Whether it’s whale season, flower time or family-holiday interlude, the Western Cape beckons loudly. With the mother city of Cape Town and legendary Table Mountain at its portal, this is one of South Africa’s most enticing regions. Among the drawcards of holidays in Cape Town and the Western Cape are fabulously scenic sights, a rich cultural legacy, and a reputation as an all-round getaway destination.
The Western Cape has several well-known tourist regions, each with its own natural treasures and appeal. Let’s take a short tour with Exclusive Getaways, highlighting some great getaways along the way.
Cape Town holds rank as South Africa’s oldest city, with more than three centuries of colourful history to its credit, and rubbing shoulders with the world’s most sought-after holiday destinations.
Exclusive Getaways has some great stays in the mother city, ranging from the slick coastal villas of Ellerman House, Les Cascades de Bantry Bay and The Bantry Bay Luxury Suites in the opulent Atlantic Seaboard suburb of Bantry Bay, to the world-class Cape Grace at the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, or The Leisure Bay Luxury Suites situated beside Lagoon Beach, midway between the Waterfront and Blouberg Strand. There are also some superb getaways in the wine-producing Constantia Valley, where Constantia Uitsig and The Cellars-Hohenort offer many creature comforts. There’s also Colona Castle Manor House on the mountainside above Lakeside, offering easy access to the beaches of False Bay, the quaint harbour-village of Kalk Bay and naval Simonstown.
Leaving Cape Town behind you, and time allowing, it’s recommended that you spend a few days in the Cape Winelands, immersing yourself in a world of beautiful vineyards and historic homesteads, where numerous world-famous vintages originate.
The town of Stellenbosch, known for its oak-lined streets and many monument-status places of interest, lies in the picturesque Jonkershoek Valley and is little more than an hour’s drive from Cape Town. Stay at the intimate River Manor Boutique Hotel & Spa on the outskirts of town, or at Lanzerac Hotel & Spa, a prestigious estate immortalizing old-world grandeur laced with all the modern conveinences that ensure contentment.
Paarl is another exquisite Winelands town, basking in the beauty of Africa’s largest granite rock and exhibiting some marvelous examples of old Cape Dutch architecture. Here you will find an excellent base at Grande Roche Hotel, a superbly restored 18th century homestead and top-class hotel set amid the vineyards and offering the best of everything, including on-site tastings.
Franschhoek is a delightful French enclave in the Winelands, originally settled by French Huguenots. The town lays claim to several of South Africa’s best restaurants and is within half an hour of Stellenbosch and Paarl. Le Quartier Français is one of the town’s landmarks, offering a chic, contemporary base, superlative award-winning food, consoling body treatments and its own trendy theatre. There’s also Franschhoek Country House & Villas, offering rooms in the manor house and gardens, or spacious 100 square metre villas.
After a stay in the Winelands, head for the Cape Overberg, a wonderful region of orchards, grain fields, forests and scenic open spaces beyond the Hottentots Holland Mountains. Follow the Fruit Route through Elgin and Villiersdorp, and continue to Hermanus and Gansbaai. Both are poular coastal towns, particularly during whale season. Enjoy luxurious living at The Marine on the cliffs of Hermanus, or at Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, a stylish nature lodge set in a fynbos reserve above Walker Bay. For laid-back country leisure amid wheat fields and vineyards, check in at Blue Gum Country Estate near Stanford. In and around the whitewashed fishing village of Arniston near Cape Agulhas, there are caves and nature reserves just waiting to be explored, and there’s a great stay to be had at The Arniston Spa Hotel overlooking the sea.
The Cederberg Wilderness Area is known for its magnificent landscapes and intriguing rock formations, many of which depict ancient rock art. Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve and Retreat is a Natural Heritage Site in the heart of the Cederberg Mountains, offering luxury accommodation, outdoor spa treatments, silver-service dining and a range of fabulous outdoor activities, including swimming in rock pools, canoeing, scenic hikes to rock art sites, and more.
Getaways along the Garden Route are probably the best known tourist region in the Western Cape, stretching from George to Plettenberg Bay, and famed for its breathtaking scenery.
Knysna is a favourite holiday town on the Garden Route, sheltering an indigenous forest, an oyster hatchery, and the Knysna lagoon. Pezula Resort Hotel & Spa delivers a world-class experience on the Eastern Head of Knysna, with exquisite views of the ocean, lagoon and Noetzie Beach. It’s a great destination for nature-lovers who like to holiday in opulent luxury, with lots to do on the doorstep. Alternatively, stay at the Phantom Forest Eco Reserve, a place of sensual delight set high in an eco-reserve in Knysna, or base yourself beneath a forest canopy at the trendy Tsala Treetop Lodge between Knysna and Plettenberg Bay. If you’re a lover of fine old country houses, Hunter’s Country House is another winning choice, also situated midway between Knysna and Plettenberg Bay.
If staying in Plettenberg Bay, check in at The Plettenberg, a superb ocean-facing hotel with fashionable exclusive-use options, or head for Kurland, an exclusive family-friendly country house at The Craggs.
The West Coast is another area of the Western Cape that is well worth visiting. The region bursts into flower during spring each year, producing colourful carpets of blooms and attracting visitors from all corners.
Another part of the country that beckons is the Little Karoo, near the Garden Route, a semi-arid valley in the Western Cape bounded by the Swartberg and Langeberg Mountains, well known for its friendly inhabitants, uniquely enchanting landscape, quality wines and small hamlets.
Exclusive Getaways consultants offer personalised tours and getaways, featuring upmarket accommodation, transfers, car hire and day trips jam-packed with the best of the Western Cape safari travel.