Province & Region
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The Western Cape is one of South Africa’s most popular holiday destinations. Its plethora of national parks is testimony to its natural beauty and hints at a world of promise for the outdoor enthusiast. Its cities are as lively as its country towns relaxed. Its culture reflects the richness of its history, both long past and more recent.
It has one of the world’s most famous mountains, right in the middle of the Mother City – a city that is often a finalist when lists of ‘most beautiful cities in the world’ are compiled. Cape Town is rich in history. And although laid-back, it also has a very active night life.
Extending south from Cape Town, the Cape Peninsula forms a spectacular knife edge that runs out to sea for miles. Naturally, this coast is rich in maritime history. Much of this is fraught with tragedy – it is not called the Cape of Storms for nothing.
On wild, stormy days its seas pulsate with unrestrained energy. You would hardly recognise it from days of cobalt skies and blond beaches when the weather gods are on their best behaviour.
The southernmost tip of the African continent is just a few hours’ travel to the east of Cape Town at L'Agulhas.
This coastline is probably the best place in the country to spot southern right and humpback whales at close quarters. Mid-August to mid-November is the best time for this.
From here the gentle corn lands of the Overberg gradually give way to the temperate ridges and valleys of the Garden Route.
This region is well known for its beaches, estuaries and freshwater dams, for its coastal cliffs, and for its green mountain ranges covered in indigenous forests and fynbos.
Crossing the first range of mountains to the interior – via a collection of ragged mountain passes or ‘poorts’ (a chasm through the mountains, usually following a river bed) – brings you to the plains of the Klein (Little) Karoo and its fortified wine and ostrich farms.
Here summers are unforgiving and the climate dry, but still nothing in comparison to the plains of the Central Karoo. This you reach by crossing yet another range of mountains. Go for early morning walks, go tortoise spotting in the late afternoon or arrange your own sundowners. The landscape is big and the skies vast. Most of all, appreciate the solitude.
To complete the ‘arid circle’, you have to head back to the coast again. Travel west until you reach the cold, nutrient-rich waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
In contrast to the southern coastline the Cape West Coast is arid, but makes up for this austerity with a rich bloom of flowers in spring. The flowers only open when the sun is high in the sky, making for lazy mornings. They are also polite enough to close in time for you to get back to your front porch to watch the sunset with a smoky single malt.
Returning to Cape Town - and heading out north-east from the city this time - brings you to the Cape Winelands. Here the valleys of the Cape fold mountains give shelter to stately vineyards. Some of them have been around since the early 1800s.
Spoilt for choice, the best way to make the most of the Western Cape is to plan your second trip even before you set out on the first.
Articles & Blogs
Alternative Trails to Lions HeadValda 2:29pm 15 Jan
Pics by Shaen Adey
Lion’s Head will be closed for maintenance from 7th January 2018 to 15th February 2019. So, hikers and trail runners, you’d better start thinking about alternative routes. SANParks offers this advice, and some alternative trails.
If you wish to hike in an alternative location or plan to hike elsewhere on Table Mountain please note the following:
Please ensure that you
• depart with adequate time for your hike: Both UP and DOWN before sunset
• always walk in group. We do not recommend hiking alone or in small groups
• have told...
Lion's Head To Close for MaintenanceValda 2:36pm 6 Jan
Pics by Shaen Adey
South African National Parks (SANParks) wishes to inform all Table Mountain National Parks (TMNP) visitors of the pending trail maintenance that will take place on Lion's Head from 7 January 2019 to 15 February 2019. Successful completion of this much needed intervention on the popular spiral trail up to the summit requires full closure of the trail during the maintenance period.
Plett Blue Flag BeachesValda 5:52pm 30 Dec
Pics by Willie Dalgleish & Brendon Morris
The International Blue Flag Jury meeting took place earlier in September 2018, the awards were presented to 137 sites in the Southern Hemisphere for the 2018-2019 Blue Flag season, including 96 beaches, 19 marinas and 22 boats. As of 2018, the Blue Flag flies over 3,783 beaches, 698 marinas and 77 boats around the world.
In South Africa, 66 Blue Flags will be proudly flown at 46 beaches, 8 marinas and by 12 sustainable tourism boats around South Africa over the forthcoming 2018/19 South African Blue Flag season, which opens...
Penguin Palooza in Betty’s BayValda 9:55pm 25 Dec
Pics Kyle Lestrade.
Main pic above: Among the team of volunteers tipping the penguin boxes above are Ward 10 Councillor Fanie Krige, Good Hope FM Breakfast Host Dan Corder, Vlogger Dev-Don-Did-It and SANCCOB international volunteers.
