The long awaited Cape Town City Tunnel Tour

You might recall us having mentioned something about tunnels and tours in previous blog posts and finally we actually managed to take one ourselves!

It’s a bit of a challenge to get the entire team out together (and despite our efforts some of us had to miss out) but we actually managed to gather at the foot of the mountain and start the (really quick!) walk down to the Castle… underground!

So at promptly 8 am we met just outside Deer Park Cafe – for those of you who don’t know where that is, see map below! (Little insert, there’s a REALLY lovely restaurant called ‘Woodlands Eatery’ right next door! Must book, is really yummy!)

Deer Park Cafe

So off we march down hill to a storm water drain opening. I should add that I have lived up near deer park most of my life and have walked past that very storm water drain opening many many times and never ever knew that it led all the way down town!

from left: Eva, Sam, Leonore, Nick, Ozzi, Tamsyn, Charlie, Bianca and Celest. Dan took the picture. Thanks Dan. Those other two chaps are the guides
warning signs

Anyway, so we started our walk. When I say ‘walk’ I should possibly add that it was more of a bent over, half squatting, duck like forward movement. Why? Well, there’s water at the bottom on the tunnel (and sure, we had gum boots on, but you somehow can’t wrap your head around the idea that you can actually get these wet!) … the tunnel is really small (meaning upright, duck like walking is not a possibility) and then there are the occasional missing bricks left and right (meaning that your duck like waddle becomes more of a sumo-wrestler gate)… then add the fact that it’s dark and clammy …. I found myself rethinking the ‘cool factor’ of this tour.

After what felt like an absolute eternity (10 minutes of sumo walk) they let us take a rest. At this point, if you are not good with close spaces, the dark, clamminess and … roaches, you might want to walk above the tunnels. Like on the street.

Everyone checking to see if cell phones work underground
Can’t stand up straight in the tunnel!
Sam and the gang taking a rest…seconds before we turned off the torch lights and sat in the dark. Under the City.
exit board hanging above us
man hole exit above us
Fresh water rushing through the tunnel 

SO there we are, walking along and it becomes ever more apparent that we are in a place which is a bit … forgotten. The tunnels eventually widen and you can stand upright. It’s very slippery and the water is constantly running from the mountain down to sea. The brick work changes to reveal hundred year old, beautiful red bricks which have had gallons of water gush over them.

old brick work underground
man hole giving us some light

Matt, our guide, told us that this particular walk is referred to as the ‘ladies mile’. He aptly named it so because the washerwomen of 1800s used to gather at the foot of the mountains and legend has it that there are plenty a treasure lost the very streams that gush down the the ocean. Matt tells us that he has found some himself – rings, watches, rifle pellets…. He did also mention the odd ghost… needless to say, we didn’t see treasure nor did we see any ghosts. We DID however see what it was like to slip and fall as some of us lost our footings. Yes yes… whilst looking for treasure, calling for ghosts, dodging the huge cavities in the tunnel and trying to cleverly miss the cobwebs and roach remnances… some of us saw a little more than we had hoped for. Wet… pants.

 

Dan and Nick
climbing back out the tunnel. Happy Sam!
Waiting to climb up the ladder to get out. Celest making sure the roaches aren’t in sight!
The bit of the tunnel we didn’t get to walk
Dan on his way out

Jokes aside! It was an adventure. I had absolutely no idea that the famous ‘Grachte’ streets… Heerengracht, Buitengracht etc are actually canals running underneath the city! We all know that Cape Town’s history is firmly rooted in Dutch heritage… think Amsterdam… canals… water… and now Grachte in Cape Town! Totally epic! For the really cool stories, you’d actually need Matt to tell you more. You can find him (like we did) online. His website pretty much depicts exactly what he offers… ‘Good Hope Adventures‘. He is filled with quirky facts about the city and if you can get over the hot, clammy, duck walking thing, then the tunnel tours are totally something you want to do! Cape Town is filled with history and we drive over it every day. Crazy really!

You know how to reach us, so call the office, ask for a first hand account or just tell us how many of you want to work your gluts and we will go ahead and book a tour for you! Very different, unique and worth adding to an imaginary bucket list!

Leonore and Bianca chatting to Matt out side the castle man hole
chilling on the castle lawn