When I wake up to the wind whipping through the frail branches of the trees in my neighbour’s yard and I hear the jingle of our outdoor wind chimes, I know it is going to be a cold, wet windy day or possibly just a cold day. The icy on-shore wind, the north-westerly, usually brings rain but often times, our little suburb is missed.
At work, once the “off duty” volunteers surface, the smell of baking is often experienced in the volunteer house. With laughter and chatter coming from the kitchen and a delicious smell wafting into the office, we know it is going to be a good day. We know that the volunteers are going to make a large pot of coffee, take their warm cake, grab blankets and settle on the comfy couches to watch FRIENDS series for the umpteenth time. This television series never seems to get old.
However, there is plenty to do in Cape Town during the winter months. Winter has her advantages like winter specials, discounts, fewer tourists, no long queues. Ask anyone and they will tell you Capetonians do not like the rain, but I beg to differ. There is nothing like the rain over a weekend to ensure your body and mind restores to full capacity by vegging in front of a log fire and binge watching your favourite television series, reading a book or snoozing now and then. For the adventurous type, the brave, the bored, we have a list of 10 great ideas to help keep you entertained in winter on those rainy or cold days. When the sun breaks out and the temps rise to the lower 20’s celsius, we know where we will find you but winter is always a challenge. Here goes:
We have a wonderful Hiking Club which our volunteers use to experience those trails which are unfamiliar to everyone other than the locals. The hidden crevasses, the gorges, the huge mountain cracks and caves and above all, the stunning waterfalls. Despite the rain (and it won’t rain all the time), some hikes are a must, simply due to the wet pine needles filling the air with that forest, earthy aroma that makes being outdoors refreshing and when you reach your destination, the brewing of that cup of coffee to warm your hands, feels like the ultimate reward until you really check out the view from the top.
The great thing about a cold hiking day is that warm shower when you arrive home, changing into sloppy weekend gear to spend the night indoors.
I would not call it binge eating if you want to try a couple of different dishes at different restaurants or markets, especially if you share a dish between yourselves. Cape Town and surrounding areas have the most amazing culinary delightful places to eat and if you plan accordingly, you can make a whole day of it – a sort of treasure map of eating. To make it more exciting, using different modes of transport to get to your various destination points. Two favourites with our volunteers are the Old Biscuit Mill on a Saturday morning or the Bay Market in Hout Bay. There is so much to sample, to eat, to buy, that you can spend an entire morning feasting and working up those taste buds for more.
Winter is the ideal time to go whale watching. The Southern Right Whale head to our shores for birthing and it is not only in the bays and inlets of Hermanus and Gansbaai you will see these whales, but should you decide to kayak out in Table Bay when the sea is calm, you will see breaching whales in the bay too.
A favourite of all volunteers, especially in winter where you can sip wine in front of a huge fire. Wine pairing is the best – juice of the grape and food to line the tummy and there is not one, or two but if you choose your tour operator well, you can go on 5 wine pairings. Let me tell you, you will be singing on the bus home and possibly munching on some of the homemade eats you bought at a wine estate or two and as long as the song is not “She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain” I don’t think the others will be too phased whether you sing in tune or out of tune.
For the energetic volunteers, those wanting to try something new or something old,
then head to City Rock on the outskirts of Cape Town in the Paarden Eiland industrial area – Uber will deliver you there just fine. They have various classes and even if you have never climbed a wall (not the mental one of frustration), they will show you the “ropes”. They even have yoga classes so there is no excuse not to visit them and give them a try, especially when those muscles need stretching after a couple of lazy days in a row.
Let us skip this one. Joking! The South African culture and history has some rather interesting highlights from the arrival of the Dutch, the Khoi San (Bushmen) to the tearing down of District Six and rehoming thousands of families who had lived in the area. A chance to visit the South African, District Six, Gold and Holocaust Museums should not be missed and the winter is the perfect time to explore.
Scuba Dive at the Two Oceans Aquarium
If you have a PADI certificate and really would like to try something totally different, we recommend you try scuba diving in the kelp forest at the Two Ocean Aquarium. Just for interest and in case you did not know, they also have a PADI course for those you would like to learn to how to scuba dive. Yes, right there in the middle of the city.
Go to a Samoosa cooking class in BoKaap
Now how about THIS for something different. This experience is not simply a cooking workshop, it is a guided tour of the historical heart of the BoKaap. You will also get a full course traditional Cape Malay meal with the family after your workshop. Now is your time to eat like a local. The scent of the spices alone – coriander, ginger, cinnamon, cardamon – will be teasing and tantalising your taste buds until your tummy has consumed all that your tummy is able to cope with.
At the BoKaap family home you will learn how to mix Masala, fold the Samoosas and learn how one should balance the delicate flavours of a Cape Malay curry. And just this alone will have you drooling. Over a glass of faloodah which is a traditional, lightly-scented milk drink, you will be hear stories of how the food, history and religion are interwoven in the BoKaap culture. Speak to us and we will help you book this experience with the local tour guide.
Say no more, you had me at Chocolate!
The Lindt Chocolate Studio has many classes and if I had my way, I would do them all. Chocolate macaroons, cupcakes, fondant pudding and a scrumptious chocolate fondant cake, dripping and oozing of chocolate. Not only do they have these classes but they also have a 5 Senses tasting experience where they pair their chocolate with wine, coffee or tea.
If the rain has been relentless for a couple of days on the trot, then we suggest you join an African Djembe Drum & Drumming Circle to bang out all that frustration. Touareg Trading, an African artefacts shop located on Longmarket Street, hosts free exciting drum circle sessions every Saturday from 3pm to 5pm. It is all about getting together with people from all walks of life and making memories while tapping out afro beats in a warm and welcoming setting.
And so, dear peeps, this is a list of 10 exciting experiences you should at least try when you are in Cape Town – no matter the time of year. Watch this space as we will be bringing you a lot more interesting suggestions of things to do whilst in Cape Town.