On Saturday, 27 October 2018, the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB) and the provincial biodiversity conservation authority in the Western Cape, CapeNature, jointly hosted their third Penguin Palooza at the Stony Point Nature Reserve in Betty’s Bay. This annual event formed...
Fedhealth IMPI #4 Cape Town 2018Valda 7:02pm 18 Dec
Anele Bans (Parklands, Cape Town) and Dominique D’Oliveira (Bellville, Cape Town) were on top form during the much anticipated Fedhealth IMPI Challenge #4 Elite Race at the scenic Wiesenhof Wildlife Park (Stellenbosch) on Saturday, 17 November 2018.
“I had a bit of an injury coming into the race,” says Bans. “I just told myself that I’m always a racer, I’m always a guy who competes no matter what comes in my way. I knew it was going to be a bit of a challenge, it is called the IMPI Challenge. I normally dominate the concrete/cinder block area, but today it was hard for me. I just...
Platter's 2019 LaunchValda 2:28pm 11 Dec
Three Wineries of the Year Recognised for Excellence
Platter’s by Diners Club South African Wine Guide 2019 was launched at Cape Town’s Table Bay Hotel on 5 November 2018 with over 200 guests in attendance, the VIPs including the wine producers who achieved the maximum Five Star rating in the new edition – reserved for wines that are “South African classics” and scored 95 points or more on the internationally recognised 100-point scale.
A total of 90 wines achieved the coveted Five Star status this year. Publisher of Platter’s by Diners Club...
Two Oceans Aquarium Trash BashValda 3:49pm 4 Dec
Pics by Ingrid Sinclair, Amina Hoosain, Devon Bowen/Two Oceans Aquarium
Join the final Two Oceans Aquarium Trash Bash of the year on Saturday 8 December 2018 at Sunset Beach – the next of our regular beach cleanup events in Cape Town. This year we’ve decided that we want to do more to combat coastal plastic pollution… And we want YOU to join us.
In 2019 a new Trash Bash location...
Gamkaberg Nature ReserveValda 1:31pm 13 Nov
The conservation authority in the Western Cape, CapeNature, in celebration of the history and heritage of Gamkaberg Nature Reserve will unveil a piece of protected land for visitors to access for the very first time. The reserve, nestled in the mountains of the Klein Karoo between the Swartberg and Outeniqua hills, derives its name from the “Khoikhoi” word Xami, meaning "lion".
The reserve was established in 1974 and is home to the endangered Cape mountain zebra which roam the rugged terrain and deep ravines.
CapeNature CEO Dr Razeena Omar explains why this...
Cat HeavenValda 2:54pm 6 Nov
“Time spent with cats is never wasted!” - Sigmund Freud. This quote finds new meaning when you step into Cat Heaven in Somerset West, a Cat Gift Shop and Rescue Cat Café - the first of its kind in South Africa.
Local resident and retired academic, Valerie Steinmann, spent the best part of the last 20 years travelling the world and it was in Thun, Switzerland that she came across “a true cat lover’s shop”. Totally enchanted by her discovery, Valerie’s passion for ‘all things cat’ was ignited and thus began her cat crusade, collecting unique cat gifts from around the globe. To...
B is for BeautifulValda 11:28am 4 Nov
By Riaan Vermeulen
The base of operation: Jo Anne’s B cottage in the West Coast National Park.
The mission: To see how many animals and birds in the visitor’s guide we could tick.
The team: Two adults and two kids.
Jo Anne’s Beach cottage, a hideaway for eight people near Churchhaven, now has a baby version. The B cottage sleeps four and is also only a few minutes’ walk from the lagoon. We got our first quick tick within minutes of arriving, a pair of African black oystercatchers.
African TwilightValda 2:52pm 30 Oct
Pics Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher
Cape Town, South Africa – THK Photography proudly presents an exhibition of photographic works by Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher, titled African Twilight: Vanishing Rituals and Ceremonies. The exhibition opens at 6PM on Thursday, 1 November 2018 at THK Photography Gallery, 52 Waterkant Street, Cape Town.
American-born Carol Beckwith and Australian Angela Fisher met over 40 years ago, beginning a photographic partnership that has seen them journey over 300 000 miles on the African continent – through 48 countries and recording 150...
Summer is for Stellenbosch Street SoireesValda 7:52pm 14 Oct
Toast with the locals, when the ever-popular, Stellenbosch Street Soirees return to the streets of the City of Oaks for some festive feasting and laidback mingling with fellow food and wine lovers this summer.
Proudly presented by the Stellenbosch Wine Routes, the first soiree of the season will take place on 28 November, when Stellies will share its vibrant street culture, enviable lifestyle and cosmopolitan charm in the heart of this historic town – all blended with cool tunes, sizzling street food and superb wines.
