Things to Do in Western Cape
The Delaire Graff Wine Estate, near Stellenbosch, is a beautiful winery destination in the Cape Winelands region
Laurence Graff, a diamond dealer of many years, bought the Delaire Estate in the early 2000s. The estate was re-opened as Delaire Graff in 2009, and now features not only the winery but also world-class dining, luxury lodges, a spa, an excellent art collection, a diamond boutique, and picturesque botanic gardens.
Delaire Graff Estate is a luxury destination where you're tempted to stay for a few days, but you can also visit for a day to sample the estate's wines. Sip Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, rose and sparkling wines, and both white and red blends.
In 1964, an anti-apartheid revolutionary named Nelson Mandela was arrested and brought to South Africa’s Robben Island, just west of Cape Town. He would spend the next 18 years imprisoned in an 8x7-foot cell, forced to do hard labor, and permitted only one visitor a year. Even so, Mandela went on to become his country’s first black president, a Nobel Peace Prize recipient, and known globally for his significant contributions to human rights and social justice.
Robben Island—where most of Mandela’s 27-year prison sentence was served—was a place of isolation for nearly 300 years, housing many political prisoners and serving as both a lunatic asylum and leper colony. Today, the island remains a tangible symbol of political freedom and a reminder of the difficult road to South African democracy. Read on to learn more about how to visit this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Plenty of Cape Town visitors head for the Cape of Good Hope thinking it's the southernmost point of South Africa, but that distinction belongs to Cape Agulhas. It isn't quite as dramatic as the Cape of Good Hope, nor as picturesque, with more of a gently curving coastline rather than a point, but there is a small rocky beach, and a geographical marker in Agulhas National Park indicating its status as South Africa's southern tip.
A shipwreck is still visible on Cape Agulhas, but many ships were lost in the difficult seas off the coast. The lighthouse in the national park was built in 1848 to help cut down on the number of wrecks. In addition to being the country's southern point, it's also off Cape Agulhas that the Atlantic and Indian oceans meet.
With its huge sea cliffs, bays, beaches, and valleys, the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve is one of the most scenic spots in South Africa. A trip to Cape Point and the reserve, part of Table Mountain National Park, is an easy must-do when visiting Cape Town.
With pristine white sands and calm turquoise waters hemmed in by gigantic granite boulders, Boulders Beach is one of the Cape Peninsula’s most magnificent beaches. Located just outside Simon’s Town, the beach is protected as part of the Table Mountain National Park and renowned for its African penguin colony.
On the grounds of the L'Ormarins farm in Franschhoek, home to Antonij Rupert Wines, is the Franschhoek Motor Museum. This collection of more than 200 cars is the personal collection of Johann Rupert, who runs the wine estate. The cars span more than 100 years of car-making history, and the models on display (a selection that rotates periodically) are in impeccable condition.
In addition to the cars, the Franschhoek Motor Museum also showcases some historical motorcycles and bicycles, as well as motoring memorabilia. There are four buildings on the estate which hold cars, each grouped by its make.
Lined with brightly colored houses and lively streets, the Malay Quarter (Bo-Kaap) is as vibrant as it is culturally rich. The historic nighborhood, set just outside central Cape Town on the flanks of Signal Hill, is a dynamic melting pot that was one of the first South African settlements of freed slaves and Muslim immigrants.
Panoramic ocean views, towering cliffs, and 100-year-old lighthouses define Cape Point, located at the tip of South Africa’s Cape Peninsula. Set within the Cape Floral Region (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and Table Mountain National Park, the reserve is a haven for hiking, wildlife viewing, and photography.
Chapman's Peak is a mountain on the Cape Peninsula with a 5.5-mile (8.8 kilometers) road, said to be one of the world’s most scenic drives. The road winds from Hout Bay to Noordhoek, clinging to the side of the steep mountain almost the whole way. Traveling this road’s 114 turns is a must-do in Cape Town.
Because of the climate that’s needed to grow wine, vineyards are often located in areas with exceptional natural beauty. In the case of the famous Cape Winelands, however, the rolling hills and jagged mountains provide an awesome sense of wonder that’s stronger than most other wine regions. Of all the wineries in Stellenbosch, the Jordan Wine Estate is one of the more scenic, luxurious, and storied places, and has been family-owned since 1982 well before the area had become famous.
In addition to the spectacular natural surroundings, Jordan Wine Estate owes much of its success to the area’s mineral-rich soil, which tour guides discuss and explain in depth while strolling the vineyards before heading down to the impressively engineered cellar. As a winery that focuses on blending methods from the New as well as Old worlds, Jordan Winery has stainless steel tanks as well as wooden barrels, which along with the fresh, flavorful grapes and decades of winemaking knowledge, help create the distinctive flavors that Jordan Wine Estate is known for.
More Things to Do in Western Cape
Table Mountain's distinctive plateau is the backdrop for iconic Cape Town views, but that's just the beginning of its namesake national park. Stretching the length of the Cape Peninsula, the UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to hiking trails, diverse flora and fauna, and—of course—South Africa’s most famous coastal and mountain vistas.
Originally called the Green Point Stadium after a structure that previously stood here, this state-of-the-art complex was home to the 2010 World Cup. In addition to the 60,000-plus sports fans that flooded its seats during the big event, the Cape Town Stadium has hosted concerts by performers like Michael Jackson, Metallica, Paul Simon and Robbie Williams.
Today, visitors can catch a local Rugby match or even a live performance if the timing is right. But the stadium also offers daily tours for travelers on a budget—or those whose schedules don’t match up with the local calendar of events.
