Last week’s Presidential address, which confirmed that South Africa would remain on Alert Level three – extending the closure of South Africa’s beaches, parks, dams and rivers, and continuing the ongoing ban on all alcohol sales – has somewhat dampened enthusiasm for Cape Town holidays.
However, a family visit to the Cape this month revealed that there are still dozens of things to do in the region, which pose a very low risk of exposure to COVID-19, and are simultaneously great outings for the whole family. The region has been emptied of international tourists, which made us feel that we had the place to ourselves.
Some options that remain open for visitors to enjoy include:
- Boulders Beach – This beach in Simon’s Town, which is home to a rare colony of African penguins, remains open, as it falls within the region of Table Mountain National Park. Follow the raised wooden walkways built above the beach down to the edge of the sea and enjoy up-close sightings of these comical seabirds.
- The Cape of Good Hope – Famously described by Francis Drake in 1580 as “the fairest Cape in all the world” this peninsula (and the drive to get there from Cape Town) offers some of the most spectacular scenery in the world. Enjoy a trip up to the lighthouse on the funicular (the funicular cars are sanitised from top to bottom between every ride and only carry very limited numbers) and enjoy magnificent views along the cliffside walkways. The reserve is home to eland, zebra, bontebok, red hartebeest and troops of baboon.
- Table Mountain – One of the new seven wonders of the world, this iconic flat-topped mountain looms majestically over the city of Cape Town and is easily accessible from the centre of town. Enjoy spectacular hikes in the reserve or take the cable car straight to the top.
- Slangkop – We also found that the Slangkop boardwalk, which is part of Table Mountain National Park, was open. Meander from the famous Slangkop lighthouse, located in the laid-back seaside town of Kommetjie, along the winding boardwalk that takes you on a picturesque journey through stretches of fynbos and milkwood forests, with beautiful seaside views.
- The promenade – Situated next to the beach but not on it, the famous promenade with its wide-open stretches of grass and art displays remains open to enjoy. Bicycles can be hired and dropped off at the Seapoint Pavilion, in Camps Bay or at the V&A Waterfront, allowing holiday-makers to explore the flat paved pathways that extend along the Atlantic Seaboard.
- Boating trips – Boat excursions are still departing from Hout Bay harbour to the seal colony on Duiker Island and we enjoyed an hour-long cruise. Hout Bay is also famous for its fish and chips, which can be enjoyed at harbour-front restaurants or as take-aways if you are trying to avoid eating-in.
- Silvermine – If you’ve ever driven along Ou Kaapse Weg from Constantia to Noordhoek, you would have passed through the magnificent Silvermine Reserve, which offers some of the best hikes in the Cape and magnificent aerial views of the Peninsula.
- Green Point Park – While we initially thought that this park was closed, we later discovered that access was restricted to a single gate and that the park management were only permitting entrance to a total of 250 people. With such a big area to spread out in we didn’t notice anyone else in the park during our visit. Stopping for an ice-cream at The Creamery across the road from the park is also highly recommended.
- Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens – The gardens are also restricting access numbers, allowing visitors to easily practise distancing. The kids particularly enjoyed the scented herb garden, the Protea Gardens with their magnificent mountain views, and the Boomslang canopy walkway.
- Robben Island Museum – Ferry trips and tours of the island are still taking place but have reduced numbers and do not operate daily. It is therefore important to plan to visit the island in advance and to pre-book tickets.
What do the regulations say?
According to the Government Gazette issued by Department of Co-operative Governance on January 11, the following regulations relating to beaches, dams, lakes and rivers in hotspot areas apply:
All beaches, dams, lakes and rivers, inclusive of all recreational facilities at these places, are closed to the public in all the areas declared as hotspots (i.e. Cape Town). The closure of beaches does not apply to fishermen for fishing purposes, who are in possession of a permit or exemption granted in terms of the Marine Living Resources Act.
All public swimming pools, including recreational facilities at such places, are closed to the public.
Game parks, botanical gardens, aquariums, zoos and other parks, where access control measures and entry limitations are already in place, will remain open to the public. Botanical gardens, aquariums and zoos that are open to the public will open between 09h00 and 18h00 and be monitored for compliance with all heath protocols, including the wearing of face-masks and social distancing measures.
Game parks that are open to the public can open between 06h00 and 18h00 and will be monitored for compliance with all health protocols, including the wearing of face-masks and social distancing measures. Gatherings at public parks are not permitted.