We’ve all seen them, lumbering through the city while they carry khaki-adorned tourists. The Cape Town City Sightseeing open-top red busses are an institution in the Mother City, ferrying travellers to our many attractions across the Cape Peninsula.
City Sightseeing South Africa operates four different tours in Cape Town, including the Red City Tour, the Blue Mini Peninsula Tour, the Yellow Downtown Tour and the Purple Wine Tour. My companions and I (a hearty group of seven Cape Town locals) opted for the Blue Mini Peninsula Tour, which takes a circular route around the Table Mountain National Park, starting from the V&A Waterfront.
Key stops along the way include Kirstenbosch National Gardens, the Constantia Winelands, Hout Bay and Camps Bay, amongst others. The main reason for our selection, however, was not that the Blue tour is the longest of the four on offer. But rather that it is the one that could take us to the Purple Wine Tour, and to the famous Groot Constantia Wine Estate – one of Cape Town’s Big 7 attractions.
Buying a one-day ticket for R180 (just R160 if you buy online) allows you to use a hop-on-hop-off system, not only for the tour you take, but for any tour on the day. Thus, my party was able to take the Blue bus to Constantia Nek and then change over to the Purple bus and tackle the wine farms. And tackle them we did! After a short drive, we hop-off at the Groot Constantia estate. A R45 (per person) wine tasting soon followed and before I knew it we were hopping back on the Purple bus and en route to Eagles’ Nest.
Eagles’ Nest is a hidden gem in the Constantia Winelands, and its secret garden-appeal drew me in immediately. Groot Constantia is clearly aimed at catering for busloads for foreign tourists (we saw no less than three buses full of Chinese visitors during our short time there), but Eagles’ Nest felt more homely; more welcoming. We enjoyed another tasting here and also opted for a Deli Cuts Platter and an Artisan Cheese Board (R130 and R150 respectively – see menu here). It was time to leave, but after another short bus ride (to the end of the Purple Wine Tour), we walked up the driveway of Beau Constantia, and enjoyed a third and final tasting whilst enjoying arguably the best views from a tasting room in all of the Cape Winelands; it was quite simply breathtaking.
And so ended our Purple Wine Tour – which was probably a good thing – but the day wasn’t over yet. After a short wait for the next bus, we rejoined the Blue Mini Peninsula Tour and continued on our way towards the Imizamo Yethu township, adjacent to the more affluent suburb of Hout Bay. Onwards we then went, through Camps Bay, Sea Point and back to the Two Oceans Aquarium at the V&A.
Seated high atop ‘big red’, my group and I listened to the on-board audio commentary as we passed through the city we all call home, seeing things from a different perspective (literally). The commentary is available in 15 different languages, including Afrikaans and Zulu, making me wonder why we don’t see more locals touring the city. But as I looked around, I saw not only sun-screen pasted faces and wide-brimmed hats. I saw couples and families, clearly local, and all of them were enjoying exploring Cape Town as much as me.
When Busses every 20–30 minutes (summer timetable here)
Where Stop 1 outside the Two Oceans Aquarium at the V&A Waterfront, but multiple hop-on stops across the Cape Peninsula. City Sightseeing offices are at Stop 5 (81 Long Street, CBD)
Cost Adults: R190 or R170 if you buy online and Kids: (aged 5 – 17) R90
Contact 0861 733 287, [email protected], www.citysightseeing.co.za
Photography courtesy Sightseeing South Africa