The great African continent comes to a perfect conclusion at the Western Cape - the province at the very tip of South Africa. The Western Cape extends along the coastline from Lamberts Bay right round to Plettenberg Bay. This diverse region is dominated by its capital, Cape Town, set against the Table Mountain Range National Park, which attracts vast numbers of tourists each year and is largely a first world city, yet still truly African in flavour.
Capetonians are a multi-cultural group, with intertwining bloodlines stemming from numerous nationalities. These include the ancient hunter/gatherer Khoi-San who first walked these shores, the European (Dutch, French, German and British) settlers of the 1600 and 1700s, the slaves imported by them from Madagascar, India, Ceylon, Malaya and Indonesia and the local tribal peoples from further inland who were brought down to the Cape as a workforce after slavery was abolished.
From the throbbing heart of the Mother City, with its world renowned beautiful Atlantic Seaboard beaches such as Camps Bay, Clifton, Bakoven and Llandudno, to the verdant vine-clad valleys of the Winelands; from the barren beauty of the West Coast that comes alive with floral finery each spring to the rolling hills of the Overberg and the magical stone statues and structures of the Cedarberg, the Western Cape is a truly inimitable province.
Swim and sail in the aquamarine waters of the Atlantic and Indian oceans. Watch the sunset from the top of Table Mountain. Drink deep of the wines that grow from this fertile soil. Shop and play in the Mother City. Feast on foods that reflect the variegated cultures of the Cape.
From whale-spotters to waiters, artists to anthropologists, surfers to streetmarket stall holders, the Western Cape extends a warm welcome to all who visit this special place. And wherever your Western Cape travels take you, Portfolio can guide you to the best, quality and luxury Western Cape accommodation in a range of B&Bs, guest houses, farm stays and safari lodges in this South African province.
Breede River Valley
This semi-arid, but surprisingly fruitful valley, which stretches from Gouda to Montagu and from Montagu to the Tankwa-Karoo National Park, is known for being the largest wine and fruit-producing valley in the Western Cape. The magnificent natural setting incorporates fynbos, rugged landscapes crossed by crystal streams, the Breede (‘wide’) River and a rich wildlife. The Breede River Valley is also South Africa’s leading racehorse breeding area.
Cape Town is South Africa’s prime tourism destination. Its cosmopolitan ambiance, blend of cultures, vibrant city centre and beautiful beaches attract thousands of visitors every year. Popular things to do in Cape Town include a cable-car trip to the top of Table Mountain, a scenic drive around the dramatic Cape Point Nature Reserve and Chapman’s Peak Drive; enjoying numerous cultural events and festivals, lazing on the bleached-white sandy Cape Town beaches, sampling fine South African wines on the Cape Wine Route and of course great shopping and dining out. Walk the streets of the well-preserved Bo-Kaap neighbourhood, heart of the Cape Malay community. Experience the modish café society and bustling nightlife of historical Long Street and ultra-trendy De Waterkant. The V&A Waterfront, Cape Town’s premier tourist venue, offers a miscellany of stores, entertainment and activities to keep one occupied, including a must-experience visit to Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned. In Greenpoint, the stadium is being built ready for the 2010 World Cup for which Cape Town is a host city.
Many charming, quaint suburbs dot the Peninsula. Along the False Bay coastline you can browse and explore serene St James, arty Kalk Bay, family-friendly Fish Hoek and the Naval town of Simon’s Town with its bustling main road lined with historical buildings.
On the Atlantic Coast, part the rugged beauty of the Cape Point Nature Reserve, the picturesque fishing village of Kommetjie is presided over by the impressive Slangkop lighthouse. Drive further along to Noordhoek, a relaxed neighbourhood with a horse riding showground and two popular centres, The Red Herring Trading Post and the Noordhoek Farm Village – enjoy a cold beer or a delicious meal, browse the fascinating shops, watch artists at work and take time for a massage. When Champman’s Peak drive is open its easy to head for Hout Bay – if not you can still get to the harbourside village for a ‘fresh from the sea’ seafood platter by taking a picturesque drive through the lush vineyards of rural Constantia, stopping for wine tasting at the historic Groot Constantia wine estate.
