Many tours of the Western Cape take in highlights such as Cape Point, the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront and the coastal towns of Simon’s Town and Fish Hoek. Tourism Update highlights some ideas beyond the popular peninsula.
1.Hike the Fynbos Trail
Sales & Marketing Director for Welcome Tourism Services, Alessandra Allemann, suggests a hike along the Fynbos Trail through coastal and mountain fynbos. “The Fynbos Trail is a unique nature experience in the heart of the Cape Floral Kingdom,” she says. Welcome offers the trail as a fully guided and catered trail or as a self-guided and catered trail. The trail is two hours from Cape Town and can be hiked in three days.
A visit to the Western Cape is not complete without some wine tasting. The current exchange rate also means that international travellers can pick up tasty South African wines for a steal. Roger Newton, GM of The Commodore and Portswood Hotels, suggests the Franschhoek Wine Tram, which offers guests a hop-on, hop-off tour through rolling vineyards in an open-sided tram and open-air tram-bus. The tram stops at a number of estates in the region and a transfer service from Cape Town is also available.
Welcome offers a Winelands Cycling & Vineyard Meander tour. “Guests will cycle through the vineyards and look over the Stellenbosch Valley while they learn about wine making and the magnificent culture of the region,” says Allemann.
Inge Altona-de Klerk of White Shark Projects, also suggests the wine route in the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley, where all the wineries are on one road. Tintswalo Atlantic offers wine-route excursions to Stellenbosch, which include a scenic drive, wine-tasting and lunch or an early dinner in Stellenbosch. Radisson Blu Le Vendome also offers tailor-made wine tours that can be booked through the hotel.
3.Shark cage diving
Shark cage diving ranks pretty high on the bucket list, says Altona-de Klerk. She points out that it is a year-round attraction because Great White sharks are in the area throughout the year. However, she says winter is the best season because the water is slightly warmer and the visibility is better. “The warmer water also makes the sharks a little more active.” The operator offers shark cage diving in Gansbaai. Dives are suitable for both divers and non-divers and last three to four hours.
4.The Spice Route
A trip to the Spice Route in Paarl is a must, says Newton. Just 40 minutes’ drive from Cape Town, the Spice Route will delight foodies. The destination comprises a unique food experience, with a selection of artisans showcasing their produce. Barley & Biltong is a beer garden offering craft beer with a range of beef, kudu, eland and springbok biltong. Also on offer are artisan chocolate and wine tastings. There is also a gallery showcasing local art work and a children’s area.
5.Monkeyland Primate Sanctuary
“Travelling along the coast there are many fabulous little treasures that you need to be sure not to miss out on,” says Bryan Coetzer, Director of TEAM Sports Travel. The Monkeyland Primate Sanctuary on the Garden Route is home to primates, including capuchins; lemurs; saki, squirrel, vervet and howler monkeys; and gibbons. It prides itself on being the world’s first free-roaming multi-species primate sanctuary. Most of the 18 species of primates roam freely. The facility offers monkey safaris, a restaurant, souvenir store and viewing deck, and a 128-metre suspended canopy walk.
Altona-de Klerk also suggests Fat Bikes, which offers cycle tours in Walker Bay. “Go beach riding and explore the dunes and the beauty of the pristine and snow-white beach of Die Plaat, which stretches for kilometres between Hermanus and De Kelders.” The De Kelders-Hermaus Beach Trail is a two- to four-hour trail and the fat tyres of the bikes prevent riders getting stuck in the soft beach sand. Guests also have the possibility of spotting whales during the winter and spring months and dolphins during the summer months.
Newton and Altona-de Klerk both suggest whale watching in Hermanus. “Our gentle giants will be arriving soon,” says Altona-de Klerk, referring to the Southern Right whales. These gigantic creatures can be viewed from the shore. “For a closer inspection, join Southern Right Charters on board its vessel for boat-based whale watching and be prepared to be amazed,” she adds.
8.Birds of Eden
Birds of Eden, along the Garden Route, is the world’s largest single dome free-flight aviary. Coetzer recommends a visit. The aviary is home to 3 500 birds of 280 species, with the main focus being African birds. The birds have free range in two hectares of natural forest and visitors are free to stroll along elevated walkways.
Allemann recommends kite surfing in Langebaan. “With the perfect beach-side location on the warm windy waters of the Langebaan lagoon, you can enjoy kite surfing lessons whether you are experienced or want to try it out for the first time,” she says. All equipment is provided and trained instructors are there to show the way.
10.Explore the Cape on a Royal Enfield
Drifters offers a fully accommodated seven-day Garden Route tour. The tour takes in popular places including the Cape Winelands, Franschhoek, the Little Karoo, Route 62 and the Swartberg Mountain Pass. It also goes to Prince Alfred and Knysna and the Cape Peninsula. The tour is available for riders of all levels of expertise. Christiaan Steyn, Marketing Manager for Drifters Adventours, says the route has been chosen to showcase the natural beauty of the region and to almost entirely avoid busy roads.