About half of all the international tourists who visit South Africa annually visit the Western Cape region and its capital city Cape Town in particular. The Western Cape is famous for its winelands, the Cape Garden Route, the Knysna forest and the Great Karoo Desert. The cities in the province have spectacular landscapes, beautiful beaches, a mix of cultures and vibrate city night lives to experience.
The Western Cape has a rich African history, particularly of the Khoisan people who were its first inhabitants, and is also the first place where European settlers established new towns in the southern region of the continent.
The southernmost tip of Africa and the meeting point of the Atlantic and Indian oceans. Cape Agulhas is also situated in the Western Cape.
The writer and Nobel Prize winner J.M. Coetzee spent his childhood in the town Worcester in the Western Cape, which is often referred to in his work.
Western Cape Demographics
Land size: 129,462 square kilometres
Population size: 6,116,300 people
Population race breakdown: 48.8% coloured, 32.8% black African, 17.3% white, 1% Indian/Asian
Languages spoken: 49.7% Afrikaans, 24.7% Xhosa, 20.2% English
Top 3 Nature Reserves in the Western Cape
Wolfkop Nature Reserve
The Wolfkop Nature Reserve is situated at the foothills of the Cederberg Mountains. Hiking, canoeing and mountain bike trails are popular, as well as viewing San Rock Paintings, the rock formations and indigenous fynbos and other flora. The reserve has several cottages painted with African Art, jacuzzis and other luxuries available for its guests.
Cape Floristic Region
The Cape Floristic Region has the largest concentration of non-tropical plant species in the world. The area is a world heritage site and includes places like the Table Mountain National Park, Cederberg Wilderness Area, Boland Mountain Complex and De Hoop Nature Reserve. The region is the smallest of six floral kingdoms in the world and the home of over 9,000 vascular plant species, of which 69% are indigenous to the area.
Karoo National Park
The Great Karoo has the largest ecosystem in South Africa which can be experienced at the Karoo National Park. Activities at the park include game drives, 4×4 trails, hiking trails, safaris and other tours. The park offers accommodation and camp sites and is situated near Beaufort west, where there are other local attractions such as the Chris Barnard Museum and available amenities, shops and restaurants.
Top 3 Places to go to in the Western Cape
Knysna is named after the Knysna River which flows through the region and was used to export timber from 1787. The area has an abundance of trees and the Knysna forest is a well-known tourist hotspot in the Western Cape region. The coastal town is a popular retirement and golfing destination, well-known for its peaceful and natural atmosphere. A popular site is the Knysna Heads, where many shipwrecked boat remains can be found as a result of accidents that occurred owing to its unpredictable waters. The word “knysna” is believed to be the koi-koi term for “ferns”.
Paarl is the third oldest European settlement in the Western Cape and the biggest city situated in the Cape Winelands. The area is a display of Cape Dutch Style homes built between the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries when the first Dutch settlers arrived there and is also the home of the Afrikaans language, which originated in the area as a dialect of the Old Dutch language spoken by its early inhabitants. The Afrikaans Language Museum and Route is situated there to commemorate this historical significance of the town. Rock climbing and hiking are also popular in the area around Paarl Mountain.
Hermanus is a small town on the Atlantic coast. The area is a popular whale-watching destination and hosts the Annual Whale Festival at the end of September to celebrate the return of the whales to the area for the Spring mating and calving season. Hermanus is also the home of the Space Science Directorate of the South African Space Agency, the Hermanus Yacht Club and Windsor Hotel. The Hermanus Country Market sells local produce to visitors and there are various other craft and food markets. Grotto Beach, the biggest beach in the area, is a “Blue Flag” beach which means that it is preserved as a world heritage site.
The Western Cape is one of the top tourist destinations, not only in South Africa but in the world as a whole. Its biodiversity, unspoiled landscapes, rich history and existing culture contribute to a unique experience which is treasured by everyone who visits the area.