The Western Cape province is the Southernmost province of the country and of the entire African continent, and Cape Agulhas is the Southernmost point of Africa, where the Indian and the Atlantic Ocean meet.
The province was established in 1994 following the dismemberment of the Cape Province, that was divided into three provinces: the Western Cape province and the neighboring Eastern Cape and Northern Cape provinces.
The provincial capital is the splendid Cape Town, that is also the legislative capital of the country.
The Southernmost area of South Africais characterized by a Mediterranean climate that favors the production of fruit and vegetables, the climate changes moving within the province, the central part is in fact the semi-arid plateau of the Karoo basin.
Unlike the other South African provinces, where the extraction of minerals and precious stones is the primary source of income, here the exploitation of the subsoil is very limited and the economy is based on an exceptional production of wines, fruit and vegetables, on a very rich fishing in the Atlantic Ocean and the breeding of ostriches whose meat is much appreciated and exported all over the world.
What to see in the Western Cape Province
The Western Cape Province has a lot to offer, its territory offers very different scenarios, depending on whether you are on the ocean coast or in the arid Karoo.
The main city of the province is Cape Town, that enjoys a mild climate, and has numerous and wide beaches, that are only a few kilometers from the city center.
Cape Town is dominated by Table Mountain and overlooks Table Bay, that houses the famous Robben Island, the prison island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for many years.
Cape Town offers a relaxed and holiday atmosphere, particularly at the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront that, in addition to offering a wide selection of shops, bars and restaurants, enjoys a spectacular location with beautiful views of Table Mountain and the marina.
South of Cape Town lies the Cape Peninsula, at the end of which is the Cape of Good Hope that, mistakenly, many think is the Southernmost point of the African continent; the peninsula is dotted with beautiful beaches, the most famous of which is Boulder Beach, its fame comes from the colony of cute African penguins living here permanently.
The peninsula and Table mountain are part of the larger Table Mountain National Park, established in 1998 to protect this area, characterized by a high biodiversity and covered by the typical bush of the area: the fynbos.
To the North of Cape Town, inland, the area known as Winelands extends, this is the most famous wine area in South Africa that, thanks to its particular climate, allows the production of excellent wines.
Along the wine roads you can admire the beautiful landscapes, enjoy the products of the wineries and visit the cities of Stellenbosch and Franschhoek, that preserve historic buildings built in the characteristic Dutch style of the Cape.
The coast that winds to the East of the Cape peninsula is a succession of picturesque villages, immense beaches and bays where you can surf or swim with sharks in special cages; the scenic road that runs along this coast is called Garden Route, to underline the richness of the vegetation of this stretch of coast.
The De Hoop Nature Reserve was established to protect a pristine stretch of coastline, characterized by beaches and dunes, but above all the stretch of sea in front, to ensure that the Southern right whales have a peaceful place to reproduce.
The reserve also hosts some interesting and rare species of animals, such as the Cape mountain zebra, the Cape griffon and the bontebok, as well as other small antelopes.
Also on the East coast is Cape Agulhas, the most Southern point of the African continent and where the two oceans that wash the South African coasts meet: the Indian and the Atlantic Ocean.
The city of Hermanus owes its fame to the bay it overlooks: the Walker Bay where, in the period from June to December, the Southern right whales and the humpbacks gather to mate and to give birth to the cubs in these relatively warmer waters to the rest of the ocean in this area.
Continuing along the East coast is Plettenberg Bay, characterized by white sandy beaches, crystal clear waters and a destination for surfing enthusiasts.
The town of Knysna stands on the edge of a breathtakingly beautiful lagoon, it is the most famous resort of the Garden Route and it is also the gateway to the Garden Route National Park, that contains within it the pre-existing reserves of the Wilderness National Park, the Knysna Forest and the Tsitsikamma National Park.
The Garden Route National Park protects an extensive system of lakes, rivers, swamps and forests that are home to numerous animals and, most importantly, an incredible number of bird species, including the Knysna turaco with its scarlet wings, that makes this park a paradise for birdwatchers.
Moving away from the coast by a few kilometers the landscape is colored with numerous cultivated fields, here are pleasant towns like Swellendam, where the windmills and the typical architecture make one think to be in the Dutch countryside, the Bontebok National Park, established to protect this rare endangered antelope that gives its name to the park, and Oudtshoorn, the world capital of the ostrich, thanks to its numerous farms, where it is possible to know and meet these nice creatures.
The central region of the province is instead occupied by the semi-arid Karoo plateau, a land characterized by boundless spaces and incredible landscapes.
Here is the Karoo National Park, a park of rough and rugged beauty, like its landscapes, that act as scenery for safari in search for lions, black rhinos, Cape mountain zebras, bat-eared foxes and numerous reptiles who live in these lands.
The Western coast of the province offers magnificent coastal landscapes, crystal-clear bays and white semi-desert beaches, where you can spend moments of tranquility and practice many water activities, first of all surfing.
Eland's Bay and Lambert's Bay are two welcoming places known for surfing and whale watching, the beaches are long and white, the restaurants offer tasty fish dishes and life goes by.
In this stretch of coast is the West Coast National Park, created to protect a stretch of pristine coastline and the Langebaan lagoon with its crystal clear waters; here is a large number of bird species.
Usually the park is frequented by birdwatchers and nature lovers but, in the period of August-September, it is more crowded due to the blooming of wild flowers; the spring rains in fact make the barren hills bloom giving a colorful show.
In the park you can practice many activities and observe the animals that are found there including the bontebok, the eland and the mountain zebras of the Cape.
Clanwilliamis the capital of the rooibos tea, this red bush, from whose leaves this particular tea without caffeine is made, grows only in the Cederberg region.
Clanwilliam is a relaxed resort nestled between the Cederberg mountain range, the scenery is spectacular and the city still displays beautiful Cape Dutch-style buildings and slightly retro-looking tea rooms; this beautiful town is the perfect base for exploring the surroundings.
The Cederberg chain holds some sites where you can see the rock paintings of the San, who have always lived in these lands.
In the park you can practice many activities and observe the animals that are found here including the bontebok, the eland and the Cape mountain zebras.