Kirstenbosch National Botantical Garden | Attractions in Cape Town, South Africa | African Travel Guide
Activities, Cape Town, Travel Advice

Visit Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens

The award-winning Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden is located on the slopes of Table Mountain and is part of the 528-hectare Table Mountain National Park.  This protected mountainside supports a unique variety of natural flora including fragile fynbos species, which occur only in the Western Cape.  Kirstenbosch is located in Claremont and easily accessed from accommodation establishments in the surrounding areas and in Cape Town itself via the M3.

Kirstenbosch is a regular award-winner at the annual Chelsea Flower show, held in England, and the exhibit is rebuilt at different local venues for the South African public to enjoy after the show.  It is a great tribute to Kirstenbosch to be recognised at this prestigious international event from among 550 exhibits every year.

The Gardens have a reputation for being the most beautiful in Africa and is a great place to visit at any time of the year.  If you would like to see the fynbos in bloom though, the best time to visit is from August to November.

Located in the diverse and unique Cape Floral Kingdom, Kirstenbosch is the first botanic garden to be included in a World Heritage Site and is the largest of the nine National Botanic Gardens in South Africa. 

Over 7000 species of plant grow here, including some that would not normally survive on the slopes of Table Mountain.  These specimens are cultivated in a specially made Conservatory designed for sensitive arid plants.

Apart from many hundreds of plant specimens to admire, Kirstenbosch offers a range of other attractions. 

During summer, weekly concerts are held every Sunday which are a real hit with music fans, families and the performers themselves.  What better way to spend a Sunday afternoon than listening to your favourite tunes surrounded by friends, pristine gardens and gorgeous views?

Art in the Garden consists of a variety of exhibitions scattered around the gardens, both indoors and out.  Beautiful and unusual sculptures are found all over, special short-term exhibits are often displayed, and art-shows are held regularly in various venues across the gardens.  

The most well-known exhibits are:

  • The Sculpture Garden with a constantly changing display of original African stone sculptures, some of which available for purchase.
  • The Dylan Lewis impala at the Centre for Home Gardening.
  • The bust of Nelson Mandela just inside the Visitor’s Centre entrance.
  • The Cape Clawless Otter sculpture in the Otter Pond.

There are three restaurants at Kirstenbosch – Moyo, Vida e Caffè and the Tea Room all serving up refreshing drinks, snacks and meals. Moyo is open for dinner on Friday and Saturday evenings while the others are daytime venues only.

The latest addition at Kirstenbosch is an aerial walkway, nicknamed the Boomslang.  This path winds through the trees and is not unlike a rollercoaster in looks, although it is modelled on the snake of the same name. The walkway is 130m long and provides elevated views of the Kirstenbosch Gardens and spectacular vistas of the mountainside. The opening of the Boomslang coincides with the Garden’s centenary and promises to keep visitors amused for many years to come.

Disclaimer
Please Note: The details shared herein were correct at the time of publishing. However, with time some of this information may change. We recommend confirming information with suppliers prior to making final travel arrangements. If you do happen to find an issue with any information we’ve shared here, please feel free to contact us so that we can make the relevant changes.

 

Kirstenbosch National Botantical Garden | Attractions in Cape Town, South Africa | African Travel Guide

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Going up Table Mountain in Cape Town | Activities in Cape Town | African Travel Guide
Activities

Go up Table Mountain

There are only two ways to go up Table Mountain but a number of things to enjoy once you reach the top.  You can either hitch a ride on the cable car or go on your own steam with a hike to the summit of this world famous icon.

The Cableway has taken over 16 million people to the top since 1929 and has had several refurbishments since then. The latest improvements are rotating floors and huge windows for outstanding views of your breath-taking surroundings as you slowly make your way up to the table top. Cable cars take the trip to the top every 10 to 15 minutes as long as weather conditions permit.  During peak season (16 December to 15 January) you can even enjoy night time rides up until 9 pm.

The views from the top of Table Mountain are also superb, with the entire City Bowl laid out before you, with the sparkling ocean beyond. Cape Town Stadium, Camps Bay beach and even Robben Island are some of the features visible from the top.

If you decide to foot-it to the top of Table Mountain, you can choose the level of difficulty.  There are a few short walks up, as well as longer routes via Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens and Silvermine Nature Reserve.  Reputable tour operators offer guided walks to enhance the experience for hikers.

