How much do you know about the city you live in? When the history of Cape Town came up in Grade 4 history all those years ago I can’t say I was all that impressed. You know what I mean…when you’re 10, everyone over 25 is ANCIENT so caring about who landed here in 1820 and who was here first means little. It’s amazing what a difference some context makes.
As a grownup you now understand that history forms the building blocks of society. The things that happened 100 years ago not only make up the stories that are told in families from generation to generation but become the basis for your belief system which then affect the choices you make. In order to change history you first have to recognize the errors that took place all those years ago, learn from those mistakes and allow what you’ve learned to help you make better choices.
The first time we hopped onto one of the City SightSeeing Red Buses was about 3 years ago when we found ourselves at a loose end during the Christmas holidays. We had two bored children and beautiful weather that was beckoning us to come and enjoy it outside so after a bit of a search online, we found a great deal on 2 day tickets that would sort out our itinerary for the next 48 hours.
I can’t tell you how much this helped me over the next 3 years. Earlier this year I was delayed at OR Tambo International and while I was waiting for my plane to arrive I started chatting to a group of Australian pensioners who were going to be staying in Cape Town for 4 days as part of their tour. They mentioned that they wanted to see the botanical gardens. I suggested that they take the blue route on the City Sightseeing hop on hop off buses and hear more about Cape Town on their way to the Kirstenbosch stop. They were thrilled with the idea! If I hadn’t experienced it for myself, I might have been at a loss for suggestions for them. Nothing makes South Africa look better than well informed locals who have a passion for their country.
We learned so much from the commentary on the Red; Blue and Sunset routes that we have been back often and the kids have become huge fans of Salty the Seagull and all his friends. They know more about Cape Town than other kids their age and this should stand them in good stead in a few years time.
If you follow Anton or me on social media you may remember that Anton won the Park Inn Cape Town #AmazingRace lucky draw and one of the prizes was tickets for the Red Top bus. We were allowed to choose which route we wanted to travel on and since the blue route is the longest that is the one we selected. There are a few stops that require entry fees but your bus ticket often offers discounted rates. Since we had checked off Kirstenbosch and Hout Bay on previous trips we decided that World of Birds would be the stop we would make the highlight of our trip.
While I understand the reason for the cost, I must admit that I find the entrance fees to World of Birds a bit off putting. It is perfectly reasonable for people who travel on dollars and pounds but R250 for a family of four (2 adults, 2 kids) is a little steep. Fortunately the bus ticket offered us R5 off per ticket so it cost us R230 and I will admit that it is money well spent.
My only suggestion though is to go early enough because the World of Birds is HUGE! Also, the squirrel monkey contact experience exhibit is open between 11:30am-1:00pm and again between 2:00-3:30pm so plan your trip accordingly. You MUST visit this enclosure!! You won’t regret it, I promise.
The next time we buy tickets we plan to do the township tour just outside Hout Bay. It costs R70 per person and you have the opportunity to explore iMizamo Yethu (which is IsiXhosa for, “Our Struggle”) with a well informed tour guide. The tour includes a visit to the Teabag Factory where workers make items out of used, dried teabags which is a wonderful community upliftment project for this rural area that faces poverty on a daily basis. Remember that the Teabag factory is only open Monday-Friday so think about doing the tour during school holidays as this is excluded from the tour on weekends.
It would be a great idea to take advantage of the special offer that City Sightseeing has on at the moment. For R270 (R250 if you buy online) you can buy an adult ticket and have access to 5 bus tours over a 2 consecutive days which includes Red City Tour and Blue Mini Peninsula Tour with free Yellow downtown and Purple wine tour, plus free Canal Cruise, Night Tour and Walking Tour.
Get out there and explore your city. You will be amazed at how much you learn and if you happen to bump into a tourist who wants to get advice from a local, you will be well informed.