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Western Cape

The Western Cape is so amazingly beautiful. The beauty of this province is breath-taking; the diversity of the scenery is second to none and the range of activities is huge. Here lies almost 1000 km of unspoilt beach with rugged coastlines. Here are fishing villages, vast vineyards, flower fields, mountain ranges and the temperatures are mild and pleasant. In the national parks you will not encounter the Big Five, but a wide range of other natural attractions. The province of South Africa is known as the Fairest Cape.

In the Western Cape lives an interesting cultural mix of residents. Here live the descendants of the Khoikhoi and Xhosa, Europeans and Asians who provide a variety of cultural cuisines, churches and art. The Western Cape is the overwhelming beauty the most popular South African region among tourists. However, you can get to places where you can hardly find someone and enjoy in silence all the beauty.

Climate
The Western Cape is dry and sunny summers with maximum temperatures of around 28°C. It is quite often windy and the south eastern 'Cape Doctor' can quite carry on. Winters are cool with a maximum between 5°C and 17°C. Sometimes it can even snow in the higher mountains. The further north, the hotter and drier it becomes.

Towns
The Western Cape is known for its capital city, Cape Town. This impressive metropolis offers a tremendous amount of activities and sights. However, other towns like Stellenbosch and the eccentric Barrydale are also worth a visit.

Cape Town
Cape Town can rightly be called one of the most beautiful cities in the world! The city is beautifully situated on a peninsula at the famous Table Mountain and the Table Bay. Right next to the town you encounter an amazingly beautiful landscape with mountains, vineyards, palm trees, white sands, blue ocean and picturesque fishing villages. Cape Town is also known as the Mother City, as the Dutch established the first European settlement here in 1652. This city is buzzing with vibrant art, wild nightlife, delicious food, local music and beach life.

Stellenbosch
In 1679 Simon van der Stel, Governor of the Cape of Good Hope discovered a nice piece of fertile land along the banks of the Eerste River. Yet that same year the first families established in this new frontier village "Van der Stel. Now, four centuries later, is the town of Stellenbosch in the heart of the Western Cape vineyards.

Mossel Bay
Mossel Bay (formerly Mossel Bay) owes its name to Cornelis de Houtman, a Dutch merchant who found a lot of mussels here. If you are you looking for action, then you should be here. You can go parasailing, rappelling, kayaking and snorkelling. In the middle of the bay is Seal Island that can be visited by boat. Seals, penguins and cormorants inhabit the island and with a little luck you will see the great white shark. This is also the place where the first Europeans; Portuguese sailors led by Bartholomeus Dias landed in 1488 in South Africa. Here, letters were exchanged at the Old Post Office Tree, between sailors on their way to the East and those on their way home. In Bartholomeus Dias Museum Complex is a replica of the ship in which he sailed in the 15th century along the South African coast.

Knysna
Knysna is undoubtedly the pearl of the Western Cape and the Garden Route. The beach is at a lagoon with clear blue water and on the other, surrounded by mountains and deep forests. These forests are the oldest in South Africa and even grow into the centre. Knysna is famous for its oysters and wild elephants. The oysters are very popular worldwide for their distinctive taste. Before large groups of wild elephants lived here, but by hunting, the number was severely atrophied. Today, there is only very rarely one seen.

You can take one of the two "heads" for a spectacular view. These sandstone cliffs run through to the point where the lagoon merges with the Indian Ocean. From the head to the east, you have breath-taking views of Knysna Lagoon and Leisure Isle. On the west side is the Featherbed Nature Reserve. Make sure to visit the marina and the centre of Knysna. The many boutiques and interior design shops with wooden trinkets are definitely worth exploring further. Would you like to relax on the beach but you also love adventure activities in the area? Then Knysna is your place. Here you can enjoy mountain biking, kayaking, abseiling, rafting, swimming or diving, all in a beautiful setting. Can also go hiking and then you walk through the dense forests around Knysna. Apart from old trees and exotic plants and flowers you see here the most beautiful tropical birds and many species of wildlife.

Things to do in Western Cape

In and around Cape Town

· Table Mountain

Table Mountain is one of the most famous mountains in the world! This somewhat strange mountain which rises 1086 meters above the city was created 450 million years ago by erosion of the softer layers which created the characteristic flat shape. The view from the plateau is truly phenomenal and you should not miss it. You not only overlook Cape Town, but also the Hely-Hutchinson, the Back Table, False Bay, Cape Point and the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens. Via the Cable Car you reach the top of Table Mountain where you can walk around easily. There is a restaurant and souvenir shop. You can also go above and go walking. De trails are not easy and require some fitness. The easiest is the Platteklip Gorge Walk which takes about 2.5.hours. Never walk alone and tell others that you're planning to climb the mountain. Take water, food and a cell phone, and ensure good footwear.

