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Things to do for the visually impaired in Cape Town

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Things to do for the visually impaired in Cape Town

Art tour with Cape Town’s first blind tour guide & more

Last updated: 21 May 2024 

While some people experience our city’s beauty through sight, others do it through touch, smell, taste and hearing.

Christina Ernst, a German citizen who’s been fully blind since early childhood, shared some of her favourite things to do when she visits Cape Town – from adaptive surfing to tandem cycling and an art tour with Cape Town’s first blind tour guide. 

ART TOUR WITH CAPE TOWN’S FIRST BLIND TOUR GUIDE 

Winston Fani, Cape Town’s first blind tour guide, offers street art tours for the visually impaired. 

The three hour tour starts in Salt River and includes descriptions and conversations about various works of street art, a stop at Community House (an activism site from the 1980s) and a visit to a gallery and artist’s studio.

Christina says: “The street art and many press cuttings and texts in the entrance hall of Community House (which were described to me) bear witness to the local history and raise awareness and discussion on contemporary social issues.” 

Cost: R1 250pp including transfers with a guide to and from your accommodation
For more info on the tour with Winston Fani: Via the AWOL Tours website 


Some of the murals have braille and QR codes which you can scan for audio descriptions of the murals. Image: AWOL Tours 

TANDEM CYCLING IN THE CBD  

Although AWOL does not offer bike tours specifically for the visually impaired, they made their three-hour city cycle tour accessible for Christina by providing a tandem bicycle with a private guide. The tour starts at Battery Park, with a cycle through Greenpoint Park, Bo-Kaap (with a stop at a local tea shop) and the Company’s Garden. 

Christina says: “I was especially intrigued by the sculptures of South Africa’s four Nobel Peace Prize winners, which I could get up close to and touch. I also smelt flowers and herbs in Greenpoint Park. The highlight was cycling up the hill towards Bo-Kaap and tasting Cape Malay specialities like chilly bites and koesisters.” 

Cost: R1 300pp including one guide, helmets, water and a snack
For more info: Via the AWOL Tours website 


The tour includes a stop and snack in the Bo-Kaap. Image: Christina Ernst 

SEA KAYAKING IN HOUT BAY  

Karbonkelberg Tourism’s sea kayak adventures take you across the bay towards Chapman's Peak and through the “Green Room” (an underpass at the harbour). You might also meet various sealife like dolphins, penguins, whales and sunfish.

Christina says: “Our tour guide was paddling our kayak and explained the different sights and sounds. His knowledge of the area was incredible, as he comes from the fishing community of Hangberg and traces his lineage back to Khoisan heritage.” 

Cost: R500pp
For more info: via the Karbonkelberg Tourism website 


Karbonkelberg Tourism offers various sea kayak tours. Image: Christina Ernst 

ADAPTIVE SURFING IN MUIZENBERG  

The Surf Emporium wants to make surfing accessible for literally anyone. Before you go, you fill in an online form with questions like: Are you visually impaired? Are you able to stand, kneel or lie on your surfboard? How comfortable do you feel with being in the water? They then provide a teacher and one or two catchers who stabilise the surfboard and watch over you. 

Christina says: “I had no idea how you move with, and on, a surfboard. I’ve never seen people surfing! So we started at the very beginning. I felt my surfboard, laid down on it and listened to basic instructions. They were so enthusiastic. Also, I appreciate that they encouraged me to do as much as I could by myself, giving the support I needed but not more than that.

Cost: R510 for one hour including one teacher, one catcher, wetsuit and surfboard
For more info: Via the Surf Emporium website

 
 
 
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Surf Emporium also offers sup lessons. Image: Surf Emporium 

 

PLATTEKLIP GORGE HIKE

The hike starts near the cable car station at a height of 400 metres and moves up straight to the top of Table Mountain at 1 080m. Christina used two guides, one to guide her and one to lead the tour. It took around four hours, as the hike involves climbing over a lot of steps and rocks: It’s “quite something even for sighted people!” 

Christina says: “I could touch and smell different indigenous trees and flowers like wild pelargonium. My tour guide  explained a lot about the birds we heard, the vegetation and the special geology of Table Mountain. It was fascinating to hear the rumbling of the cars far below us, distinguish the sound of a train, and hear the foghorn at the port.” 

Cost: R4 000pp including two guides, a picnic, and one-way cable car ticket
For more info: Via the AWOL Tours website 

 
 
 
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A post shared by Tawanda (@chiggxoutdoor)

There’s so much more to hiking than just the view. You can touch, smell and learn about indigenous fauna and flora. Image: @chiggxoutdoor

 

By Julia Rowley

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