Western Cape Attractions
Top Tourist Attractions in Western Cape
The Western Cape Province lies on the Indian and Atlantic Oceans, extending in a wide arc round its capital, Cape Town. The population of 3.6 million speak mainly Afrikaans. The majority of the population are so-called "coloreds"; a people of diverse ancestry that didn't fit neatly into apartheid's pigeon-holes.The Western Cape has a wide range of industries, agriculture and a well-developed tourism infrastructure. Apart from two of South Africa's most dramatic landmarks, Table Mountain and Cape Point, the Western Cape offers rich fertile lands, secluded bays, white-sand beaches and lush green coastal forests. In contrast to this is the area of semi-desert called the Karoo in the province's interior. The Cape is also home to the fynbos, a scrubland that is specific to the area. A variety of nature reserves and national parks can be visited and the southern coastline is an important breeding ground for the Southern Right Whale.
The Garden Route is a 200 km stretch of scenic highway running along the coast from Mossel Bay to the Storms River, East of Capetown. This beautiful drive is a top tourist attraction.
This park encompasses the Langebaan Lagoon and four offshore islands along the West Coast. It is home to large numbers of birds.
Cape Agulhas, or the "Cape of Needles", is where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet.
A trip from Cape Town into the Cedarberg can be combined with a visit to the pretty little town of Tulbagh. The soil and climate of this area favor the growing of fruit, and sheep-farming also makes a contribution to the local economy.The first settlers arrived in the valley of the Little Berg River in 1700 and, finding the land to be fertile, established numbers of farms in the area. In the mid 18th C they built a church, round which the little town of Tulbagh (named after a Governor of the Cape) grew up from 1795 onwards.In 1969 an earthquake destroyed much of the old town, but since then the damaged buildings have all been restored in their original form. In Church Street is a row of 32 gabled houses of the 18th and 19th centuries, one more charming than the other.
Oude Kerk Volksmuseum
The old Dutch Reformed church built in 1743, is now a folk museum Attached to the museum are three little houses in Church Street. No. 4 displays historical and geological collections; the Victorian House at No. 14, built in 1892, is furnished in the style of the period; and No. 22 is a typical Cape Dutch house, with a herb garden.
Opening hours: 9am-1pm, 2pm-5pm; Sun: 11am-1pm, 2pm-4:30pm; Closed: Sat
De Oude Drostdy
Outside Tulbagh, to the west, is the Oude Drostdy, once the residence of the landdrost, the district officer of the Cape government. It now contains a collection of Cape Dutch furniture and furnishings.A highlight of the exhibits is a collection of gramophones.
Opening hours: 10am-1pm, 2pm-5pm; Sun: 10am-1pm, 2:30pm-5pm; Closed: Sat
Citrusdal, founded in 1916 in the fertile valley of the Olifants River, is a good base for excursions into the Cedarberg range.The area round Citrusdal is South Africa's third largest fruit-growing region. During the harvest, between May and October, more than 2 million crates of oranges and other fruit, with a total weight of over 80,000 tons, are packed in Citrusdal. Most of the crop is destined for export.Citrusdal itself has no sights of outstanding interest and is not a place where visitors will want to stay long. On Hex River farm, to the north of the town, is the oldest orange-tree in South Africa, said to be over 200 years old. The local museum, in Church Street, has a collection of material on the history of the town.
The Cedarberg Wilderness Area covers a mountainous section, with peaks reaching over 2,000 m. It contains unique rock formations and caves with Bushman paintings.
16km/10mi south of Citrusdal, on a farm called The Baths, are hot mineral springs (43°C/109°F), with swimming pools and accommodation in a handsome Victorian house.
Facilities: On-site accomodations
18km/11mi south of the turn-off for the Bidouw Valley is Wuppertal, a little town of whitewashed thatched houses set against a magnificent scenic backdrop, originally a mission station founded by the Rhenish Mission in 1832. Here, as in Clanwilliam, rooibos tea is manufactured and widely exported. An individual souvenir which may appeal to some visitors is a pair of velskoene, comfortable walking shoes.
