South Africa is renowned for its abundance of wildlife, whether that’s the Big 5 (lions, leopards, elephants, rhino and buffalo) or the elegant marine mammals in the waters off the coast. With so many opportunities to see animals in their natural environment while staying at Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa, we’ve picked out six unmissable Cape Town wildlife adventures to seek out on your next trip.
Great White Shark Cage Diving
Possibly the most dramatic of all Cape Town wildlife adventures is cage diving, which offers the opportunity to see Great White sharks in their own territory. Divers are lowered into cages attached to a boat while nature’s largest predator circles menacingly, coming close enough to the boat to touch. Gaansbai, which is a couple of hours up the coast, is the place to go for this experience; due to a thriving population of seals, these waters attract a great number of sharks. If cage diving is a step too far, visitors also have the option of joining a viewing-only cruise
The Penguins of Boulders Beach
Situated on the Cape Peninsula near Simon’s Town, Boulders Beach is around an hour’s journey from Cape Town. This white sand bay is encompassed within Table Mountain National Park, with calm waters owing to the granite boulders it’s sheltered by. But what makes this patch of coast so popular is its colony of African penguins. Having arrived in the early ‘80s, there are now thousands of the birds, which visitors can come to see year-round.
Whale Watching Tours
The migration of whales from Antarctica to the warm waters off South Africa’s coast makes the Cape Peninsula one of the best places for whale watching in the world. Many people make their way along the coast from Cape Town to Hermanus, where from June to November whales can easily be seen from the shore. For a better view, boat trips with companies such as Dyer Island Cruises and Cape Town Day Tours take people even closer.
Dolphin Watching Boat Trips
Dolphins are another marine mammal that’s at home in these waters, with companies such as Oceans Africa offering dolphin watching cruises. These boat trips from the Atlantic seaboard often bring passengers close to common, Bottlenose and Dusky dolphins, but sometimes people are treated to Heaviside’s dolphin encounters, too.
A Seal Island Cruise
From the fishing town of Hout Bay, half an hour along the coast from Cape Town, visitors can take boat trips with companies such as Drum Beat Charters out to Seal Island, where a huge colony of Cape Fur seals can be seen lounging on the rocks and bobbing in the waves. If this isn’t quite enough to satisfy a visitor’s curiosity, they can also opt for a cruise with Animal Ocean, which involves getting into the water to snorkel alongside them.
Bontebok National Park
Those who travel a little further from Cape Town – around two and a half hours – are rewarded with the wildlife viewing opportunities of Bontebok National Park, which sits within the flourishing Cape Floral Kingdom, backed by the Langeberg Mountains. Established in 1931, this park was founded to preserve the Bontebok antelope species specifically, but birdlife also abounds with the chance to see other mammals such as the endangered Cape Mountain Zebra.
On returning to the hotel for sundown, guests of the Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa can then share their stories of their Cape Town wildlife encounters over one of the Leopard Bar’s signature cocktails and a panoramic view out over the ocean.
Image credits: Cover photo © iStock / Brzozowska. A Great White Shark in South Africa © iStock / Global_Pics. African Penguins © iStock / Nichal Krakowiak. Whale near Hermanus © iStock / khoekie. Dolphins in South Africa © iStock / Steven Benjamin. Seal Island © iStock / jammisammi. Bontebok National Park © iStock / Mogens Trolle.