With its breathtaking mountain ranges and rolling hills, Cape Town and its surrounds is a mountain biker’s heaven. Near countless trails dot the landscape from Table Mountain to Stellenbosch, Paarl and beyond offering stunning routes for riders of all skill levels – no wonder the area plays host the world-famous Cape Epic mountain bike stage race every year.

Here’s a look at some of the great mountain biking trails in Cape Town and its surrounds:

Table Mountain

Situated on the edge of the city bowl, this network of trails run along the lower slopes of Table Mountain, connecting with the Tafelberg Contour Road (that runs past the cable way station). These trails are accessible from either Deer Park in Vredehoek, or Tafelberg Road off Kloofnek road.

Contermanskloof Farm

Just outside the city, on the outskirts of Durbanville lies the Contermanskloof farm. Local trail-building legend Meurant Botha designed the single track on the farm, and includes a variety of fun switch-backs and banked and graded single-tracks.

Jonkershoek

Cape Town’s most famous neighbour, Stellenbosch, is a little Mecca for mountain bikers, and includes a myriad of trails, the arguably most prominent of which is Jonkershoek. Situated in a commercial forest, the trails change all the time due to regular harvesting, keeping things interesting no matter how many times you visit. Jonkershoek has something for every fat tyre enthusiast.

Mountain biking Cape Town

Tokai Forest

Tokai Forest in the city’s southern suburbs is one of the most well-known mountain biking spots in the region, offering something for all ages and skill levels from lush forest to barren jeep track, including the excruciating climb up to the radio mast. Sadly, due to the devastating fires of 2015 many trails are closed for rehabilitation and will only open towards the end of 2016.

Dirtopia

Just outside Stellenbosch is the Delvera wine estate. This is where you will find trail-building guru Meurant Botha, and with him at the helm, the estate offers a complete mountain biking experience with trails that suit all levels. There’s also a shop where you can get some last-minute riding supplies, or even rent a mountain bike.

Rhebokskloof

Situated in Paarl, just down the road from Stellenbosch, Rhebokskloof is another great riding spot for all levels of skill and fitness. It features long stretches of flowing single-track and if you’re willing to sweat it all the way to the top of the hill, panoramic views of the Paarl valley awaits you.

Helderberg

Speaking of views, the Helderberg Trails just outside Somerset West has some of the most magnificent views of any trail in South Africa. Looking out over False Bay and the Table Mountain, there’s something for everyone at Helderberg, situated on the Helderplaas farm, even the most hardcore riders will feel at home, as it’s also a favourite spot for downhill competitions.

 

Source: capetowntravel

Don’t fancy sharing your patch of sand with hundreds of other sunseekers? Check out our pick of lesser trodden beaches, tipped by those in the know.

With temperatures set to soar for the next few months, we thought it was time to reveal a few secret beaches – stunning stretches of honeyed sand or cool coves that remain uncrowded even on a sunny weekend in December. You might want to pack a picnic (and wear some comfortable shoes to get there), but the reward will be your very own patch of beach (and the soothing soundtrack of gently lapping waves). Paradise is a road trip away…

1. PLATBOOM


 Tim Young

Cape Point offers a fine selection of secluded, largely secret beaches (as you will see from our list) – but Platboom (Afrikaans for flat tree) is certainly our best pick, as it’s possibly the wildest, most unspoilt beach in the entire region.
Access runs past Dias Cross, though previous visitors recommend the north-south hike from Gifkommetjie (a 4km route).
With coastal views, and surrounding vegetation and fauna (including the occasional ostrich and baboon), the white expanses of sand are largely deserted, making this one of Cape Town’s most unique and unchartered beaches.
Why we love it There are chalk-white sand dunes and some rocky outcrops to explore, and it’s equally ideal for long, undisturbed strolls along the amazing coastline.
Secret pleasures It’s great for kite- and windsurfing, as it is very exposed – though these outdoor activities are really just for the pros. Due to its seclusion, swimming is not especially recommended, though you can certainly dip your feet into these pristine Atlantic waters!
It’s perfect for: birdwatching, photography, beach strolls and picnicking – just don’t feed Cape Point’s famous Chacma baboons.
Best time to visit during opening hours: 6am – 6pm (October to March); 7am – 5pm (April – September). Although the nature reserve is open throughout the year, spring and summertime are certainly our picks for the fairer weather.
Cost Cape Point Nature Reserve tariff: R145 (adults); R75 (children).
Where it’s hidden some 4.9km from the heart of Cape Point Nature Reserve.
Contact 021 780 9010, info@capepoint.co.za

