Large, diverse and incredibly beautiful, South Africa offers a huge number of varied landscapes from the picturesque Garden Route towns of the Western Cape to the raw subtropical coast of northern KwaZulu-Natal, with the vast Karoo semi-desert across its heart where the world famous Kruger National Park resides. A place on many a traveller’s bucket list, to really uncover South Africa’s finest secrets, skip the tourists spots and head to these under-the-radar places instead…
Hike up Lions head (instead of Table Mountain)
Lions Head is the distinctively shaped mountain slope found alongside Table Mountain. Peaking at 669 metres, Lion’s Head offers an alternative to hiking up its mammoth and more famous neighbour. The hour-long walk is well worth it and it’s a place especially popular during full moons and sun rises, offering unique panoramic views of Cape Town.
Get your hands dirty and make traditional clay drums
About a 30 minute journey from Cape Town, The Macassar Township offers an amazing opportunity to learn something from the locals. Here you can be taught how to make basic shapes from clay and learn how to play the UDU, a traditional clay flute. The Proudly Macassar Pottery is a social project which employs youths who have not finished school, providing them with a steady income and at the same time, allow them to learn new skills. This is a great place to learn something and make a difference at the same time!
Learn how to become a MasterChef
Succulent Casseroles, Traditional Curry with Pap and Hearty Samp and Beans— is now what you can make at home….with some help of course! Located in Langa township, just a quick 15 minutes’ drive away from Cape Town, attend a cooking class and impress your friends with your newfound cooking skills.
The fabulous Eziko Restaurant and cooking school was founded by a high school history teacher to provide unemployed people with life and career-orientated skills in cooking and catering. The aim is to “empower” people to find employment that will enable them to provide for themselves and their families and thereby take a practical route out of poverty. So while you pick up some skills in the kitchen, you would also be changing the lives of so many in need as well.
Cycle through Cape Town city in the moonlight
Originally a casual night bicycle ride with a group of friends, now the group Moonlight Mass has grown to be a huge initiative attracting people from all over the world. Now it promotes non-motorised commutes in and around town. So why not grab a helmet and explore beautiful Cape Town under the moonlight?
Appreciate art and cool design in Woodstock
A suburb of Cape Town, Woodstock had been dilapidated from the 1950s onwards. Initially a hotbed for drugs and crime, Woodstock has changed dramatically. Now instead you’ll find trendy restaurants, cool shops, innovative media and other businesses, offices, and furniture showrooms which have sprung up in cleverly converted and revamped warehouses, abandoned buildings and even a disused brewery. Peppered with art galleries, murals at every street corner and pastel-painted houses, Woodstock is the perfect place to embrace your inner Picasso.
Support local initiatives like Monkey Biz
MonkeyBiz is a social entrepreneurship designed to help those low-income families in South Africa. In a nutshell, women from these low-income households are given the opportunity to sell their bead artwork. The twist is that despite living in a place teeming with safari wildlife, many of these women have not seen a giraffe or a zebra or a rhino, so they use their imagination to craft these animals in their head. You can find “animals” of all shapes and sizes here. Monkeybiz also assures that the artists behind these animals are paid on the same day when they are sold.
Groove to Cape Town’s local beats
Famous for its international Jazz Festival, Cape Town boasts of some amazing local talent. Aside from the festival it also boasts a variety of excellent jazz clubs, piano bars and events. The Crypt Jazz Restaurant, The Piano Bar and the Kaleidoscope Café are some of the best.
Get nostalgic on the steam train to Stellenbosch
Introduced in 1948, there are only 12 remaining such trains in service today. The interior has been refurbished but kept as authentic as possible and it’s a lovely experience to take a day trip from Cape Town. Stellenbosch is the perfect place to experience some world-class wines as well and here you can visit a vineyard taste five wines and then eat lunch at a farm to table restaurant. Taste five wines, visit the Eagle Encounters and eat lunch at our farm to table restaurant. Afterwards spend the day relaxing on the banks of the Eerste River and explore well-tended gardens and historic buildings.
Sip on eco-friendly wine at Avondale Vineyard
Located in Paarl, a city located in the Western Cape province of South Africa, Avondale wines promises to be delicious and eco-friendly at the same time. In line with their motto, Teera Est Vita—soil is life, Avondale practices sustainable and natural viticulture. They take pride in their hand-crafted and organic wines, using only environmentally sustainable techniques to grow their grapes, the picturesque scenery makes it worth the visit too!
Become a chocolate connoisseur
De Villiers is the first ‘Bean to Bar’ artisanal chocolate maker in South Africa and amongst only a few in the world. Most of the chocolate currently available on the market is mass produced by large international companies with no acknowledgement of the farmer or chocolate maker in the process. In De Villiers, chocolate is made from carefully sourced cocoa beans where the chocolate reflects the personality and passion of the maker.
With small-batch, high-quality chocolate, De Villiers is the prime place to master your chocolate tasting tastebuds. I’d definitely recommend joining one of their chocolate and truffle tasting sessions or even better, learn how to make truffles in their chocolate truffle workshops.