IN & AROUND CAPE TOWN

PMGY volunteer in South Africa participants are based in Sea Point, a fantastic cosmopolitan spot in Cape Town with a great vibe. The Promenade runs the length of Sea Point’s beachfront, from Bantry Bay to Mouille Point and is the ideal place to walk, jog and watch the sunset. The beach provides a nice spot for just chilling out and relaxing in the sun.

 

There is a host of pubs, music clubs, coffee shops and restaurants. Sea Point’s vibrant nightlife creates a carnival atmosphere for visitors and locals alike. The beaches of Clifton and Camps Bay are not too far off, and the V&A Waterfront and Two Oceans Aquarium are just minutes away.

 

In fact the possibilities in Cape Town during your time off are endless and you may well struggle to fit everything in! Whether you want to stay in the city or explore the rest of the Western Cape there really is something for everyone.

Cape Towns working harbour the Victoria and Albert Waterfront is a cosmopolitan and chic place to hang out

THE V&A WATERFRONT

Located in the heart of Cape Town’s working harbour the Waterfront offers visitors an abundance of experiences. You will find a range of restaurants, shops and hotels surrounding the highly impressive marina. There is usually live music being played throughout the day. The Waterfront is only a stone’s throw away from the Cape Town Stadium and is about a 20 minute walk from the Volunteer House. It is definitely worth a look!

LONG STREET

Situated in the City Bowl, Long Street is the main hangout spot for backpackers in Cape Town. It is famous for its bohemian feel and the street is lined with bars, restaurants and interesting shops. Many of the backpacker hostels are located on Long Street and it is the main place to go if you want to experience Cape Town’s exciting nightlife.

Long Street is backpacker central in the heart of Cape Town
Table Mountain, one of Cape Towns most popular attractions

TABLE MOUNTAIN

One of the most popular attractions in Cape Town is Table Mountain. It stands 1000m above sea level and the summit can be accessed via cable car. If you’re feeling energetic then you can always trek to the top! The journey takes around 1.5 hours. It is a challenging trek but the views from the summit are truly spectacular. The cable car is weather dependent so don’t rely on it to take you back down to the bottom! There is a restaurant at the top, it’s quite pricey but if you took the trekking option it’s a nice place to sit and relax. For the adrenaline junkies there is an abseiling company who operate from the top of Table Mountain, it’s the highest commercial abseil in the world.

ROBBEN ISLAND

Used as a prison right up until 1996, this Unesco World Heritage site is preserved as a memorial to those such as Nelson Mandela who spent many years incarcerated there. You can only go there on a tour lasting around 4 hours. It includes the ferry and departs from the Nelson Mandela Gateway beside the Clock Tower at the Waterfront. Booking online well in advance is highly recommended as tours can sell out.

 

The tours, which have set departure and return times, include a walk through the old prison (with the obligatory peek into Mandela’s cell), as well as a 45-minute bus ride around the island with commentary on the various places of note, such as the lime quarry in which Mandela and many others slaved, and the church used during the island’s stint as a leper colony.

The UNESCO World Heritage Site Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated
Volunteer in Vietnam

FURTHER AFIELD

HERMANUS - WHALE WATCHING

Hermanus offers some of the best shore based and sea based whale-watching opportunities in the world. Every year from July to November the Southern Right Whales return to the waters off the cliffs of this seaside town to mate and breed. You also might be lucky enough to spot seals and dolphins. The holiday town of Hermanus has its share of boutique shops, art and craft studios and of course excellent restaurants.

A breached Southern Right Whale
Cape Point in Table Mountain National Park

CAPE OF GOOD HOPE

Also called Cape Point, this 77.50-sq-km section of Table Mountain National Park includes awesome scenery, fantastic walks, great birdwatching and often deserted beaches. Some 250 species of birds have been spotted here, including cormorants and a family of ostriches that hang out near the Cape, the most south western point of the continent.

 

There are many bus tours to the reserve but, if you have the time, hiking or cycling through it is much more rewarding. Bear in mind, though, that there is minimal shade and that the weather can change quickly.

BOULDERS BEACH PENGUINS

They have to be the most famous penguins in the world with up to 60,000 visitors a year making the trip to Simonstown to get a real close up of this huge urbanised colony. Penguin viewing is made easier by boardwalks that traverse the beaches and an information centre. The story of this penguin colony began in 1983 when a pair were spotted on Foxy Beach at Boulders. Abundant food and breeding sites meant the population has soared since and visitors are drawn to their cute waddling ways.

Visit the world's most famous penguins at Boulders Beach, Cape Town
A lion and her cub, one of the most famous of Africa's Big 5

WILDLIFE SAFARI

The more popular and impressive wildlife safaris are located towards the north of the country near Johannesburg. If you have the time and budget to spare it is worth making the journey to Kruger National Park (the largest protected wildlife reserve in South Africa). You will need around 4 spare days to make the trip worthwhile and most trips include an afternoon safari, a sunrise walking safari and a night drive safari.

 

It you want a cheaper and a more convenient option nearer to Cape Town then the Garden Route Game Reserve makes a great alternative. These trips usually last for 2 days and they give you to the chance to spot the Big 5 of Africa, visit an ostrich farm and interact and feed elephants.

FRANSCHHOEK & STELLENBOSCH - WINE REGIONS

Franschhoek is one of the loveliest towns in the cape, one of the world’s gastronomic capitals and the centre of one of South Africa’s main wine growing regions. Only an hour from Cape Town it’s a great place to chill out, relax and of course wine-taste. Neighbouring Stellenbosch is only half an hour away with its vast array of wine estates to visit.

Vineyards from Africa's abundant wine region
A great white shark saying hello to the divers!

SHARK CAGE DIVING

Approximately 2.5 hours out of Cape Town is Gansbaai. This small town has been made famous as one of the only places in the world where you can dive with Great White Sharks. Tours to Gansbaai depart daily and it is usually an early start! Once you have arrived and had some breakfast it’s time to grab your wetsuit, get on the boat and head across the bay to ‘shark alley’. The next few hours will be spent ‘interacting’ with the sharks in the special cage or onboard the boat. This is a once in a lifetime experience and is definitely something not to be missed.

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