CHILL: Camps Bay beach with its sunny skies is one destination you could visit on the City Sightseeing topless bus.
CHILL: Camps Bay beach with its sunny skies is one destination you could visit on the City Sightseeing topless bus.

Bianca Coleman

THIS time last year I rode the MyCiTi bus for the first time and was very enamoured with the service. Now, not so much.

Sure, they are still clean, and the routes are convenient but there are lots of things getting up my nose. Like how much of the good citizens of Cape Town’s money was spent on building a new terminus at Gardens Centre which is now standing firmly barricaded and unused.

New bus stops a few metres away from existing bus stops on the city route have been built this year, also costing money and causing no small inconvenience to motorists for months during construction.

These are causing confusion, frustration and anger because nobody knows which one to use, and drivers stop – or not – according to whim. There have been a lot of fights between them and passengers lately.

As for the payment system, well cards are great for locals who use the bus regularly – although you need to be aware of the newly implemented tap-in, tap-out system; if you don’t tap out, you will be heavily penalised.

I had no idea the old way was broken and needed to be fixed this way. I do feel sorry for hot and bothered tourists who get all excited to see the bus coming only to be told they can’t ride it because they don’t have a card. Frankly, it’s just not fun any more.

What still is, however, is a day spent on the City Sightseeing hop-on hop-off topless bus.

There are two major circular routes – the blue and the red. The red route is the city tour which starts at the Two Oceans Aquarium, winds through the CBD, goes up to the lower cable station, over Kloof Nek and back via Camps Bay and Sea Point. Places of interest to explore include the Castle of Good Hope, the District Six Museum, the Gold Museum, the South African Jewish Museum and St George’s Cathedral.

It’s a convenient way to include a cablecar trip up Table Mountain, and you can also hop off for refreshments at the Mount Nelson, and various places along the spectacular Atlantic seaboard.

This year I decided to do the blue mini peninsula tour. It also technically starts at the aquarium but you can get on anywhere – and tickets are available from the driver!

Years ago, the commentary on these buses was offered by human beings; now you get a pair of headphones but there are live guides to answer questions. They also shepherd passengers on and off, which eases jostling on the narrow staircase. Because everyone wants to be on top. That’s great – the view is amazing, but it’s harsh in the heat. Lashings of sunblock is all I can say. And a hat. If like me you are afraid of the sun, the downstairs is air-conditioned and quite blissful.

The first major stop after the V&A Waterfront is Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden. It is preceded by a great deal of information about Cecil John Rhodes, who bequeathed us this beautiful garden when he died. Holiday EsCape Times will have a separate story on it in the New Year.

From there the bus goes to Constantia Nek where you can get off and do the new wine bus tour. It visits Groot Constantia and Eagle’s Nest for tastings, and you can also walk to Beau Constantia from the change-over point.

Next is the World Of Birds, which I am so happy is still open. It’s a lovely place full of exotic, well, birds. And the only kind of monkeys I like. Another place to hop off is the Imizamo Yethu township where you can do a guided walking tour, quite popular judging by the number of passengers who disembarked.

The turning point of this tour is Mariner’s Wharf which has been a huge tourist attraction for decades. The harbour-front emporium comprises seafood restaurants and bistros, a fresh fish market, and gift and curio shops. You’ll get a bunch of discount vouchers with your blue route ticket. That ticket also carries several more discounts at various destinations along the route so don’t lose it or throw it away.

From the Mariner’s Wharf stop you could also take a boat trip to Duiker Island, or Seal Island as it is better known. That’s because it’s a big rock covered in seals. And you’ll want to stay up wind. Just saying.

The return journey from Hout Bay takes you along one of the most scenic roads in Cape Town. Cresting Suikerbossie, you pass Llandudno, Oudekraal, Bakoven, Camps Bay, Clifton, and Sea Point. I don’t care if you are from Paris or Plumstead, these tours give you one of the best views of our city you can get in one day. For a foreigner it’s a convenient way to see as much as possible in a limited time. For locals, it’s the perfect way to fall in love with your home town all over again.

l For more information call 021 511 6000, and check restrictions to the service during the holiday season.

Some Holiday EsCape Times activities are sponsored by the suppliers.