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Get your adrenaline fix with extreme sports in Cape Town, South Africa.

A squeal of confused excitement goes up among the other surfers treading water offshore. What looks like a fin edges above the surface, snaking between my friends and I. My over-active imagination kicks into overdrive: “This is it,” I say to myself, expecting my life to flash before my eyes. But before I know what’s happening, I’m screaming excitedly to my friends, pointing at the blackish-brown object slipping through the water.

“Look,” I yell, just as a tiny pup leaps out of the water. “A baby sea lion.” The excitement reaches fever pitch as the bug-eyed scamp swims within a whisker’s length of us, flippers twirling, lapping up the attention. “Only in Cape Town,” I tell people afterwards – a cheesy sentiment, but the so-called ‘LA of Africa’ is one of those rare places that actually lives up to the gushing travel reviews.

Mediterranean climate, exhilarating mix of cultures, laid-back pace, and some of the best waves in the southern hemisphere are just a few of the reasons which have me coming back year after year.

My friends, on the other hand, are drawn by the hair-raising activities the Cape region has to offer – I quickly discover this when they start producing pamphlet after pamphlet, as we settle down for lunch at one the smart bistros that line the historic V&A Waterfront.

View from the V&A Waterfront credit: iStock

Thankfully, the troupes of fire-breathers, jugglers and traditional African dancers battling it out on the quayside offer a welcome distraction, and the conversation soon moves on. But it’s not long before talk turns to climbing Table Mountain, the soaring flat-topped mountain that looms above the city, and before I know what’s happening, I find myself on a three-hour slog up this 3,500ft (1000m) Everest. (Just thinking about it makes my legs ache.)

Cock-a-hoop at conquering such a mammoth challenge, my friends and I catch a cab to Long Street, in the heart of the city centre, for a few well-deserved drinks. Packed bars and clubs overflow on to mezzanine verandas, and people huddle around tables to watch the comings and goings in the street below. Leaning against the wrought-iron balustrades, with live music and laughter ringing in my ears, I feel like I’m in New Orleans’ French Quarter during Mardi Gras, rather than Africa on a week-night. As the band starts to hit its stride, however, I decide to call it a night, and head back to my digs for some much-needed shuteye.

I’m staying a short taxi-ride away in Observatory – a bohemian suburb packed with buzzing hole-in-the-wall bars, shabby-chic cafes and restaurants where you can enjoy anything from a quiet coffee over a book or a sumptuous three-course meal for less than a tenner to a rowdy night dancing Coyote Ugly-style on the bar, depending on what takes your fancy.


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Get your adrenaline sports fix in Cape Town, South Africa
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