2. DIAZ BEACH

Secret Beach – Diaz
Pinterest

One of Cape Point’s more famous beaches (though still definitely a secret unlocked by only a select few of the reserve’s numerous daily visitors), Diaz Beach makes for a truly unforgettable experience. Oh, and did we mention that it’s one of Cape Town’s most beautiful beaches, too?
Perhaps the reason Diaz remains largely undisturbed is because of the 20-minute walk from the parking lot down a rather steep set of wooden stairs. But for the stunning views alone, it’s undoubtedly worth it, as Diaz will render you breathless in the best possible way!
Why we love it It makes you feel truly alive, as you stand on its unspoilt shoreline and gaze at the crashing waves, towering cliff faces and unrivalled beauty. It is literally situated at the tip of Cape Point (on the western side) and is encircled by dramatic cliffs and wild waves.
Secret pleasures For the brave surfers and bodyboarders among us, you’ll love tackling its hollow barrels. However, swimming can be very risky here, due to the strong currents, so rather just wet your feet.
Best time to visit during opening hours: 6am – 6pm (October to March); 7am – 5pm (April – September). Try arrive early to make the most of your time and avoid the wind.
Cost Cape Point Nature Reserve tariff: R145 (adults); R75 (children).
Where it’s hidden A steep walk down from the Cape Point Nature Reserve.
Contact 021 780 9010, info@capepoint.co.za

3. PREEKSTOEL

Hidden Beach – Preekstoel
Tanya Michelle

The West Coast is a land of flourishing fynbos reserves, peaceful fishing villages and pristine beaches, including this 25km stretch of sandy coastline near the Langebaan Lagoon. The beach is named for the preekstoel (preacher’s pulpit in Afrikaans), a rock formation that juts out of the sand at the point where it touches the water, providing convenient shelter for those frolicking in the shallows below.
Why we love it for the long stretch of sandy coastline, pressed up against rugged cliff faces. There’s even a rusted shipwreck to add to the mystique.
Secret pleasures The warm waters are suitable for swimming, snorkelling and fishing, and the length of the beach makes it ideal for a long walk. Though braaing on the beach is not permitted, there is a braai area and picnic spot next to the Langebaan Lagoon.
Best time to visit Spring, when the West Coast comes alive with colourful wild flowers. Opening hours are 7am – 7pm (September to March) and 7am – 6pm (April to August).
Cost West Coast National Park tariff: R54 – R76 (adults, depending on season) ; R27 – R38 (children, depending on season)
Where it’s hidden West Coast National Park, between Yzerfontein and Langebaan on the R27.
Contact 022 772 2144, moipone.thathane@sanparks.org or reservations@sanparks.org
072 873 6453 (emergency number)

4. OLIFANTSBOS BEACH

Secret Beach – Olifantsbos
Ellie Shepley Montgomerie

This small, sandy beach in the Cape Point Nature Reserve is edged by wild, natural fynbos, and its stretch of coastline offers you the chance to discover at least three shipwrecks, which bear testament to the ferocity of the infamous Cape of Storms.
It is also a marine protected area and has a nearby shallow lagoon, which draws wonderful coastal birdlife to the area.
Why we love it Not only is it one of Cape Point’s best-kept secrets, it even has its own secluded guesthouse – a little, self-catering cottage nestled at the foot of a rocky outcrop and overlooking the peaceful, windswept beach. (Booking in advance is advisable.)
Secret pleasures Great birdwatching (and sometimes the occasional bontebok sighting too), several well-marked hiking trails (including the Shipwreck and Sirkelsvlei Hikes), and delightful beach walks along its pristine shoreline. Surfing is also great here, especially when there’s an incoming tide and the southeaster blows.
Best time to visit during opening hours: 6am – 6pm (October to March); 7am – 5pm (April – September)
Cost Cape Point Nature Reserve tariff: R145 (adults); R75 (children)
Where it’s hidden the first turn-off after the Cape Point Nature Reserve entrance on the reserve’s western side.
Contact 021 780 9010, info@capepoint.co.za

