Your guide to what to do and where to go this Freedom Day in Cape Town
AWOL Bike Tours in Cape Town
The award-winning bicycle and hiking tours specialist that is the go-to company for outdoor exploration in the Mother City
Over the last few years, bicycle culture has taken off around the globe, and true to form, the Mother City has cottoned on to the trend. In fact, as a testament to the devotion of its ever-growing fan base, a simple Google search for ‘bicycle culture in cape town’ reveals that ‘searches related’ to the term include ‘jesus culture in cape town’.
Of course you don’t have to follow the craze religiously to know that there are obvious benefits to cycling, including increasing your level of fitness and, of course, reducing your carbon footprint. Although, with AWOL Tours in Cape Town, a third pro can be added to the list: discovering the Mother City in a new and unique way.
AWOL specialises in hiking trips and bike tours in Cape Town and draws inspiration from the holy trinity of exploration: adventure, culture and nature. More specifically, the V&A Waterfront-based company runs private and group trips that give locals and tourists a real opportunity to interact with the metropolis and her people in an intimate and meaningful way.
“We really want to create unique experiences for people. We want people to enjoy the city in an active way. And we really want to facilitate genuine cultural exchanges,” says Sally Petersen, a founding member and director of AWOL.
As she also asserts, discovering Cape Town and its surrounds by bicycle allows for a more up-close and personal sightseeing adventure – it’s far better than embarking on a safari-like exploration of all the Mother City’s nooks and crannies from the confines of a vehicle.
Still not convinced that AWOL Tours is the best option for a cycling tour in Cape Town? Well, the company has been bestowed with many accolades, such as a Fair Trade and Tourism certification in 2008, and for five consecutive years (2011-2015) the organisation has received TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence. The latter-mentioned award, which honours hospitality excellence, is given only to establishments that consistently achieve outstanding traveler reviews on TripAdvisor. Only approximately 10 percent of service providers listed on travel website receive this prestigious award.
POPULAR AWOL HIKING TRIPS AND BIKE TOURS IN CAPE TOWN
The Cape Town City Cycling Tour
Led by experienced local guides, this trip is perfect for anyone who wants to learn about Cape Town’s heritage and explore the vibrant inner city. The tour commences at the bustling V&A Waterfront at 10am daily and will take participants to various historical sites, like The Castle of Good Hope, The Bo-Kaap, The Company’s Garden and more. The tour also makes its way to the Green Point Biodiversity Eco-Park, which is a must-see for green enthusiasts, and the Green Point Lighthouse, which happens to be the oldest working lighthouse in South Africa. The tour progresses at a very relaxed pace, so it’s suitable for all ages and fitness levels.
Time: This is a halfday tour and the tour lasts about three hours (tours may be shortened or extended on request). There is also a one-hour option for children.
Cost: Tours cost R600p/p (min 1 and max 5 guests). Prices valid from the 1st Nov 2016 to 31st Oct 2017.
The Township Bicycle Tour in Cape Town
Part of AWOL’s responsible tourism drive to empower local communities, this excursion gives cyclists the chance to rub shoulders and interact with members of the Masiphumelele township in a way that would never be possible on a car-based or bus-based sightseeing adventure. AWOL’s guests hire bicycles from residents themselves, and then a guide conducts a tour of the area’s local businesses and other must-see places in the township. Aside from visiting a sangoma (a traditional healer), a local crèche (on Sundays, a visit to a church is also included) and stopping for lunch at the popular Nongoloza restaurant, what makes this trip truly special is the fact that some of the Masiphumelele residents will welcome participants into their homes and will give them insight into what life is really like in the informal settlement. Since its establishment, more than 4000 tourists have embarked on this tour, spreading considerable financial benefit to the community.
Cost: (Prices valid from the 1st Nov 2016 to 31st Oct 2017)
- Half-day Township tour is from R950 per person, min two, excluding transport
- Half-day tour including transport is R1850 per person, min two, including transport.
