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February 27, 2013

Places to avoid the south-easter in Cape Town

Cape Town is home to one of the world's most famous doctors – Chris Barnard, who performed the world's first successful heart transplant (and who now has a museum in his honour near the Groote Schuur Hospital).

But there's another Cape Doctor you may not have heard of. Between October and March, a south-easterly wind blows through Cape Town, clearing up the city's air and taking the edge off the summer heat.

It's also responsible for the "tablecloth" effect that can sometimes be seen on Table Mountain. As it blows through the mountains, its low moisture content condenses into clouds, which then drop down over the edge of the summit.

Early settlers to the Cape first called the south-easter the "Cape Doctor", believing that it blew away any bad air and illnesses. Of course, this wind didn't help the hundreds of ships that found themselves shipwrecked along the Cape Peninsula, which was also known as the Cape of Storms.

These days, it is both welcomed and bemoaned by the locals, depending on how hard it is blowing on the day. In some cases, the wind can reach speeds of up to 120km/h!

But it never stays for all that long, and besides, there are plenty of places to go to avoid it. We hope that you are "blown away" by Cape Town, but hopefully never blown over in Cape Town!

Check out these spots for a wind-free time:

Beaches

Try to stick to the Atlantic side when the wind is blowing (see maps here), but avoid the open beaches. The massive boulders that divide up the Clifton beaches are ideal for providing wind shelter, so Clifton First to Fourth beaches are safe bets. Llandudno is another great spot.

Glen Beach is sandwiched between Clifton and Camps Bay, and is also well protected by large boulders. Take a stroll through The Glen, a beautiful forested area at the base of Lion's Head, or visit the Theatre on the Bay, a short walk away.

Kalk Bay is one of the few sheltered spots on the False Bay side of the Peninsula.

Outdoors

The Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden lies on the eastern slopes of Table Mountain, and so is sheltered from the wind. Take a relaxing stroll through the gardens, or catch one of the Summer Sunset Concerts on a Sunday afternoon.

Winelands tours are another good outdoor option. The Cape Doctor doesn't reach as far as some of the wine estates that are a bit further out of the city.

The V&A Waterfront is usually wind-free, and of course, much of it is also indoors! Enjoy the restaurants, shops, and cinemas, all conveniently located inside, or find a nice vantage point overlooking the working harbour.

For nature lovers, Tokai forest is another a good spot for walking, hiking and bicycling, without getting blown about.

For golf lovers, check out the Durbanville and King David golf courses (among others) that have been designed to avoid overly windy conditions. There are other less-sheltered courses in Cape Town too, if you prefer a challenge!

Embrace the wind

Of course, there's no use fighting the elements – and many take the opportunity of a strong breeze and make the most of it! Kite surfing, windsurfing, and kite-flying are popular activities in Cape Town, and it's easy to see why! For the best kitesurfing spots, head to Blouberg. Downwind paddling is another sport that embraces the south-easter and rolls with it. See more details here.

Remember that you can find weather information on the Cape Town Tourism website, and that we can help you plan the best time to visit. Give us a call on +27 (0)861 322 223, or email info@capetown.travel for more information.

Blouberg beach is a great spot for kite surfing when the south-easter's blowing. Photo courtesy of Leif Sobremonte

Got any suggestions for some other wind-free spots? Let us know in the comments below!

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