5. DALEBROOK

Hidden Beaches Cape Town – Dalebrook
Ed Babb

Kalk Bay’s tidal pools are a popular attraction, but not all visitors to the sleepy seaside village have discovered Dalebrook Pool, and those that have are reluctant to share it.
Why we love it The pool is maintained by the City Council, which combined with the natural barracuda effect provided by the waves, produces a particularly clean swimming area (as well as a secluded one, since the popular St James Tidal Pool tends to draw most of the crowds).
Secret pleasures The tidal pools are enclosed by man-made cement walls, which are still low enough to allow the occasional wave to break over, gently buffeting the pool’s occupants and making for a particularly enjoyable yet safe swimming experience.
Best time to visit Those who prefer warmer water will want to visit during the summer, though an icy dip during the winter can be quite invigorating.
Cost Free
Where it’s hidden Off Kalk Bay Main Road, opposite Dalebrook Road. A small subway goes under the railway line, providing easy access to the pool.
Contact Desiree.Mentor@capetown.gov.za

6. MACLEAR BEACH

Beaches Cape Town – Maclear
Natalie Soares

This quiet, isolated beach is yet another Cape Point gem, reached by following one or two fynbos-lined footpaths. Considered one of the most secluded beaches around, it lies just off the Cape of Good Hope, meaning it literally sits pretty near Africa’s most southwesterly point.
Why we love it The views are truly spectacular and it’s no wonder that years ago, Irish-born South African astronomer, Sir Thomas Maclear (after whom the beach is named), used to bundle his family into the horse-and-cart on Sunday mornings and travel all the way from Observatory just to picnic there.
Secret pleasures Picnicking, exploring rock pools, excellent diving, as well as crayfish, yellowtail and other kinds of fishing.
Best time to visit during opening hours: 6am – 6pm (October to March); 7am – 5pm (April – September), as well as spring low tide when the rockpools are at their best and there’s more beach to enjoy. There is also ample parking nearby, making it more accessible than Cape Point’s other beaches.
Cost Cape Point Nature Reserve tariff: R145 (adults); R75 (children)
Where it’s hidden close to the Cape of Good Hope, in the Cape Point Nature Reserve.
Contact 021 780 9010, info@capepoint.co.za

7. WATER’S EDGE

Cape Town Beaches – Water's Edge
Christoph

Off the beaten track, this one is considered something of a local secret in Simon’s Town.
Found at the end of paved pathway – running from the Seaforth Beach parking lot and past the back of Seaforth Restaurant – this beach offers a delightful, secluded bay, stunning views and a largely private day at the beach in one of Cape Town’s most popular seaside locations.
Why we love it It has the added benefit of lying between Seaforth and Boulders Beaches, which famously draw the crowds, yet it remains relatively undiscovered… In fact, most people don’t even know it exists! It is also a haven for children, making it a family-friendly option.
Secret pleasures largely untouched rockpools – inhabited by starfish, sea anemones, molluscs and other interesting sea creatures – as well as a pretty, sheltered bay, complete with shade-providing trees and awesome granite boulders. If you’re lucky, you might spot some penguins too. It makes for wonderful picnicking, swimming, diving and snorkelling, with great exploration fun and castle-building opportunities for the little ones.
Best time to visit during the day whenever the weather is best (or the other False Bay beaches are too crowded).
Cost Free
Where it’s hidden between Seaforth and Boulders Beach in Simon’s Town.
Contact 021 786 8440, simonstown@capetown.travel

8. WINDMILL BEACH

Windmill Beach Simon's Town
Samantha Sivewright

The lesser-known sibling of Boulders Beach, and similar in appearance, this spot is tucked away behind the golf course in Simon’s Town, surrounded by granite boulders that make for a conveniently sheltered swimming area.
Why we love it A colourful array of sea life dwells among the rocks, and since it’s around the corner from the penguin colony, you’re bound to see some visitors of the flippered variety. The water is shallow and sheltered by the boulders, making for a safe swimming area that kids love, especially if a few penguins happen to flop by.
Secret pleasures Great for swimming, snorkeling and picnicking. Since the reef contains such a diversity of sea life, it’s a popular diving spot, and especially ideal for novice divers due to the protected nature of the cove. Dogs are also welcome.
Best time to visit On a calm day, when there’s no swell. Winter is best as the swell is usually low. The site is relatively sheltered from the wind but can get rough when there’s a southeaster.
Important note There are no lifeguards or shark spotters on duty, and facilities are minimal. There’s a fresh-water shower, changing rooms and public toilets (though they’re not in the best condition).
Cost Free
Where it’s hidden Simon’s Town, behind the golf course. Accessed via Bellevue Road. Parking is available at Links Crescent, which is your first right after the golf course.
Contact 021 786 8440, simonstown@capetown.travel