The Cape Point Cycling Tour
This is a great option for locals and tourists alike who are keen to make the journey to the most southwesterly corner of Africa and take in the scenic beauty of the Cape Peninsula along the way. The tour kicks off with guests being collected from their homes or hotel to travel to the Cape Point section of Table Mountain National Park (the penguins at Boulders Beach can be seen en route). From the reserve, participants have the option of either embarking on a 10-km or 60-km ride (AWOL provides a support vehicle so the tours is suitable for all ages and fitness levels) towards the gorgeous Cape of Good Hope. From there, a short, relaxed hike to Cape Point allows travelers to take in the breathtaking beauty of the Cape Floristic Region (one of only six recognised floral kingdoms in the world). The tours are lead by qualified nature and culture guides, so guests will be clued up every step of the way. After stopping for lunch at Cape Point Farmhouse – alternatively, hikers can enjoy a midday meal at either Harbour House or the Two Oceans Restaurant at their own expense - it’s back on the bikes for the return trip via the Atlantic coast.
Time: It's a one-day tour that starts at 8am and ends roughly at 6pm. (A two- or three-day self-guided tour is optional).
Cost: The full day expedition price varies on a sliding scale from R2400 - valid from 1st Nov 2016 to 31st Oct 2017 per person, based on two guests travelling, and includes transport to and from accommodation, lunch and entrance fees to Boulders Beach and Cape Point (minimum 2 guests and maximum 5).
Cycling the Cape Winelands Constantia Tour
This tour gives visitors the chance cycle through the sophisticated Constantia suburb, an area of the Mother City that hosts both the oldest wine route in Cape Town and an assortment of the finest examples of Cape Dutch architecture in the nation. The trip includes a visit to the historic Groot Constantia estate, where riders will be introduced to a full array of the valley's award-winning wines and will learn about the region’s rich history. Vineyards like Buitenverwachting, Constantia Uitsig and Steenberg will also open their doors and cellars to cyclists.
Time: The Constantia tour takes about four hours to complete.
Cost: Please note that the half day tour price is on a sliding scale from R1600 - valid from 1st Nov 2016 to 31st Oct 2017 per person based on two guests travelling, and includes transport to and from accommodation, snacks, bottled water, lunch at a local estate and two wine tasting sessions.
Hiking Table Mountain and the various trails
In addition to facilitating popular bike tours in Cape Town, AWOL also specialises in guided hiking trips. Of course, a visit to Cape Town is incomplete without a hike up to Table Mountain, one of the New7Wonders of Nature, and these are some of the most popular hiking trails on the majestic mound that visitors can explore thanks to AWOL:
- Western Table to Maclear’s Beacon (return trip): This is a two-hour hike perfect for beginners. The scenic trip starts with a ride in Table Mountain’s famous cable car, in which guests can enjoy 360-degree views of Cape Town, Lion’s Head and the mountain itself. After the aerial trip, the hike starts with a meander to the highest point on Table Mountain, Maclear’s Beacon. Of course, hikers will also see gorgeous flora and fauna along the way.
- Twelve Apostles to the Table Mountain Plateau: A little bit more of a challenging expedition, but by no means less beautiful, the Twelve Apostles five-hour hike allows visitors to explore the Atlantic coast side of Table Mountain. Highlights of the trip included seeing the stunning Valley of the Red Gods and the Valley of Isolation, two natural hollows that were drained by an underground stream and are now surrounded by hills carpeted with indigenous shrub. The excursion ends with a ride down in the cable car.
- Hike up Lion’s Head: Lions’s Head is a popular hiking trail in Cape Town, and the route offers spectacular views of both the Atlantic Ocean and the Mother City CBD. Once at the top, hikers can admire the full expanse of Table Mountain, from Devil’s Peak all the way to the Twelve Apostles. AWOL’s two-hour guided tour is perfect for novice hikers.
- Hiking the Hoerikwaggo Trail: This three- or five-day guided tour is perfect for intrepid explorers. Participants are met at their accommodation and transferred to the Slangkop Lighthouse in Kommetjie to start the adventure. Over the course of the entire tour, hikers can expect to ascend Chapman's Peak, explore Constantiaberg and witness stunning views of the Cape Peninsula. Along the way, guests will overnight in cosy SANParks huts.
Prices for the various hiking offers vary, so best check out www.awoltours.co.za for more details. The price includes transport arrangements to and from your residence, a gourmet picnic, snacks, water and, if necessary, a one-way ticket on the cableway.
Tip: We highly recommend AWOL’s services because the tours are private; this means that departure is guaranteed, even if there is only one guest. Additionally, be sure to ask about custom designing your own sightseeing route.
The Bill: AWOL Tours offer a vast variety of expeditions and adventures that vary in price. For more info you can visit www.awoltours.co.za. Bookings and payments can be made online via a safe and secure payment service on AWOL’s website.
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