Undoubtedly the capital of extreme adventure in South Africa, the iconic city of Cape Town is a must if you're into exhilarating creatures, people, and landscapes from the perspective of land, sea, and sky. That seems to encapsulate pretty much everything, doesn't it? "It sure does," we say in response to our own rhetorical question.
The Cape Peninsula is one of the most concentrated areas of plant and animal diversity around, while there are also myriad chances to experience heart-pounding adventures like skydiving, shark cage diving, and rock climbing. Then again, you could just take it easy and do a bit of sun and swimming, which is best had on the peninsula's eastern side due to the warmer water currents. False Bay is your best bet for both swimming locations (Fish Hoek and St. James) and water sports, including surfing and kitesurfing (Muisenburg). Langebaan Lagoon and Big Bay on the western coast of the cape are also excellent water sports destinations. We did mention the shark cage diving, didn't we? You'll find no shortage of dive operators willing to throw you into a cage within no prior experience, although the best places to catch sharks can vary. For the infamous Great Whites, Gansbaii (near Danger Point) is an unquestionable favorite, while the more local False Bay is also quite reliable. Whittle Rock and Seal Island are both huge for cage diving, while open-diving would be a perilously bad idea. If you are looking to dive, just make sure your permits are in order; temporary permits are available at most dive offices. There a ton of great dive areas near Cape Town and a diversity of marine life to be seen. We suggest perusing our listing of operators and choosing one to show you around.
There are numerous skydiving operators as well, many of which will drop you within view of the incredible Table Mountain and the sparkling ocean beyond. Speaking of Table Mountain, this should be your first stop while in Cape Town, even if you just want to take the cable car to the top. For those looking to challenge themselves, it may be hiked up Platteklip Gorge from Tafelberg Road, which is a steep 2-3 hour ascent. There are also a handful of rock climbs that can be done on your own or with tour companies.
Greater Table Mountain National Park also has much more to see. Oudekrall is a stretch of beach and water high on natural beauty and dive locations, while the Twelve Apostles are a striking extension of the Table Mountain range. Boulders Beach in False Bay is great for viewing the antics of the diminutive African penguins, while the rocky finger of Cape Point is great for short treks through rugged nature, particularly to the lighthouse. The Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve is a gorgeous one-hour walk from here through sandy beaches, stands of forest, and a handful of rocky cliffs that overlook the sea. You'll see baboon (avoid them), zebra, antelope, and much more along the way. Of course, if you want big, bad wildlife, visit the Drakenstein Lion Park just east of Cape Town, where the abundance of lions is front and center. Other nature areas that are beautiful and within a day's trip include Kogelberg Nature Reserve, Haweqwa Nature Reserve, and Riviersonderend Nature Reserve, all of which are prime spots for off-the-beaten-path hiking. Local hiking trails include the Orangekloof Hiking Trail between Cape Point and Table Mountain (5-6 days), the Chapman's Peak trail that overlooks Hout Bay (3 hours), and the Kalk Bay Amphitheatre, a 3 hour hike that starts from Boyes Drive.
For further information on this incredible destination, take a look through our adventure activity pages or contact the embark community. Admit it to yourself; Cape Town sounds awesome. Now get yourself there.