When the mercury rises in Cape Town, the are a number of cool, shaded water-spots at which to hide out and beat the heat. We share some of our favourite cooldown places in Cape Town’s forests and gardens, nature reserves, beaches and seaside promenades.
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens has several cool oases that make wonderful cooldown spots on hot days: spend some time picnicking under the great old oak tree at the edge of the Main Pond near Gate 1. Egyptian geese, guinea fowls and francolins will very likely be doing their own thing nearby.
The Old Dam built into Nursery Stream is another cool space at Kirstenbosch. This was the first irrigation dam at Kirstenbosch and you will find it just north of the Erica Garden at the start to the Boekenhout Trail. The dam is alive with tadpoles and frogs (and water snakes, we believe!), and offers beautiful reflections of the trees. Spotted eagle owls are often seen in this part of Kirstenbosch.
The Dell is a beautiful – and well-shaded – part of Kirstenbosch. Immense trees, ferns, cycads, mossy cobbled pathways and the historic bath built by Colonel Bird in the early 19th century can all be found here. The bird-shaped bath is filled by clear water from an underground spring. The overflow feeds a little stream running through the Dell, and other ponds lower down in the gardens. Bright Clivias and Fireball Lilies grow near the bath.
The Arderne Gardens in Claremont also offer cool spaces, lawns for picnicking and massive old trees providing plenty of shade (and owl boxes).
Cecilia Forest is an enchanting hideout in the southern part of Cape Town. On a hot day, Cecilia Stream offers glorious respite under a canopy of trees. More info.
Another place to retreat to when the heat is on, is the Newlands Forest conservancy in the Southern Suburbs of Cape Town. Walk in the shade of trees and picnic at one of the streams in the forest. The area in the forest called ‘Paradise’ was once the spot of a woodcutter’s cottage in the 1700s, and the ruins of the cottage remain, somewhat overgrown now by forest foliage.
A dash of sea spray does not go amiss on hot Cape Town day. Stroll along the Sea Point / Mouille Point Promenade in the early morning or late afternoon and enjoy the cooling effects of the spray from crashing waves. There’s also the option of a swim – overlooking the ocean – at the public swimming pool complex located at one end of the promenade, at the Sea Point Pavilion.
On a scorcher of a summer’s day, the beach is best at sunrise or sunset. Muizenberg Beach Surfers’ Corner has some spectacular sunrises, and there are usually plenty of surfers and walkers out enjoying the freshness of early morning.
Walk with the local community at Muizenberg in the early evening at full moon – a safe way to cool down at the beach as darkness falls. More info.