Darling lies in the sandveld, as the 20-30km/12-18mi wide coastal strip north of Cape Town is called. The town was founded in 1853 and named after the then Governor of the Cape, Charles Darling.Darling is famed for its show of color in spring, when the fields are carpeted with flowers. Southeast of the town is the Darling Flora Reserve, and there is another flora reserve on the Yzerfontein road (R 315). (The fields of flowers belong to farms and can be visited only at particular times: information from tourist office.)The high point of Darling's year is the Wild Flower Show, held annually in the third week in September. Apart from its spring display of blossom Darling has no great features of tourist interest.
Mamre, 17km/10.5mi south of Darling, was originally a Moravian mission station established in 1808. With its old houses in Cape Dutch style it is a jewel of a little town. There is a restored watermill which can be visited.
5km/3mi from Darling on the Burgerspan road is the Hildebrandt Monument, commemorating the most southerly battle of the Boer War.
The Butter Museum in Main Road tells the whole story of butter manufacture.
Opening hours: 7:30am-12:30pm
Malmesbury is the center of South Africa's largest wheat-growing area, situated in the region north of Cape Town known as Swartland (so called because of the dark color of its fertile soil), which produces wheat.Malmesbury grew up round a mineral spring which produces sulfurous water at a temperature of 32°C/90°F. The first settlers established themselves here in 1744. The settlement was given its present name in 1829 during a visit by the Governor of the Cape, who named it after his father-in-law the Earl of Malmesbury. The spring is no longer used for medicinal purposes.
Wheat Industry Museum, Moorreesburg
40km/25mi north of Malmesbury is Moorreesburg (pop. 7,000), with the Wheat Industry Museum. Here too is the Langgewens experimental farm, which carries out scientific experiments and trials seeking to develop improved strains of wheat; it can be visited by appointment.
Riverlands Nature Reserve
To the south of Malmesbury is the Riverlands Nature Reserve (area 1,297ha/3203ac), established in 1986, which contains over 500 species of fynbos vegetation.
This little town on the west coast, 25km/16mi north of Cape Town, takes its name ("Blue Hill Beach") from a 330m/1,080ft high hill which has a bluish tinge when seen from the sea.In 1806 British forces landed near here and captured the settlement after tough resistance by the Dutch defenders. Later Bloubergstrand developed into an important fishing center. It is now a favored - and expensive - residential suburb of Cape Town.
View of Table Mountain
Visitors come to Bloubergstrand to enjoy the most famous and most frequently painted and photographed view of Table Mountain and Cape Town. The view is equally impressive during the day and at night, when Table Mountain is floodlit. Bloubergstrand is not to be recommended to bathers: there are often cool sea breezes, and the temperature of the sea makes it suitable only for the hardy. Surfers, on the other hand, will find excellent conditions for their sport, and a major international surfing competition is regularly held here.
From Bloubergstrand a road runs north along the coast through a landscape of dunes, with magnificent views. In spring the country is carpeted with flowers. 10km/6mi from Bloubergstrand is Melkbosstrand, a quiet little place which is a favorite picnic spot for the people of Cape Town. A marvelous array of shells can be found on the beach - though in summer, when the wind blows from the southeast, it is no great pleasure to walk along the beach.
Like the neighboring towns of Montagu and Swellendam, Robertson is an attractive town with many parks and gardens, and a good base for walks in the Langeberg hills, it is a favorite holiday place well equipped to cater for visitors.
20km/12.5mi south of Robertson is the remote and charming little town of McGregor, where time seems to have stood still. A number of mid 19th C houses in Cape Dutch style have been preserved, set in beautiful fruit and vegetable gardens. There is attractive accommodation for visitors, making this a good place to spend a day or two away from the stresses of modern life.
The Robertson Museum has a variety of material on the history of the town as well as a very fine collection of lace.
Address: 50, Paul Kruger Street, Robertson, Western Cape 6705, South Africa
Opening hours: 9am-12pm; Closed: Sun