If Adventure Is Your Thing Then Cape Town Is Your Place
I was greeted in Cape Town airport with a glowing smile from my guide Edlein who informed me that we had to be quick as I had an appoint arranged at Table Mountain. I took his word for it and hurried along. No sooner had my plane landed and I was in a cable car on my way to the top of the mountain that dominates Cape Town. It’s easy to see why it’s called Table Mountain as it’s really tall with a massive plateau on the top that could easily have been used as a dinner table for dinosaurs. Once on top of the mountain I was brought to one side and strapped into a harness. I was ready to abseil over 100 meters down the side of the cliff, off Table Mountain. This basically set the tone for the rest of the time in South Africa.
In one week I managed to squeeze in so much adventure that if I live the rest of my life as a hermit I can die happily saying, I lived.
Ever Heard Of Scooting?
I hadn’t until of course, I was doing it down a really steep hill, holding on for dear life. Promising myself ‘I got this!’, whilst not completely convinced if I actually did or not. Scooting is basically like mountain biking down a mountain but using massive thick-wheeled off-road scooters instead. You need to lean back and hold on tight to navigate the bumps and rocks on the track.
There are brakes but if you pull too hard you are likely to go over the handlebars. I needed a bit of practice before I went fast. The scoots are really heavy and pick up speed rapidly so it’s not for the faint hearted or the unfit. I cycle regularly so was really grateful that I have good balance and, well, very little fear. There’s something broken inside my brain that turns these scary things into adrenaline and gives me the ultimate rush. So, when it comes to adventure activities there isn’t much I wouldn’t try. If you enjoy an adrenaline rush you’ve not lived until you try Scooting.
Diving With Great White Sharks
I know you’ve heard of great which shark cage diving. Cape Town or Gansbaai which is about an hour or so south is possibly the best place in the world to try this. It’s one adventure that has been niggling in my head for years. So when I got the opportunity to try it I was ecstatic. It didn’t disappoint. Not one but, two great whites showed up to meet me on the day I went out.
This is not always guaranteed as the sharks are wild animals and don’t exactly stick to a schedule. If you get more than a few glimpses of a shark in the wild and up close you should consider yourself very lucky. Remember how much of a privilege it is. Sharks generally avoid humans as we have been killing them for a very long time. This means that if you do get to see a great white, chances are it will be a medium size teenager. As sadly, many of the bigger ones have been lost to poachers. The two I saw were about 3 meters long not massive by Jaws standards but they did hang around and allow me to get closer than I could have prayed for in a million years.
I was in a cage with five others. We were wearing wetsuits and snorkelling equipment. The top of the cage is above the water and the body submerged. So when waiting for a shark to come you can stand up and breath. The staff of the boat shout to let you know when a shark is coming and that’s the signal to dive.
So I jumped under the water, grabbing on to a yellow horizontal bar provided inside the cage so no hands or fingers are outside. The shark comes along and snaps the bait provided outside of the cage. Then swims off, if you’re lucky they’ll hang around for a few seconds so you can get a closer look. In all seriousness, they are spectacularly beautiful and elegant creatures.
Paragliding Off Table Mountain in Cape Town
If paragliding takes your fancy, running off the side of Table Mountain harnessed into a parachute and hoping to pick up enough wind to fly out across the city is just one of the many adventures so prevalent in Cape Town. The city is along the coast and hugged by the mountain at the back so when you get to view it from the air the sights are stunning. Ironically paragliding is actually really relaxing. Being so high in the sky you can’t hear noise or traffic, just the quietness of the air. It feels like you’re floating in a sky chair soaking up all the views below. In order to take up the adventure level a notch or two, you can steer the parachute into a few turns to the right and the left. Speed depends on how hard you pull down on either side. But that’s something you can discuss with your tandem instructor. Personally, I opted to amp it up.
Cramming in Adventure
I went to South Africa with one thing in mind, adventure and this I got by the lorry load. I allowed a lion to lick my hand, took a selfie with a sea lion, was almost eaten by an ostrich, found a secret cave when hiking on the mountain and made some of my most precious memories. South Africa is also worth the trip if you are a foodie or a wine lover. I tried so many new foods, crocodile, warthog and springbok to mention a few. The wine region of Stellenbosh is within an hour drive of Cape Town. Get on the wine tram and spend the day or week tasting wine directly from the source. If you don’t drink just go for the views and nature. Cape Town just has it all and I can’t wait to get back there.