Calling all adventurers and thrill seekers – This one is for you! Its officially time to take a walk on the Mother City’s wild side!
There is nothing more exhilarating than exploring Cape Town’s coolest best kept secret spots and hidden gems. Besides being one of the most beautiful cities in the world, voted the ‘Greatest City in the World’ by the Telegraph Travel Awards 7 years in a row, there is so much more to this glorious, vibrant, and exciting city than meets the eye.
All you need to do is wander slightly off the beaten tourist path and awaken the inner adventurer in you to discover them; And boy oh boy, you won’t be disappointed in the slightest when you do.
Here are some of the top things to do in Cape Town for adventurers.
#1 Go Cave Exploring
It’s time to go on the ultimate Cape Town cave adventure! Cape Town is home to several seriously cool, absolutely extraordinary, and down-right thrilling caves – All of which deserve a top spot on your Cape Town adventure bucket list. Only if you’re up for it of course?
There is no doubt that going on the ultimate Cape Town cave quest is by far one of the top things to do in Cape Town for adventurers.
Here are a few of Cape Town’s top caves to explore.
- Difficulty: Easy
- Fitness level required: Low -Moderate level of fitness required
- Start point: Boyes Drive – Echo Valley
- End Point: Boomslang Cave above Kalk Bay
- Average time to the top: Approximately 2 – 3 hours (depending on your fitness and experience level)
- Approximate route distance: +/- 3.9km
- Child-friendly: Yes
Boomslang Cave is one of Kalk Bay’s coolest hidden gems. As it’s a relatively easy hike, it is great for less experienced cave explorers, novice hikers, families with curious and active kiddos, and eager adventurers keen to get out and explore.
Found above Kalk Bay, Boomslang Cave tunnels right through the mountain – making it quite a thrilling experience to tick off your adventure bucket-list.
#Klipgat Cave, Gansbaai
Nestled within the Walker Bay Nature Reserve, a mere three kilometres from the idyllic De Kelders fishing village, Klipgat Cave is another one of Cape Town’s best secret caves and coolest hidden gems.
Beyond its stunning surroundings and spectacular views, Klipgat Cave has quite a bit of history behind it. The cave reached cultural, historical and world heritage significance due to the 1992 excavation when 70 000-year-old human bones and stone tools were discovered within the cave. These bones and stone tools were believed to be left behind by the native Khoikhoi bushman. This undoubtedly adds an extra dose of mystery and thrill to your experience.
Besides its rich history, exploring Klipgat Cave is a real adventure. It boasts two chambers: The first chamber has a rugged rocky surface and leads to the ocean. The second chamber is made up of a small entryway that leads to the main cave excavation site. There is also a boardwalk that circles around the historical site.
**Extra tip: Klipgat Cave is regarded as one of the best whale watching spots in the Western Cape.
- Difficulty: Moderate level of difficulty
- Fitness level required: Moderate level of fitness required
- Start point: Tafelberg Road / Rhodes Memorial
- End Point: Upper Aerial Cableway Station
- Average time to the top: 1 – 2 hours one way starting from Tafelberg Road | 2 – 3 hours one way starting from Rhodes Memorial
- Child friendly: Yes
Famously known for its long horizontal crack in the Devil’s Peak mountainside, the iconic Woodstock Cave is one of the largest caves on Table Mountain. This not only makes it a top go-to cave, but offers avid cave explorers and adventures tons of space to discover everything it has to offer.
The hike to reach the Woodstock Cave is relatively easy and doesn’t require a great deal of hiking experience. Once you reach the cave, you will be well rewarded for your hiking efforts with a magnificent view, a shaded area to relax and recharge, as well as a small waterfall to admire and enjoy at your own leisure.
**Extra Tip: Don’t hike this route alone. It’s always best to hike in a group when hiking any of Cape Town’s hiking trails.
#Lookout Cave, Chapman’s Peak
The Lookout Cave is not only one of Cape Town’s top secret caves, but one of Chapmans Peak Drive’s most beautiful hidden gems and best secret sunset spots too. Like all of the Mother City’s best kept secrets, you may need to wander a little off the beaten path to find it.
