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Travel bucket list idea:

Last updated: 30 March, 2024
Expert travel writer: Richard Holmes

With its location near the southern tip of Africa, Cape Town offers remarkable opportunities for pelagic birding (species that spend most of their time on the ocean, apart from when nesting).

Pelagic birding trips in the company of expert guides take keen twitchers up to 40km south of Cape Point, to the edge of the continental shelf. From petrels and fulmars to the remarkable Black-browed Albatross, this full-day trip is a sure-fire opportunity for birders to tick a number of species off their ‘life list’. In winter you’re also likely to spot Southern Right whales en route.

What’s more, Cape Town Pelagics donates all profits to seabird research and conservation, including Birdife International’s ‘Save the Albatross’ fund.

Logistics

Price from: £130
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 18+
When: All year around
Duration: 8 hours

Getting there & doing it

Birding trips with Cape Town Pelagics depart from Simonstown or Hout Bay harbour, a 30-45-minute journey from central Cape Town. Trips get booked up months in advance, so plan accordingly.

Lifejackets are provided, but warm waterproof clothing is essential. Binoculars and cameras are, of course, a must. A light lunch is included. Sea conditions can be rough, so anti-nausea medication is advisable.

When to do it

Pelagic birding trips are offered year-round; the trips depart at 7am, and usually return by 3pm.

March-April offers perhaps the finest weather, with mild temperatures, sunny days and less of the Cape’s infamous south-easterly wind. Winter conditions can be rough and cold.

Destination guides

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Destination guides including or relevant to this experience

Cape Town

Western Cape, South Africa

Aerial view of the whole city at dusk

A vibrant, multicultural city with dramatic scenery, adrenaline adventure galore, Africa’s best art scene, golden beaches world-class wine regions and outstanding gastronomy. All in the shadows of the mighty Table Mountain.