As the weather finally starts cooling down from the ferociously hot summer days Cape Town has had this year (there was a solid week of 35 to 40 degrees Centigrade that was quite hard to deal with), it’s time to think about exercise again… You know, that thing you should be doing all the time, but can’t think about when the weather is so sweltering?
One of my favourite things about the Cape Town City Bowl is how accessible it is, not only to the fantastic shops and cafés in and around the city, not only to the Labia cinema and the National Art Gallery, but to beautiful morning-or-afternoon walks that don’t require a car to get you to the starting point.
My favourite has to be around the Molteno Reservoir in Upper Orange Street. The reservoir changes its mood as the weather changes, and can either be still and serene, beautifully reflecting the image of Table Mountain in its unruffled water, or choppy and excitable, with the wind whipping the palm trees into a frenzy. There’s plenty of space to walk or jog or run around the reservoir, and early in the morning or after work you’ll notice a steady gang of people running a tread into the tar. What I love about this particular spot is that it offers a stunning view out over the city (particularly stunning as dusk falls and the lights start flickering on in all the buildings) while also being surrounded by grass, and trees. There’s something very soothing about staring into the water of the reservoir, and the friendly family of ducks ensure there’s always something to look at! There’s also a sense of community to those who exercise around the reservoir: you’ll often see the same faces day after day, and it’s obvious that everyone lives within walking (or jogging) distance.
My other favourite is Company Gardens, just down the road from the Reservoir, and also in the Gardens area. Company Gardens is essentially a large public garden with a long paved path down the middle of it. You can walk straight up and down the path (often hung with Chinese lanterns or fairy lights), or you can veer to the left or right and walk around the National Art Gallery, the Natural History Museum or – my particular favourite – the rose garden, always in some degree of blossoming. There’s also a small aviary and a tea garden, which I have yet to explore (I try not to snack when I’m on an exercise mission!)
Company Gardens leads into Adderley Street, one of the busiest streets in the city, so it’s a good idea not to walk with handbags or obvious expensive jewellery, and not to walk alone at dusk or in the evening. I’d say this is probably a rule of thumb for every city’s public gardens, but just in case!
Other than that, lace up your walking shoes and come and join me for a dose of nature right in the heart of the city.