Make your way along Chapman’s Peak Drive until you reach the famous Chapman’s Peak Lookout Point – This is where the real adventure begins! Positioned just below the pass, you’ll have to climb over the railing and carefully make your way down the mountainside to reach the Lookout Cave.
An extra bonus is that this Chapmans Peak hidden gem has enough space to enjoy a picnic and a few sundowners paired with one hell of a view.
#Stadsaal Caves, Cederberg
While you may need to travel a little outside of Cape Town to explore this hidden gem, it promises to be well worth the trip.
Located just over 2 hours outside of the city centre, the Cederberg Wilderness area is considered one of the most undisturbed regions of the Western Cape. With burnt ochre mountains, jagged sandstone rock formations and ancient San and Khoi rock art, it will feel like you’ve escaped to another world entirely.
The Stadsaal Caves is a series of caverns carved into the rock by thousands of years’ worth of wind erosion. These caves were entirely formed by nature and have been touched only by humans in the form of the ancient bushman paintings found on the walls inside. The Stadsaal Caves, together with other nearby landmarks such as the Wolfberg Arch and the Maltese Cross, are some of the most magnificent natural gems in the Western Cape.
How to get to the Stadsaal Caves: To get to the Stadsaal Caves, follow the N7 towards Citrusdal. Continue north from Citrusdal and take the Algeria turnoff to the right onto a dirt road. Continue to the Matjiesrivier Nature Reserve, the caves are located around 5km from the Algeria campsite. You will find a gate barring the entrance to the caves. The gate can be unlocked with the combination attached to your CapeNature permit.
**Important information: As the Cederberg Wilderness is a CapeNature reserve, you will need a permit to enter. You can purchase a permit at Driehoek Farm, en route to the Cederberg, or directly from CapeNature by contacting them on 021 483 0190. The cost of permits is R70 for adults and R40 for children.
#Waenhuiskrans Cave, Arniston
Located just off the sandy shoreline of Arniston, the Waenhuiskrans Cave is undoubtedly one of Cape Town’s best secret caves to explore. Arniston is a small seaside town on the coast of the Overberg region of the Western Cape, approximately 3 hours from the city of Cape Town. It is home to white sandy beaches, turquoise waters, and a stunning shipwreck-strewn coastline rich in history and heritage. But, by far one of its best kept secrets and hidden natural gems is the Waenhuiskrans Cave.
Due to its secret location, the Waenhuiskrans Cave can only be accessed during low tide when you are able to make your way through the shallow waters to the entrance of the cave.
Inside the Waenhuiskrans Cave you’ll discover several rockpools, as well as plenty of rock-dwelling marine life that have decided to take up residence inside the cave. If you’re an avid adventurer and keen explorer, a trip to the Waenhuiskrans Cave in Arniston should definitely be on your Cape Town bucket-list.
**Tip: The Waenhuiskrans Cave can ONLY be accessed during low tide. For your own safety it is vital that you do not attempt the hike at any other point of the day. Take only the essentials along when making your way to the cave. Due to the slippery, seaweed-strewn rocks that lie beneath the water’s surface as you navigate your way to the cave, it is important that you wear shoes that are appropriate for traversing slippery rock beds. If you require any additional information on the tides, be sure to contact Cape Agulhas Tourism (028 424 2584 or 028 424 2883) – they will be happy to give you all the pointers and additional information you need.
Check out our ‘Top 10 Secret Caves To Explore In Cape Town’ blog for everything you need to know about Cape Town’s coolest secret caves.
#2 Go on a thrilling hike
Time to go on the ultimate hiking adventure! The Cape Town hiking scene is thriving, thrilling and like nothing you’ve experienced before. There is no better way to explore all the scenic beauty, landscapes, mountain ranges and natural gems the Mother City has to offer than by going on one of her exhilarating hikes.
Cape Town boasts an extensive variety of hiking trails, catering to all fitness and experience levels. This gives EVERYONE the opportunity to join in on the hiking adventure, while at the same time ticking a ton of exciting experiences off your Cape Town adventure bucket-list.
