Open Gardens Constantia is back in 2019, and this time they’re water-wise
AWOL’s Cape Peninsula Bike Tour
The breathtaking sightseeing trip that takes you from Kommetjie to The Cape of Good Hope and back
I had fallen into a routine: work, sleep, drink, eat. In doing so, I lost my appreciation for the magnificent place in which I live, which is rather sad. To rediscover the magic of Cape Town I decided to swap a ride on the minibus taxis for a cycle tour along the Cape Peninsula with award-winning service provider AWOL.
The organisation is devoted to taking people on unique, interactive, two-wheeled sightseeing trips, and this particular adventure promised three to four days of exploration with the sun on my back and a fresh, billowing breeze to push me along.
Day One: 30-km cycle through Simon's Town to Cape Point Cottages
As my train pulled into Muizenberg Station, I was astounded by how close to the beach I was. The Cape Peninsula offers the greatest concentration and variety of surfing spots in South Africa, and Muizenberg boasts ideal conditions for beginners. The mouth of the sea was already teeming with wet suits and long boards. I also saw iconic, colourful huts, joggers and surf shops.
I was met by the director of AWOL Tours, Sally Petersen, who kitted me and a few other eager tour-goers out with mountain bikes, maps and safety instructions.
As we began our two-wheeled Boyes Drive ascent, conditions were perfect; there was no wind and the sea looked placid. At first, our climb was rather steep and required a moderate level of fitness (alternatively, you can take the flatter Beach Road route from Muizenberg). Being able to tackle the hills at our own pace coupled with beautiful views of Muizenberg and the Hottentots Mountain range was a more than ample reward. At Kalk Bay, we began an exhilarating, downhill descent. I filled my lungs with the ocean breeze and smiled.
Before we arrived at Simon’s Town, we passed through Fish Hoek town centre, tried to spot whales in Sunny Cove and cycled through the wetlands area of Glencairn.
After a light lunch at the Tibetan Teahouse, we explored Simon’s Town's harbour and the Just Nuisance monument, before we strolled onto Boulders Beach. In 1984, a pair of African penguins made Boulders Beach their home, and they have since multiplied to a colony of over 3000.
The cycle to our accommodation was flat, with a short uphill section towards the end. We encountered Chacma baboons, a protected species that can be dangerous to humans if encouraged with food.
We turned into our accommodation and a lovable dog bounded up the gravel path to greet us. "Her name is Lisa," owner Sally said. Cape Point Cottages is a delightful, woodland space that all ages would appreciate. It's a retreat close to the city, yet just far away enough to escape the rat race.
Before sunset, Sally took us for a short walk on a fynbos-covered mountain that afforded us magnificent views of the valley. We cooked up an evening braai (alternatively, AWOL will deliver a hot meal) at our rustic cottage and spotted some porcupines whilst we ate. You can spot wildlife such as baboons and sparrow hawks, and the cottages are surrounded by beautiful indigenous plant life.
Day Two: 60-km cycle to Kommetjie
In the morning, we took an outdoor shower and were treated to delicious free-range eggs that were laid by Sally's hens (there is an option for a cycle to The Cape of Good Hope before or after breakfast). The eggs were accompanied by bread, fruit coffee and tea. Back on the bikes again, we cycled through the laidback village of Scarborough - this lies adjacent to the Cape section of the Table Mountain National Park nature reserve and is abundant with plant life. Unfortunately, we didn't spot any Southern Right whales (in season from September-October), but we could see kitesurfers frolicking in the ocean spray. Our 10-km downhill cruise took us to Misty Cliffs, an eco-village with wooden houses, solar panels and surfers in beach buggies. A short climb beyond Misty Cliffs afforded memorable views of Chapman's Peak, and then we enjoyed a free-wheel all the way to our accommodation in Kommetjie.
You can add an extra day to your tour, which involves a return cycle to Cape Point and a second night at Cape Point Cottages. Alternatively, energetic cyclists may combine the return Cape Point and Kommetjie routes in one day (80km).
If heaven were a guest house, Sunset Beach in Kommetjie would be it. This bright, nautical-themed beach house has a garden and archway that leads straight onto Long Beach. In the evening, we dined on a seafood braai and relaxed with a bottle of South African wine in the garden. We slept in a room with a picture-postcard view and were serenaded to sleep by the waves.
Day Three: 48-km cycle from Kommetjie to Hout Bay
The following morning we had breakfast with the owner, Henobi, as her son, Charlie, played nearby. She asked: "What more could we ask for, than to live here?"
We cycled along Chapman’s Peak Drive, which connects Noordhoek and Hout Bay. I found this route to be the most challenging part of our tour as much of it was uphill. I soldiered on - I believe anything worth doing is a challenge, and the major lookout spot, which is at the highest point, did everything to exceed my expectations. I witnessed what could only be described as an immaculate view of Hout Bay, accentuated by a sighting of a rock kestrel, which is an African bird of prey. For me, this was the highlight of the tour.
An interactive cycling tour through Masiphumelele, in Noordhoek, is optional. From Hout Bay, we chose to drive back to the city, but the more energetic can cycle back, via Llandudno and Camps Bay.
Booking AWOL’s Cape Peninsula Cycling Tour
The full day expedition price varies on a sliding scale from R2100 - valid from 1st Nov 2015 to 31st Oct 2016; and R2400 -valid from 1st Nov 2016 to 31st Oct 2017 per person. Your tour includes bicycle rental, helmets, panier bags, bicycle tools, maps, route notes, back-up vehicle support, luggage transfers, storage, accommodation, breakfast and dinner and a guided township experience. Tours exclude your train ticket to Muizenberg, lunch and entrance fees for Cape Point and Boulders Beach.
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.
By Lisa Nevitt
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