Cape Town from the lofty heights of a red double-decker bus

A carefree holiday mood sets in as soon as the Cape Town City Sightseeing bus starts rolling at the Two Oceans Aquarium. Clear skies, 28 degrees, a gentle breeze and no need to pay attention to the hectic bustle of Cape Town traffic. 

 Via the Clock Tower entrance of the V&A Waterfront and the CTICC we drive through the busy Heerengracht Street where Jan van Riebeeck and his wife Maria stand on high plinths on a traffic island, and on another the Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias. Passing the central railway station adorned with mosaics depicting the history of transport we reach Strand Street. This road used to be on the beachfront – until the great land reclamation during the 1970s which created the entire Foreshore area. 

From Strand Street the bus turns into the old town centre full of narrow one-way streets. 

Without any buildings or parked vehicles getting swiped, the skilful double-decker driver manoeuvres us into Long Street, famous for its vibrant nightlife. In bright sunlight it shows its other face: well-kept Victorian mansions catch the eye and many interesting shops that do not belong to the ubiquitous retail chains. 

Soon we pass the massive pillars at the entrance to the time-honoured Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel. Opposite is the upper end of the Company Gardens, where European influence at the southern tip of Africa started some 370 years ago. Then the bus weaves into the multi-lane traffic of the M3 city highway, and via headphones your gaze is directed towards Groote Schuur Hospital, where the first heart transplant was performed.

The next stop is glorious Kirstenbosch, one of the country’s seven national botanical gardens. “A must for every visitor to Cape Town,” says the voice in the headset, and quite a few passengers vacate their seats. Others get off at Constantia Nek to go on a mini wine tour, compliments of Cape Town City Sightseeing.  

Groot Constantia is the oldest, the most famous and among the most distinguished of all South African wine estates, and Klein Constantia’s Vin de Constance used to be a favourite throughout Europe some 200 years ago. Napoleon still sipped it while in exile on St Helena.

From Constantia Nek it is steadily downhill between wooded slopes. The first stop in Hout Bay is the World of Birds, a private sanctuary with some 3000 birds in large walk-in aviaries. Monkeys and other small animals add to the park’s attraction. 

At Mariner’s Wharf, right on the beach of the charming bay, the bus turns for the ride back along the beautiful coastal road hugging the Table Mountain Range. Many things that are hidden from sight when passing in a car suddenly become visible from the upper deck of the bus: the villas of Llandudno, the beach houses of Bakoven wedged between granite boulders, and the sleek apartment blocks of Clifton which rise like a wall between the ocean and narrow Victoria Road. 

But all good things invariably come to an end, and right on time we are back at the Two Oceans Aquarium. My first thought: Let’s do it again!

Or perhaps a harbour cruise? A canal cruise? Or a sunset tour? Award-winning Cape Town City Sightseeing offers a multitude of irresistible tours and combinations. 


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