Stepping out into the street at that magical hour when the city lets out a collective end-of-the-day exhale is something of a recurring favourite moment for me.
Not only does the late afternoon light take on a certain ethereal quality making the heart ache and expand all at once, it’s also the time of day when dogs come out in their droves, owners – of course – in tow.
As an avid animal lover, the fact that I live in a flat the size of a postage stamp (it doesn’t even have a balcony) has seriously cramped my style as far as the possibility of pets is concerned – basically it’s goldfish or bust – but fortunately the scope for vicarious appreciation is massive in the Mother City.
Want to get in on the furry fun or expand the range of your Fido’s daily walks? Here are a few of Cape Town’s best dog-friendly spots.
Cape Town’s famous sea-side walk is a hugely popular spot for the expending of pent-up pup energy. While there are strict rules about keeping dogs on leashes for most of the 11km stretch, the doggy park in Mouille Point (on the open patch of grass next to the lighthouse) is a free-running zone where pooches of all sizes, breeds and backgrounds seem to hang out in peace.
Located in the heart of Oranjezicht, De Waal Park is probably one of Cape Town’s most prominent placemaking success stories. The 7.2ha green area with its 120 tree species, rolling lawns, bubbling fountain, play zone and clean toilets is a spacious refuge for many who live in small apartments and something of a communal backyard for local pooches.
Well-behaved dogs are welcome to run around leashless, but those with sociability issues should rather remain gently reined in. Apart from chasing squirrels and having good old rolls on the grass, the undoubted highlight for most is to splash around in the central fountain.
With a host of trails to choose from – most easily accessible and relatively unchallenging – Newlands Forest offers a bottomless well of delight for those with more adventurous canine friends.
One of the most popular walks in the Constantia Green Belt, the Alphen Trail meanders through tall trees and lush underbrush, all along the Diep River. Starting at Alphen Drive, just off the M3, it will take you about 20-25 minutes to reach the end point just beyond Le Seuer Meadows. Of course, you’re welcome to turn around here and wend your way back on foot again, or you can arrange a lift for weary paws and legs.
Khayelitsha Wetlands Park, situated in Makhaza, was once little more than a dumping ground for the excess waste the municipality lacked the resources to remove in their weekly rounds. However, when various educational institutions, city departments and civil society groups decided to clean it up in 2008, locals jumped on board enthusiastically and helped transform it into a shared space that is safe and welcoming to all. Various trails wend their way through the area and people are welcome to bring their dogs on a leash. Or if your pooch has good ‘sea’ legs, take him/her for a row on the lagoon!
While the northern suburbs may seem somewhat unsexy to most Capetonians, it’s not all Tuscan-style complexes and sprawling malls. The Jack Muller/Danie Uys Park (yes, that is its actual name), for instance, offers a delightful nature escape just a stone’s throw away from the N1 freeway.
Forming part of an important green node next to the Elsieskraal River, the tree-rich park has an outdoor gym, kiddies’ play area, braai facilities and of course a selection of easy trails your pooch will love to explore on an afternoon walk.
The Cape Metropole is, of course, famous for its wide array of beautiful beaches – 72 to be exact. While the dream would be that pups and people can coexist peacefully on ALL of them, the truth of the matter is that not everyone is a dog person (hard to believe, I know).
So, if you’re wanting to treat your best friend to a carefree sprint on the sand, here are 14 beaches where dogs are allowed sans their leads:
Beta Beach in Bakoven
Sunset in Sea Point
The middle section of Hout Bay beach
Long Beach Kommetjie
Long Beach Simon’s Town
Beaches where only dogs on leashes are allowed:
Graaff’s Tidal Pool
Milton tidal pool
Taking care of your canine when you can’t
@Fritz dog hotel
If you need somewhere safe for your pup to stay while you’re away, at work or even on a hot date, the @Fritz Dog Hotel & Daycare Centre in Castle Street is a one-stop doggie care shop.
Colourful on the outside, cosy on the inside and filled with all sorts of kind-hearted people to shower your pet with the love he/she is accustomed to, it will take the edge off having to wave goodbye.
If you’ve been thinking about getting a dog of your own, but just can’t find the time to head out to one of the shelters on the outskirts of the city, there’s an amazing new adoption drive in town.
Oscars Arc Woof project
Picking up on the trend of pop-up shops, recently launched animal welfare organisation, Oscars Arc has introduced the idea of a pop-up adoption centre, called the WOOF Project. Gathering well-adjusted dogs from shelters across the peninsula, they bring the pooches to the people, using a refurbished shipping container and moving it from one popular location to the next every weekend.
The adoption process is extremely easy – you see a dog you like, you fill in an application form, the folks from Oscars Arc check out your home within 72 hours and if all looks good, your application gets approved and you’re free to pick up your new best friend!
The Woof Project was launched in March this year and has already helped more than 140 dogs find loving new homes. Unfortunately, they will be packing up shop for winter, but the good news is that they will pick up where they left off with renewed energy in September.
Be sure to catch the last WOOF Project pop-up for the season on the Sea Point promenade this weekend!
Featured image: Oscars Arc/Facebook