Western Cape Tours, Vacations, Travel Packages & Experiences
The Western Cape is a province located to the southwest of South Africa. Roughly L-shaped, the province extends north and east from the Cape of Good Hope and is bordered by the Northern and Eastern Capes as well as two oceans, the Indian Ocean to the south and the Atlantic to the west.
The capital and heart of the Western Cape is Cape Town, making it one of the most popular tourist destinations on South African tours. Despite its relatively small size in comparison to other states in the country, the Western Cape has much to offer including the famed Garden Route, the culinary rich Cape Winelands and the stunning Table Mountain.
The West Coast is somewhat of a secret to international travelers, however, the beaches found there are where many South Africans choose to holiday.
Centuries of trade and immigration have created a very multicultural feel in the province. Much of the population is able to trace links back to parts of Europe, Southeast Asia, India and other parts of Africa. Areas like Cape Town and Stellenbosch are known for their nightlife, however, the incredible nature and wildlife aspect of the province must not be overlooked. Scenery here is unmatched and visits to nature reserves and national parks should not be missed on a South African vacation.
What are the places to visit in Cape Town?
Table Mountain dominates the city skyline and literally hovers over the city. It is recognized as one of the new Seven Wonders of the World and is South Africa’s most photographed landmark. The rocks on the mountain are over 600 million years old making Table Mountain one of the oldest mountains in the world. Table Mountain offers fantastic views of Cape Town, Table Bay and Robben Island to the north and the Atlantic seaboard to the west and south. It is 3 kilometres/2 miles from side to side and has a flat top with edges consisting of steep cliffs (just like a table). When it is covered by a cloud bank which sometimes it is, this is referred to as the “tablecloth”. The Table Mountain Cableway takes passengers on South African vacations from the lower cable station to the plateau at the top of the mountain.
Robben Island is an island in Table Bay, 7 kilometres/4 miles west of Cape Town and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It has become famous since the former President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela was imprisoned there for 18 of the 27 years he served behind bars before the fall of apartheid. Three former inmates of Robben Island have gone on to become President of South Africa: Nelson Mandela, Kgalema Motlanthe and Jacob Zuma. A tour to Robben Island takes 3.5 hours including the ferry rides to and from the island. You will see where Mandela was imprisoned and spent his time. Also, you will learn about the long history of Robben Island.
The Cape Peninsula and the Cape of Good Hope
The Cape of Good Hope is a rocky headland on the Atlantic coast of the Cape Peninsula. This is where the currents of the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet at the point where the warm water Agulhas current meets the cold water Benguela current, a point that fluctuates between Cape Agulhas and Cape Point, just east of the Cape of Good Hope. The Cape of Good Hope has long been of special significance to sailors, many of whom refer to it simply as "The Cape”.
The Cape Peninsula is 52 kilometres/32 miles in length and has two main routes to cover all the outstanding attractions. On South African tours or a drive on your own, you will experience amazing scenery, deserted beaches, rugged cliffs and great bird watching. Some 250 species of birds have been spotted here including penguins and ostriches. En route, you will visit the Cape Point Nature Reserve with its rich diversity of animal and plant life. The tip of the peninsula has stunning views as if you are standing on the edge of the world. You are surrounded by rugged rocks and sheer cliffs towering more than 200 metres/650 feet above the sea.
More information on the Cape of Good Hope
The Penguins at Boulders Beach
On the eastern side of the Cape Peninsula is Boulders Beach, a sheltered beach made up of several inlets sandwiched between granite boulders. Its major claim to fame is the colony of African penguins which makes its home on the beach in the town centre. You can get up close and personal with these birds who wander freely albeit in a protected natural environment. There are as many as 3000 penguins here.
More places to visit in Western Cape
Hermanus, which is 122 kilometres/75 miles from Cape Town, is generally considered the best land-based whale watching destination in the world. From June to December, the bay becomes the swimming grounds for a large number of Southern Right Whales. You are almost guaranteed of seeing whales in September, October and November. Hermanus is the mating and breeding grounds of the Southern Right Whale during the winter and spring months. They migrate from the Antarctic around June to calve and mate. Calving takes place in August and September and the males arrive for mating in October when the whale population peaks.
The Cape Winelands
The Cape Winelands are approximately 40 kilometres/25 miles located in a series of valleys. The region is also a collection of historic towns and Cape Dutch farmsteads that produce excellent wines known worldwide to be enjoyed on South African tours. This very pretty area benefits from the local soil and a pleasant Mediterranean climate. The main centres are Stellenbosch, a charming old university town and the second oldest town in South Africa, Paarl with its beautifully restored Cape Dutch, Georgian and Victorian buildings and Franschhoek which lies in one of the most beautiful valleys of the region and has a wonderful collection of art and antique shops and galleries. In all of these, you will find world-class wineries who offer tours of their vineyards as well as wine tastings. There are also some excellent restaurants offering gourmet meals. Franschhoek is known as the gourmet capital of the country. Eight of the top 100 restaurants in the country are in Franschhoek together with around 30 wine cellars and over 28 restaurants.
More information on tours to the Cape Winelands
The Garden Route
The word “Garden” here indicates a beautiful stretch of coastal scenery. Some call it South Africa’s Garden of Eden? It is located roughly between Mossel Bay in the west and Plettenberg Bay in the east, a distance of around 300 kilometres/185 miles. It has an exceptionally scenic coastline, excellent beaches with, in places, large waves crashing against tall cliffs, picturesque lakes and lagoons, ancient indigenous dense forests, dramatic ravines, deep gorges and abundant wildlife. There are also top-level golf courses, artists’ colonies, bungee jumping sites and attractive resorts.
One of these resorts is Knysna located on an attractive lagoon with a large selection of accommodation and restaurants. Another is George known for its world-class golf courses and its proximity to the Outeniqua Mountains. The Wilderness is a very serene and charming village and the start of the more dramatic scenery along the Garden Route. It is here that you can walk along the beach with towering cliffs in the background together with rolling breakers and large stretches of white sand. It is a paradise for nature lovers, bird watchers and anyone wanting a peaceful sojourn. Plettenberg Bay is a seaside vacation town and a great place to relax for a couple of days on a South Africa vacation with its white sand and crystal-blue waters making it one of the country’s top tourist destinations. The beaches here are excellent and there are excellent golf courses, hiking trails and nature reserves nearby.
More information on tours of the Garden Route
South Africa Travel Information
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Learn about the history and culture of South Africa, the must-try food and drink, and what to pack in your suitcase. Read about South Africa's nature and wildlife, weather and geography, along with 'Country Quickfacts' compiled by our travel experts. Our globetrotting tips, as well as our visa and health information will help ensure you're properly prepared for a safe and enjoyable trip. The only way you could possibly learn more is by embarking on your journey and discovering South Africa for yourself. Start exploring… book one of our South Africa tours today!
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Western Cape, South Africa
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