Eco-Travel Itinerary: Going green in Cape Town

2020-02-24 11:45 - Gabi Zietsman
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We all know the world is pretty much on fire due to climate change, unfettered resource consumption and burgeoning carbon footprints in various industries - including the travel sector.

From transport to water-intensive tourism activities to unsustainable practices, eco-tourism initiatives are incredibly important to change people's perceptions of a destination, especially in our cities.

With a fynbos-covered Table Mountain as the backdrop against a cluster of tall buildings, Cape Town has had a few hard lessons about sustainability and being environmentally-friendly.

On your next visit to the city, here are some top spots and activities to make your travels a little greener. 

WATCH: The world's most eco-friendly airports 

Transport

By staying on the routes of the trains, MyCiti and the red City Sightseeing bus you can see a lot of the city without increasing your carbon footprint. 

For the slightly further afield spots, try to get to the nearest station and grab an Uber from there.

Accommodation

It's pretty easy to use a quick search to find out what kind of sustainability practices various hotels incorporate to reduce their footprints - especially after the drought when many had to change their operations due to necessity. 

The Westin in the heart of the CBD took on this challenge by building a desalination plant. The hotel was technically built on an island of reclaimed land surrounded by ocean, and use the seawater that surrounds them to pump into their plant. They also supply the water to nearby Tsogo Sun and the Cullinan.

For something more high-tech, you can check-in to theLAB Guesthouse in Hout Bay. It offers guests solar-powered and eco-conscious luxury stays with an electric car charging station, water is recycled and single-use plastic eliminated. 

The Vineyard Hotel in Newlands also has electric car charging stations that were recently launched in partnership with Generation.e. It has also always marketed itself as a 'green' hotel, with 80 solar panels, using power from the Darling Wind Farm, harvesting greywater and recycling 98% of their waste.  

WATCH: A weird and wonderful weekend in a hotel room that sings to you 

Wine

You can't visit Cape Town without at least visiting a wine farm, and if you want to sup on the nectar of the gods without pissing off Mother Nature too much hit up one of the many organic wine estates in and around the city. 

On the popular Constantia Wine Route you can make a stop at the Silvermist Organic Wine Estate. They grow Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay that they use to produce organic MCC. 

If you want to travel a bit outside the city you can also visit Backsberg Estate on the way to Stellenbosch - they farm according to a sustainability ethos which involves carbon-neutral wines, WWF conservation practices, tree planting and setting aside 10% of their land for the conservation of fynbos. 

Another green wine farm is Longridge Wine Estate. They use natural methods to cultivate their wine, and instead of pesticides they use geese to get rid of unnecessary pests, advanced methods to reduce waste and work with nature instead of against it. 

ALSO WATCH: A snapshot of Backsberg winery 

Markets

Many of the neighbourhood markets in Cape Town focus on eco-friendly and sustainably sourced fresh produce and scrumptious food. 

A popular one is the Oranjezicht City Farm Farmers Market in V&A Waterfront's Granger Bay - it's open every Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday and is a platform that promotes an alternative food system populated by independent local farmers and artisanal food producers. 

In Woodstock you'll find another similar market that's extremely popular at The Old Biscuit Mill every Saturday, or check out the Hout Bay Harbour Market if you decided to stay at theLAB.

READ: Outdoor activities for balmy Cape Town summer nights 

Restaurants

The vegetarian and vegan scene is probably its biggest in Cape Town, with many a restaurant dedicated to the food lifestyle.

Raw and Roxy, nestled on the corner of Hout and Berg Street, is a famous healthy food eatery that offers up raw vegan meals alongside unique salads and guilt-free desserts. 

Another vegan hotspot is Lekker Vegan that has two branches - Barrack Street and Kloof Street - that offers up junk food without the animal part - perfect for a quick meal. 

READ: Top restaurants across the Mother City to try this summer 

Activities

Cape Town's biggest attraction is its multitude of hiking trails, all perfect for enjoying its best parts without putting any pressure on the environment.

You can take on Table Mountain's various routes, do a moonlit hike up Lion's Head or head to Cape Point for a beautiful bush and beach experience.

You can also rent a bike in the Sea Point Promenade and cycle next to the ocean or through the Green Point Urban Park - a city initiative that focuses on sustainability and biodiversity management.

Another different kind of biking activity is renting a waterbike in Waterfront's canals - they are based in Battery Park and also rent out stand-up paddleboards. 

Afterwards you can take a trip to the Two Oceans Aquarium - an institution dedicated to marine conservation - and you can even opt for a dive in one of their tanks without using up boat fuel to do it in the ocean - but if you want something wilder opt instead for shore dives to keep your footprint minimal. 

WATCH: Try to hide among the fishies when diving in the aquarium's shark exhibit

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