10 Things to do in winter in Cape Town

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:

Chasing Waterfalls

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.

Feasting Experiences

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.

Whale Watching

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.

Wine Pairing

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.

City Rock

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.

Museums

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.

Make chocolate Macaroons with Lindt Chocolate Studio

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.

 

Go Drumming

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.

 

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High on a Hill ….

Was a happy goat herd – lay ee odl, lay ee odl, lay hee hoo ….  Fairview.1Now that I have either got you singing that song from The Sound of Music or humming it, I would like to tell you about our Feature of the Month – Fairview Wine.  I kid you not, this is the place where you can spend an entire day and never get bored.

Situated in the Paarl area, a mere 1 hour drive from Cape Town on the N1 national road, lies Fairview Wine where you are able to experience heaven on earth. The mission of Fairview has been to create a fully sustainable farm and with over 900 goats, they employ conscious farming techniques by collecting the goats droppings to recycle into compost and the result?  Good quality produce! Charles Back has received numerous awards and the latest to his ever-growing awards was being name Farmer of the Year in 2017.  So you know – visiting this Farm – you will be in great hands and enjoy culinary delights and wine that you would never experience back in your hometown. Fairview.5 Fairview are agriculturally driven and are able to supply their restaurants with farm fresh eggs, goat and cow cheese, and fresh organic meat.

Just so you know I am not kidding let me tell you about the goats.  

Kidding season is at Spring time – September and October – and when visiting the farm on a Saturday or Sunday, you are able to play with the kids. During this time, you will notice that there will be limited goat cheese on the shelves at the supermarket and this is because during this time, the nanny goats are taking a well earned rest and producing nutrient nourishing milk for their kids to drink. Fairview.6 I did not know that, did you? As the saying goes …. You are never too old to learn!  I am definitely going to book a spot during kiddie season, that is for sure! And then to top it off, you have Goat Yoga in the summer with all the little kids having a great party around you whilst you are stretching into a pretzel.

The Goat Tower has a history that one should never fail to mention.

Way back in the 80’s when Charles Back visited Portugal, he was inspired by a beautiful tower in the garden of a wine farm that after a couple of months after returning home, the iconic Goat Tower was built. Now, when visiting Fairview, you will see the skywalk bridge which allows the goats to roam from the tower area to the other side of the garden where a playground has been built for them. I think I will stay here forever! Seriously now – how cute are those goats? So chat to our travel desk and let us arrange an afternoon of culinary pleasure, delightful wine and a day where music and food will have you kidding around until the sun goes down!

We would like to thank Fairview for use of their images.

Fairview.3

 

The Deep Mood of Winter

A great advantage of living in Cape Town is that we get to experience 4 seasons – spring, summer, autumn, winter and each season has its own beauty and characteristics. Winter is dark and moody and the sea changes colour and shape and shows us the power of water.

A great place to see waves in action would be to take a train ride to Kalk Bay. Not only do you travel along the coast but at certain points you see the power of the wave up close and very personal. Hop off at Kalk Bay and make your way to the small fishing harbour where you will be greeted with an awesome scene like this.Brass Bell1

And then you do not have to wait long because the waves will keep on coming and none of your photographs will be the same as the waves crash and dance and soar over the harbour wall.

If any of you have been to the Brass Bell Restaurant, you will remember how beautiful and calm it is on a summer day.  Here is a sequence of photographs (photo credit to Cape Town’s Deep South and African Roots Photography) of waves in action at Kalk Bay and at the Brass Bell.

KalkBayBrass Bell2Brass Bell3Brass Bell from CapeTownsDeepSouth

After being chilled to the bone, find a restaurant to warm up, either with hot chocolate or something alcoholic of nature before heading off in another direction for some more action and fun.