As the first spring days stretch out like a purring cat the more active Capetonian ready themselves in anticipation for the energetic feast that lies ahead. As the spring turns to summer and the rising sun encroaches more boldly into the very early morning night-time, the winter woollies are discarded and replaced with lighter more active attire. Early morning, hikes, runs, cycles and surfs become a priority pushing work appointments further down the diary page. With the summer sun rising as early as 5am there are many light hours to exercise and play before the work day begins? To live in a city such as Cape Town with mountains, forests, and oceans within a stone’s throw from the city centre, and not take advantage of these natural gyms, for some is considered a travesty.
As the first hint of golden rays spill over Devils’ Peak, many a car park nearby a well used walk or run quickly fills up with; runners, hikers, amblers, friends and their dogs. Dozily but eagerly they make ready for their active pursuits.
My weekly excursion summiting Lion’s Head which forever has sat in the shadow of Table Mountain is a popular excursion for the more naturally minded. Being a comfortable but demanding 90 minute round trip, the exercise gained while enjoying the spiralling views is a popular work out for couples, groups, fitness enthusiasts, tourists even yoga classes who make their way to the summit on foot.
With the day launching itself before most toddlers are awake there is plenty of time to get the exercise over and coffee’d up at one of the street cafes that are now blossoming around town. Says Sabine Lehman-CEO of The Table Mountain Cableway Company, “It’s fantastic, every week a group of us walk up Lion’s Head early enough to witness the city changing colours and waking up. Afterwards I’m really refreshed and ready for the day. For a guiltless treat we always end off with a coffee and croissant at a local coffee shop.”
For the many that enjoy exercising on the flat, framing an edge of the Atlantic Ocean stretches the perfect outdoor treadmill- the Sea Point promenade. Meandering between Bantry Bay and Mouille Point the young and the old walk, jog, stride or run the marked distance that winds along an edge of the African continent. Flanked by grass-green open spaces, dogs yelp as their energetic keepers throw sticks and balls. Even the beaches become a training ground for actively conscious exerting their lungs, breathing fresh air, enjoying the views and happy to be out hours before the business day begins. The unique fresh scent from the sea-weed riddled ocean, teases the nostrils – all the fuel that is needed to inspire that extra kilometre or two.
Sea kayakers launch their way into the cold, crisp ocean, eager to increase their heart rate while viewing the landscape just as the first explorers would have-sans the modern buildings. “I’ve been paddling for the last 9 years,” says Andre who readies his kayak while eyeing the flat ocean. “There are times when I’m out there and I’ll look at the city and I’m so blown away by seeing Signal hill, Lion’s Head and Table Mountain on a prefect, clear, windless, summers morning that it completely takes my breath away. Sometimes I just end up sitting out there for a while taking it all in. A good excuse for a rest anyway,” he says with a wry smile.
“There’s nothing quite like cycling in a forest and watching the sunlight unfold across Table Mountain.”Says Chris Purcell, a local engineer and keen cyclist. “The choices are endless. I can ride along the foothills of Table Mountain, or up to the Blockhouse, towards Camps Bay, or if have enough time I can cycle right around to the southern suburbs all along the adjoining tracks. I’m usually exercised, showered and energised for work no longer than an hour and a half after first waking up.
If Table Mountain is the protruding head of the peninsula then sprouting out to one side is the busy hairdo of Newlands, Cecilia and Tokai Forests- another active paradise for the energetic at heart. With the eastern dawn introducing itself here even earlier, the southern suburb dwellers have even more daylight before the daily grind begins. The tall, dense, wooded stalks, roofed with the rich green locks make for a perfect protected hairstyle under which to work out. The fresh shaded air is ideal to combat over heating while strolling, running or cycling. With safety restored, the many outdoor seem to prefer the winding, sandy exercise tracks that amble in-between the budding wooded follicles making up the shaded forest.
Throughout the Peninsula there’re lively early birds filling their lungs with the freshest of air as the sun breathes new light. With so much time before the office calls the stress of being late is the least of their worries.
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