Focus – Western Cape
The scenic splendour of the Western Cape has long been a draw-card in South Africa. This is where you’ll find the Cape Winelands as well as a beautiful stretch of coastline. Most visitors list Table Mountain, Robben Island (where the late Nelson Mandela was incarcerated) and a visit to the Cape of Good Hope, at the tip of the Cape Peninsula, as priorities. However, there is so much more!
The Western Cape is one of South Africa’s most beautiful and diverse provinces, taking in magnificent coastal areas such as the Garden Route, mountains, winelands and the semi-desert landscapes of the Little and Great Karoo.
Cape Town, recognised the world over for its iconic Table Mountain, and popular for its vibrant mix of culture and history is the jewel of the crown. Among the most popular tourist attractions here are a visit to the top of the mountain, Robben Island and the Cape of Good Hope.
The Western Cape is also home to the Cape winelands, including the world’s longest wine route, found along Route 62, a scenic tourist route that runs from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth (in the Eastern Cape), 850km up the east coast.
If you don’t have time to complete the whole route, consider visiting the more compact wine-growing areas of Stellenbosch, Paarl, Wellington, Franschhoek, Ceres, Worcester, Bonnievale and Robertson, all within easy reach of Cape Town.
The Garden Route, from Cape Town to Knysna, passes through many a quirky town, complete with welcoming locals and fresh produce stalls. It gets its name from the stunning coastal forests, lakes and beaches found along the way.
Stop in at Swellendam, a town where the jailer once doubled as the postmaster, to experience Cape Dutch architecture at its best.
Several hours south of Cape Town is the southernmost tip of Africa, Cape Agulhas, where the Atlantic and Indian oceans meet. The journey to Cape Agulhas will take you through the scenic Overberg, along what is known as the Whale Coast. You could take a detour to Hermanus, a town famous for its whale watching.
A trip up the West Coast will take you to quiet fishing villages such as Langebaan and Paternoster. Be sure to take the time to enjoy the flora along the way, in particular the West Coast National Park which is particularly popular in spring when the flowers are in season.
Also up the West Coast is the dramatically beautiful Cederberg, an area of rocky mountains popular with climbers and campers and renowned for their rock art and rooibos (redbush) tea which comes from a plant indigenous to this area.
For serious peace and quiet, head north to the Karoo, one of the most arid regions in the country. This sparsely populated, semi-desert area offers open space, fresh air and historical architecture.
Outdoor enthusiasts are by no means left out when it comes to things to do in the Western Cape. Kite-surfing along the West Coast, shark cage diving in Gansbaai, sea kayaking in Simon’s Town, hiking along the Otter Trail and ostrich riding in Oudtshoorn are sure to keep the most ardent adrenalin junkies entertained.
For more information and accommodation recommendations contact www.thetraveller.co.za