We start our eco-tour of South Africa in Cape Town, voted one of the world’s top 10 green cities – the US think tank Ethisphere Institute named Cape Town as a centre of global sustainability. The “Mother City”, so blessed with natural beauty, offers a multitude of outdoor activities which can be enjoyed guilt-free. Hike Table Mountain, enjoy the Cape’s beaches, or go shopping. Yes, I did say shopping in an article about eco-tourism …
Eco-Tourism Western Cape: Cape Town is home to South Africa’s first environmentally conscious mall. Visit 210 on Long (opened in February 2009, Long Street, Cape Town City Centre) to experience stylish, superior “green shopping”. An existing mall was recycled, using eco-friendly building practices, and now houses over 15 retailers (including The Hemporium, The Green Shop, Galleria Gibello, Think Shoes and many more), all of which subscribe to principles of sustainable tourism (some donate a percentage of profits to benefit communities in need, some use recycled materials or organic produce).
To view the many sites in Cape Town City Centre consider taking a Cape Town Carriage Tour or hop on board the Cape Town Open-top Bus for a sight seeing tour of Cape Town. This “Hop on, Hop off” service is a most convenient way to access all major highlights in Cape Town (including a visit to Camps Bay beach) during the day without having to hire a car.
There are also a number of organic markets. My personal favourite is The Neighbourgoods Market at the Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock. Built on eco-friendly principles, with a recycling depot, the market itself supports organic farming and locally made products. A fantastic way to spend a lazy Saturday and so popular now, that it’s become a hot meeting place in Cape Town. Jamie Oliver’s been there … shouldn’t you?
Still in Cape Town, visit the Edith Stevens Wetland Park in the Cape Flats. Surrounded by many townships, this reserve is home to and protects many species of birds, reptiles, small mammals and plantlife, and also benefits the surrounding communities through job creation and education. Combine a visit to the reserve with a Township Tour.
Take a train from Cape Town to the Winelands, where you can enjoy wine-tasting by bike. No carbon footprint here, or take a horse-drawn carriage ride around Rhebokskloof Estate, not just eco-friendly, romantic too! You can learn about wines on a Wine Walk or combine a little delicious wine tasting as you ride on horse back through the paradise of the Franschhoek wine valley. Get the idea? There are plenty of activities to keep you busy exploring the wonders of the Cape that have little or no impact on the environment – lots of fun and feel good factor too!
Cape Town and the Western Cape offer too-many-to-mention Walks and Hiking Trails which are great for sight seeing, getting some excercise and don’t impact negatively on the environment. Horse Riding is a great way of getting out into the open and seeing the surroundings and if you are not an experienced rider you could even take some lessons.
Worth an honourable mention here is the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve in the Cape Overberg. The Kogelberg Nature Reserve is run according to internationally accepted principles of a biosphere reserve, a concept which translates into a core sensitive area of 18 000 hectares remaining basically wild and pristine and maintaining a high level of biological diversity.
You can Rent-A-Bike and start your pedal an hour out of Cape Town on the southern tip of the African coast. Here, 7.5 Km from the Atlantic Ocean, begins a journey serenaded by the harmony of nature with a guest appearance by the Cape Mongoose and cheeky baboons. Exchange your i-pod for the sound of songbirds and your cares for the caress of countryside!! See Rent a bike in Kleinmond for more details.
There are so many more options available …
Animal Sanctuaries educate locals and tourists alike to the plight of animals and threats to their continued survival. Many rehabilitate and reintroduce these animals to the wild. See: Western Cape Animal Sanctuaries. Low / No Carbon Footprint Excursions include outdoor activities, like hiking, bird-watching, fishing, nature walks, parks & gardens to explore and a whole lot more … (See Things to Do in the Western Cape)
This article is intended to get you thinking about exploring the Western Cape in ways that will not impact the environment in a negative way and is intended only to inspire … it is by no means a definitive article. If you have a suggestion, please leave your comments below. There are also many websites available that offer a lot of information for the “green” traveller.
Things to Do in Cape Town – See SA-Venues.com’s Directory of Things to Do – Look under Hiking Trails, Walks & Hikes, Animal Sanctuaries, Horse Riding … and many other categories.