  • The Victoria & Alfred Waterfront

The most visited attraction in Cape Town's Victoria and Alfred Waterfront where you can go shopping, and there are restaurants, entertainment and sightseeing possibilities in the working harbour of Cape Town

  • Robben Island

Robben Island is located 11 km north of Cape Town in the Atlantic Ocean and is famous as the place where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned 18 years. Already in 1638 the island was used as a penal colony from the Dutch. It remained a prison island until 1991. In that year - also when Mandela was released from Pollsmoor Prison - attention was not drawn to the special nature. You can take a tour of the prison where Mandela was in the limestone quarry and the Governor's House. Chances are that your guide is an ex-con. In that case, you get an intense, often bitter but very interesting view of the island's history.

  • Cape of Good Hope

Cape of Good Hope is the famous peninsula south of Cape Town, where many ships sunk by the high winds and strong currents. The first European who sailed around the cape, Bartholomeus Dias, which is also this point that was called "Cabo Tormentoso ': Cape of Storms. Dias was looking for a new route to India and found this eventually at the southern tip of Africa. Later this point became Cabo de Boa Esperança ", the Cape of Good Hope. It was thought that this was the southernmost part of the whole of Africa, but it is 220 km to the east and is called Cape Agulhas. At Cape Point, at the bottom of the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve, it is the largest lighthouse on the country to lead ships the way. The Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve is a beautiful area with a great variety of flora and fauna. Here there live baboons, seals, red hartebeest, fur, zebras, eland and more than 260 bird species. There you can take great walks along beaches and through the beautiful nature. At Buffelsfontein Visitors Centre there are several maps of routes.

  • Townships

Township tours will make the traveller realize how the will to survive can overcome any adversity. The overwhelming hospitality, the shops, restaurants, the local beer and the music will amaze and impress. Do not go on your own but with a guided tour for an optimal experience.

  • Beaches

There is a beach for every mood in Cape Town and surroundings:
Clifton for those who want to see and be seen
Camps Bay for the mundane experience
Sandy Bay for the nudists
Muizenberg for a dip in hot water
Kommetjie for water sports

  • Kirstenbosch Gardens
The world famous botanical gardens of Kirstenbosch are beautifully located and host a stunning natural beauty. Kirstenbosch is a 528-hectare forest and natural reserve, where you can admire only indigenous South African plants and flowers. The collection includes more than 9000 of the total 22 000 South African plant species. The history of Kirstenbosch begins in 1895, when colonist Cecil Rhodes bought the eastern slopes of Table Mountain to protect the area. After his death in 1902, he lost his land to the government, who ordered a botanical garden in 1913. Kirstenbosch is considered one of the most beautiful gardens in the world. There is a visitor centre with an information desk, a restaurant and a cafe.

  • Nightlife
The centre of Cape Town is known by many as the party capital of Africa. In just a few streets there are hundreds of bars, restaurants and clubs that are waiting to be discovered.

The West Coast
The West Coast has for years been ignored by international tourists. They chose Cape Town and the Garden Route over this very interesting region. The beauty of the desert and the beautiful flowers of Namaqualand seem yet to have drawn the attention of the tourists. The area can be divided into two parts. The first part consists of the flat coast with a mix of fishing villages and beach resorts. The second part is the inland known as Swartland.

Further north of the N7 highway you pass through the spectacular Cederberg. Here there are some of the most beautiful hiking trails of South Africa. The beaches are long, empty and clean. However, the cold Bengal stream makes swimming in the sea a very cold business. Even in the summer, the sea feels freezing. However, the rich sea food causes a huge variety of marine life to live here. The lobster fishery brings in 120 million per year. Despite the sea, the climate is better than in the rest of the Cape. Summers are warm to hot and there is less rain. The most important places in the West Coast are Malmesburg Saldanha (mussels and oysters), Langebaan (seaside), Darling (flowers), Vredenburg (Business District), Elands Bay and Lamberts Bay.

The Cape Winelands
The largest and most important wine region of South Africa lie northeast of Cape Town around the towns of Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Paarl. The scenery is beautiful as a patchwork of vineyards and orchards full of fruit and houses in Cape Dutch style. By emphatically clear history the landscape is European. The first white settlers arrived here than in the 60s of the 17th century. Dutchman Simon van der Stel founded the wine town of Stellenbosch in 1679. Soon there were more Europeans, including many French Huguenots who found the area excellent for French wine production. It was the farmers for the wind and all kinds of wine towns that were founded, each of which are worth a visit. The towns of Stellenbosch and Paarl are architecturally very special and there are many Cape Dutch, Georgian and Victorian houses. Franschhoek is of interest for its beautiful location and Tulbagh because of the historic homes.

