Cape Town city tours are an ideal way to discover the many cultural hidden gems in this wonderfully diverse city which has everything from beaches to mountains and historic urbanisations. Cape Town has an awful lot to offer the green traveller and there is such a huge amount to see and do, you're unlikely to pack it all into one visit.
Getting around on your Cape Town city tour
Whilst you can choose to find your own way around the city, it's probably safer and a lot more informative to take a guided tour with an accredited guide. There are plenty of these to choose from, taking in walking tours where you can explore the various township, or perhaps using the Southern Line in order to quickly reaches various parts of the city and hopping on and off as you go.
For the more active ecotourist, the opportunity to hike up Table Top Mountain and enjoy fantastic views across the whole city is definitely not to be missed. Within the Table Top Mountain National Park not only can you visit the famous Cape Point, where cliffs mark the most south western tip of Africa and mark the spot where two seas merge. Inside the park, you will also be able to find a large selection of animals, such as baboons, zebras and more than 250 species of birds.
On any trip up the mountain, it's advisable not to approach the many baboons you will see; these are wild animals that can become very aggressive if threatened, so it's as well to give them a wide berth.
Cape Town is one of the most important biodiversity 'hotspots' in the world, as it has many species of plants and animals that are only found here. However, the city also has the unfortunate label of being one of the world's "mega-disaster" areas, which means that it's seriously at risk of losing a large part of that biodiversity. With this is mind, it's a destination that even those not overly concerned with conservation should bear in mind when visiting this wonderful part of the world.
The Smart Living Handbook, produced by Cape Town' authorities gives local residents plenty of advice on how they can help the environment in the city and is worth a read before you visit so that you have a clear overview of the area's conservation problems. This will help you to choose your Cape Town city tours, hotels and activities wisely during your stay.
Hotels and green accommodation in Cape Town
The Vineyard Hotel and Spa has made a commitment to 'going green' and has put in place a number of measures to ensure that sustainable development is incorporated throughout the establishment. Last month the hotel announced that it had managed to recycle 92% of their waste and all staff are fully trained in the hotel's conservation policies.
Further to this, guests can participate in the 'kids of the cape fund' or take a guided tour around the beautifully established gardens in the grounds of the hotel.
Alternatively, if you're on a budget or looking for less luxurious accommodation, then why not try the Backpack and Africa Travel Centre on Western Cape? This award-winning backpacker hostel has all of the facilities you could need, such as Wi-Fi and comfortable, stylishly decorated rooms and has been accredited by Fair Trade in Tourism. This means that the hostel has adhered to the criteria of fair wages and working conditions, ethical business practices and respect for human rights, culture and the environment. The Backpack also supports the community project GCU Academy, an organisation which helps get kids off the streets through football, although this has now been expanded to include tutoring, life skills, a school for dropouts and ways out for children who are trapped in the cycle of drugs and gangs.
Organic food and eateries in Cape Town
South Africa's demand for organic produce currently outstrips supply so it's not easy to find places to eat that can deliver 100% organic produce. However, Sage Organic Caf? in Gardens uses as much locally grown, organic produce as it can get its hands on and serves a buffet, a variety of meals and snack as well as fresh juices, smoothies, teas and coffees.
Birds Boutique Caf? is a little more contemporary and provides a range of organic and freshly made baked goods, as well as running an organic box delivery scheme. Oude Molen Eco Village in Pinelands is home to the Millstone Farmstall and Caf?, which offers organic vegetables and organic, seasonal food all grown in their own gardens.
There are plenty of markets to choose from in Cape Town and most of these are held on Saturdays, either weekly or once a month. One of the newest of these is Triangle Square, an all-weather market held on Saturdays from 9am to 2pm in False Bay. The market allows local producers to present their food to the community and here you will find local farmers and organic merchants.
Leisure activities in Cape Town
When you're out and about on your Cape Town city tours, you will find that there's plenty to interest you intellectually. The city is awash with cultural activities such as museums, historical tours and various aspects to the arts, ensuring that your green trip will not only be ecologically sound, but will also appeal to those wanting a good holiday, which is why you're there, after all.
Why not hop on an open top bus to see what the city has to offer first, perhaps after a visit to the Two Oceans Aquarium, in front of which the ticket office is located. A visit to the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens is a must if you're interesting in seeing one of the Seven Magnificent Botanical Gardens of the World.
The gardens are not only home to around 9000 of South Africa's 22,000 floral species, but they also have themed areas, an outdoor restaurant, tea rooms and guided tours. In the summer, there are a variety of activities from local bands to charity events, or you can choose to simply picnic here in absolutely wonderful surroundings.
Photo credit: Safari Partners