Land Rover Joins FNB Wines2Whales Sponsor FamilyValda 1:48pm 9 Oct
Land Rover and the challenging trails that comprise the FNB Wines2Whales route go hand-in-hand. The esteemed automaker has, after all, forged a reputation over the past 70 years for exploring, adventuring and going where no other vehicle has ever dared to go. Having recently aligned itself with mountain biking and the lifestyle that accompanies it, joining the FNB W2W as Official Vehicle and Route Partner made perfect sense for Land Rover as a brand.
“We are thrilled to confirm our partnership with the FNB Wines2Whales as the Official Vehicle and Route Partner for the next three...
4X4 in Garden Route National ParkValda 2:59pm 2 Oct
The SANParks Honorary Rangers, Wilderness Region, are calling 4X4 enthusiasts to the “Road Less Travelled Off-Road Experience” in the Garden Route National Park from the 6th to 7th October 2018. Last year the event attracted close to 100 drivers with friends and family.
The event gives 4x4 enthusiasts and nature lovers the opportunity to travel along roads normally closed to the public. Participants get to experience indigenous forests, fynbos, sparkling streams and sweeping mountain views.
There are three routes available (graded 1-4), with each route offering a...
!Khwa ttu Heritage CentreValda 2:44pm 30 Sep
A unique place of learning and sharing, owned and run for and by the San opened its doors on Heritage Day, Monday, 24 September, 2018.
The new !Khwa ttu Heritage Centre building is an intriguing structure, embedded into the land lines of the ridge looking towards Yzerfontein and the Atlantic Ocean, just an hour outside Cape Town.
Soon, the surrounding indigenous vegetation will completely cover the canopy, which represents a shelter where people gather to learn and to share.
It addresses the hopes and dreams of San all over Southern Africa: it is a place to...
Camp DaisyValda 3:54pm 25 Sep
Words Magriet Kruger, pics Alessandro Bonora
I was meant to be in Namaqualand for the daisies, the masses of annuals that carpet the dry west of South Africa following the winter rains. It’s a natural spectacle known for its abundance as seemingly every pocket of earth is covered in wildflowers. So why was I hunched over a single plant, beaming as if I’d struck a diamond?
“Well spotted,” said Carina Becker, flower guide at Namaqua Flowers Beach Camp as she came closer to look at the slender plant with its dainty petals in pale pink. “That’s a geophyte, a bulb. It’s called...
Hiking the Trails of the Gifberg Holiday FarmValda 3:32pm 18 Sep
Words Fiona McIntosh, pics Shaen Adey and supplied
The spectacular spring flower show is just one of the attractions of hiking at Gifberg, a remote mountain wilderness in Namaqualand.
Hidden away in the Gifberg mountains up the West Coast, that dramatic backdrop to Vanrhynsdorp, Gifberg Holiday Farm’s primary focus is producing rooibos tea. But its rugged wilderness area boasts a wonderful network of family- and pet-friendly hiking trails. So when our friend Theresa Horn booked a weekend away there with her dog Lulu (and tantalised us with images of waterfalls...
Free Entry to the GRNP for 6 DaysValda 3:52pm 9 Sep
South Africans can visit the Garden Route National Park (GRNP) for free from Monday the 10th to Saturday the 15th September 2018. All GRNP sites, including the Big tree, will waive entrance fees to South African citizens.
The Garden Route National Park (GRNP) is a mosaic of landscapes and seascapes, a haven for birds and animals including seabirds, rare and endangered species. It is approximately 155, 000 hectares of land including indigenous forests, lakes, rivers, wetlands and the sea.
Scientists have recorded over 465 plant species in the forests, over 22 species...
Gamkaberg: Over and AboveValda 8:46pm 26 Aug
Words and pics Romi Boom
High spirits are guaranteed whether you indulge in a sky-high picnic, scramble up a forested gorge or simply chill in Tierkloof Eco Lodge. Gamkaberg Nature Reserve’s reputation as one of Africa’s finest is well deserved.
When the spectacle of daybreak unfurls through a gauze net, it is a hold-your-breath-and-remember-the-moment kind of treasure. At five, the full moon whispers in quicksilver tones over the cliffs of Tierkloof gorge. I am snug as a bug beneath a cosy duvet, but the side and front flaps of my safari tent have been open...
Drones Transform Seabird CountingValda 4:39pm 12 Aug
CapeNature manages conservation efforts on Dyer Island, where the manual counting of birds is an essential process which provides the baseline data that enables CapeNature to map the population fluctuations of all the bird species on the island. This is especially significant during breeding season as managing authorities are able to track the number of birds that are breeding, and thus contributing to the growth of their populations.
The bird counting which takes place every month can be a tedious and gruelling process and requires CapeNature staff on the ground walking around the...