30 reasons to spend winter in Cape Town
The Instagram challenge this October proved to be a real challenge for me as I am prepping for a Cape Town spring/summer and not fall at the moment. This means an increased work schedule, an increased yoga schedule to get bikini ready, and an increased social calendar as people are coming out of winter hibernation. Since I am really not good with cold and rain, even with the South African version of it, I am really excited for our summer ahead.
My Dad for once shares this sentiment and this will be his third year he is coming down for an extended Christmas in South Africa. While Cape Town is easily known as a paradise for wine-drinking, golf-playing pensioners, it is also a paradise for thrill seekers, sun goddesses, city strollers, and general appreciators of the good life.
In fact I can give you 30 good reasons to spend your winter in Cape Town’s summer.
- It is hot.
- Unlike a lot of other places that might be hot at this time of the year, Cape Town is never humid and it cools down nicely at night, so one can actually sleep (that is unless like me, you sleep directly under the roof, but that is my own fault not the weather’s).
- A lot of men work out and can thus afford to go for a run shirtless.
- A lot of men actually do go for a run shirtless.
- Hike up Lion’s Head during a full moon. Be warned that it does get quite crowded and that you still need to bring a torch even with full moon moonlight.
- Always complained that your birthday is in winter? Well, here it will be summer and you can get a free birthday ticket for the Table Mountain cable car and enjoy a celebration on top.
- Even if you don’t care to participate in a sporting event, go and watch. Rugby or cricket games are on at the stadium and the atmosphere, the beers, and the sun will have you singing in no time. The same goes for the Two Oceans Marathon and the Argus Cycling Race – be a good sport and fill up on carbs with your participating friends so you have enough energy to cheer them on from the sidelines.
- Best area for people watching? Sea Point promenade for sunset – leave your old sweatpants at home and take your Stella McCartney out for a stroll, a walk or a skate. This is Cape Town’s runway for the active.
- A family myth tells the story of how the candles would melt on the Christmas trees of my poor South African relatives. That is not true. It usually is not that hot in December yet. And the good thing about celebrating here is that you can double up on festivities, some people will celebrate on Christmas Eve or on Boxing Day or on both – more pudding for you!
- Carols by Candlelight is a must. Bring Massimo’s orange chocolate liquor and a friend that will tell other people off if they step on your blanket or your kids. Candles and lyrics will be provided and nobody will mind if you cannot actually sing – tried and tested many times by me.
- While it may not be Rockefeller Centre, the ceremony of switching on the Christmas lights on Adderley Street is a 43-year old tradition which includes a public concert and a carnival parade. It is a worthy event to see even if you are surrounded by more palm trees than firs.
- Get your hands dirty and plant some trees with Greenpop, a social enterprise that has made the re-greening of sub-Saharan Africa its mission. Join them for a school planting day where you and the kids will learn why trees like square holes better, which way the leaves must turn to catch the sun, and why it is important that every tree gets a name.
- If you need a stretch after all the digging join Yoga Bliss for yoga on the promenade on the weekend. Classes are free, but donations for Greenpop are welcome.
- Cape Town gets busy during the summer in the photo and film production industry and so can you. If you are a photographer, assistant, model, stylist, hair- and make-up artist, you have good chances to finance your stay.
- The city is becoming more accessible thanks to new bike lanes and the MyCiti busses that have improved public transport a lot in terms of safety and reliability. For the evenings try Uber, a new taxi service that is called via smartphone app.
- But do hire a car just for one day and drive via Kloof Nek to Hout Bay. Forget Chapman’s Peak, because this is THE best drive in the world. I still will grab anyone’s hand near me and shout ‘look, how beautiful’ every single time. It makes my heart beat faster.
- Take a weekend trip to Sutherland to star gaze. Get a tour of SALT, the Southern African Large Telescope, and then a private star gazing lesson after sunset. Take a love interest, because there is nothing else to do but star gaze and to be romantic.
- Drive to Kraal Baai in the West Coast National Park for warm-ish, turquoise water, and a night on a house boat.
- Drive slowly when going through the park and watch out for tortoises. If you see one on the road it is customary to stop, pick it up, and carry it to the side of the road. Hold it away from your body as tortoises often pee when scared. Do it anyhow, because you will feel like a proper here, knowing you just saved a tortoise.
- Climb high. Rock climbing is a favourite activity of many, especially during the summer and the Western Cape sports some world-class routes. Regardless of your level, friends are easily made at the crags on Table Mountain or the Quarry in town and equipment can either be hired or borrowed from the new friends. You can also contact Rock Chicks to find out about upcoming climbs for girls only.
- Drink all the beer at not one, but three beer festivals in November: We Love Real Beer, The Bierfest, and Cape Town Festival of Beer. For a great craft beer any other day go to &Union, hipster beer garden vibe and sausages included.
- If beer is not for you, drink bubbly. Lots of it. South Africa offers the most delicious range of M.C.C., Methode Cap Classique, sparkling wine made with Champagne method which can stand up to anything France has to offer. My favourite place to try and buy new bubbly is Wine @ The Mill, a wine shop at the Old Biscuit Mill. Ask Nigel, the owner, really nicely and he may just let you sabre the bottle you want to buy which only adds to the excitement of drinking a lekker bubbly on a hot day.
- Join the circus and visit The Theatre of Dreams. Madame Zingara is a Cape Town institution with 5 restaurants, a costume shop, and a laundromat, but most famously for her travelling circus dinner theatre. Till January you still have the chance to see them in town, so take your girlfriends and some glitter tiaras, buy yourself a cocktail and enjoy a brilliant show over her signature chili chocolate beef filet.
- With Cape Town being the Design Capital of the World 2014 there are even more activities, events and exhibitions popping up all over town than usual. Visit Creative Cape Town for happenings and definitely check out the Cape Town art scene with your own gallery crawl on First Thursdays when most galleries stay open late and visits are free.
- Visit Tammy at Frazer Parfum on Bree Street and buy yourself one of her amazing, bespoke solid perfumes. Store in a cool place and keep for colder days as a reminder of Cape Town’s summer. Don’t attempt to use while you are here, solid perfumes are not as solid as one may think and might just melt when the weather is too nice as I learned in Morocco the hard way.
- If you lived a while in Cape Town you are most likely to sneer at the V&A Waterfront for being too full of tourists and people who like to eat in a mall. However this summer it will be hosting The Galileo, an open air cinema and that will even get me to go there. If you prefer more green around you, join them for screenings at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens.
- Ditch famous Boulders Beach and go to Windmill Beach instead. There you must brave the cold water and you may just find yourself a penguin as a swimming buddy.
- There are fewer sharks in summer than in winter as the arctic currents scare them off.
- Cape Town boys do like girls in a bikini and a wet suit better than girls in just a bikini.
- For a rainy day, try – oh, wait there are no rainy days in Cape Town’s summer