Get a glimpse of South Africa’s Garden Route, the Western Cape’s majestic splendor
WRITTEN BY BERG GO
PHOTOGRAPHED BY MARBEE SHING-GO
The western cape is a beautiful experience for travelers and tourists alike. Here, there is something for different personalities, nationalities, and age groups. This province offers a rich mix of nature reserves, vineyards, wilderness areas, and coastlines that cater to all types of adventurers.
Each spot will leave you breathless, and will give you a sense of the place’s fine moments.
The way to have the Western Cape introduce its beauty to you is through the Garden Route, a scenic stretch of South Africa’s south-western coast that offers a verdant and ecologically diverse adventure. The Garden Route is dotted with numerous lagoons, lakes, forests, heathland vegetation areas, and many more—promising a haven that is as close to paradise at it can get.
If there is one city in South Africa that can be considered a real melting pot of cultures and breathtaking landscapes, it is arguably Cape Town. While it’s already catching up with today’s modern lifestyle, Cape Town still preserves its natural beauty and rich traditions. For one, it’s crowned by the stunning Table Mountain National Park—one of the country’s most marvelous natural wonders. So many other cultivated areas, copious green spaces, and pristine beaches also surround the city (Company’s Garden, Kirstenbosch National Botanical, and Green Point Urban Park, to name a few), which make anyone’s exploration a pleasure. People with beliefs and religions of various kinds also coexist peacefully in Cape Town—from Christians, Muslims, Jewish, Hindus, to traditional Africans Table Mountain Aerial Cableway
The majestic Table Mountain is six times older than the Himalayas, making it one of the oldest mountains in the world. The clouds that fall on it like a white tablecloth are a meteorological phenomenon. Capetonians view Table Mountain as the geological and spiritual heart of the city.
The cable cars provide a 360-degree view of Table Mountain and an experience to be aerodynamic in high winds. For more information, visit <tablemountain.net>
Boulders Penguin Colony
From two breeding African penguin pairs in 1982, this penguin colony now has about 2200. The endangered birds can be observed at a close range from the boardwalks of Foxy Beach.
Long Street, Cape Town
Long Street is Cape Town’s liveliest and most hip district. During the day, the street is filled with funky markets, quaint cafés, and the most interesting mix of architectural structures. But the moment the sun sets, a plethora of pubs and clubs starts to engulf the street.
This Instagrammable spot in Cape Town is worth visiting not only because of its picturesque bright houses and quaint cobbled street, but also because of its rich history. Bo-Kaap is considered one of the city’s oldest residential areas—with its earliest development recorded in the 1760s by Dutch colonialist Jan de Waal. This is the reason why you will see in some parts of the area a mix of Cape Dutch and Cape Georgian architectural styles. This historical district is also home to one of the earliest museums (the Bo Kaap Museum, built in 1768) and the oldest mosque (Auwal Mosque, built in 1794) in South Africa. So whether you’re a young traveler looking for the next postcard-perfect shot, or a veteran adventurer thirsty for history trivia—Bo-Kaap is the place to go.
For more information, visit <bokaap.co.za>
The picturesque enclave of Camps Bay is a short 10-minute drive from Cape Town. With its hiking trails, sandy beaches, and the Atlantic Ocean beyond, Camps Bay is best enjoyed at sunset. One of the best spots to enjoy South Africa’s famed golden hour is at one of the beachfront restaurants across the main beach.
Have a cocktail and stay for dinner in one of Camps Bay’s beachfront restaurants serving delicious seafood and local wine.
Stay for a cocktail while watching the sun set at Zenzero Restaurant and indulge in the restaurant’s Italian fare.
If you want to explore the magnificent landscapes of the Cape Peninsula, this suburb is the perfect place to start. You can laze away in its white beaches, see a glimpse of its marine beauty with its fishing harbor, immerse in its village, taste wine in its vineyards, or drive all the way to the famed Cape of Good Hope National Park—you name it, Hout Bay will give it.
