Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Best Cape Town Picnic Spots

The wonderful summer is here and, with blue skies and plenty of sunshine, visitors on holiday in Cape Town and locals alike are sure to anticipate with pleasure planning a family picnic or just a romantic picnic for two. Cape Town's wonderful beaches and stunning scenery present many opportunities for a relaxing outdoor meal. Just be warned that the beaches of Cape Town enforce a "no alcohol" rule for good reasons. Not everyone, however, wishes to have sand between their teeth while eating, so here is a list of beautiful picnic spots that cater specifically for those wishing to have a picnic or a barbecue known locally as a “braai”, all within a short distance from our Noordhoek self-catering accommodation . These spots have been chosen because they allow you to pack your picnic basket and cooler box with your own choice of delicacies, instead of having to pay for an expensive picnic hamper.

Silvermine Nature Reserve
The Silvermine reserve is part of the Table Mountain National park, and is just a few minutes’ drive from our self-catering Cape Town accommodation. At the top of the mountain road is a clearly marked National Parks sign denoting the entrance to the Silvermine reservoir trail. There is a nominal entrance fee, but toilet facilities are provided at the parking area. A pleasant and easy walk to the Silvermine reservoir will be sure to enjoyed by the whole family, along a trail that winds through indigenous flora alongside a bubbling stream with boardwalks to cross the stream, until the trail circles the wall of the dam. Along the walk are panoramic views across False Bay. There are a number benches and tables made out of stone set under leafy shade, where one can picnic or make use of the braai (bbq) pits. The cool, clean blue waters of the dam will entice you to enjoy a swim on a warm day.

Chapman’s Peak Drive
Motor down the road from our Noordhoek accommodation to Chapman’s Peak Drive, which is undoubtedly Cape Town’s most spectacular coastal scenic drive. It is a an opportunity for photographers for great pics, with the road skirting the rocky coastline of the Atlantic Ocean far below, while hugging the slopes of the mountain. Chapman’s Peak drive has more than 100 curves and bends and offers magnificent views from the white sand beach of Noordhoek to the sheltered bay nestling under the imposing Sentinel, which is Hout Bay. Along the drive will be found a number of designated picnic spots, each equipped with concrete tables and benches, most of which are situated on spectacular view spots, and at least one next to a bubbling waterfall. These are lovely secluded spots to enjoy your picnic and, if you plan it for the late afternoon, you will be rewarded with one of the spectacular sunsets enjoyed almost every evening on this western side of the peninsula as the sun sinks into the sea.

Oudekraal is located between Camps bay and Llandudno on the way from Cape Town to Hout bay, and is possibly the best kept secret picnic and bathing spot of Cape Town. It is located under the majestic 12 Apostles range, and offers a number of sheltered coves situated between massive granite boulders with small, safe bathing beaches sheltered from the waves. Some have braai (barbecue) sites sheltered by Milkwood trees, whilst others enjoy fantastic views of mountain and sea. Be warned, however, that there are enough local people who know of this almost idyllic location that it might be difficult to get access on the weekends.

Perdekloof Picnic Site
Travelling from Noordhoek along the coastal road to Cape Point, is a very large picnic spot located in a sheltered growth of pine trees at the foot of the mountain just after the beach village of Scarborough. There are numerous concrete tables and benches and well maintained braai (barbeque) facilities. Perdekloof offers an opportunity to enjoy that "away from it all" feeling, whilst being easily accessible. Right opposite is an open air showroom with great opportunities to purchase stone African carvings from the local people. Entrance to the site is free.

Cape Point Nature reserve
In the Cape Point Park are picnic spots at both Buffels Bay and Bordjiesdrif, with clean white sand beaches, tidal pools, and lovely grassed picnic and braai spots which make it ideal for a family outing. Buffels Bay is often preferred for swimming because it enjoys the warmer waters of False Bay. Cape Point nature reserve presents an opportunity to view the mighty meeting of the oceans at Cape point, the high cliffs above the sea, and a variety of wild animals including baboons, Cape Mountain Zebra and various antelope. There are many other bird and animal species and some 1,100 species of 'fynbos' (Cape indigenous flora) The reserve is open between 6am to 6 pm in the summer months. An entrance fee of R55 per adult and R10 per child is payable.

Seaforth beach is an ideal venue for a family picnic; it has sloping green lawns that overlook the sheltered bathing beach, enabling parents to keep an eye on the little ones at play. The beach is sheltered from waves by massive rocks and offers safe swimming for kids. Entrance to the beach is free. There is a good restaurant at Seaforth Beach, with lovely views from their deck.
Boulders Beach, a little further on, was recently voted the best family beach in the world by a leading UK journal. Here, too, is a safe sheltered beach, nestled amongst the massive boulders for which the beach is named. The whole family will enjoy strolling along the boardwalk past the penguin colony where the cute black and white birds waddle along the beach or swim in the waves. This is a pay beach to limit the numbers. Further on the road to Cape Point one will find a delightful small beach at Froggy Pond ; situated right next to the road opposite the Fresh Air camp, where green lawns invite one to unpack a picnic and enjoy the sound of the waves and the fresh air.

Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens
The Gardens are renowned for the diverse floral kingdom and displays of Proteas and fynbos, with a magnificent setting against the Eastern slopes of Table Mountain. This is an ideal spot for a family picnic with plenty of space for the kids to play. In summer there are open-air concerts presented on Sunday evenings, so bring along a blanket, a picnic basket and some Cape wine to enjoy the gardens or the concerts. The Silvertree Deli and Restaurant offers a selection of picnic baskets if you want to take the easy way out. An entrance fee has to be paid to the Gardens.

Tokai Forest
Situated on the edge of the Tokai forest is a spacious picnic site shaded by pine trees, set in the beautiful Constantia valley. There is plenty of space for families and for kids to run and play; as well as walking trails through the forest. Tokai forest is a close forest of pine trees, and, indigenous forest as well as Cape Fynbos; an ideal spot for weekend family picnics. There is a nominal entrance fee payable.

Although strictly speaking located just outside of Cape Town, Spier Estate can reached along the spectacular coastal road that fringes False Bay from Muizenberg beach and I have included it only because it is one of the prettiest picnic spots set alongside a river, with manicured rolling lawns, tables and benches amongst shady nooks, and rippling trees. Picnic baskets can be purchased but the most enjoyable option is to create your own gourmet picnic from the Spier Deli, choosing from the delectable range of cold meats, cheese, salads, delicious fresh bread, and homemade produce as well as dessert display. The family will enjoy packing their own picnic and then set out to nab a spot at the river bank.

No matter which is your choice you will be sure to have an enjoyable day out, but when planning your picnic it is good to remember that if the South East wind is blowing it may be better to have your picnic away from the False Bay side of the peninsula.

By Affordable Cape Town self-catering accommodation - Fully equipped self catering Cape Town beach Cottages and chalets.

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