Walking up is a scenic extravaganza of a different kind with beautiful fynbos and proteas lining the way and the chance of bumping into some of the animal inhabitants of the slopes. Known for its immense biodiversity, Table Mountain supports more than 1 500 species of plants and is considered one of Earth’s 6 plant kingdoms on its own.

Apart from amazing views, the top of Table Mountain offers a restaurant, curio shop and nature walks. 

The Table Mountain Café provides food and drink on a self-serve basis, making use of compostable plates and such, in order to conserve water on the mountain and reduce the impact of tourism on this natural resource. Special kiddies’ activities are arranged from time to time, to ensure that the whole family has a good time on top of South Africa’s favourite mountain and the Cableway Cocktail Bar is a great place to watch the sun set over the fairest Cape.  Adrenaline junkies can even abseil from the top of Table Mountain from 1000 metres above sea level – the world’s highest commercial abseil.

An abundance of plant life, birds and small fascinating creatures are resident on the table top and can be enjoyed on marked trails all over the top of the mountain, surrounded by stunning views.

Naturally, Table Mountain is the most famous landmark in the city, and you will have no problem making your way there from your Cape Town accommodation, be it by taxi or bus.

On your next trip to the Mother City, go up Table Mountain and discover how this attraction won the hearts of millions of voters to earn its rightful place as one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature.

Disclaimer
Please Note: The details shared in this blog post around products and services, are correct at the time of publishing. However, with time some of this information may change. We recommend confirming information with suppliers prior to making final travel arrangements. If you do happen to find an issue with any information we’ve shared here, please feel free to contact us so that we can make the relevant changes.

Kitesurfing in Cape Town | Activities in Cape Town | African Travel Guide
Activities

Kitesurfing in Cape Town

Just when we thought that mankind had mastered the water in every possible recreational manner, varying in extremes from jet skiing to fly boarding, body boarding to surfing, along comes kite surfing – one of the most efficient ways to harvest the power of the seaside elements for the ultimate adrenalin rush.

Making use of the waves and wind, both abundant resources in Cape Town, kitesurfing came into existence in the 1990s and has been growing in popularity ever since.

About kitesurfing
 
This trendy pastime can most easily be described as a combination of wakeboarding, windsurfing, surfing, paragliding, and gymnastics, and is readily available to both visitors and locals on the shores of the Mother City. Cape Town is a top choice destination for kiters from November to March with its mild weather, quiet beaches and reliable wind, while Table Bay is internationally admired for its optimum kite surfing conditions and scenic views overlooked by Table Mountain.

Basically, this extreme sport involves paddling out to sea, harnessed between a specially adapted surfboard and a kite, and then throwing yourself at the mercy of the wind for a couple of hours.
 
During its short history this sport has developed a dizzying lingo all of its own, and before you decide that it looks like fun, and go out and invest thousands in all the necessary gear, it would be wise to take a few lessons from a reputable operator in order to learn the ropes, and the language that goes along with it.  An uneducated kite surfer can easily turn into a dangerous missile out on the water and is a hazard to other kiters, surfers, windsurfers and themselves.

Join in the fun
 
Kitesurfing schools are abundant along the beaches of Blouberg, Big Bay, Kite Beach, Doodles Beach, Haakgat, Sunset Beach and even the Langebaan Lagoon, offering basic instruction and equipment hire for those who are keen to give it a bash out on the open ocean.  Ask around to find one that suits your needs and offers classes which are congruent with your level of experience and expectations.

For starters

Most operators offer beginners classes which involve a rudimentary introduction to the sport, conducted by a qualified instructor.  High Five Kitesurfing School offer a five-step, three-day course for newbies which is limited to two students at a time and will teach you all about equipment set-up, land-based flying, self-launch, body-dragging and simple board skills.  For the uninitiated, this means how to balance, get your kite into the air, drag through the water without a board, and how to stop, start and steer while out on the water.

Onward and upward
 
While these simple skills may be enough to satisfy your curiosity it is only natural that you may still gaze upon the extravagant jumps and tricks of more experienced kite surfers with considerable envy.
 
In this case, High Five has more advanced courses on offer too and are open ‘as long as the wind is blowing’ (and I assume the ‘sun is shining’) to cater to your airborne aspirations and get you ‘boosting like a pro’ (sailing through the air) in no time.  They also offer downwind shuttles for those who can’t or simply can’t be asked to steer their kites back upwind to the starting point.

