How To Make The Most Of 72 Hours In Cape Town
There are some major once-in-a-lifetime experiences to be had here.
South Africa is like Australia in the sense that it seems so far away from the rest of the world that it can be easily overlooked. Whether you’re into hiking, getting up-close-and-personal with wildlife, or delicious food and wine, Cape Town is the perfect base for an active and entertaining journey at the bottom of the continent.
When you make it to this part of the world, we recommend you extend your stay, as there are some major once-in-a-lifetime experiences to have in Cape Town. So we put together a adventure-packed, three-day itinerary.
Day one in Cape Town
Rent a car
If you want to make the most of your time and money in Cape Town, we recommend renting a car at the airport. It’s the best way to see the city and explore at your own pace.
After the 30-minute drive from the airport to the city centre, check into one of Cape Town’s many accommodations. Prices range depending on the season, so if you happen to visit during the low season (May through September), you might find more budget-friendly options. The best areas to set up camp are Cape Town City Centre or Green Point, as those neighbourhoods are close to hikes, beaches, shopping and food.
Lace up your hiking boots
Or, at least, put on your sneakers. After unloading your luggage, head straight to the magnificent Table Mountain. This flat-topped landmark is one of the world’s New7Wonders of Nature, looming 1000m above Cape Town.
You have the option of hiking it, which can take anywhere from one to three hours, depending on your route, or you can take the cable car up and back. The price and opening hours of the cable car vary depending on what time of day and year you visit, though admission starts at around R180 (AU$16) per person, one way.
Once you get to the top, you might find that your head is (literally) in the clouds. Spend some time taking in the breathtaking views of the city, including the curving shoreline and Lion’s Head (another nearby peak you can hike).
Get a little fancy
After crossing Table Mountain off your bucket list, hop into the car and check out some South African wineries. Vineyards are scattered throughout Cape Town and its surrounding cities, so you might only be able to fit two to three winery visits in an afternoon.
If you have the chance, check out Vergenoegd Wine Estate. It’s one of the most unique vineyards in the world as it uses an army of 800 Indian Runner ducks as pest management. These fearless duck soldiers snag snails out of the soil every day at 10:30am, 12:30pm and 3:30pm, so make sure to plan your visit around the duck parade – you don’t want to miss it.
The winery itself offers plenty of things to do such as tastings, cellar tours, picnics and a market every Saturday.
Day two in Cape Town
Pack the GoPro and buckle up
Today, you’re taking a 2-hour road trip down Route 43 to Gansbaai, the Great White capital of the world. This is where you’ll have the chance to get up-close-and-personal with Jaws – the ultimate adventure to go cage diving with Great Whites while you’re in South Africa.
Book an excursion with Marine Dynamics Shark Tours for a wild adventure. It’ll set you back R2100 (AU$220), but hey, this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience! If you’re not into cage diving, you can stay on the boat and still spot the sharks (although there’s no discount if you don’t get in the water).
Take a breather
You’re probably exhausted from an adrenaline-pumping day in Gansbaai. Once you’re back in the city centre, take a quick rest, then head to GOLD Restaurant for dinner, where you can dig into authentic African cuisine while enjoying live entertainment. It’s a set 14-course menu, so you’ll be able to experience all the continent’s unique tastes.
Day three in Cape Town
Throw on those sunnies
It’s time to hit up Cape Town’s beaches. Start your day at Llandudno Beach on the Atlantic coast of the peninsula. It’s a local spot with large, rolling waves perfect for surfing or boogie boarding. But be careful, it’s chilly!
Next, head to Simon’s Town to grab an afternoon snack at Cafe Penguino on Kleintuin Road. From there, walk to Boulders Beach and say hi to the hundreds of African penguins who’ve been hanging out there since the 1980’s. The entry fee is R5 (AU$0.50), which contributes to habitat conservation efforts.
After checking out the penguins, drive up the peninsula to the Cape of Good Hope. It’s open every day from 6am to 6pm (entry is $11 (R105) per person), when you can take a scenic walk along the towering cliffs that are 200m above the sea and look out to the bottom of the Earth. There’s a common misconception that this is the southernmost point of the African continent, but that’s actually 150km east, toward Cape Agulhas, where the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean meet.
We don’t blame you if you want to extend your stay after those thrilling 72 hours. Cape Town is a city you’ll never forget.
(Lead image: Tim Johnson)