Tours to Make Time For
Guided tours can be a mixed bag, but South Africa's Cape Town rewards those who explore with a group. Some of the city's neighborhoods are tricky to discover without a knowledgeable local at the helm, and the region's natural beauty stretches much further than a cable car ride up to the top of Table Mountain. The following five tours are worth taking in Cape Town. Whether you're an art enthusiast or an avid amateur chef, there's something for every type of traveler.
Woodstock Street Art and Galleries
One of Cape Town's oldest suburbs and home throughout the years to Jewish, Malaysian and Muslim communities, the Woodstock neighborhood hosts both established street art and gallery scenes. The rapidly changing area is still a bit too rough around the edges to explore on your own, though, so explore the area's vivid street art scenes and learn about the legal history of this form of expression with local art expert Juma Mkwela (90-minute art tours start from around USD $25 per person). Then, arrange to visit galleries like the Goodman Gallery and WhatIfTheWorld (housed in a converted synagogue) with Art Route Cape Town. Be sure to stop for lunch at The Kitchen, where crowds line up (famous fans include Michelle Obama) to chow down on eccentric owner Karen Dudley's famous sandwiches and salads.
Cape Malay Cooking Safari
The colorful neighborhood of Bo Kaap might be almost as iconic to Cape Town's identity as Table Mountain itself, but during a quick self-guided walk around the mostly quiet, yet vivid streets, you won't find much insight into the area's culture or history. On the Cape Malay Cooking Safari, you'll walk the neighborhoods' streets to shop for ingredients before heading to a local home to make and enjoy a traditional Cape Malay meal of samosas, chicken curry, and samba. Guests will also taste spicy daaltjies and the neighborhood's famous koeksisters — zeppole-like fried donuts infused with sticky syrup. Prices vary based on tour group size average at USD $80 per person for a group of four or five people.
Bites and Sites
The bucolic country town of Stellenbosch is the seat of Cape Town's nearby wine region, home to tasting rooms, restaurants, hotels and museums depicting the town's Dutch history and culture. For an inside look into the businesses that call the town home, meet up with Hanli Fourie, the passionate owner of local Bites and Sites tour company. The company's "Classic Cape Cuisine" tour visits the historic Eikeboom Butchery and the Schoon Bakery — where owners Fritz and Chanelle Schoon are committed to showcasing quality local ingredients — to grab fresh bread and biltong before heading to a local wine bar for a tasting. The tour culminates in a tasting lunch of classic Cape dishes and indigenous teas at the charming Oude Werf hotel. The "Classic Cape Cuisine" walk costs about USD $37 per person and includes snacks, sweets, wine tastings and lunch.
Cape Peninsula Tour
Urban Cape Town is home to great restaurants, a thriving nightlife scene and an impressive stock of diverse architecture, but no trip to the seaside city would be complete without a drive down the coast of the Cape Peninsula. Full day tours, like this one from African Eagle, include stops at charming suburb towns like Houts Bay and Kalk Bay, the stunning Cape Point — the most southwestern corner of the African continent — and Boulders Beach, where a famous colony of penguins basks on the rocky coast. African Eagle's tour runs for about USD $75 per person and includes hotel pickup, lunch, and applicable entrance fees.
Duck Tour at Vergenoegd
When one Stellenbosch vineyard starts to look like the next, head to the Vergenoegd Wine Estate, where the most interesting thing isn't the winery's grapes. The estate does offer tastings on an idyllic lawn amongst historic Dutch architecture, but you're here to visit the property's web-footed inhabitants — a flock of over 1000 Indian runner ducks. Inspired by techniques used in rice paddies in Thailand, Vergenoegd brought the ducks in to clear the vineyards of snails, in place of harmful pesticides. The ducks parade in unison around the grounds at various set times every day, but for a look into the breeding process, take part in the estate's duck tour. For just USD $1.50 (and less for children), you'll learn how the eggs are incubated, watch day-old ducklings learn to eat and head out into the breeding pens with the estate's passionate duck farmers.