Five things you will love to do in Cape Town (that aren’t a safari) for any lover of local life, adrenaline junkie or adventurous world traveler!
Many students and travelers come to South Africa with a vision of seeing the big five (lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and cape buffalo). The thrill of safari and an adventure out into the bush to witness Simba in action is a dream of many tourists, and a worthy one at that. Yes, you should come to South Africa, and yes, you should absolutely do a safari. However, visiting Cape Town is a safari in itself of one of the most spectacular cities in the world that will show you a diverse culture, a beautiful land, and an addicting personality.
Cape Town is a city for the foodie, the hipster, the adventurer, the shopper, the history nerd, the beach bum and the young explorer. In other words, Cape Town is for you! Especially if you are in college. And if you like to travel. And if you want to go to one of the greatest cities south of the equator. It is not a place to venture into blindly- Cape Town has a unique history that any traveler should be aware of before visiting. Research and preparation would do one good before a visit. But it is well worth it.
I don’t have to tell you to hop onto a safari while in Cape Town. Your adventurer instincts will sink their teeth into the opportunity to climb the fabulous Table Mountain, the one thing you CAN’T miss the second you arrive into the city. Students and young travelers will easily find Long Street, where the center of African nightlife buzzes into the wee hours. However, I wish to give you a list of things you might not stumble upon on your own, but things that you should not miss while in Cape Town! This is a place for the hipster in search of the cool and the different, the adventurer, the shopper, the surfer, and the lover of local culture.
The Old Biscuit Mill: For the shopper, the hipster and the foodie
It’s not a mill and it doesn’t manufacture biscuits. Well, not anymore. But it manufactures many fine, delicious and trendy things. The Old Biscuit Mill is a haven for the young, fashionable, gourmet-snack food loving population of Cape Town. It is only open on Saturdays, and it’s buzzing with vendors and shops full of beautiful and delicious things. I would define it as a high-end farmer’s market where you will probably spend all of your South African Rand on its delectable pastries, coffee, chocolate, sausages, sangria, crepes and independently owned clothing stands. I recommend the chocolate… Yes, shop like a local here. And Instagram your delicious South African finds to your heart’s desire.
Hint Hunt: For the seeker of something… different, and fun!
Hint Hunt is actually right in the same area as the Old Biscuit Mill, so it might be a good activity to do on the same day. Be sure to make reservations, because it has become very popular. The only way to describe Hint Hunt is a live-action murder mystery that you and 4-6 friends get to try to solve within the time period of an hour. You get put into a room that looks like a detective’s office, and you are told to start! Solve the mystery! I don’t want to give anything away… but leave no piece of furniture unturned! I had no idea what to expect when I went into this, but it was one of my favorite things that I did in Cape Town. If you want to try something a little different, make an appointment at Hint Hunt! You won’t regret it.
Muizenberg Beach: For the adventurer and the beach bum.
Have you ever been to the beach with a real Great White Shark threat? Well, it’s sure to be a thrill! But worry not, there is a “shark watch” on guard at all times watching over this popular surfing beach. Muizenberg is a lovely old-time Victorian town with a beach full of local surfers that seem to have no fear of sharks. In any case, it is another great place to go try and fit in with the cool Cape Town locals and be a fearless surfer… or a safe and happy sunbather.
Shark Cage Diving: For the extreme adventurer!
Okay, this sounds terrifying. It also sounds like the coolest thing you’ll ever do. Maybe you have swam with dolphins before. Perhaps you have gone snorkeling with a rainbow of tropical fish. You might have been lucky enough to encounter a small harmless tiger shark at an aquarium. However, unless you can say that you’ve hopped your boat into a shark-proof cage way out into great beyond of the southern Atlantic Ocean, you really haven’t reached the heights of “swimming with marine animals.” The Great White Shark is waiting for you to sign up for a shark cage dive in South Africa… so he can eat the harmless snacks that the tour company throws out to lure them to the surface! That’s all! Really, it is a safe and amazing thing to do while in Cape Town. And a bit of an adrenaline rush.
Township visit: For the seeker of local culture
If you do your Cape Town research, you will find that it was once a place with two different worlds. The separated worlds of the Afrikaans and the native South Africans. Since the ending of apartheid, these two groups have been brought together, but the city still struggles, and the remnants of apartheid still exist. The townships were where the native South Africans once were segregated all together, but despite the end of apartheid, many still live there. Visit a historical and culturally important township to understand a different and more real side of South Africa. You will meet wonderful people and get a richer sense of the culture of Cape Town and South Africa. With that said, it is very important to visit a township with a guide who understands where and when to take you through a neighborhood.
There are so many wonderful things to do in South Africa. I would say it is a mandatory destination for any world traveler. It is a place with a long history, full of fascinating people and rich culture. You can’t get a proper feel of it just by reading about it. Visit Cape Town, spend time in the city, experience its people, say hi to a shark and then go out into the country and look for the Big Five!