I am a summer kind of girl…I adore the headiness of sun, sand, sea and mountains, BUT I also love winter. There is something about the sound of rain falling on the roof, cuddling up around a cozy fireplace, drinking hot chocolate or sipping a fine red wine. I love winter until I get a severe case of cabin fever! If like me, you suffer from either F.O.M.O (Fear of Missing Out) or Cabin Fever syndrome, you may be anxious about visiting Cape Town in winter. Do not despair – symptomatic treatment is available from your Cape Point Route doctor.
You probably have a list of things you have to see in Cape Town.
- V&A Waterfront is easy to tick off the list for shopping and dining, whatever the weather.
- A grape escape in the winelands to sample some splendid vintages on a wine tour also works well on a wintery day.
- Get some insight into South Africa’s history by visiting Robben Island – if the weather allows the boat trip.
- Stroll through the proteas at Kirstenbosch while you wait for a gap in the cloud cover to dash up Table Mountain for one of the best views on the planet and potentially one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World. (have you voted for Table Mountain yet? Click here)
- Traditional peninsula day tour with the obligatory snapshot of the lighthouse and the signpost showing how far away from home you are?
Well Cape Point Route suggests getting creative and having some serious winter fun to treat that FOMO. Incidentally Simon’s Town was established as the winter anchorage site for the Dutch East India Company as it was the best place to be in the Cape in winter – yet another great tip in your winter destination search!
Light up your Life and discover the lighthouses on the Cape Point Route as a starting point. Do you know which lighthouse has the most powerful beam in the country? Walk past the lighthouse you took a photo of, stroll along a windy dramatic path to the lighthouse further down. That’s it. The only lighthouse in South Africa to be built on a rock? Remember that oil rig looking thing near the penguins? Roman Rock lighthouse! And the best view in the city? Try Slangkoppunt Lighthouse – it’s the tallest cast iron lighthouse in the country and you can see Table Mountain and Cape Point Nature Reserve! Walk up with the lighthouse keeper, see the inner workings of a lighthouse and there is a seriously good chance of whale spotting from the top too! For a seriously good day out why not do the shipwreck and lighthouse tour with a professional photographer/guide – who will take you to the best spots to get the best shots using YOUR camera! Helpful hints
Shark cage diving: The movie Jaws portrayed the Great White Shark as an evil killing machine. Despite extensive research these huge primeval creatures are little understood, yet remain a fascinating attraction for human mortals. Experience the grace, power and magic of these creatures on a shark cage diving (or viewing for the reluctant diver) trip from Simon’s Town. Best experienced in winter, when the sharks in False Bay have been known to breach in a spectacular display by leaping out of the water for their prey. If you are short of time on your visit, you can combine a shark cage diving trip with a visit to Cape Point and the penguin colony in Simon’s Town in ONE DAY. Three ticks in one! And if you’re not brave enough to dive with great whites, pop into the Save Our Seas centre in Kalk Bay and find out more about sharks and the marine life of South Africa.
Aqua Action: The Cape Point Route comprises of 2 coastlines wrapped around a national park so watery action abounds and winter has phenomenal conditions for some of the best aqua action of the year.
Cape Town is well known for its’ surfing, boasting 40 breaks within an hour of the city centre. Beginners still head for Muizenberg, thrill seekers head for the reefs off Kommetjie and Scarborough and lunatics head for Dungeons off Hout Bay (particularly in winter when there are seriously big waves). Winter is the best time to learn as the NW winds bring superb conditions to False Bay. Book a winter surf lesson while the conditions are great and the crowds are huddling inside!
Kitsesurfing – why not combine your surfing skills, with some kiting? Lessons & courses are available at Muizenberg beach to get you started with this adrenaline filled sport. If you already have the basics, why not go with an expert to some of the less frequented kitesurfing spots like Witsands and get a real slice of the action!
If you don’t want to get wet, then try Landsailing– this is a 3 wheeled go-kart with a windsurfer sail that will have you whizzing around the track or the beach in Muizenberg – it’s fun, it’s fast, it’s safe and the place where sailing meets the speedway on your own land yacht!
Grab a paddle. Sea kayaking trips are often best undertaken during the Cape Town winter, when the False Bay waters are calmer, and the prevailing south-easter takes a break. Encounter penguins, whales, seals and dolphins from your safe stable sea craft – no previous experience is necessary and you can’t get closer to the water without getting wet!
Scuba Dive: The Coastline of the Cape Point Route is littered with shipwrecks making it a treasure chest for scuba divers. Winter diving in the Cape is cool – and not just literally. In fact the sea temperature is often warmer than the air temperature in winter (18C) and the visibility is superb (up to 20 m is common). The reason is that prevailing north-westerlies improve the visibility of the warmer False Bay side of the peninsula, which is richer in diversity of marine life than the Atlantic Seaboard. There is an abundance of reef life – feather stars, nudibranchs, lobster, octopi, starfish, sponges and many species of reef fish and sharks. Discover the best of the Cape of Storms by meandering through mysterious kelp forests and coral reefs with sea plants and fish that are only accessible to divers. If you have FOMO why not take a course and get your open water certificate?
