Summer 2014 is about to kick off with these six new things to do in Cape Town.
Boomslang Treetop Canopy Walk
The long-awaited ‘Boomslang’ treetop canopy walk at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens opened to much acclaim this year.
The Boomslang is 130m long and starts at ground level using the natural slope to rise to 11.5m at its highest point. It is wheelchair friendly, and there is no extra fee to walk on it. It is a curved steel bridge designed to flex and move back and forth so it will sway slightly as you walk on it, but it is completely safe and engineered to take far heavier loads and windier conditions. It takes its name from the boomslang (tree snake) because of the appearance of the structure.
The walkway is situated in the Arboretum, the area of the Garden between the Concert Lawn, Mathews Rockery, The Cycad Amphitheatre and Protea Garden. Go to Van Riebeeck’s Hedge (at the top of the Concert Lawn), from there follow the path up towards the Proteas and Cycads, the Walkway is on your right hand side.
Two Oceans Aquarium new exhibits
The Two Oceans Aquarium in the V&A Waterfront is in the process of adding to its already awesome exhibits. The newest additions, which will be ready by summer, include a new predator exhibit, an Antarctic display, an enlarged children’s play centre and an extended river meander exhibit. This is very exciting and we can’t wait to see it. Follow the progress of the construction here.
A great way to experience the marine life of Cape Town is to add a marine eco-tour to your Aquarium visit. A high-performance catamaran, the Ocean Adventurer, will take you out for 90 minutes into Table Bay, focussing on the rich biodiversity of the area. Due to the phenomenon of upwelling, whereby cold ocean currents are carried upwards towards the warmer water near the surface, the water around Table Bay is rich in nutrients, and this helps to sustain a marine ecosystem abundant in wildlife. You’ll see dolphins and, as they swim with the boat, you’ll learn that they are actually coming to view humans and not the other way around.
Vegetables are back in the Company’s Garden
This is the oldest garden in South Africa because a vegetable garden was the first European activity in the Cape in 1652 and the reason for European settlement here. Over the years the gardens, substantially reduced in size and now central to the city, were turned into a flower garden with lawns and roses and fountains. Now, as part of reclaiming the city’s roots, a section of the rose garden has been turned back into a potager. There’s a large selection of vegetables and herbs and it’s coming on beautifully. We hope the new restaurant (see below) will be buying most of their produce.
Locals love the Company’s Garden – at any time of year you will see people strolling, resting or having lunch on the lawns. Buy a bag of peanuts at the entrance and feed the very tame squirrels.
Haarlem & Hope Restaurant
Next to the new vegetable garden is the restaurant which has been taken over by the Madame Zingara Group. To be named Haarlem & Hope, for the Dutch ship the Nieuwe Haarlem, which brought the Garden’s first planters to the Cape in 1647, this eatery will be the Zingara Group’s sixth restaurant in Cape Town. Expected to open in October, we look forward to this and hope that the charm and spirit of the Garden will be maintained in the informal manner of the previous establishment. Their aim is to build on these traditions and create even more recreational and educational events and activities.
Craft Market at the V&A Waterfront – The Watershed
New name, new look and new content for Cape Town’s newest dedicated craft and design space.
Formally known as the Blue Shed, the Watershed has been completely transformed and in October will open with over 150 traders, double the previous volume, masses of light, and exhibition/event space.
“The new retail focus is a celebration of African craft and design. The Watershed will have a wide product offering across various categories, all creatively designed, beautifully crafted, and produced entirely in Africa. The collection will be curated by Trevyn McGowan of Source, a well-known figure in both the local and international design world. Categories to be included in the new Watershed space include art, ceramics, craft, fashion and accessories, furniture and furnishings, gifting, jewellery, curios and textiles and soft furnishings.” Click here for more information.
Elgin Cape Canopy Tours – not quite in Cape Town but close enough
In early August, a high-as-the-heavens canopy tour opened in the mountains of the Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve in Elgin, only an hour from the city. “It’s really quite surreal,” sums up Ryan Larkman, co-founder of the Cape Canopy Tour. “You’ve got a bird’s-eye view of the spectacular scenery…you look to one side and there’s a waterfall, look to the other side and there’s a steep cliff face.”
Eleven stainless steel slides (some up to 320m in length) and one lofty suspension bridge connect 13 wooden platforms that are built into rocky precipices. Thrill-seekers and nature lovers can spend a few solid hours soaring over pristine gorges and far-below running rivers that sit like sweet unspoiled secrets in one of the most stunning, well-preserved parts of South Africa.
The excursion is led by professional local guides who chat to patrons throughout the tour about the history of the area and the fauna and flora that unfolds in front of them. “It’s not just about the slide; it’s an intimate guided nature experience,” says Ryan, adding, “People mustn’t think of it as just a zip line, but as a whole tour.”
All adventurers are harnessed up and given an in-depth briefing before they’re taken up to the tippy-top of the often snow-capped mountains. All the equipment, which adheres to the highest safety standards, is regularly checked and double-checked and all kiddies are asked to ride in tandem with guides to keep them extra secure.
All ages are catered for – anyone as young as five or six can do the tour, as long as they fit comfortably into a harness. And on the other side of the age spectrum anyone aged 80 and above is welcome – they just need to be able to manage the 1-km trek out of the valley and back to the 4×4 afterwards. The tour ends with a meal overlooking the very valley you sailed over just moments before.