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WESTERN CAPE REGION

The province, covering the far south-western tip of the continent, is the most populous and arguably most attractive of South Africa's nine provincial divisions.

It extends from the sandy, semi-arid western coastal region, around the Cape of Good Hope and then eastwards, along the scenically lovely southern seaboard, to the well-named Nature's Valley. Inland, it takes in the famed Cape Winelands and part of the Great Karoo.

The Western Cape has everything the heart of the holidaymaker could wish for:

  • golden beaches,
  • secluded coves,
  • charming little fishing harbours along the coast,
  • a hinterland graced by orchards,
  • pleasant pastures,
  • vineyards and the grandeur of the backing mountains.

Then there are the myriad attractions of the Cape Peninsula and of Cape Town - South Africa's 'mother city', the legislative capital and ranked among the world's faster-growing international tourist destinations.

Cape Town, set beneath the moody majesty of Table Mountain at the northern end of the Peninsula, was founded by the Dutch, in 1652, as a half-way station on their long sea-route to India and the spice islands of the Indo-Pacific, and it has grown gracefully over the centuries since (though, like every urban area in the developing world, it faces profound socio-economic challenges).

Prime drawcards of the city and its surrounds are:

  • the Mountain itself, rising more than a thousand metres above the central metropole and
  • the sprawling dockyards beyond; the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront development that has transformed the old part of the harbour into an extravaganza of eating, drinking, entertainment and shopping venues; and
  • a short distance offshore, Robben Island, once notorious as 'South Africa's Alcatraz' and prison home to Nelson Mandela for many of his 27 years behind bars. It is now a nature reserve and national monument, the prison block a shrine to those who suffered in the struggle for liberation.
  • Far to the south, at the tip of the Peninsula, are the massive cliffs of the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point.

Leisure-bent visitors to the city have a splendid selection of excursions to choose from.

  • Many embark on a trip to the Winelands, following one or other of the wine routes that wend their way, unhurriedly, through entrancing hill-and-valley country.
  • Most of the wineries and estates offer daily 'tastings' in homesteads built in the simple, dignified, elegant Cape Dutch style of architecture.
  • Well worth exploring, too, are the small towns of the region - Stellenbosch, with its oak-lined streets and stately old buildings;
  • Paarl, the 'pearl' of the Winelands;
  • Franschhoek, set in an exquisite valley and home to the early French immigrants;
  • Wellington and Worcester;
  • Tulbagh and Ceres, aptly named after the Greek goddess of abundance.

There is much, too, to explore and enjoy farther afield in the Western Cape.

To the east of Cape Town is the 250-kilometre long, scenically magical Garden Route, part of the southern coastal belt that has changed little in essence since an 18th-century French traveller recorded that 'Nature has made an enchanted abode of this place'.

To the north is Namaqualand, a bleak and dry land for most of the year, its sandy, windblown plains yielding little to please the eye. But in springtime, when the rains have fallen and the warm breezes begin to blow, the long-dormant seeds of the Namaqualand desert suddenly germinate to bring a breathtaking riot of floral colour to the countryside.

 

Cape Town
Cape Town Cont 1
Cape Town Cont 2
Ceres
Clanwilliam
George
Knysna
Mossel Bay
Outshoorn
Plettenberg Bay
Saldanha Bay
Stellenbosch

         
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