Even if you haven’t worked up the nerve to try it out yourself, the antics of these aquatic tricksters are fascinating to watch and a visit to one of these kite surfing beaches, just a few minutes’ drive from the Cape Town CBD, makes for an entertaining day spent outdoors in the fresh sea air. The return of kitesurfing’s most definitive competition the Red Bull King of the Air in 2016 is acknowledgment itself that to those in the know, Cape Town is The Mecca of kitesurfing. 

Disclaimer
Please Note: The details shared in this blog post around products and services, are correct at the time of publishing. However, with time some of this information may change. We recommend confirming information with suppliers prior to making final travel arrangements. If you do happen to find an issue with any information we’ve shared here, please feel free to contact us so that we can make the relevant changes.

Paragliding in Cape Town | Cape Town Activities | African Travel Guide
Activities

Paragliding in Cape Town

Paragliding in Cape Town
 
There are so many ways to see the city of Cape Town from any angle. You can take a walking tour, hop on a bus, take a helicopter flip, hire a bike, head for the heights of Table Mountain or book a trip on a microlight. However, if you want to get to grips with an aerial view of the city and feel the wind in your hair while you’re at it, paragliding is a Cape Town activity you have to try.

About

Paragliders are not just a big kite that someone dreamed up in their backyard one day. These aerodynamic inventions were designed and named by NASA way back in 1961. Little did they know that the ‘sail wing’ would take off all over the world and become one of the most popular airborne sports today.
 
What to expect

This immersive experience may sound dangerous and complicated, but it really isn’t any of that. You’re in safe hands when you book your flight of fantasy over the Mother City, and you don’t need any experience at all to enjoy the experience.
 
It’s a great way to get a feel for the city if you have limited time and it’s a lot cheaper than hiring an aircraft to do the work for you. Wind-power is the way to go to get a gander at what’s going on below and provides an entirely different perspective on this beautiful destination.
  
How Does Paragliding in Cape Town Work?

In basic terms, what happens in paragliding is that the pilot jumps off of a mountain into the wind attached to an inflatable pair of wings. Before this leap of faith, the glider is expertly positioned into the prevailing wind.
 
The pilot is attached to the glider by means of a super-secure harness made of up to 30 lines with the highest possible breaking strain. After that, it’s plain sailing. The pilot walks down the slope and, just like a kite, the wind fills the paraglider and lifts it into the air, along with the pilot.
 
You’ll be carried aloft until gravity gets the better of the air currents. It’s a gentle transition, so you don’t need to worry about plummeting directly and suddenly to earth. Paragliding landings are gradual, graceful and smooth.
 
Naturally, as an inexperienced paraglider, you won’t be expected to do any of this yourself. You’ll be attached in tandem to an experienced instructor. All you have to do is hang tight and enjoy the views. The duration of this experience is totally dependent on the wind speed and direction and it can last from anything between 5 minutes and 30 minutes.
 
Where to Go Paragliding in Cape Town and Surrounds

There’s no shortage of jumping off points in Cape Town, but the most popular ones are:

  • Lion’s Head
  • Signal Hill
  • Sir Lowry’s Pass, Somerset West
  • Paarl Rock, Paarl
  • Fernkloof Nature Reserve, Hermanus

Try one or try them all, as each provides unique and exceptional opportunities to see the city in a new light.
 
What to Bring Along:

There’s not much you need to remember to take with you on a paragliding jaunt. Take only what you can carry with you on your epic journey downward. Some essentials include:

  • cash to pay for the activity
  • comfortable hiking clothes and shoes (long pants are best)
  • a jacket
  • sunscreen
  • a hat and water for the hike to your starting point

Everything else is provided. You’ll be given a safety helmet and you can arrange for your instructor to video the whole experience on a Go-Pro if you want to. Full safety training is provided before you set off, so you’ll know exactly how to orchestrate an expert take-off and landing.
 
Take to the Skies Above the Mother City

Cape Town is known as one of the most scenic and safe places to paraglide in the world.
If you want to experience this thrilling activity, get in touch and we’ll point you in the right direction.
 
Paragliding is just one of the activities in Cape Town’s vast portfolio of things to see and do. Take a look at our regularly updated activities page for more.

Disclaimer
Please Note: The details shared in this blog post around products and services, are correct at the time of publishing. However, with time some of this information may change. We recommend confirming information with suppliers prior to making final travel arrangements. If you do happen to find an issue with any information we’ve shared here, please feel free to contact us so that we can make the relevant changes.