Saddle Up: ride a horse along the seemingly endless Noordhoek Beach. Cantering across white sand, your horses’ hooves slicing up the water of the shoreline. I bet you didn’t know you can do a camel ride through the fynbos too? Whilst in the saddle – try riding an old Dutch bicycle (recycled from the canals of Amsterdam!) through Masiphumelele township. I have always been slightly suspicious of township tours, so was delighted and surprised to pedal my way through Masi with some locals – meeting their friends, their shops, their schools, their homes and their traditions. This was welcoming, interactive and a whole lot of fun.
Hike it: Winter hiking has a special place for those for suffer from Cabin Fever. If in doubt go up! Go up this glorious chain of Table Mountain that runs the length of the Cape Point Route – Elsie’s Peak, Kalk Bay Caves, Muizenberg Peak, Silvermine Nature Reserve, Karbonkelberg in Hout Bay or Chapman’s Peak itself. Whilst most routes are accessible without a guide, if you are not familiar with the terrain or the winter weather conditions, then we recommend an experienced nature guide who can also help you interpret the wonders of the unique Cape Floral Kingdom. Always be prepared when hiking- take water and rain gear especially in winter.
Wine – not: If the weather sets in for a few days then the conditions are perfect for wine tasting – and you don’t have to travel too far to experience some of the best vintages the Cape has on offer. Hit the Constantia Valley for a taste of Napoleon’s favourite wine at Groot Constantia, then go beyond expectations at Buitenverwachting Vineyard and indulge at Steenberg Vineyard with a classic wine tasting. A short drive via Constantia Nek to Hout Bay, over Chapman’s Peak Drive and onto the southern slopes, you’ll find Cape Point Vineyards – the only wine of origin from Cape Point! It’s historical, it’s tasty and an excellent solution for those with Cabin Fever.
Retail therapy: If all else fails go shopping! The Cape Point Route has a distinctive lack of Chain stores and franchises making your shopping a unique and personal experience. Kalk Bay is one of the hot spots with everything from 17th Century sea maps to coffee sets and everything inbetween, including a fabulous bookstore for post activity relaxing! There is also a superb 2nd hand bookstore at the Foodbarn Deli at Noordhoek Farm Village – combined with a steaming mug of coffee and some deli delights.
Whilst at Noordhoek Farm Village, visit some of the shops and definitely make a plan to eat there – all 3 restaurants are superb. Dinner in a converted barn with a world acclaimed chef is probably the finest food for best value worldwide! Highly recommended is the Winter Special at the Foodbarn at R165 per person for a 3 course meal. You just can’t beat the relaxed style with classy fare at Café Roux and if a pub vibe is what you are craving – make sure you hang out at the Toad in the Village. Co-owned by former Rugby Springbok Bob Skinstad – sport, and in particular rugby, gets prime viewing on the big screen. Both Café Roux and the Toad have real fireplaces!
So the much feared Cabin Fever syndrome in the Cape of Storms with never ending rain and an average winter daily temperature of 17°C (not so bad really?) can be easily treated with hiking, biking or diving. F.O.M.O-itis can be tackled by sea kayak or boat trips and if in doubt there is plenty of red wine or warm beverages. Call your Cape Point Route doctor for ideas of where to go, what to see, how to get there, where to eat, where to stay or ask them to book any of the above for you. Tel: +27 (0)21 782 9356 or visit their website www.capepointroute.co.za
Thanks to the following photographers and companies for use of their images.
1. Table Mountain from Blouberg: Peter Haarhof – Cape Photographic Company
2. Simon’s Town harbour at Night: Peter Haarhof – Cape Photographic Company
3. Slangkoppunt Lighthouse: Peter Haarhof – Cape Photographic Company
4. Kakapo Shipwreck, Noordhoek Beach: Peter Haarhof – Cape Photographic Company
5. Shark Cage Diving, Simon’s Town: Chris Fallows – Apex
6. Learning to surf, Muizenberg: Learn 2 Surf
7. Kitesurfing Jump: Surf Store
8. Landsailing, Muizenberg: Blokart
9. Sea kayaking to the penguins: Jacques Marais
10. Spotted Seven Gill Cow Shark, Scuba Diving: Phil Parr and Pisces Divers
11. Camel Riding at Imhoff Farm: Jacques Marais
12. Winter Hiking: Sally Grierson
13. Cape PointVineyards: Cape Point Vineyards
14. Shopping at Noordhoek Farm Village: Jacques Marais c/o Noordhoek Farm Village
15. Water at the base of Chapman’s Peak Drive: Peter Haarhof – Cape Photographic Company