The Garden Route
The Garden Route is situated on the southwest coast of South Africa and can rightfully be called one of the highlights of the country. Between Mossel Bay and Plettenberg Bay there is a beautiful coastline with deep bays, rivers and long sandy beaches alternated with rugged cliffs and rocks into the sea which seem to sag. Colourful lagoons reach far inland and rainforests extend to near the coast with sand dunes where there are a series of saline lakes located.

The Klein Karoo
The Karoo covers approximately one third of all of South Africa and is often divided into the Small and the Great Karoo, but exact boundaries there are not. The Little Karoo (Klein Karoo) is largely in the Western Cape between the Outeniqua mountain ranges, Langeberg and Swartberg. Klein Karoo is a colourful area with high cliffs, deep canyons, and rivers with crystal clear waters, native flora and majestic mountains. It is very fertile and different fruits, nuts and tobacco are grown here. You can take beautiful wine trails along nice places like Barrydale, Ladysmith and Oudtshoorn. Other attractions include the Swartberg Pass, Prince Albert and Gamkasberg Nature Reserve. The last one changes in the spring in a huge sea of ​​flowers where you can take beautiful walks. Along the way you can spot some baboons, zebras and antelopes.

The Breede River Valley
15 attractive small towns are fortunately situated in the fertile Breede River Valley. Ceres, named after the Roman goddess of fertility; Tulbagh which has 32 historic buildings and the greatest concentration of national monuments in South Africa; Montagu with its curative hot springs; Worcester and Robertson are known for their exuberant wine. Things to do in this area include one of the largest brandy distilleries in the world (KWV Brandy Cellar), wild gardens, art and curio and museums (e.g. Kleinplasie Open Air Museum)

The Overberg
The Overberg region stretches from the Hottentots Holland Mountains to Mossel Bay. To the north lies the Langeberg Mountains and in the southern ocean. When the first white men from Cape Town went towards this area, we always referred to the land which was 'over the mountain'. Only after the construction of the spectacular Sir Lowry's Pass became an economic development. The path through the Hottentots Holland Mountain was steep and only accessible on horseback.

The Overberg has always been in the shadow of neighbours, Cape Town, the Garden Route and the Wine Route. Yet Overberg is a particularly attractive area of ​​natural beauty. Hermanus is one of the most famous places, because here you see the Southern Right whales from July to November from the coast. Gansbaai you can be in a cage dive to see the Great White Shark. Other famous places are Bredasdorp, Grabouw and Caledon. The coastal strip is home to many long beaches with many hotels and resorts. The most southern point of Africa is located in Cape Agulhas and not at Cape of Good Hope. There are several nature reserves, including Marloth Nature Reserve, De Hoop Nature Reserve and Bontebok National Park.

The Great Karoo
The Great Karoo covers approximately one third of the total land area of ​​South Africa. In size, this area is five times the size of Britain. A few people of South Africa have a good word for this area. Too hot in summer and too cold in winter without there being sufficient rain. Life is hard. 280 million years ago, the Karoo was a large swamp. The fossil-rich area is a paradise for archaeologists. From more recent times the Victorian tribal settlements, which are well worth a visit.

If you are visiting the area during a period of drought, then you will not want to stay long. However, after a period of precipitation, the area is completely transformed. Travelling from the Hex River to the north, the rainfall will be increasingly less. In northern places like Graaff-Reinet and Colesberg it is the rainy season in summer, while in the southern part of the Karoo precipitation falls in the winter. In the summer months the daytime temperature exceeds 40 degrees and in the winter it freezes in the north. In the south the temperature fluctuations are less extreme.

Beaufort West, named after the fifth Duke of Beaufort - the son of Lord Charles Somerset, is the largest town in the Karoo. Beaufort West Museum has an impressive collection of prizes that have been awarded to South Africa's pioneer of heart transplants, Dr. Chris Barnard. The stately Victorian building where the museum is located was once the first town hall of South Africa. Near Beaufort West is the Karoo National Park. This park is best known for its many plains-game and bird life. The park is 60 000 hectares and was opened in September 1979. About 174 bird species, 38 reptile species, 37 types of geckos and salamanders and five different turtles live in the park. Besides zebra, red hartebeest, springbok and antelope there are black rhinos. Other national parks in the Karoo are Tankwa-Karoo National Park, Karoo Natural Reserve near Graaff-Reinet and Mountain Zebra Park (Cradock).

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