The University of Iowa

Cape Town: An Outdoorsman’s Paradise

July 14th, 2014

By Brooke Axness*

Cape Town is a huge urban center of South Africa, however, it also boasts a plethora of activities for those who love the great outdoors. Because of the surprisingly beautiful winter South Africa has been having I have been fortunate enough to experience most of these exhilarating experiences firsthand! A coworker of mine once told me that Cape Town’s winter is one of the best-kept secrets of South Africa because often times you get some of the most ideal weather then. Here are some of my favorite outside activities to do here in the mother city:

people in a safari truck


Surfing here is BIG because of the fact that Cape Town is literally right on the ocean. I figured I better give it a try considering you could never do something like that in landlocked Iowa. My friends and I decided to try in a suburb called Muizenburg, which is known for its gentle waves. I figured that would definitely be in my favor considering I am such an amateur! My only apprehension was about the abundance of sharks in this area. The instructors assured me that there are people always on watch for them though (But was I really going to trust them with my life?). Nevertheless, I tried (unsuccessfully, may I add) and I’m so glad I did! I stood up twice, unwillingly swallowed about two gallons of salt water, and jumped the waves for about two hours. It was a hilarious and unique experience with my friends.

Ready to surf!


Luckily, I had the opportunity to ride in a boat since I’ve been here. Unfortunately, it was absolutely freezing that day so it was a little less than enjoyable. It was a weekend that had rained quite a bit but we still went for it with the positive attitude that maybe, just maybe, it would get nicer out for us! It didn’t, but it was still a cool experience regardless. I can’t imagine how beautiful a sunset cruise would be with nicer weather!

ocean South Africa

At Muizenberg Beach


One of the coolest activities I’ve had the opportunity to do while I’ve been here thus far is hiking! There are countless trails of all lengths and intensity levels, meaning there is basically one for everyone! The most commonly hiked are Table Mountain, Devil’s Peak, and Lion’s Head. My friends and I set our sights on Lion’s Head to get a 360 degree view of this beautiful city we get to call our temporary home. The beginning was a cake walk and I was loving it but as we got high the trail got steeper and steeper until we were literally scaling rocks and climbing to the top. It was a bit scary looking down, but hey, the view was spectacular from all points! Once we finally reached the top all the sweat and strain disappeared because it was absolutely breathtaking. I felt like I was on top of the world. It was an amazing hike and I would without a doubt bear the pain again. Next time I’m thinking a hike up to watch the sunrise...

on top of Table Mountain

On top of Lion's Head!

*Brooke Axness, a native of Fort Dodge, IA, is a sophomore majoring in biology and global health studies at the University of Iowa. This summer she is interning abroad at a hospital in Cape Town, South Africa on the Connect-123 program.