Cape Whale Coast
The newly recognised Cape Whale Coast stretches from the coastal hamlet of Rooiels in the west to Quoin Point in the east. The Cape Whale Coast boasts pristine beaches, rugged mountains, and of course visiting whales in from late winter to spring each year. Towns of interest include Kleinmond, Hermanus (home to the annual Whale Festival), Stanford and Gansbaai (best known for shark caging diving opportunities).
The most popular tourism route in South Africa, and running along one of the most exquisite stretches of coastline in the world, the Garden Route links the Western and Eastern Cape from Stillbaai to the magical Tsitsikama Forest. Portfolio offers the discerning traveller over 120 Garden Route accommodation establishment options. Enjoy a road trip up the coast, stopping at towns such as George, Sedgefield, Knysna and Plettenberg Bay. The lesser known Outeniqua and Wilderness are two largely undiscovered and unspoiled places along the Garden Route that are well worth visiting. Natural beauty is unsurpassed with lakes, mountains, tall indigenous forests, amber-coloured rivers and golden beaches providing endlessly enchanting scenery. There are numerous things to do on the Garden Route, from tree-top tours to shark-cage diving, big five safaris, excellent golfing opportunities and sunset boat cruises.
This fascinating route is a more scenic alternative to the N2 highway, and meanders between Cape Town and Oudtshoorn, the Langkloof and Port Elizabeth.
This route offers the ideal Western Cape self-drive holiday for those who enjoy exploring off-the-beaten-track places at a leisurely pace. The area boasts magnificent landscapes and an abundance of indigenous flora through a diverse range of Western Cape regions. Villages and towns en route include Calitzdorp, Ladismith, Amalienstein, Zoar, Beaufort West and Oudtshoorn. It also traverses the lush fruit and wine producing towns of Barrydale, Montagu, Ashton, Bonnievale, Robertson, McGregor, Worcester, Ceres, Wolseley, Tulbagh, Wellington and Paarl.
‘Christmas in Winter’ and the Olive Festival in Prince Albert are just two of the many annual Route 62 Events and Festivals to experience along the way.
Leave Cape Town and drive southeast on the N2, crossing the Hottentots Holland Mountains via Sir Lowry’s Pass beyond Somerset West, and you will find yourself in the Overberg, a special part of the Western Cape. Explore the rugged coastline dotted with beautiful beaches, cross unusual mountain ranges populated with abundant birdlife dwelling in the indigenous fynbos. Journey through valleys striped with vineyards and patchworked with orchards in rich hues of green, gold and brown. The Overberg incorporates the popular whale-watching town of Hermanus, Caledon’s hot springs, the charming town of Swellendam (the third oldest place of European settlement in South Africa, boasting some fine examples of Cape Dutch architecture) and numerous wine and fruit producing regions. Early explorers who visited the Cape in the 16th century traded with the Khoi Khoi people who lived along these shores. When the Dutch East India Company established a replenishment station at the Cape in 1652, trade continued inland as far as Swellendam.
This untamed part of South Africa has a unique, wild beauty that contrasts sharply with more verdant parts of the Western Cape. Dominated by the awe-inspiring Cedarberg and Great Winterhoek Mountains, the West Coast extends to the arid Namaqualand and Knersvlakte, but also has the grain, wine, Rooibos and citrus farms of the Swartland, Sandveld and Olifantsrivier Valley to add to the varied texture of this unique region,
The West Coast is ideal for the traveller who wants to escape the busier tourist hotspots and really get away from it all. Stay in quality West Coast accommodation in far-flung places such as Paternoster, Darling and Clanwilliam for a unique Western Cape holiday experience.
Walk the oak-lined streets ofStellenbosch – some of these giant shade-givers were planted in the time of Simon van der Stel from whom the town gets its name. Potter around the delightful stores and art galleries in the picturesque Franschhoek village, or visit the Taal Monument in Paarl from which you can enjoy endless views across this ‘valley of the pearl’. But the Boland incorporates far more than these three best-known towns. Take the breath-taking Bains Kloof pass to Wellington – a major centre for wine and dried-fruit industries. Spend a day on the Breede River outside of Worcester. Or visit the beautiful little church at Pniel (Face of God). From literature to food and wine and mountain biking, there are Cape Wineland Festivals and Events year-round to attract a cross-section of visitors.
Contact Portfolio for all your Western Cape and Cape Town accommodation needs, travel advice and online bookings.