9. SUNSET BEACH

Sunset Beach Western Cape
Jacobo

If you fancy sunsets and long walks on the beach, get them both – along with a view of Table Mountain that’s ready-made for postcards.
Why we love it It’s a lesser known alternative to Melkbos and Blouberg, free from the holiday hordes. It also offers some of the best views to be had from any beach in the Cape, with Table Mountain and Robben Island as the backdrop.
Secret pleasures Picnicking, sunbathing, swimming and bodyboarding. It’s also rated as the third best windsurfing spot in the world, after Hawaii and New Zealand.
Best time to visit As the name suggests, you’ll want to be here during late afternoon, so you can enjoy the spectacular sunsets.
Cost Free
Where it’s hidden Blaauwberg
Contact 021 550 1111

10. SCARBOROUGH BEACH

27 Des 2017 1

A secluded beach clear of crowds and visited only by the occasional surfer (or celebrity chef looking for a place to pick mussels). Dogs are welcome, but the locals would appreciate it if you helped keep their sandy hideaway a secret.
Important note The stretch of beach between Noordhoek and Kommetjie has seen an increase in criminal activity in recent times, including several reports of violent incidents. Visitors are urged to be cautious and alert if they choose to travel through this area. You can contact Komwatch for more information.
Why we love it The stretch of pristine white sand beside turquoise waters is a vision of idyllic seclusion and coastal beauty, and it’s great that your pooch gets to enjoy it too.
Secret pleasures The strong winds make it an ideal spot for windsurfing and kite-flying, though perhaps not such a great location for picnics. Be cautious if taking a dip, as the area is prone to rip currents.
Best time to visit Any time during daylight hours. Be sure to first check the wind forecasts.
Cost Free (dog-walkers require an annual Level 1 My Activity Permit (R270), as the beach falls within the jurisdiction of the Table Mountain National Park).
Contact 021 712 0527, tablem@sanparks.org (Table Mountain National Park)
021 712 7471 (information on My Activity Permits)
Where it’s hidden Camel Rock Road, Scarborough

You’ll also find peace and quiet at…

Gifkommetjie Beach (Cape Point)
Frank’s Bay (aka Froggy Pond, Simon’s Town)
Fisherman’s Beach (Simon’s Town)
Beta Beach (Bakoven)

 

Source for The Best Secret Beaches in Cape Town 2018 first appeared on insideguide.co.za

sunset-special

Every sunset in Cape Town is special – and now with our Sunset Special offer, everybody can enjoy the spectacle from the top of Table Mountain.

If there is one landmark that characterises Cape Town it is Table Mountain. Often underestimated as a pure tourist attraction, the flat-topped mountain is a piece of true wilderness in one of Africa’s major tourism hubs. Find out how to ascend the top of Cape Town at your own pace.

Table Mountain tops the to-do list of most Cape Town travellers. Unfortunately the ascent of the 1086m plateau doesn’t come cheap and ill-prepared tourists have to be rescued too often. But with some reasonable preparation and average levels of fitness the views from the plateau will be one of the highlights of your stay in Cape Town. Here’s where to start.

From Cape Town: Platteklip and Cable Car

If you want to get to the top quickly, you will want to start your journey from town. From Tafelberg Road you can either take the Cable Car or take a steep 2hrs hike up Plattteklip Gorge. Platteklip is the most accessible and direct route to the top. While it is not the most interesting path, the views offer ample reward for your efforts. Prepare to be baked on sunny days or chilled to the bone when the Tablecloth (the thick cloud that characteristically covers the mountain in south-easterly winds) blows over.

Taking on a 1086m mountain is a real challenge and there is no shame in opting out of it. The Cable Car offers the same stunning views at R180 for a return journey (book online here). Make sure to catch the Summer Sunset Special available from November to the end of February.

From Kirstenbosh: Skeleton Gorge and Nursery Ravine

Judas Peak Table Mountain

The routes from Kirstenbosch combine the ascent of Cape Town’s premier landmark, with one of the world’s most beautiful and diverse botanical gardens. A fee of R35 is payable at the park entrance, but if you make it to the gates before 7.30am you can slip in free of charge.

Once in the garden you have two signposted options: Nursery Ravine and Skeleton Gorge. While Nursery Ravine offers scenic views framed by towering cliffs, Skeleton Gorge follows a mountain stream through thick forest. Both routes take about 2hrs to the top. Note that these routes do not take you to the plateau. It will take you another 1.5hrs to get to Maclear’s Beacon or the Cable Station, but there is really not obligation to do so. Both Kirstenbosch routes are perfectly rewarding in themselves.

