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
Tackle the Steenbok Day TrailValda 3:17pm 16 Apr
Words Fiona McIntosh, pics Shaen Adey
For two months a year, hikers can enjoy the flowers, birds and exquisite scenery on the Steenbok Day Trail in West Coast National Park. Fiona McIntosh takes us along on the trail while Shaen Adey captures each moment.
A faint grunt caught our attention. We looked up to see four Great White Pelicans flying overhead, their huge wings and heavy undercarriage making them all look a bit like Boeings. Shaen and I were on our annual pilgrimage to the Postberg section of the West Coast National Park.
Only open during August...
Mike Horn for 2019 Absa Cape EpicValda 7:58pm 2 Apr
Britain’s The Telegraph newspaper dubbed South African Mike Horn “the world’s greatest living man”. He is widely held to be the world’s foremost modern day explorer and, as a journalist quipped, “he’s had more adventures than you’ve had hot dinners”.
Those adventures include an unassisted round-the-world trip along the equator with no motorised transport, a trip by foot to the North Pole in the dark, a solo circumnavigation of the Arctic Circle, scaling four of the world’s 8,000-metre plus mountains and more. Right now he is busy tackling his Pole2Pole Expedition, a two-year...
CapeNature YESValda 9:55pm 26 Mar
CapeNature and the Department of Environmental Affairs celebrated its successful first year of the Youth Environmental Services (YES) Programme. The initiative saw 110 youth participants graduating.
Together both entities aim to address the ever-growing challenges of youth unemployment and prioritise local communities living in and adjacent to the nature reserves across the Western Cape. The funding of the programme by the Department of Environmental Affairs will empower 272 youths over 2 years from communities in dire need.
The YES Programme objectives include that of...
Dalebrook CaféValda 6:51pm 19 Mar
A new and buzzing casual restaurant and deli has opened opposite the iconic Dalebrook tidal pool in Kalk Bay and its already a stalwart.
The Kalk Bay community is legendary for its arty residents, its quirky businesses, time-honoured drinking and dining destinations and of course its historic tidal pools that see swimmers young and old take their daily dips in summer – some in winter too. Newly opened Dalebrook Café, situated directly opposite Dalebrook tidal pool in the landmark building Dalebrook Place, is set to become a Kalk Bay favourite, thanks to the...
Dieckmann for 2019 Sanlam Cape MileValda 3:20pm 10 Feb
Pics Tobias Ginsberg
Claudia Dieckmann will once again spearhead a group of swimmers that will take on the Western Cape’s premier open water swim, the 5th annual Sanlam Cape Mile brought to you by Sanlam Investments at the majestic Eikenhof Dam (Elgin-Grabouw Country Club) on Sunday, 17 February 2019 in support of Multiple Sclerosis South Africa (MSSA).
A keen swimmer, Dieckmann was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in 2011 at the age of 31. MS is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that interrupts the flow of information within...
CapeNature Jimmy Nevis Camp OutValda 6:00pm 5 Feb
CapeNature and the award-winning South African musician Jimmy Nevis have collaborated to bring conservation tourism to the masses through music. A first of its kind two-night outdoor sleepover with one of the Cape’s coolest pop hit-makers will be held in the Cederberg Wilderness Area in 2019.
This summer, fans and nature lovers will be spoilt with an opportunity to spend a weekend camping alongside Nevis and his inner-circle of friends enjoying the mountain views and intimate acoustic performances. The camp out is set to be held at the popular Algeria campsite, 200km north of...
Table Mountain Differential TariffsValda 11:48am 3 Feb
SANParks announced that as of 1 November 2018 Table Mountain National Park (TMNP) would be charging differential tariffs as of at all its entry gates. These entry gates include Cape Point, Boulders, Silvermine, Tokai and the Picnic sites. All the other 19 National parks have been charging differential tariffs since 2005 and Table Mountain National Park has moved to follow suit.
As of 1 November 2018 the park will have three rates for entry at the gates.
The Standard rate which is what Foreign Visitors will pay. No documentation is required to be submitted...
Neil Ellis Pesto & Wine PlayValda 9:55pm 29 Jan
Neil Ellis Wines, the family owned winery on the slopes of the Helshoogte Pass in Stellenbosch, is a must-visit this summer. In addition to a wide range of highly-acclaimed wines, food and wine lovers can embark on an epicurean journey with a unique food and wine adventure, aptly called “Pesto & Wine Play”.
The Neil Ellis team, along with the help of a chef friend, dreamed up a selection of recipes which have been tweaked over time to create four yummy pestos to cross-pair with four of the highly-acclaimed Neil Ellis Terrain-Specific Wines. Pesto & Wine Play is a fun...
Delheim’s 2019 Harvest FestivalValda 2:11pm 22 Jan
It's time to get your PINK on! This happy colour is the theme for Delheim’s 2019 Harvest Festival hosted by this renowned Stellenbosch wine stalwart on Saturday, 26 January to celebrate the bounty of the vineyard.
At the beginning of every year, the Cape Winelands become a hive of activity as harvest gets underway and Delheim is traditionally one of the very first Stellenbosch wine estates to ring in the new vintage in high spirits. This year’s pink-theme celebrates the harvest of Delheim’s world-renowned Pinotage Rosé – a wine that has built a loyal following since its launch in...
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.