Cape Town - Travellers too often visit cities around the world, only to stick to the traditional “to do” lists of their chosen destination, but there’s so much more out there.
You don’t need to be an expert on Cape Town, for example, to know that first things first you need to head up Table Mountain (on foot or via cable car), take a boat trip and tour Robben Island, and get yourself to the winelands to try some local wines. But what about other hidden gems just outside the city limits?
Nicholas Barenblatt, Group Marketing Manager for Protea Hotels by Marriott and African Pride Hotels says they often get queries from guests as to what they can see and do if they head out of the city centre, and slightly off the beaten track.
“Staff at all of our hotels are constantly on the lookout for new sights and locations for guest recommendations,” says Barenblatt, himself a frequent domestic traveller.
Here are some of his tried and tested favourite recommendations. And, if you’re a local from one of these destinations, it’s a great excuse to see more of your own city – if you haven’t explored every crevice of it already.
Not far from Johannesburg’s city centre is the Cradle of Humankind, ‘the birthplace of humanity’. Take a guided tour of the Sterkfontein Caves, and learn more about the history of humankind at the Maropeng Visitor Centre.
Hartbeespoort Dam is a great spot to spend a day out of the city – and there’s lots to do whether you’re a sporty type or just enjoy a meander through the town with its quirky stores offering arts and crafts and unusual foods.
The scenic dam is the place for boating and waterskiing, and you can choose from a range of other outdoor activities like hang-gliding and hot-air ballooning. The newish Harties Cableway is a treat with the great views of the whole area and of the Magaliesburg mountains.
Many tourists stop off at Boulders Beach in Simon’s Town to visit the penguins before setting off again en route to Cape Point, but take the time to stay in the seaside village for a day. Visit the statue of Just Nuisance and the South African Naval Museum, take a boat trip to see whales and other sea life, grab an ice cream cone from a traditional seaside ice cream shop, and browse the many antique stores.
Visit historical Hout Bay while in the Mother City. This may be a stop on the sightseeing bus, but for those doing a DIY tour of the city it isn’t always considered. Before or after a scenic drive along Chapman’s Peak stop off and take a boat trip to Seal Island, and gorge on crispy battered fish and slap chips on your return to the harbour (at Fish on the Rocks, Snoekies, or Mariner’s Wharf).
Over weekends, the Hout Bay Market is a must as it offers a good mix of authentic retail pop up stores as well as an extensive range of food and beverage vendors.
For adventure seekers, one should try out the Cape Town Ziplines located at Silvermist Mountain Lodge at the top of Constantia Neck. The tour itself consists of 7 cables totalling one of Africa`s longest Zipline Tours with +- 2.3 kilometres in total.
Thought you could only see the big five further north in South Africa? Aquila Private Game Reserve offers a ‘Safari Day Trip’ from Cape Town so you can be collected in the city (or opt for self-drive) for a whistlestop wildlife safari, returning to your accommodation in time for dinner. The 10 000 hectare reserve, located in the Southern Karoo, is home to the Big Five: elephant, lion, buffalo, leopard and rhino.
Learn more about Zulu culture with a half-day trip from Durban to a reconstructed Zulu village in the Valley of 1000 Hills. See a traditional hut and artefacts, and learn about Zulu cultures and traditions.
The Midlands Meander is a treasure trove of delights for tourists. Plan your itinerary around your interests – arts and crafts, golfing, wildlife, birding, hiking, trail running, mountain biking, fishing, and plenty of activities for the whole family.
Adapted from a press release for IOL