They arrive with long lists of things to see and do, but shouldn’t these tourists be taking a walk on the wild side? Because not that far from the beaten track of the better-known tourist activities in Cape Town are a range of choices sure to secure an un
cockpit, the sound of the propeller roaring, and lifting off from the V&A Waterfront.
Flights include anything from a trip over the major sights of the city, like Cape Town Stadium, Table Mountain and Camps Bay, to a cruise along the Cape Peninsula all the way to Cape Point. But, wherever the flight takes you, the view from this altitude is not worth missing.
My four-seater helicopter was up in the sky in seconds, offering me a spectacular view of the city skyline in just one glance out of my window. As we soared alongside Table Mountain, I could point out the famous Twelve Apostles and clearly see how Lion’s Head got its name. We then dipped towards the Cape Town Stadium, heading straight for its wide opening like we were on an amusement ride.
Although the flight didn’t last long, the entire city was encapsulated in this quick spin around town. Often Cape Town is called the “prettiest city in the world”, and after a helicopter ride, there’s just no disputing it.
● Flights cost anywhere from R800 to R3 200. For more information, go to www.helicopterscapetown.co.za
CHOPPER BIKE RIDE
IF YOU are a bike fanatic but don’t have a motorcycle licence, don’t worry because Cape Bike Travel offers chauffeured rides around the city on a “Big Twin” Harley Davidson.
My ride was up Signal Hill, dressed for the event in motorcycle helmet, aviator glasses and biker jacket.
With the wind blowing in my face, I got to see the scenic Cape Town landscape from the back of a Harley Dyna without straining a muscle.
My driver, Adrian van der Merwe, did all the work as I just sat back, relaxed, and held on.
“When you ride a bike around the city, you have no restrictions,” Van der Merwe told me.
“If you want to look at Table Mountain, Lion’s Head or the city centre, all you have to do is look up.”
Buzzing up the winding road to Signal Hill, this tour was more of a joy ride than the traditional red buses could offer.
Leaning left and right, we were up the hill in no time, with me gripping on tightly.
It’s a common drive for tourists to take, but do it from the back of a bike and you really get a chance to soak up the sights, all accompanied by the roar of the engine.
● At Cape Bike Travel, this experienced biker is yours for the day, so the destination is up to you. Rides vary from driving along the Garden Route to the Cape Peninsula, to touring the scenic winelands. Half-day rides cost R1 600 and full-day R2 100. Fuel, helmets and gloves are included. For more information, go to www.capetowntravel.com
That was definitely enough for one week, but others on my list before I head home to the US include:
THE closest most tourists get to the seals in Cape Town’s waters is from a viewing boat, but if you put on a wetsuit, grab a snorkel and jump in, you’ll get up close and personal with a host of marine creatures, including sunfish, dolphins, whales – and seals.
Departing from Hout Bay harbour, the experienced guides at Animal Ocean Seal Snorkelling will take you out for a swim with Cape fur seals. With more than 15 000 seals living in Hout Bay, everyone is bound to catch more than a glimpse of one these furry creatures. No snorkelling experience is required and all equipment is provided. Plus, because of the cold water on this side of the peninsula, there’s little danger of sharks.
● This half-day excursion costs R600, and scuba packages are also available. For more information, go to www.sealsnorkeling.com
FOR AN adventure that won’t cost you a cent, take a hike up Lion’s Head. This short hike will take you about an hour and a half on a mostly paved track winding around the slopes of the mountain. Although the walk is quite steep, it is still manageable and a very popular hike for people of all ages. Start at Signal Hill in the gravel parking lot – there’ll will be loads of cars and hikers, so it’s almost impossible to miss. Once you get to the top, enjoy the sunset as you soak in the 360-degree view of the city. Then descend down the mountain guided by the radiant light of the moon. The next full moons are tomorrow night and December 17.
KAYAKING BOULDERS BEACH
MANY people have had the chance to kayak, but not many can say they’ve seen penguins while paddling. Starting from the Simon’s Town Waterfront, you will kayak past the Naval Base towards Boulders Beach, where there’ll be too many penguins to count. This guided tour includes equipment, refreshments and some pictures for the scrapbook, all for R300. For more information, go to www.extremescene.co.za/sea-kayak.php
THERE’S no better view of the city: at 1 000m above sea level you can enjoy the city panorama, from the V&A Waterfront to Cape Town Stadium, Signal Hill, and much, much more.
No abseiling experience is required and all equipment is provided.
All one needs is to make sure to pack a camera because this sight will be worth saving.
Abseiling activities run daily from 10am to 3pm for a seasonal price of R695 per person.
To start your adrenalinpumping adventure, visit Abseil Africa at www.abseilafrica.co.za
● Sutherland is a visiting graduate journalism student from Northwestern University in Chicago in the US. She is doing a three-month practical stint with Weekend Argus.
UP IN A HELICOPTER