Shed new light on the cultural attractions and artefacts of the V&A Waterfront after dark
Experience Cape Town’s magnificent beauty from a sea kayak
See the Mother City from a whole new perspective while paddling on the glassy waters of Table Bay
Ordinarily I start my week with a cup of coffee and a shower, but this Monday morning is anything but ordinary. To my left the sun makes its first appearance of the day from behind a wispy cloud. To my right a penguin bobs in the waves, every now and then diving under the surface in search of food. And straight ahead is one of the most spectacular backdrops in the world: Table Mountain, Lion’s Head and Signal Hill rearranged in a way that makes them new and fresh to a life-long Capetonian. The only sound is water slapping gently against the sides of the sea kayak. And the occasional splash of a frolicking seal.
The time is 7am. Only half an hour earlier I had met Art and Tracy, the husband and wife team who own Kaskazi Kayaks, at their office on Beach Road for a safety briefing and to collect flotation devices and splash covers. We had then walked across the road to the boathouses hidden beneath the famous Sea Point Promenade and, to the jealous approval of early-morning dog-walkers and joggers, headed out on one of the duo’s daily guided sunrise kayaking trips.
Even though Kaskazi Kayaks has been offering these outdoor excursions from the same prime spot on Beach Road since 1995 very few people even know the tour operator exists. For the past eight years Tracy and Art have been behind the venture, and their passion for the water is infectious. “Our first love is showing locals and tourists how beautiful Cape Town is when experienced from a sea kayak,” explains Tracy. Kaskazi is one of only two companies in Cape Town offering guided sea kayaking tours – the other is in faraway Simon’s Town, which has a completely different ecosystem and can be a lot windier in summer.
Unless you have previous kayaking experience you’ll be in a double kayak – the person in front is ‘the engine’ while the one at the back does all the steering. Fortunately, neither role is too demanding. Within seconds I knew that this was going to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Out there on the water I felt a thousand miles from the city, and a sense of calm and tranquillity washed over me.
We paddled towards the V&A Waterfront, but if the winds had been different we would have paddled in the other direction, towards the idyllic Clifton 4th Beach. To be honest, it really doesn’t matter which route you take: the entire Atlantic coastline is spectacular, and there’s always a pretty good chance of spotting dolphins (especially the endemic Haviside’s species), whales, penguins, seals and countless seabirds.
After about 40 minutes of paddling, I’d worked up a slight sweat, so when Tracy suggested mooring below the Radisson Hotel for a quick coffee break, it didn’t take much convincing. Fuelled by caffeine and a breeze in our faces, the return paddle seemed much shorter, and before I knew it, I was back at the shop enjoying a nice hot shower. On the drive home all I could think about was getting back on the water. And soon.
That afternoon, when I received an email containing photos of the morning’s paddle, this feeling only intensified. It really was one of the best things I’ve ever done – not just in Cape Town, but anywhere in the world. And undeniably, it was a great way to start the day: great views, unrivalled calm, fascinating wildlife and an excellent cup of coffee!
- Expect to get wet. Beachwear, a windbreaker, and flip-flops are recommended.
- Sun protection is essential: hat, sunglasses and suncream.
- Bring a change of clothes and a towel: there’s a shower in the shop.
- Only bring your camera if it’s waterproof. The guides will take loads of pictures, which you’ll receive within hours, at no extra charge.
- You can leave your belongings in the shop and there’s a safe for valuables.
Tip: Kaskazi Kayaks has a 100% safety record and takes no chances with the weather, so be sure to call +27 (0)83 364 1146 before you leave your residence to confirm whether or not your trip is still on.
The bill: It costs R300p/p for a two-hour excursion, but bookings of 7 or more pay only R263p/p. Bookings can be made by emailing email@example.com.
By Nick Dall
Eager to explore parts of the Western Cape in less than 24 hours? Read about all the day tours on offer from various trip operators.
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