Some of the top hiking trails in Cape Town include, but are not limited to: The Pipe Track; Lion’s Head; Kasteelpoort Hiking Trail; Maclear’s Beacon; Platteklip Gorge; Kloof Corner; Devil’s Peak; Nursery Ravine Hiking Trail; India Venster; Tygerberg Nature Reserve; Constantia Corner Hiking Trail; Constantia Nek to Kirstenbosch; Skeleton Gorge; Chapman’s Peak; Krom River Trail, Watrefall Hike; Cape Point Hiking Trails; Jonkershoek Nature Reserve; Little Lion’s Head and so much more! Cape Town truly is any hiker’s dream come true.
To add a bit more thrill to Cape Town’s already incredible hiking scene, here are a few overnight hiking trails avid hikers, explorers, and daring adventurers can look forward to.
- The Cederberg Wilderness
- The Whale Trail
- Cape of Good Hope Trail
- Boosmansbos Wilderness Area
- The Otter Trail
#3 Go Adventuring & Swimming In Cape Town’s Dams & Rivers
If you’re looking to take a cool and refreshing dip away from the sand, sea water and large crowds, Cape Town’s vast variety of dams and rivers are the perfect place to do just that.
What’s more thrilling than plunging into a crystal-clear rock pool in one of the most beautiful locations in the Western Cape?
Here are some of the best dams and rivers in Cape Town for swimming:
- Distance from Cape Town: +/- 50 minutes
- Where to find it: Silvermine Reservoir in Table Mountain National Park (via M3)
- Opening times: Silvermine Gate 1: Daily, 8am – 4pm (May to August) | Daily, 7am – 5pm (September to April) | Silvermine Gate 2: All year round – 8am – 6pm
- Contact details: 021 712 7471 | 021 712 0527 | [email protected] (Table Mountain National Park)
- Dog-friendly: Yes, but dog walkers require a Level 1 My Activity Permit | Contact Tokai Plantation Office at 021 712 7471 for more information
Cost: Conservation fees (1 November 2021 – 31 October 2022):
- SA citizens and residents with ID: Adult: R36 | Children: R18 | Additionally R25 per vehicle
- SADC Nationals (with passport): Adult: R72 | Children: R36 | Additionally R25 per vehicle
- Standard Conservation Fee (Foreign Visitors): Adult: R144 | Children: R72
Located in the Table Mountain National Park, between Hout Bay and Noordhoek, the Silvermine Reservoir is a real fan-favourite all around.
Besides enjoying a refreshing swim in a stunning location, there are loads of picnic spots scattered around the reserve, making it the perfect place for enjoying a great day outdoors.
**Important note: As there are no lifeguards on duty, swimming in the Silvermine Reservoir is done at your own risk.
- Distance from Cape Town: +/- 2 hours
- Where to find it: King Street, Stanford (via N2 and R43)
- Opening times: Always open
- Contact details: 028 3410 340 | [email protected]
- Dog-friendly: Yes
- Cost: Free for swimming
Located in Stanford, this tranquil river passes through the Akkedisberg Pass and the lush meadows of Stanford on its way to the estuary (Hermanus Lagoon). Its calm waters are perfect for cooling down after a hot summer’s day filled with adventuring and exploring.
The Stanford Wandelpad walking trail meanders along the Klein River, and is easily accessible from several points. However, a map is available at the local tourism bureau just in case.
**Tip: The bottom of King Street is particularly convenient and an ideal location due to the nearby shaded lawns that make for an incredible picnic spot.
- Distance from Cape Town: 2.5 – 3 hours
- Where to find it: Beaverlac Campsite, Porterville (via N7)
- Opening times: Daily, 7am – 9pm
- Contact details: 022 931 2945
- Dog-friendly: Dogs are allowed in the campsite, but not in the rock pools where people are swimming
The lush and tranquil Beaverlac Campsite is situated in the stunning Groot Winterhoek Mountains, famous for its waterfalls and crystalline rock pools. Besides enjoying a revitalizing dip in the dam, this nature lover’s paradise boasts several hidden gems and thrilling adventures.
**Tip: As Beaverlac no longer allows day visitors, you will have to book a spot at the campsite or one of the cabins | Bookings can be made online and pay cash at the gate.
