IN & AROUND CAPE TOWN

PMGY volunteer in South Africa participants are based in the Observatory – better known as ‘Obz’ by the locals! Home to South African’s oldest Astronomical Observatory, this is CapeTown’s most bohemian suburb; an arty district. During the day, this road is home to various boutique shops, restaurants and cafes. However, at night, the street comes to life, with an awesome night life supplied by various bars and clubs, pubs and pool halls!

 

The opportunities 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.

 

Participants generally volunteer on a Monday-Friday basis and the weekends are free to relax or travel further afield. As our volunteers will testify, the wider travel opportunities are extremely important to the whole experience and it is something we certainly recommend you get involved in. Our local team are able to arrange activities, transportation and accommodation but please note this is usually an independent experience outside of the core programme.

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 Victoria and Albert Waterfront offers visitors an abundance of experiences. It is one of Africa’s most visited cultural and historical hubs, set on the edge of a natural, historic working harbour with the iconic Table Mountain as its backdrop. 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 definitely worth a look!

LONG STREET

Situated in the City Bowl, Long Street is the main hangout spot for backpackers in Cape Town and is famous for its bohemian feel. 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. Once the vintage clothing shops and designers alleys are closed, attention is turned to the plethora of bars, restaurants, pubs and clubs lining this iconic road. This road is always busy but in the summertime locals and foreigners explore out onto the pavements at sidewalk cafes and party on the rooftops.

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.

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 go on a 4-hour tour which includes a walk through the old prison (with the obligatory peek into Mandela’s cell), as well as a commentated bus ride around the island. You will see the lime quarry in which Mandela and many others slaved and the church used during the island’s stint as a leper colony. The ferry departs from the Nelson Mandela Gateway beside the Clock Tower at the Waterfront.

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 hundreds of Southern Right whales find their way to Walker’s Bay, making the town the whale-watching capital of South Africa. The whales, which spend the winter feeding on plankton in Antarctic waters, come up to the relatively warmer waters of the southern Atlantic to calve and breed. 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 77.5 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 southwestern 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

Cape Town has no shortage of amazing beaches but Boulders Beach in False Bay offers something extra special. It is home to a colony of African Penguins. They have to be the most famous penguins in the world with up to 60,000 visitors a year. 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 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. If you want a cheaper and a more convenient option nearer to Cape Town then the Garden Route Game Reserve is a great alternative.

FRANSCHHOEK & STELLENBOSCH - WINE REGIONS

The area is exceptionally beautiful and the quality of wine and food in the wine estates is stupendous. 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. There are an approximate 160 wineries in the Stellenbosch area alone.

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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