Cape Town, South Africa is one of the most gorgeous places to ever visit. The city and beaches with the backdrop of the mountains are simply stunning.
I tell everyone to put this city high on their bucket lists. (Of course, the wealth and health disparity is a very clear issue, but that’s a conversation for another day…)
Since I’m a bit of an adrenaline junkie, I have actually done all the things on this list when I visited Cape Town (so I can personally recommend them).
And although right now many of us might not be traveling due to the pandemic, you can tuck this list away for your future travel adventures.
1) Go bungee jumping
Yes, I’m starting off with one of the craziest things you can do in South Africa.
Normally when I tell people I went bungee jumping I’m given the how are you not locked up in a mental institution look.
I usually hear things like, “…and you survived?”.
And it makes me laugh every time.
Because this is one of the best things I’ve ever done.
And… I almost didn’t do it.
I do admit that I could barely hear over the heavy pounding in my ears as I stared over the edge of the Bloukrans Bridge, the highest bungee jumping bridge in the world.
708 feet is a long, long way down.
And I do also have to admit that although I had just driven 6 hours to get there, the thought of turning back around and losing all my money suddenly became very appealing.
And as the employees asked if I was ever going to jump and started counting down from three, I did wonder what I had really gotten myself into….
As I felt my feet leave the safety of the bridge, felt the wind rushing past my face, and waited for the inevitable “drop” feeling you usually get when riding a rollercoaster, I found myself questioning all my life choices.
But the “drop” feeling never came, and what was terrifying suddenly became… peaceful. I don’t exactly know when that happened. But I actually found peace flying in the wind while staring at the small stream nestled between all the greenery in the distance.
It was an idyllic scenery that reaffirmed the calm feeling flowing through me.
So I’m here to tell you that if you enjoy doing things that make you feel a combination of terror and peace in one, then this is for you.
I absolutely loved it and would do it again (next time maybe off a tower).
While the initial jump was definitely the most terrifying part, afterwards, it honestly felt like a breeze.
(My friend on the other hand would say she had a completely different experience…so to each their own.)
But this is definitely one of the most adventurous things to do in South Africa.
2) Go shark cage diving
This is the other thing I’ve done that causes people to stare at me like I’ve lost a mental screw.
I don’t blame them.
Thanks to movies like Jaws and Deep Blue Sea, who in their right mind would voluntarily go swimming with the sharks?
But it was definitely an exhilarating experience.
Just make sure to choose a great company to take you. We personally used Marine Dynamics which has a great philosophy. They strive to protect and conserve marine life and the environment.
If you’ve never heard of shark cage diving before, you might be wondering, just how the heck does it all work?
Well, the company takes you on a boat to a strategic spot in the middle of the ocean. The crew gets the cage ready and places it in the water. The cage is still completely secured to the boat so you won’t be floating away.
After putting on your diving suit, you get into that very sturdy aluminum cage which is covered on all sides, including the top, and then you plunge yourself underwater and basically stare in awe (or in fear) as the sharks swim around you.
You are also free to leave the cage at any point.
The company did a great job of making us feel safe. We certainly did not feel like at any moment the sharks would charge the cage.
Of course, I can only speak to my experience with Marine Dynamics. I have no idea how other companies operate.
But one thing the crew members said that I’ll always remember: unless aggravated, sharks are actually not that interested in us boring, bony humans. (And while watching the multiple sharks swimming around us, I basically got that feeling too.)
It was kind of like having a really up close and personal view at an aquarium.
Honestly, the whole experience is just really fun and unforgettable, and one of the most unusual things to do in Cape Town.
You’ll be glad you added it to your bucket list (plus it’s an interesting fun fact to tell everyone about yourself).
3) Pet a cheetah
Yes, pet a cheetah.
No, not one in the wild!
My group and I decided to go to a cheetah sanctuary that protects and cares for cheetahs and other animals. Cheetahs are sadly an endangered species, with less than 1,400 of them remaining in South Africa.
One of the things you can do at this sanctuary is have an encounter with a cheetah. Of course, this is done under the watchful eye of trained specialists.
Basically, they make sure the cheetah is relaxed and then you are allowed to sit and pet him like he’s just a big cat curling up for a nap.
But then you remember that you’re actually petting one of the most dangerous creatures alive and the adrenaline comes back.
So you get this mix of “oh, this is nice” and also “wow, this is crazy” all in one.
But one of the great things about visiting Cheetah Outreach is not only do you get to have a unique experience, but you also get to support the organization and its work.
Even if you decide not to pet a cheetah, you can go to support the sanctuary while still getting the chance to safely see all the animals they care for (like a meerkat).
4) Go paragliding
If bungee jumping is really not for you (or even if it is), you should try paragliding. The more specific type of paragliding I did was tandem paragliding.
I consider paragliding like flying…but with a seat attached (ie. pretty relaxing).
You will love this because you get to see so much of the city while gliding around and you’ll have a trained professional with you the entire time.
Another amazing (yet scarier than it seems) adventure to add to your list. I highly recommend trying this whenever you go to Cape Town.
5) Do a Sunset or Sunrise Hike
Three of the most famous mountains in Cape Town are Lion’s head, Devil’s Peak and Table Mountain.
Now, I’m definitely not a hiker, but even so, I do enjoy trying new things. And although I had the option of hiking all three mountains mentioned, I ended up only hiking two of them.
My group and I first hiked Lion’s head and the scenery was absolutely beautiful. It also wasn’t too hard on the limbs. (However, I do have to admit, this hike ended up actually being kind of terrifying for me- worse than bungee jumping haha).
But I do still recommend hiking this mountain just for the stunning view you’ll experience before you even reach the top.
Our next hike was a sunset trek up Table Mountain, which was a more relaxing but exhausting experience, complete with a gorgeous view of the landscape once you reach the peak.
However, I had to draw the line at doing a sunrise hike up Devil’s Peak.
My group decided that this was a must and while it did sound like an amazing experience, they also agreed the hike was going to be much more difficult than Lion’s head (and I felt like I had barely survived that).
So I had to sit that one out (I know my limit…..sometimes).
But my group thoroughly enjoyed this hike and came back with incredible pictures of the sunrise.
If you’re someone who wants the ultimate challenge, definitely do a sunset or sunrise hike up Devil’s Peak.
Go with Lion’s Head if you want a challenging but not that difficult of a hike.
And if you want a much “easier” although really exhausting hiking experience, Table Mountain is for you. (Plus they have cable cars if you’re really not into hiking at all.)
Do all three for fun if you’re an especially outdoorsy person.
Of course, true hikers may have a completely different perspective on these mountains.