily.
It’s even possible to take easy hikes in dresses, like along Table Mountain. You can check out the best safari dresses here.
A good pair of sandals is great for being comfortable on any day in Cape Town. The city is super laid back and relaxed and a sturdy pair of flip flops is well worth the investment.
I travel with my Rainbow leather flip flops which have gotten me through 80 countries so far. We spend 90% of our time in a pair of sandals when traveling around Africa. The only time we opt for our boots is on bush walks, long hikes, and in busy dirty streets. You can always try hiking sandals like Tevas or Chacos too!
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!
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