#Jonkershoek Nature Reserve
- Distance from Cape Town: 1 hour
- Where to find it: Jonkershoek Nature Reserve, Jonkershoek Road (via N1), Stellenbosch
- Opening times: 1 May – 31 August: 8am – 4pm | 1 September – 30 April: 7am – 4pm
- Contact details: 087 087 4118 (reserve office) | 087 087 8250; [email protected] (permits)
- Dog-friendly: Pets are not allowed in CapeNature reserves
- Cost: R50 (adults) | R30 (children)
The Jonkershoek Nature Reserve is one natural gem that should be on every nature lover’s bucket-list. Located close to Stellenbosch, the reserve includes the smaller Assegagaai Nature Reserve and is home to the imposing Jonkershoek Mountains as well as portions of the upper Jonkershoek Valley.
It boasts two popular and equally thrilling hiking trails, both of which offer beautiful views of the valley and wine farms below. Besides enjoying an exciting hike, taking a dip in the clear river water is by far one of the top highlights of visiting the Jonkershoek Nature Reserve.
**Important note: Only 80 people are allowed into the Assegaaibosch picnic area per day to help with conservation efforts. Admission is on a first-come-first-served basis. No alcohol is allowed into the picnic area.
Check out our ‘Best Dams and Rivers in Cape Town for swimming’ blog for everything you need to know about Cape Town’s best swimming spots.
#4 Go Paragliding
Calling all adrenalin junkies! There are few things more exhilarating than an adrenalin-filled paragliding experience or an unforgettable paragliding sightseeing tour over the glorious city of Cape Town.
Going on an adventure-filled tandem paragliding flight is not only one of the top things to do in Cape Town for adventurers, but a once-in-a-lifetime bucket-list worthy experience you’ll never forget, nor would you ever want to.
The only question is, do youhave the guts and chutzpah to do it? We’re simply putting the challenge out there – it’s entirely up to you whether to accept it?!
Cape Town’s tandem paragliding trips typically take off from Lions Head or Signal Hill. In addition to the intense rush of adrenalin and countless ‘pinch-me’ moments you’ll experience throughout your flight, you’ll be treated to spectacular sights and views of Table Mountain, the Twelve Apostles Mountain Range, Atlantic Ocean, the beautiful Cape Peninsula and so much more.
There’s nothing like a bird’s eye view of one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
#5 Visit Crystal Pools
Go on a thrilling and jam-packed adventure to one of the most sought-after and stunning natural gems in the Western Cape – The Crystal Pools.
Crystal Pools is one of Gordon’s Bay and Cape Town’s best kept secrets and bucket-list destinations. Located approximately 90 minutes outside of Cape Town, Crystal Pools boasts incredible hiking trails which lead to a series of mountain pools situated within a beautiful Valley known as the Steenbras River Gorge. Both the Steenbras River Gorge and the Crystal Pools forms part of the renowned Steenbras Nature Reserve, with the hiking trail following the Palmiet River up the gorge.
Crystal Pools, the Steenbras River Gorge, and Steenbras Nature Reserve offers avid hikers, adventurers, and anyone eager to explore the great outdoors the ultimate escape from the hustle and hype of the city.
