Cape Town’s Top 5 Outdoor & Wildlife Experiences
By: Mike Jerrard
Africa is known for its richness of wildlife and although Cape Town may not be home to the main attractions found in places like the Serengeti such as lions and elephants, it does offer an abundance of animals, many of which cannot be found around the rest of Africa. Here are our top picks for areas around Cape Town where you are assured to witness truly wild animal experiences.
False Bay and Seal Island
Waking up at 4:30AM was no easy task but the reward was well worth it. From Simon’s Town one can head out on the water to witness one of nature’s top apex predators, the Great white shark. An early start is a must to catch them feeding as they hunt the thousands of Cape fur seals around Seal Island. We were amazed at the sheer size of the giants. Getting to dive with such a powerful animal is one of life’s must do bucket list items which we were extremely grateful to tick off for ourselves.
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens
Just a very small entrance fee gives you some of the most beautiful views of the iconic Table Mountain and the opportunity to see an abundance of wildlife especially when it comes to birdlife. We came across ridiculously beautifully colored sunbirds, sugarbirds with their incredibly long tails more than twice the size of their body, guinea fowl, owls, and Egyptian geese which look as though they were painted. Add gorgeous flowers, butterflies, and the occasional rare glimpse of a Carcal cat or porcupine and you truly have a must visit place for nature lovers.
Penguin Colonies at Boulders and Stony Point
We could not help but fall in love with the African Jackass Penguin. Watching their antics and feeding of their young is something we will not soon forget. Both Boulders beach and Stony Point offer the opportunity to get up close and personal with these loveable birds via accessible boardwalks. You will literally be within arm’s length of hundreds of penguins, although DON’T touch as they will bite. For less crowds and a more economical entrance fee, Stony Point is the better option along with a better chance to also see the cute chubby Rock hyrax or dassie surprisingly related to modern day elephants.
With breathtaking sea cliff views and an abundance of wildlife, Cape Point is a must and we recommend hiring a car for a quick self drive from Cape Town. Take your time as you scan the fields and hillsides for Cape mountain zebra, ostrich, and antelope. We were lucky enough to spend an afternoon with a troop of baboons along the beach as they went about their daily lives raising their young. It was an experience right out of an Attenborough documentary. The area is large enough to get away from the main crowds clustered around the Cape of Good Hope and experience solitude in true African wilderness.
Drive from Cape Town to Hermanus
A great day trip from Cape Town is to take the R44 drive which winds around the southern coast towards Hermanus, the whale watching capital of the world. The drive passes through some incredible nature preserves such as Kogelberg and Fernkloof which is home to elusive leopards. A great place to stay in the middle of everything is Arabella Hotel & Spa which offers an abundance of wildlife itself which can be seen on and around their beautiful golf course. Once again birdlife takes top honors as one can see everything from flamingos to eagles. Stony Point penguin colony is also along the route to Hermanus.