The farm at Boschendal Wine Estate was established in the 1680s, and it's one of the oldest wineries in South Africa. It is set between the towns of Stellenbosch and Franschhoek in the Cape Winelands region. The main house was built in 1812 in the Cape Dutch style, and it's been converted into a museum showcasing how the family lived on the estate in the 18th and early 19th centuries. There is an assortment of cottages for overnight guests.
The estate grows grapes for wine, the most prevalent being Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Visitors can enjoy walking and biking trails, dining in the restaurants on the property, and visiting the various historic buildings.
There are some places so exceptionally welcoming, hospitable, comfortable, and friendly, that you feel like family from the moment you arrive and wish you never had to leave. Delheim Estate is one of those places, and this family owned farm outside of Stellenbosch has been growing grapes and making wine since the middle of the 1950s. The legendary patriarch, “Spatz” Sperling, helped formulate South Africa’s very first wine route back in 1971, at which time only three other wineries were part of the Stellenbosch wine route, though that number today has swollen to include over 600 different farms. Despite their success and pioneering spirit, Delheim has made sustainability a focal point of the vineyard, and believe that we are but stewards of this land who are placed here to care for it, show it respect, and it, in turn, will care for us. You can feel that spirit in the cellar door and famous Garden Restaurant, where the view stretches out to Table Mountain across rolling, vineyard-lined valleys.
In addition to tastings, picnics, and tours, Delheim is also known for their quirky pairing of wine with cupcakes, and the vineyard is often a favorite stop on Cape Winelands day tours.
As the most accessible of Cape Town’s three peaks, Signal Hill is a prime spot for catching sunset over the city. In addition to its spectacular scenery, Signal Hill also harbors the Noon Guns, two Dutch naval guns, and the last remaining Peninsula Shale Renosterveld vegetation.
This quaint harbor on the western side of the Cape Peninsula has a seaside charm that attracts both travelers and locals to its sheltered shores. Whether it’s sampling ocean-fresh seafood from one of the restaurants lining its harbor or exploring the shelves of world-class antique shops, Hout Bay has proved itself a worthy destination despite its small size. Visitors love wandering along the bustling docks where commercial fishing boats unload their daily catch, and its close proximity to Seal Island and World of Birds makes it a perfect lunch stop on a tour of the Cape.
Twelve Apostles Mountain Range—with its rock buttresses and deep ravines—stretches majestically south from Cape Town along the rugged Atlantic Coast. You can explore the mountains up close on numerous hiking trails, or you can view the scenic formations from the coastal road that runs between the base of the bluffs and ocean.
Before the English, before the Boers and well before the Dutch, indigenous San people roamed the desert plains of Southern Africa. Following herds and living off the land in the ways of their ancestors before them, the San existed as one Africa’s most noble, successful tribes. Centuries of subjugation, however, threatened the culture, leading to its preservation and educational display in South Africa’s Western Cape at the !Khwa ttu San Culture and Education Center, which acts as amodern way to empower and educate San, with funds being used to not only foster traditional African culture, but also help young generations of San to prosper and thrive.
At the !Khwa ttu San Culture and Education Center, visitors can enjoy a guided tour around an open wilderness preserve, where eland, springbok, antelope, and zebra roam the grass. Learn from San how to track the animals and survive on native plants, and visit a recreated, traditional San village like those they lived in for centuries. Learn some words in the San’s language that’s playfully laden with clicks, and hear the legends, myths, and tales of this mystical ancient culture. To up the adventure, hop on a mountain bike to navigate bush trails looping throughout the preserve, or take a piece of Africa home with authentic, handmade crafts.
Situated 120 kilometers from Cape Town, the West Coast National Park is sprawled across more than 100 square-miles and is home to a fascinating array of flora and fauna. The park is made up of marshy wetlands, rolling fields, and varied stretches of rocky and smooth golden coastline. Its Jutten and Malgas islands are home to a large number of seabirds, including unique species such as the African penguin and African oystercatcher.
The park is particularly well-known for its huge concentration of migratory birds, as well as for its unique plant life, with wild spring flowers staging a dramatic display each August and September in the Postberg Flower Reserve. Elsewhere, a flamingo population and other wading birds roost in the salt marshes of the Langebaan Lagoon, and there are antelope, steenboks, mountain zebras, ostriches, and a whole range of smaller animals living at the park too.
Tiny Duiker Island—also known as “Seal Island” for its large population of Cape fur seals—sits just off the South African coast at Hout Bay, near Cape Town. It measures just 253 feet by 312 feet (77 meters by 95 meters) and is a seabird sanctuary in addition to sheltering thousands of Cape fur seals.
Step into Cape Town’s dynamic history by visiting the oldest remaining colonial-era building in the country. Built by Dutch colonists at the end of the 1600s, the Castle of Good Hope once served as a maritime resupply point and military hub. Its historic architecture and displays make it a popular attraction on tours of the city.
One of the world’s first botanical gardens, Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden hosts more than 7,000 plant species from throughout Southern Africa. Visit to explore the 1,300-acre (528-hectare) gardens spread across the slopes of Table Mountain, including extensive hiking trails, a stone sculpture garden, and sunset summer concerts.
This iconic peak in Table Mountain National Park stretches some 2,000 feet above sea level and its Lion-shaped apex is visible from almost anywhere in Cape Town. Visitors can make the challenging hour-long climb to the top and enjoy epic views of Table Mountain and the city skyline, and those seeking a high adventure can use the slopes of Lion’s Head as a launching point for paragliding.
The Aquila Private Game Reserve, located in the Southern Karoo Highlands outside Cape Town, offers a Big Five African safari experience in a malaria-free region. Tours and game drives of the private reserve allow visitors to see wildlife in their natural environment from the vantage point of a 4WD off-road vehicle, horseback, or quad bike.
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