Need to know information:
- Location: Kogelberg Nature Reserve | Greater Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve, Steenbras Nature Reserve (via N2 and R44), Helderberg Rural, Cape Town
- Operating hours: Office hours: 7:30am – 4pm | Steenbras River Gorge and Crystal Pools hiking trail bookings: Monday – Friday (excluding public holidays): 9:00am – 2:00pm
- Steenbras River Gorge & Crystal Pools operating hours: Hiking trails are only open from 1 November to 30 April each year (closed during winter months) | Hiking trail operating hours are from sunrise – sunset: 6am – 6pm | Steenbras River Gorge & Crystal Pools Hiking Trail operating times may differ slightly according to sunrise and sunset times throughout November – April
- Entrance Fees / Cost: Entry fee for Steenbras River Gorge: R75 per person | Entry fee for the Steenbras hiking trails: R25 per person | For more information and a detailed list of costs please contact 021 444 6927 or [email protected]
- Contact details: General enquiries: [email protected] | Booking queries: 021 856 9622 | 021 856 9623 | 021 856 9620 | [email protected] | Emergency number: 021 444 6927 | 021 957 4725
- Distance from Cape Town: +/- 65km – 80km (depending on route)
- Steenbras River Gorge & Crystal Pools Hiking Trail Carrying Capacity: To ensure that the hiking trails don’t get too crowded, a maximum of 50 people are allowed per day | It is essential to book as early as possible to avoid disappointment
- Essential Crystal Pools Hiking Trail Requirements: You cannot gain access to the area / hike any of Steenbras River Gorge or Crystal Pools’ Hiking Trails without a valid pre-booked and paid permit containing a unique QR Code & proof of identification (driver’s license, ID card, or passport)
- Hiking Trail Permits: To pre-book your Steenbras River Gorge & Crystal Pools permit email [email protected] with ALL relevant information, including the date of your visit and the size of your party / group (a minimum of 2 and a maximum of 10 people are allowed per group) | One permit per person is required | You can only acquire a permit via email, not at the gate | You must pre-book your hiking permit at least two to five working days before your visit |The hiking permit does not authorize abseiling activities
Check out our ‘Crystal Pools’ blog for everything you need to know about Crystal Pools and all its incredible hiking trails, rock pools, exhilarating experiences, hidden gems, fauna, flora, and biodiversity, and exciting secret spots to visit.
#6 Go Kayaking with African Penguins
Going kayaking alongside Cape Town’s cool and charismatic African Penguins is an experience that should be on everyone’s Cape Town adventure bucket-list. Not only is it one of the most thrilling and unique ways to see the sights and scenery of the False Bay coastline (as most kayaking trips depart from Simon’s Town), but the best way to get up-close with Boulders Beach’s African Penguin Colony.
In addition to seeing Cape Town’s ultimate cool kids – the African Penguins of course – you’ll also have the opportunity to spot a few other members of Cape Town’s Marine Big 5, including Cape Fur Seals, whales, and dolphins.
**Did you know that Boulders Beach is one of the only places in the world where you can get up close and personal with African Penguins?
#7 Abseil down Table Mountain
Abseiling down the cliffs of the almighty Table Mountain is one Cape Town adventure experience that is not for the faint-hearted. Standing tall at 1,086 meters above sea level, it is one of the world’s highest abseiling points.
If you dare to tick this thrilling adventure off your bucket-list, you can opt to hike up to the abseiling starting point or take an Aerial Cableway ride to the top.
Be prepared for an exhilarating, adrenalin-filled, once-in-a-lifetime experience – cause that’s exactly what you’re going to get!
#8 Shark Cage Diving in Gansbaai
Calling all head-over-heels thrill seekers and adrenaline junkies – this one is just for you! Going shark cage diving is an incredibly exhilarating experience in itself, however, going shark cage diving in one of the only destinations in the world where you can actually get up close and personal with nature’s most daring predator, the Great White Shark, is on a whole other level entirely.
#9 Snorkelling with Cape Fur Seals
Going snorkelling with Cape Fur Seals is by far one of the most thrilling and incredible things to do in Cape Town.
The famous Duiker Island, also known as Seal Island, in Hout Bay is home to thousands of Cape Fur Seals and the perfect destination for your snorkelling adventure. These playful ocean beings are known to be very interactive with divers and only too eager to show off all their tricks and twirls, making snorkelling with Cape Fur Seals a bucket-list worthy adventure experience in every way.
#10 Go Sandboarding at the Atlantis Dunes
Going sandboarding is one of the most sought-after adventure experiences for thrill seekers and adventure enthusiasts. Located approximately 40-minutes from the city center, the Atlantis Dunes is the ultimate sandboarding mecca. It is also one of only a handful of sandboarding locations in the world, undoubtedly making it a must-do bucket-list experience.
The ever-shifting dunes of Atlantis range in size of up to 35 meters and invites people of all ages and experience levels to join in on all the sandboarding fun. Even if you’ve never sand boarded a day in your life, the experienced guides will be right there to help you out along the way.