Nature and Environment activities

Hiking in the Helderberg. Photo © Cape Town Tourism

Cape Town has an abundance of fauna and flora in close proximity to its urban areas. As a pioneering city, the Mother City asks that visitors to these attractions act responsibly. Concerns about global warming and the destruction of the environment have created a need for responsible tourism to ensure that travel remains economically, socially and environmentally sustainable.

Cape Town  was the first city to win the Best Destination category of the Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Awards in 2009, and was also named one of the World’s 10 Best Ethical Destinations 2010 by Ethical Traveler. It continues to promote responsible tourism to locals and visitors.

We ask that visitors:

  • Drink tap water (it’s very safe) rather than bottled water and use water as efficiently
  • as possible
  • Dispose of waste, matches and cigarette butts in bins provided and prevent starting fires, especially in ecologically sensitive areas
  • Not take natural keepsakes such as shells and indigenous flowers
  • Stick to marked paths and roads when driving or hiking to avoid damage to the sensitive landscape
  • Dispose of rubbish carefully, recycle and re-use where possible
  • Not approach or feed baboons
  • Adhere to shark spotting flags on beaches – a green flag means no sharks around, a red flag means be cautious as a shark has been spotted in the last two hours, a black flag means visibility is poor, and a white flag with shark emblem accompanied by a siren means that a shark has been spotted and you are to stay out of the water until the flag has been lowered. No flag means that shark spotters are not on duty.

Fauna in the Wild

Baboons in Cape Point. Photo © Cape Town Tourism

Chacma baboons are seen regularly along the Cape Point and a walking tour of two to three hours can be arranged to observe these primates. Do not feed or approach baboons – ever.

Dassies look like over-sized guinea pigs but are, in fact, a distant relative of the elephant. They, together with lizards can be found basking in the sun on mountainous rocks and crevices.

Noordhoek beach is popular for horse riding. Braced against the elements, with the wind in your hair and surrounded by postcard-perfect views of Chapman’s Peak – if there’s time to spare, this is a must-do!

One of a few mainland penguin colonies, the endangered African Penguin colony at Boulders Beach in Simon’s Town is in need of your support and funding.
Southern right whales can be spotted at Glencairn, Fish Hoek, Chapman’s Peak and Cape Point from June to November while breeding season is on.

Cape clawless otters are often seen sunbathing on their backs in the mornings in Kommetjie.

For Cape fur seals, take a boat trip to Duiker Island, off the Hout Bay coast, and Seal Island, off the coast of Simon’s Town.
For adventurous travellers, great white shark cage diving is a must! Day trips are offered by companies in Gansbaai, while boats also leave from Simon’s Town.

Keep your eyes peeled for small antelope such as the duiker and the steenbok when visiting sites such as the Rhodes Memorial, the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve or Cape Point.

Fauna Cared for in Captivity

Visit an ostrich farm to find out more about these fascinating creatures, indigenous to Africa. There is a ranch along the West Coast, as well as at Cape Point.
Bird sanctuaries in Hout Bay, the Southern Suburbs, and the Northern Suburbs are also home to monkey species and chimpanzees roaming in open cages.

Butterfly World in Klapmuts, about 30 minutes outside of the Cape Town city bowl, plays host to monkeys, exotic birds, reptiles, as well as butterflies, making it a great place for families to visit.

The Two Oceans Aquarium at the V&A Waterfront is a perfect playground for adults and kids alike, displaying an array of Cape marine life in an interactive setting.

On Safari

If it’s the Big Five you want to see you will have to book yourself on a safari – or better still, an overnight stay at a tented camp on a game reserve. From Cape Town’s city centre there are a few establishments that offer game drives and safari lodges. Clara Anna Fontein private game reserve in the Northern Suburbs is practically on your doorstep, while Inverdoorn Game Reserve and Iziba Safari Lodge and Aquila Private Game Reserve lie further beyond the city limits.


National Parks and Nature Reserves

Do not miss out on South Africa’s fragrant fynbos plant kingdom. According to United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the Cape Floral Kingdom is one of the richest areas for plants in the world. It represents less than half a percent of the area of Africa, but is home to nearly 20 percent of the continent’s flora.

Entirely unique to this region, this biodiversity can be experienced on walks through the South African National Parks conservation areas, including the Table Mountain National Park and Cape Point. A visit to either would allow you the opportunity to take in the fynbos, and possibly spot South Africa’s national flower, the protea.
In addition, the Table Mountain National Park also allows braaiing (barbeques) in designated areas at Oudekraal or the Tokai Forest, picnic areas at Silvermine and biking or hiking up the mountain paths.

The Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden is world-famous and a regular winner at London’s Chelsea Flower Show. Set against the backdrop of Table Mountain and Devil’s Peak, and home to over 22 000 indigenous plants this beautiful place is perfect for long strolls.
The Durbanville Rose Garden, not as well known as Kirstenbosch, has an extensive 3.5 hectare garden which includes 500 varietals and 4 500 rose bushes, as well as trial beds, which are used by many international nurseries to test new rose species.


The Cape Peninsula is famed for its white sand beaches. It has been voted the Second-Best Beach City in the world in Lonely Planet’s Ten Best Beach Cities 2011. There are two coastlines:

  • False Bay stretches from Gordons Bay to Simon’s Town. The water along False Bay is about 6˚ Celsius warmer than the other two regions and this is where whale spotting is most likely. The southern part of this route also offers two boardwalks should you prefer not to get your feet wet.
  • The Atlantic Seaboard runs along the along the west side of the Cape Peninsula and sports some of the trendiest places to see and be seen at. The West Coast’s endless windswept beaches and rocky shoreline run from Cape Town to Melkbos – and beyond. It is here that you can see a picture postcard view of Table Mountain.

Please do not hesitate to contact Cape Town Tourism for suggestions on what to see and do, where to eat, how to get around and where to stay. Contact or call +27 (0)21 487 6800.