From Camps Bay: Kasteelspoort and Diagonal Traverse

The Camps Bay side of Table Mountain offers magnificent views of the Atlantic Ocean. The hikes on this side all start from the Pipe Track. You can get to it from either the parking lot at Kloof Nek or via Camps Bay Drive and up Fiskaal Road. The Pipe Track in itself is an easy walk with great views. Those who wish to ascent the mountain can turn off onto either Kasteelsport or the Diagonal Traverse. Both routes are quite exposed and conditions can change quickly. Be prepared for intense sunshine as well as sudden cloud cover.

10 Essential Safety Measures

As you start the ascent of Table Mountain you leave civilisation and its amenities behind. Climbing Table Mountain is safe, if you are well prepared that is. Too many people fail to comply with basic safety measures and find themselves in situations they cannot handle. So please be smart and consider the following simple rules:

  1. Never leave the path – you will put yourself at risk and damage the environment
  2. Don’t hike alone – it’s best to go with experienced hiker or a professional guide
  3. Be prepared for all kinds of weather – the weather in Cape Town is notoriously unpredictable
  4. Take enough water – you need it and you can’t buy it on the mountain
  5. Wear sturdy shoes (comfortable trainers are ok, hiking boots are better)
  6. Take sun screen and a sun hat – Cape Town’s sun is INTENSE
  7. Take a warm top and rain proof – directly related to the moody weather
  8. If you get stuck call for help and stay put – moving targets are harder to locate
  9. Mountain Rescue – if you really can’t get out of a situation call 10177
  10. Don’t over challenge yourself – there is no obligation to make it to the top. Be reasonable.

The Table Mountain Aerial Cableway Company has been providing visitors with a world-class experience since October 4, 1929.

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Before the Cableway was established, the only way up Cape Town’s iconic mountain was by foot – a climb undertaken only by adventurous souls, such as the famous Capetonian, Lady Anne Barnard. By the late 1870s, several of Cape Town’s more prominent (and possibly less fit) citizens had suggested the introduction of a railway to the top. Plans to build a rack railway were proposed, but implementation was halted by the outbreak of the First Anglo-Boer War in 1880.

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By 1912, engineer HM Peter was commissioned by the Cape Town City Council to investigate options for a public transport system, and a funicular railway from Oranjezicht through Platteklip Gorge was suggested. In a referendum on the matter, the vast majority of Cape Town’s residents voted in favour of the funicular – despite the staggering cost of £100 000 (an immense amount of money in those days).

Plans for this were halted once again by the outbreak of the First World War, before a Norwegian engineer named Trygve Stromsoe suggested a cableway in 1926.

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CONSTRUCTION STARTS

The scheme caught the interest of a group of influential businessmen after Stromsoe approached Sir Alfred Hennessy and showed him a functioning scale model of his idea. Hennessy and fellow investors, Sir David Graaff and Sir Ernest Oppenheimer, formed The Table Mountain Aerial Cableway Company (TMACC) to finance construction, with Stromsoe taking the fourth seat on the board of directors. After two years of tireless and often dangerous work, the Cableway was opened in 1929 and has a proud history of being totally accident-free since then.

For more than 85 years, the company has been committed to providing visitors with a memorable experience and delivering outstanding service, while being passionate about preserving our natural environment (read more about our commitment to responsible tourism).

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FUN FACTS

The Cableway has transported over 24-million people to the summit of Table Mountain
Each of the two cable cars can carry 65 people
More than 800 people can enjoy the trip every hour
The floor of the circular cabin rotates to allow travellers 360° views
The cable cars’ circular shape ensures excellent aerodynamics and stability
Approximately 909 000 visitors from all over the world use the Cableway annually
Tickets can be bought online from anywhere in the world
The cable cars travel at a maximum speed of 10m per second
The cable cars take four to five minutes to reach the top of the mountain
Each of the Cableway’s cables is 1 200m in length
The cables weigh 18 tons and are attached to counter-weights weighing 134 tons each
The cable car base is a water tank with a 4 000l capacity. This provides fresh water for visitors, and is used as ballast in windy conditions
The cable cars can carry up to 5 200kg each

CABLEWAY UPGRADES

The cableway has been upgraded three times – in 1958, 1974 and, more recently, in 1997, when the cars with revolving floors, called Rotairs, were introduced. Cable cars similar to the ones used at Table Mountain are in use at Titlis in Switzerland and Palm Springs in the United States. The cable cars take visitors up 704m, from the Lower Cable Station at 363m above sea level to the Upper Cable Station at 1 067m above sea level.

The Table Mountain Aerial Cableway is very proud of its awards and achievements, most notably its International Organization for Standardization (ISO) status for its environmental management system.

The company achieved its ISO 14001 status in 2003 and again in 2009.

 

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