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3 adventurous things you must do in Cape Town this December

Visiting Cape Town can often be an overwhelming experience as there is just so much to do and often very little time to make it all happen.

As someone who moved here from the busy life of Johannesburg six years ago, eager to embrace the Mother City, I can certainly relate.

Since moving here I’ve done some incredible things from the awe inspiring to the obscure; from sunrise tidal pool swims to eating seaweed salads. All because I carried a mantra of never say no, throughout my time here in the Cape.

My profession as a journalist and photographer has arguably provided me with more opportunities than most to experience the weird and wonderful that Cape Town has to offer, and I feel from this position I can offer some guidance on how best to make the most out of your time here.

So here is the first of a series of blogs aimed at maximising your time here, camera in hand, eyes open and heart ready to embrace some of the magic Cape Town is ready to offer you.

Dance with the Mer-dogs of the ocean.

Dance with the Mer-dogs of the ocean. A curious shape emerges within a forest of kelp. It comes closer, pivoting and pirouetting in a swirl of bubbles. It’s like watching a ballerina dancing, performing on the stage of the cold Atlantic Ocean, a world tailored just for it. The shape is that of a Cape fur seal, a species of seal endemic to Africa.

Thanks to their highly evolved bodies, these seals have an edge adjusting to changing environments, where climate change and marine pollution are on the rise. Not only are they graceful underwater dancers, they’re also an impressive motley crew of hunters.

There’s nothing like kicking off summer with a one of kind adventure in the Mother City – and on the top of my list is snorkelling with the Cape Fur seals found off Duiker Island. The opportunity to come face to face with these dancing sea dogs hidden beneath the frigid waves of the Atlantic is thanks to a company called Animal Ocean.

It’s truly a sight to see. Hundreds of these seals - and occasionally a single lone Elephant seal name Buffel, congregate on the rocks and in the water, lounging about as if they own the place.

Duiker Island is surround by shallow kelp forests which makes an ideal landscape for snorkelling in the chilly waters, with temperatures hovering anywhere between 8 and 15°C. Animal Ocean take the best of care of you, hooking you up with thick wetsuits and if you feel like you need it hot water on the boat.

The BEST time to witness these ballerinas of the ocean is at the beginning of March, when the seal pups take to ocean. This is when they are the most curious. A 2.5-hour experience with them costs R750 per person (currently on special).

On a personal note: The Cape Fur seal colonies here are under threat. A year after 5,000 Cape fur seals were found dead in Namibia, scientists are now finding worrying signs of a repeat die off– this time closer to home in colonies along the Western Cape coastline. I wrote a report about their status on News24 which you should read. To date, scientists still don’t know why it is happening. The leading theory is starvation due to overfishing and climate change. A serious warning to all that the stability of the ocean affects not only those who eat, but tourist industries.

From the ocean to the top of Table Mountain – this next experience is a real drop off…literally.

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If you want a different perspective of Table Mountain, then this is the experience for you. It was one of the scariest things I’ve ever done. An abseil adventure turned sour due to a deceptive 70 meter drop half-way through.

My brother decided it would be a fantastic idea to take advantage of a special running with Abseil Africa, that offers “dope with a rope” abseil experiences from the top of Table Mountain. I was ‘down’ for it, but never expected that half the trip was over a cliff which left me clinging on the safety line after a cliff-face fall off.

Despite what may appear in the photos, I am very scared of heights so for me, this was a massive achievement. The best time for this experience is when the wind isn’t blowing. To start this unique adventure, you need to be able to access the top of Table Mountain. The easiest was to get there is via the Cape Town Cable Car.

It may sound trivial, but Cape Town can suffer from heavy winds, especially during December and January. The wind can be so strong that the Table Mountain Cable Car will need to stop operations, which may leave you stuck at the top of Table Mountain.

If this is the case…your only option is to hike down Table Mountain either via the Platteklip Gorge or India Venster hiking routes. So be sure to check your weather before making the journey up.

Normal price R1195, I paid R400 per person on special.   

Kayak with whales, dolphin and the elusive Mola Mola (sunfish)

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Ever wanted to have a close encounter with a Southern Right Whale or a mega-pod of dolphin and score in a bit of exercise? Sea Point based Cape Kayak Adventures launch from Sea Point with stunning backdrop views of Table Mountain.

Be on the lookout for rising numbers of sightings of Southern Right Whales that have started to form super groups. The congregations have become an all-year-round siting.

On more than one occasion I’ve had close encounters of dolphin and even the elusive Mola Mola, a sunfish which typically resides in deep ocean waters. I would recommend taking the earliest slot available.

This is the most ideal time to avoid the wind, which picks up in the afternoon, and catch the animal action at its best. When the weather is calm you can see right to the bottom of kelp forests as fish and Cape Fur Seals swim about as you make your way around Millers Point towards the V & A Waterfront.

A 2-hour adventure costs R450 per person and well worth the early morning.

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