This humble fishing village on the coast of False Bay may be away from the hustle and bustle of Cape Town, but it has an exceptional thrill of its own. All year round, it offers enchanting spots and activities waiting to be discovered—from theater shows, art exhibits, book shops, restaurants and cafés, bars, vintage shops, and many more! You can easily spend a full day in this place and still feel like you have a lot more to experience. This sleepy charming gem truly knows how to show travelers a good time.
The fishing industry in Kalk Bay is also known to have been established and revitalized by Filipino fishermen when they arrived in the 1860s. In fact, there is Filipino blood among at least 80% of Kalk Bay’s fishing families to this day, and a Catholic Church was even built for them.
FRANSCHHOEK WINE VALLEY
Home to South Africa’s classic and superb wines, Franschhoek Wine Valley offers a wide range of cellars that caters to different types of drink enthusiasts—from quaint boutiques to large tasting vaults. The wines of this valley include Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Semillon, Chenin Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Pinot Noir, and Merlot. Franschhoek Wine Valley also produces some of the country’s extraordinary Méthode Cap Classiques. Another unique thing you will notice as you visit this valley are the farms that still bear their original French names, as well as those with spectacular Cape Dutch homesteads, towering oaks, and rolling vineyards.
For more information, visit <franschhoek.org.za> and <winetram.co.za>
Established in 2004 on Welmoed farm (one of the oldest farms in Stellenbosch district), Stellenbosch Vineyards is one of South Africa’s biggest wine exporters—with 80% of their wine brands distributed to almost 40 countries worldwide. Some of their brands include The Flagship, Credo, Stellenbosch Vineyards, Four Secrets, Welmoed, Infiniti, Arniston Bay, Versus, and Infusions.
Proving further their passion for wine, the vineyards company also services a wide array of customers within the FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) and wine sectors.
For more information, visit <stellenboschvineyards.co.za>
Franschhoek Motor Museum
While at Franschhoek Wine Valley, check out an astonishing collection of vintage cars amid the vineyards.
WHERE TO STAY
Radisson RED Hotel
Radisson RED Hotel is located in the heart of the Silo district (Cape Town’s newest cultural hub). It is one of the ideal hotels in Cape Town due to its proximity to tourist sites, such as the city’s main tourist hub V&A Waterfront (only a short walk away). But it’s not just convenience that makes Radisson RED Hotel a wonderful place to stay in Cape Town. The hotel also has a fuss-free modern set-up that is perfect for tourists and travelers alike. The receiving area also doubles as a play area (when we arrived, we played a game of table tennis while waiting for our key cards to be processed by a staff who was wearing jeans). Welcome drinks are a ‘take-what-you-like’ treat from a bar cart. Meanwhile, breakfast is served in a table with grab-and-go options (like ready-made sandwiches and bottled drinks) or basic non-fancy yet filling breakfast meals (eggs how you want it, bacon, bread, jams, muesli/cereals, and fresh fruits).
Radisson RED Hotel is located at Number 6 Silo, Silo Square, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town, 8001, South Africa. For bookings and reservations, phone (+27 87) 086 1578 or visit <radissonred.com>
THE BEST WAY TO EXPERIENCE CAPE TOWN
One of the best activities you can do in Cape Town is going on a helicopter ride, a Harley Davidson, or a vintage car tour. The helicopter tour is the best way to either start or end your trip to the city, as it gives you the bird’s eye view of Cape Town as a whole—not to mention the joy you will have of flying over the unspoiled Atlantic Coast!
A Harley Davidson tour, meanwhile, takes you around the V&A Harbour— giving you a chance to enjoy the cool sea breeze as well as the beautiful sceneries. Another option to go around the district is through a vintage car ride.
ERM Tours Ltd. offers these types of tours around Cape Town and V&A Harbour. For reservations and more information, visit <ermtours.com>