It’s that time of year when, after six long months of summer tourism frenzy, the streets of the Mother City have finally emptied of ‘foreign’ number plates and Capetonians traditionally sink into their winter hibernation

(Article by Gabriella Geffen – a freelance lifestyle and travel writer based in Cape Town.)

While it’s wonderful to be able to pause for breath, that’s just what it should be – a pause, because this visitor ‘down time’ is exactly when residents should capitalise on the chance to become explorers in their own region.

There is, after all, good reason for Cape Town being voted the best city in the world to visit by the majority of 75 000 UK Telegraph readers, and the best foodie city by Conde Nast Traveller.

For many Capetonians, though, the rush of a breathless, reckless weekend adventure all too often becomes a distant, fond anecdote that we tell guests at dinner. Exploring the ‘best city in the world’ has been left to the perennial German tourists.

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To be fair, on occasion the ‘tried and tested’ destinations are dusted off – the Paternosters, Platteklips, or the ‘Arcades’ – but there is just so much more to discover, and if you need some inspiration, here’s where you start!

1. Table mountain and wine tasting – a potent combination

Something happens when you climb the little make-shift staircase and fling yourself into a big green game-drive vehicle. You may be in the middle of the city at the start of Tafelberg Road with cars whizzing by, but you feel like you’re embarking on an adventure.

Your eyes open that much wider, the mountain looks surprisingly different as you wind upwards, and then Table Mountain Wine Tours and Events MD Henri Bruce jumps out of the driver’s seat to remove the chain that says “No public vehicles past this point”. The thrill of virgin mountain road!

The panorama of the city spreads before you from an entirely new angle as that green machine climbs on.

The panorama of the city spreads before you from an entirely new angle as that green machine climbs on. There’s a little bit of pernicious aerial rivalry up here, Bruce tells you, between a bunch of crows and two black eagles and a kestrel. If you’re lucky, you’ll see the eagles’ ally dropping onto the crows’ backs to give them a peck that he seems to think they deserve.

Up and up you go, past cannons and blockhouses erected by Cecil John Rhodes to detect enemy ships. The buildings stand on a mountainside that is more than 260 million years old and in close to its present shape, astonishingly watched over dinosaurs for 100 million years. Table Mountain is older than the Andes, Alps, Rocky Mountains and even the Himalayas.

On Devil’s Peak, you have a last, sober moment to analyse the layout of your glorious home – left the buildings of the CBD, right the trees of Constantia, forwards over the Cape flats, the dunes of Atlantis, and is that really Franschhoek you can see?

Table Mountain is older than the Andes, Alps, Rocky Mountains and even the Himalayas.

Meanwhile, Bruce has laid out Durbanville Hills’ finest: Sauvignon Blancs, Pinotages and Rosés await you on a picnic table. Brie Cheese and Swiss Chocolate temper the combined effect of the wine and that crisp mountain air. Passing runners are offered a glass of Rhinofield’s Pinotage before they descend Devil’s Peak. One or two accept and it makes for interesting conversation.

Everything about this adventure revolves around fresh perspective. And as the four-by-four rocks back down along the path, peaceful from the wine and the heady beauty that surrounds you, every happy hormone you own is humming.

One final tip, though – it’s probably best to go home by taxi!

More info:

www.tablemountainwinetours.co.za, For bookings call 076 788 4992

Click page 2 below to find out about more winter activities in the Western Cape…