Western Cape is known for its diversity of landscapes, from sandy beaches to mountains and everything in between, making it home to a diverse range of wildlife. Shirley-Anne Bezuidenhout highlights some of the best wildlife experiences in the Cape. From the Big 5 and reptiles to the creatures of our beautiful oceans, you’ll be able to see and engage with all the wildlife around us.
Looking for a Cape Town adventure? Let the Bucket List Crew take you on one you’ll never forget! Whether you are an adventure junkie, wanting to snorkel with Cape Fur Seals, or looking for a fun family activity, they have got you covered.
Snorkelling is a great way to observe the Cape’s beautiful underwater life without all the extensive training and complicated equipment required for scuba diving. And at Duiker Island, home to 10 000 fur seals, you can get up close to these friendly creatures in their natural habitat. You will be comfortable too with a wetsuit, mask, snorkel and fins provided as well as a short training session to make sure you are familiar with everything. Swimming with these “sea puppies” is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that you’ll remember forever.
Or if you are more interested in exploring Hout Bay’s amazing views by kayak, we can take you on a tour where you can see the iconic Champans Peak as well as potentially spot some marine life. Seals, penguins, dolphins, whales and sunfish are just a few of the possibilities.
Whatever your flavour of adventure, the Cape Town Bucket List team is ready to make it happen.
Where: Harbour Road, Hout Bay Harbour
Craving some safari but don’t have time for the long trek? Or wanting to introduce the children to the Big 5 without flying the whole family up-country? The award-winning Gondwana Game Reserve provides the perfect safari break close to Cape Town.
Less than a four-hour drive away, along South Africa’s popular Garden Route, the 11 000 hectare private game reserve offers everything you could want from a safari experience, with the added bonus of indigenous Fynbos vegetation. With awe-inspiring views of the Langeberg Mountains wherever you look and the Big 5 to spot, Gondwana is a world-class attraction. Luxury accommodation on offer includes Kwena Lodge suites, Bush Villas ideal for families, Glamping Tented safaris, and the new 3-night Pioneer Trail slackpacking adventure. In addition to exhilarating game drives with expert field guides, the Reserve hosts a variety of activities to keep you and the family busy including the fun Junior Ranger program for kids, mountain biking on 3 demarcated trails, Africology spa treatments, guided Fynbos walks and conservation activities.
This is all within the reserve, then on Gondwana’s doorstep, there are also championship golf courses at Pinnacle Point, Pezula, Oubaai and Fancourt, great swimming and surfing beaches, and the attractive coastal towns of Knysna and Plettenberg Bay.
There really is no reason not to enjoy this safari experience right here in the Western Cape – all the wildlife experiences you expect with the benefits of the Cape’s gorgeous landscape and coastline. Be sure to ask about the great local safari specials for South Africans!
Where: R327 Heuningklip Farm, Herbertsdale
Have you ever wanted to meet real penguins, maybe even touch them? The Two Oceans Aquarium offers you a unique chance to get face-to-face with rockhopper penguins in a private Penguin Experience.
With a fantastic guide who explains the ins and outs of penguin life before taking you behind the scenes, you’ll be fully equipped with all the knowledge you need before meeting the cuties in real life. Our rockhopper penguins are naturally curious, and although they are not incentivised to interact with humans, they might jump up on your lap after their morning swim.
These experiences are limited to two people so you have as much one-on-one time with the penguins as possible. Being up close and personal with the penguins, you’ll learn about their rescue, the conservation issues affecting them, spot their differences, learn their names, and answer all of your deepest questions about penguins!
And after all your questions are answered and your heart is full of cuteness, you are given access to explore all the rest that Aquarium has to offer. Come for the penguins, leave with the memories!
Where: Dock Road, V&A Waterfront
If you are a bit of an adrenaline junkie or just love animals and wildlife, Le Bonheur Reptiles and Adventures offer reptile experiences like no other. This Winelands wildlife destination strives to provide engaging experiences that nurture respect for the African Nile crocodile and other reptiles.
You can get up close and personal with the reptiles on a guided tour of more than 200 crocs, ranging from hatchlings to adults. The space is also family-friendly and super focused on creative conservation awareness in the next generation and teaching interesting facts about amazingly adapted reptiles in a fun and interactive way.
Depending on your adrenaline threshold, the PAPA-approved reptile interaction experiences include an intimate touch opportunity with an ambassador snake, to a thrilling croc cage dive activity in a newly revamped view cage. After enjoying the croc pond you can take yourself on a tour of our snake exhibit which features an impressive collection of local and foreign snakes.
Le Bonheur also offers educational school tours and kids’ birthday parties where little ones can spend the rest of the day enjoying the spacious kids play area, tranquil catch-and-release dam, and scrummy woodfired pizzas.
And for a breakaway from the city, waterside braai places and gorgeous self-catering accommodation are also available for booking.
Where: Simondium, Suider Paarl
Waterfront Charters is one of the popular activities on offer at the V&A Waterfront. Animal lovers are in for a treat with up-close encounters with seals and other marine life by speedboat, a harbour cruise or charter.
Their Seal Snorkelling experience offers an intimate marine experience and a golden opportunity to see these playful mammals in their element. Catch a glimpse of the ocean’s inhabitants such as whales, penguins, sunfish and seabirds. Make your way across the sea via speedboat, starting for the V&A Waterfront and making your way to the Cape Fur Seal colony at Oudekraal.
For a laidback leisure vibe, the Half Hour Seal and Harbour Cruise take place along the V&A Waterfront and Cape Town Harbour aboard the Southern Crosstrip. This is a great family-friendly excursion to take in the sights and spot a few members of the seal family on the route.
The Waterfront Charters Ocean Safari offers a first-hand experience among nature and its aquatic inhabitants. An amazing way to get up close and personal to the wildlife the upon the Rigid-hulled Inflatable Boats, under the guidance of experienced and knowledgeable skippers.
Dyer Island Cruises operates around the world-famous Dyer Island in Gansbaai where visitors can spot the Marine Big 5 – the Southern Right Whale/Humpback/Bryde’s Whales, the iconic Great White Shark, the Cape fur seal, the endangered African Penguin and various visiting dolphin species. The island is also home to a wide variety of seabirds.
The cruise operates from The Great White House, which has a restaurant, bathroom facilities and curio shop. On arrival for the Dyer Island Cruise, guests are served coffee or tea with a snack.
Other stops include a visit to the shark cage diving vessels to view great white sharks and then head to Dyer Island for the penguins and seals. The cruise includes an onboard biologist and experienced crew to provide an educational, life-changing experience.
The 2-hour trip includes a visit to the newly built African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary (APSS) either before or after the trip. Dyer Island Cruises supports and funds the Dyer Island Conservation Trust.
Where: 5 Geelbek St, Van Dyks Bay, Gansbaai