A spectacular sunset with City Sightseeing

28 October 2016

My best friend and I recently had the opportunity to indulge in a special Mother City sunset experience when we hopped on the City Sightseeing Cape Town Sunset Bus. This trip is especially breathtaking and fun during the spring and summer months when Cape Town sunsets are at their finest.

After some window shopping and strolling about the V&A Waterfront and Nobel Square, we crossed the road to wait at the bright red pole where a group of excited Sunset Bus guests had already gathered.

(Image: Tamlyn Ryan)

We had collected our tickets just before 5pm (the pop-up ticket office is situated behind the Watershed) and the helpful City Sightseeing staff there told us that the Sunset Bus would depart at 5.30pm sharp, so we should be there at least 10 minutes before.

Our bus arrived (buses have scrolling-text digital display signs indicating their destinations, so make sure you’re on the right one) and we headed up the stairs to sit just within reach of the sheltered upper deck.

(Image: Aaqeelah Floris)

This spot is particularly useful if you want to enjoy the fresh air and open views, yet stay either dry, relatively sheltered from the wind or protected from the sun, depending on the weather. We were particularly lucky on Sunday afternoon, because it finally warmed up after a month of unpredictable weather.

Our light summer clothes did the job, but it is always a good idea to bring a warm top on your Sunset Bus tour – although there is indoor seating and a section of the upper deck is sheltered, the wind can still be nippy (even in summer) and as evening sets, temperatures drop. Also pack some sunscreen to protect you from sunburn.

(Image: Tamlyn Ryan)

We followed City Sightseeing’s advice to pack a picnic to enjoy at the top of Signal Hill, which is where the bus takes you to savour the sunset ... I mean, where else? We had bought our treats and drinks from a V&A Waterfront grocery store, but others brought take-away meals or home-made goodies. Remember to bring a small blanket to sit on, too. Pack light – apart from the sunset, you will enjoy interacting with fellow passengers and exploring Signal Hill’s viewing spots.

Our route from the V&A Waterfront took us past the Cape Town Stadium and through Granger Bay, Green Point, Three Anchor Bay and the ever-stunning Sea Point and its lively promenade. The Sunset Bus only stops at its final destination, Signal Hill, so there are no hop-on, hop-off opportunities aside from that. Much to our joint surprise, we passed through Bantry Bay and into Clifton and Camps Bay, with the sun hanging low and its golden-white light merging with the startling beauty of Cape Town's most glamorous beaches.

(Image: Tamlyn Ryan)

Finally, we climbed slowly up Victoria Road, where Lion's Head and Table Mountain loomed before us, majestic in the pre-sunset moments. As the bus snaked along towards Signal Hill, we snapped photos and listened with half an ear to the informative and amusing audio commentary (available in 16 different languages), as we chatted and laughed among ourselves. Our fellow passengers pointed out the sights, enjoying precious moments with friends and family.

As we neared the top of the hill, we hit peak-time weekend traffic and the conductor informed us the bus would take some time to get to the parking lot. He advised that we all hop off and walk the last 30 to 40 metres. He told us sunset would take place at roughly 7.06pm (which it did!) and that the bus would leave 10 minutes later. We needed to be packed up and back on board by that time.

(Image: Tamlyn Ryan)

So, we disembarked and after some glorious roadside photo opportunities, where we were surrounded by bumper-to-bumper traffic, we reached Signal Hill proper. Here, we settled down on the paragliding launch site's pale green netting (which has become a giant picnic blanket of sorts among sunset-crazed Capetonians and tourists alike), and enjoyed a few quiet moments and tasty snacks as the amazing mountain and ocean views stretched out before us.

With about 40 minutes to spare to sunset, we enjoyed each other's company, as well as that of our fellow countrymen and visiting foreigners. Everyone seemed content – even the leashed dogs and resident guinea fowl!

(Image: Tamlyn Ryan)

As sunset loomed ever closer, we edged off into the long grass and wild geranium bushes to get some beautiful, framed photos with top local Instagrammers and landscape photographers. We were finally rewarded with a truly spectacular, vibrant sunset and were fortunate enough to watch the burnt-orange orb dip below the horizon before we made our way back to one of two waiting City Sightseeing buses. (This time, we sat inside on the lower level.)

On the drive down in congested traffic, some passengers briefly hopped off the bus to take photos of the amazing bird's-eye view of the orange, twinkling city lights far below us.

(Image: Tamlyn Ryan)

Once we were all safely aboard, the drive back was relatively quick once we left Kloof Nek Road and, soon, we found ourselves disembarking exactly where we had hopped on some two-and-a-half hours before. We contentedly made our way towards the spiralling, lit-up Cape Wheel before heading home.

This was my most special City Sightseeing bus tour to date and I highly recommend it. It's a unique trip, so if you only do one City Sightseeing tour, let this be this one.

(Image: Tamlyn Ryan)

The Sunset Bus tour takes about two-and-a-half hours and costs R120 per adult or R100 online, and R60 for children aged five to 17), while kids under five ride free.

Departure and estimated sunset times vary depending on the time of year. So from 1 March to 30 April 2017 and 23 September to 28 October 2016, the bus leaves the V&A Waterfront at 5.30pm, whereas during the summer season from 29 October 2016 to 28 February 2017, it departs at 6pm.

Please note: There are no Sunset Bus tours  from 24 December 2016 to 3 January 2017, or on 12 March 2017.