In a country where the currency keeps crashing downwards, finding thrilling – but not costly – experiences can be an extreme sport in its own right. For a week leading up to the 18th annual Cape Town International Jazz Festival, South African Tourism hosted a few media practitioners in the Mother City.
Here, we got a taste of the extreme activities that are on offer as well as some unique experiences that are worth writing home about. Upon arrival at the ultra chic The Capital Mirage hotel, there was just enough time to check-in, eat a packed lunch and then hop onto some Harley Davidson motorbikes for a one-of-a-kind tour of Cape Town.
The experience was the brainchild of Harley Davidson Chauffeur Rides. Philip, a 73-year-old biker who has been riding since he was 14-years-old approached me and led me to The Couch. It’s actually the Electra Glide, a classic bike that is wide and has a spacious passenger seat in the rear.
“It’s nickname is The Couch because it’s the most comfortable bike that Harley makes,” Philip told me ashe handed me a helmet. He wasn’t wrong. In that seat, it did feel spacious and comfortable. My back was supported throughout the scenic drive from the city’s CBD to Bantry Bay, Camps Bay and eventually Chapman’s Peak.
At Chapman’s Peak, we stopped to take in the beautiful view. The sun was shining, the water was the bluest I have ever seen and the ride was unique. It’s interesting to note that on the regular roads, car drivers are very respectful of the bikers and give them space to pass when necessary. But on the highway, car drivers are more restless and annoyed.
During the trip, we also made our way to Cape Town Helicopters where we flew from Greenpoint, passed Lion’s Head and Table Mountain and more. The view from the top was breathtaking. It was made even more so by the fact that I got to sit right next to the pilot.
It would have been even sweeter if he explained tidbits about other landmarks we were flying past as opposed to just the stuff that tourists already know. Aside from that, be prepared to be weighed as soon as you walk into the business’ offices.
This is so that they know where to seat the people that are going to be taking the helicopter ride so that the weight in the aircraft is distributed evenly. But, it does serve as a reality check about how much you probably need to be hitting the gym. Ouch.
One of the most endearing experiences on this trip came in the form of Ubizo Events and Tours’ different way of showing people the township. We went to Langa where we were met with some of the most effulgent tour guides, Mike and Alfred. People hopped on bicycles (with the option to ride tandem if you’re shooting) and rode around the streets.
This was the opposite of poverty porn or what some term township safaris because the places we visited were not manufactured for a tourist experience. People were just going about their day and so were we.
We checked out a preserved dompas office, saw potters in the Guga Sthebe cultural centre, looked at how graffiti is being used to beautify the area and learned about Hamilton Naki. we also stopped by the home that Brenda Fassie lived in.
There, her sister properly had a fan-girl moment when she spotted Thapelo Mokoena – the actor was a part of our group. The Fassie family were gracious enough to tell us a few stories about MaBrrr, which was one of the highlights of the trip. Then, we bucked the trend and swapped the cliche visit to Mzoli’s for a meal at Tshisa Nyama Gugs NY 110.
We also had the opportunity to go paragliding. This activity is not for the faint-hearted. It is so much fun though. We had to wait for the wind to be just right before lift off but once it was, the adrenaline rush that comes with running on top of Signal Hill at one moment and then running on air the next is priceless. It’s awesome to see the city from up there.
The day before it was time to come back to Jozi, we were treated to a sunset cruise on the Mirage 760. There were canapes, cocktails and conversations as the sun went down. The Mirage 760 docks at the V&A Waterfront so while we waited to board, we watched people salsa dance on a square.
There was way more dancing on the boat as the DJ spun some house tunes. But the real beauty was the cruise itself that took us, at a leisurely pace, past other boats, and gave us a beautiful view of the horizon.
All these activities are quite a lot to pack into a week but it was absolutely thrilling to try my hand at all of them. In the many times I have been to Cape Town, I didn’t even know the options to paraglide or see the city from a helicopter were available to me. So with the Rand being what it is right now, I understand the skepticism that comes with spending money on these. But we have to find our joy where we can get it so why not treat yourself and experience at least one of these activities?