Incognito Mode: How to Experience Cape Town Like a Local

Hip, cosmopolitan and historic, Cape Town is the epitome of modern African luxury. Africa Travel Expert Meg gives us an insider’s guide of how to blend in with the locals, and all the best places to see and be seen.

What I enjoy most about traveling is being able to experience a new culture and fully immerse myself in my surroundings. In Cape Town, it’s easy to explore the city on your own and take in all the “must see” attractions, however, every other Tourist will be doing the exact same thing. Rather than mulling about in a crowd, book one of our Private Cape Adventure Tours, each is tailor made to fit your desired activity level or Cape bucket list.

When I visited Cape Town last month, I had the opportunity to join one of these tours, and truly felt like a local as we explored neighborhood markets, cycled through the city and took in the best views around the Cape Peninsula.

Our day began by grabbing bikes in Cape Town’s historic V&A Waterfront, as we wove through the area seeing the resident sea lions and antique shops, we eventually found ourselves at the Oranjezicht City Farm Market. Held every Saturday, the OZCF Market Day is a community farmers-style market for independent local farmers and artisanal food producers. We grabbed samosas and coffee, tried artisanal garlic mayonnaise (trust me, it was delicious) and took in the infectious good vibes of Cape Town residents.

We then rode our bikes along the Sea Point Promenade enjoying local art installations and the ever-fascinating daily life of this buzzing stretch of urban coastline. Cape Town’s artistic diversity and talent are evident at each turn – artists have tackled topics ranging from rhino conservation to the historic years, which Nelson Mandela spent on Robben Island, just across the water. Below you can see a sculpture highlighting the ever-increasing problem of rhino poaching, as well a giant pair of wayfarer sunglasses meant to symbolize Mandela’s time behind bars.

Next, we hopped in the car for the famous colony of Penguins at Boulder’s Beach, located on the other side of Table Mountain National Park. Instead of going to observe the Penguins from the overcrowded viewing deck, we took out stand up paddleboards and went around watching these captivating creatures from the water, paddling all the way up to their protected cove. Suffice it to say, I fell in love with the Penguins immediately as they played in the water, sunbathed on the sand and nuzzled together in their family units.

As I had to keep to a tighter schedule than those on a relaxing vacation, our day ended with a lovely lunch in the small beach town of Scarborough and a scenic drive commencing with cocktails on Chapman’s Peak. This ribbon of coastal road is rightly know as one of the most scenic drives in the world and was the perfect ending to a fabulous adventure around the Cape.

My incredible experience is not rare or special for our Private Cape Adventure Tours; however, as each day is tailored specifically for each guest, no two experiences are ever alike. These tours offer unrivalled flexibility with your private driver and Africa’s top adventure guides and can include everything from hiking, biking, paddle boarding and surfing to whale watching, wine tasting and historical tours.

The idea is to show you the Cape whilst out on its trails and waterways. Where you go and what activities you do are up to you and in most cases the day often unfolds with a number of unexpected twists and turns, so that even your guide has no idea where you’ll end up on any given day. That’s why they carry all the equipment you could ever need for the day – always prepared for the fun ahead.