Cape Town has some of the best setups for outdoor adventure of any world city. There are literally some of the best surf waves on the planet, epic whitewater, and tons of mountain ranges all at our doorstep. Here are 8 of the best outdoor adventure options in Cape Town to get you started.

Paarl Rock

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Despite its misleading name, Paarl Rock is actually a giant, granite formation (more boulder than rock). It forms a bold natural backdrop to the town of Paarl (a 45-minute drive out of central Cape Town), known for its expansive winelands, historic Cape Dutch buildings and outdoor adventure opportunities. Paarl Rock is the focal point of the Paarl Mountain Nature Reserve, which appeals to thrill-seekers and chillers alike. You could take a 4×4 drive through the mountainous tracks, or tackle them by bike. Once you’ve got the adrenaline pumping, a perilous-looking walk up Bretagne Rocks awaits, which could be followed by a descent of the 355 (or so) stairs towards the reservoir. The smooth surface of the boulders also makes this area a popular one for abseiling and free climbing. When all the excitement becomes too much, set up a picnic under the trees and while away the afternoon.

Atlantis Dunes

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The Atlantis Dunes are proof that you don’t have to travel too far to get that sky-high sand dune experience. While this (highly-underrated) natural wonder is only 45-minutes out of Cape Town, as you descend into the valley of pristine white dunes, you’ll feel worlds away from city life. Head to the area at sunrise and watch as the dunes change color from purple to dusty pink and orange, before turning a brilliant white. Then, spend the day getting your fix of thrills. Bomb down the dunes in a 4×4 vehicle or a quad bike, or show off your sand boarding skills. And, you could simply run down them. Either way, you’re sure to return home with soft white sand still leaking from your clothing.
To book, visit this website.

Ocean kayaking off Three Anchor Bay

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Cape Town is encompassed by temperate ocean, edged by harbors and multiple beaches with inviting waves. Our oceans pull water sport fanatics from all over the world, from divers to kite boarders, surfers and even open-water swimmers. But, one of the best ways to experience this marine wonder (without having to fully submerge yourself into the notoriously icy water of the Atlantic) is to head out on an ocean kayaking adventure. Kazkasi leads a guided tour, which heads out through Three Anchor Bay in Sea Point and into open water. While paddling along the coast and bobbing up and down over waves, you’ll be afforded a panoramic view of Table Mountain from a whole new angle, and get a little closer to the shipwreck of the RMS Athens or endemic marine wildlife like Haviside dolphins and African penguins. No previous kayaking experience is required, and leave your cameras behind unless they’re fully waterproof.
To book, visit this website

Coasteering

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Speaking of alternative marine experiences, coasteering from Windmill Beach in Simon’s Town is another opportunity to immerse yourself in Cape Town’s underwater world. Except, this time, you’re required to actually jump into the icy waters. But, never fear, you’ll be kitted out in a wetsuit, helmet, life jacket and maybe even a pair of booties. Because, coasteering (similar to canyoning, but in the ocean rather than following a river) entails walking along rough boulders and then jumping off of them into crystal clear waters. Here, you can swim and snorkel and enjoy the abundance of marine wildlife (due to its proximity to Boulders Beach, the inquisitive African penguins often visit this area), before climbing onto the next boulder and continuing the epic journey. It’s like the triathlon of marine adventures – tiring, but gratifying.
To book, visit this website.

Tandem Paragliding

Birds get the best view of Cape Town. As they soar just below low-hanging clouds, they look down on our miniature world full of contrasts. They see matchbox buildings arranged in neat rows, oblivious of the stresses of city life; they’re afforded a view of uninterrupted coastline with blue waters and white beaches dotted by umbrellas, and the rugged terrain of our mountains. But, in Cape Town, you can experience all of this first-hand without actually having to be a bird. Or a drone pilot. Or in a helicopter. Cape Town Tandem Paragliding allows the brave to launch off of Lion’s Head or Signal Hill and soar over the city like a sea gull on its fledgling flight (shrill screams included).
To book, visit this website.

Canopy Tour in the Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve

Cape Canopy Tours is a zipline course through the Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve. This unspoiled region, in the peaks of the Elgin Valley, is about an hour drive from Cape Town and forms part of a World Heritage Site. Most South Africans would refer to this as a “foefie slide”. Either way, whatever you choose to call it, you’ll have another “flying like an eagle” experience as you slide along the steel cables from platform to platform with your feet dangling above ancient mountains and endemic Cape fynbos.To book, visit Cape Canopy Tours.

River rafting the Breede River

Photo: Bundi Camp

The Breede River (translated to Broad River in English) snakes through the Breede River Valley for about 320km until it flows into the Indian Ocean at Witsand. It slices through towns like Swellendam and Worcester and its banks are dotted by numerous campsites and the Bontebok National Park. Unlike some rivers in South Africa, this one is not home to crocodiles or hippos. But, while much of the river is gentle and makes for a leisurely paddle, the Breede is also known (and loved) for its fast-moving streams and some hair-raising rapids. Altogether, this makes it the ideal spot for an adrenaline-filled day of river rafting, without fear of getting munched by a hungry croc.
To book, visit this website.

Abseiling off Table Mountain

There is more than one way to experience Table Mountain, the mountain around which Cape Town is built. A hike up one of the many trails that lead to its summit is challenging (especially the India Venster route which requires some scrambling and rock climbing), but inevitably rewarding, and a ride to the top in the aerial cable way is a way to get maximum views with minimum effort. Or, you could just do the crazy (but brilliant) thing and abseil down its vertical cliffs. This is undoubtedly the most exhilarating way to get your nature fix, while feeling like an ant against the backdrop of Cape Town’s most cherished natural wonder and the sprawling cityscape down below.
To book, visit this website.
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