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February 12, 2013

Walking tours of Cape Town

Greenmarket Square has a number of historical attractions, and is also a great starting place for discovering the city. It also adjoins the fully-pedestrianised St George's Mall. Photo courtesy Urban Adventures

Wedged between Table Mountain and the sea, central Cape Town is commonly known as the City Bowl. This area is relatively small (in comparison to other cities), making it the perfect place to explore on foot.

With a concerted effort to draw businesses and residents into Cape Town's CBD, the area has seen huge improvements over the past 10 years. Crime has decreased dramatically, and the number of people living in the CBD has increased significantly. One-quarter of Cape Town's GDP came from businesses in the CBD. These days, it is a vibrant and busy place, and a number of companies now offer walking tours for those who want to discover Cape Town street by street.

There's also plenty to see. From the Castle of Good Hope, the oldest colonial building in South Africa, to the modern skyscrapers that make up the city skyline, Cape Town is a fascinating mix of old and new, African and European, urban and natural. It is a melting pot of cultures, best experienced by walking the streets and being greeted by the friendly faces that Capetonians offer their visitors – when you live in the best city in the world, it's hard not to smile!

It's also the most eco-friendly way of getting about (and it is Responsible Tourism Week this week, after all). Think of it as a trade-off for the long-haul flight to get here! Below are some of the walking tour operators in Cape Town:

Wanderlust

The City Hall, as seen from the Grand Parade. This area is usually buzzing with pedestrians who flock to the shops and fleamarkets found here. Photo courtesy Kleinz1

Travel and publishing company Wanderlust was founded by Ursula Stevens in 1981. The company has published several travel guides for Cape Town and the surrounding areas, and also operates historical walking tours six days a week. Discover Cape Town's fascinating history as you visit the most historic landmarks on foot – a 17th century water reservoir, the City Hall, the Slave Lodge and much more. The tour also takes you through the Bo-Kaap district, where you will hear the story of the slaves who built the roads and houses, and how it became the colourful neighbourhood it is today. Tours are available in English and/or German.

Cape Walk & Talk Tours

There was plenty of foot traffic during the 2010 FIFA World Cup, and the city has encouraged pedestrians to make use of the fan walk, footbridges and pedestrian walkways ever since, in an effort to reduce congestion on Cape Town's roads. Photo coutesy JanahPhotography

Cape Walk & Talk Tours is a 3-in-1 city walking tour which is designed to orientate you geographically, culturally and historically within the city of Cape Town.

Walk in Africa

Walk in Africa specialises in designing a walking holiday that suits your needs, whether you are exploring Cape Town for a day, or trekking across the continent. "Walking a place allows you to savour its beauty and spirit, encouraging interactions with local people, insights into the ecology and appreciation of your destination at a more relaxed pace," they say – and how right they are.

Ruben Maistry

Ruben is an accredited tour guide offering private and personalised tours. The advantage of a private tour is that Ruben will assess your interests and requirements, and customise a tour to address your needs.

Manaazil Tours & Shuttle Services

Manaazil Tours offer personalised walking tours of Cape Town, as well as tours of the Garden Route. They will also arrange bookings for shark cage diving, safaris and whale tours.

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