Having been to Cape Town countless times, I thought I’d pretty much seen and done it all in the Mother City. But not since my varsity days have I actually bothered to really explore the city. On a recent visit to the swanky One&Only Cape Town, I was taken on a very clever Insta-Walk that offered me a taste of the city I would never have discovered by myself.
Led by travel journos and avid Instagrammers Dawn Jorgensen and Seth Shezi, the on-foot tours can be tailor-made around your interests. Whether you want to shop boutiques, browse art, explore funky markets, wine and dine, or get close up with the community, there’s an Insta-Walk for you – only comfortable walking shoes needed.
We decided to go the whole hog and I confidently handed my family over to the capable and passionate team at Escape+Explore Private Cape Adventures, who co-ordinate the Insta-Walks and other guest excursions.
The morning started with a Scootour from Signal Hill. Non-motorised “4×4” scooters, kids under 12 may battle to control the rather heavy scooters (they also need big enough hands to be able to use the brakes), so my son hopped on with the guide, while the rest of us took to a scooter each. Once I got the hang of it, I managed to look up and enjoy the rather magnificent view of the city beneath us and the mountain behind us. Did you know that Table Mountain is home to over 3 000 plant species – that’s more than in the UK and New Zealeand combined. It was an exhilarating way to view the city from a different height – and at a different pace!
Scooting into Bo-Kaap, home to the Cape’s Muslim community, we handed in the helmets and enjoyed an Insta-Walk through the brightly coloured buildings. Our guide, Marcus, was a mine of information about the area and its people. My kids were fascinated by his stories about how the Foreshore was part of the ocean until the 1930s, and how, during excavations in 2003, slaves’s skeletons were discovered under Prestwich Street and are now in the Prestwich Memorial.
We visited Atlas Trading, the Bo-Kaap’s famous family-owned and run spice shop, which has been in operation since 1946. It’s said that if you can’t find a spice at Atlas, then you won’t find it anywhere!
Leaving the fragrant smells of spices and herbs behind us, we popped into Monkeybiz (www.monkeybiz.co.za) where we learnt about this most incredible beading project. Established in 2000, the Non-Profit Organisation commissions and accepts pieces from all 280 beaders on its register. All pieces are animals, but the artist can make what they want and interpret the designs in their own way. It’s a beautiful initiative that has received international interest, including a commission by design team The Haas Brothers – the exhibition was launched in February this year at The Cooper Hewitt Smithsoniam Design Museum in New York.
Next stop was the Sea Point promenade where we hopped onto bicycles and navigated our way, in a very leisurely fashion, back to the Waterfront. There are great photo opportunities along the bustling promenade, including the Mandela-inspired Perceiving Freedom glasses and rhino artwork.
Our last adventure – very brave considering it was mid winter! – was stand-up paddling on the canals in front of the One&Only, after which we tucked into a tasty, warm fondue at the hotel’s Isola restaurant. Dessert was marshmallows, strawberries, nougat, brownies and biscotti dipped into melted Swiss chocolate… a sweet end to an exhilarating day.
One&Only Cape Town has very hot specials for these cool days. The launch of the Insta-Walks offering coincides with the resort’s current locals-only #OneEscape seasonal special. Check into a waterside Marina Harbour Room from R3 250 per night (valid until 22 September 2016), which includes a delicious breakfast at Reuben’s.
There are also Wine & Dine events at both Nobu and Reuben’s restaurants between now and December, as well as an opportunity to sample internationally renowned celebrity chef Daniel Redondo’s Brazilian brilliance (Saturday, 27 August). For enquiries, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their website.
Images supplied by Ingrid Wood, Jan Theron and One&Only Cape Town.