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South Africa's Western Cape

Cape Town South AFrica

It’s been 7 years since I last visited South Africa and I absolutely fell in love with the country. When some friends from Zimbabwe asked us to meet them in South Africa for a catch up, well it was a no brainer and I started planning our trip. Due us all meeting in Cape Town we decided we would concentrate our travels on the Western Cape. There were so many places I didn’t get to spend much time in on my previous trip, and many places I wanted to visit.
We spent a week in our friends house in Simon’s Town and spent the week enjoying everything the Cape Peninsular has to offer, before heading around False Bay to Hermanus, Struisbaai, Franschhoek and back into Cape Town. Here’s my overview of the towns I visited and why you should head to South Africa for your next holiday.

Simon's Town

Simon's Town

This is a lovely harbour town on the east side of the peninsular. The east side of the peninsular is much warmer than the west due to the Indian ocean currents that swarm into False Bay. The West side is noticeably cooler due to the Atlantic currents. Simon’s town is famous for Boulders Beach which is home to a huge colony of penguins, it’s Yacht club, harbour and maritime history. Many whale watching or shark diving cruises run from Simon’s Town harbour around False Bay. Located just outside Simon’s Town is a small beach called Bulghers Walk which is protected by rocks and is popular with the locals.
Along the Main Street you will find boutique shops, bars and restaurants on one side and on the other you will see the gorgeous azure waters, harbour front with the main hotel, Simon’s Town Quayside Hotel and it’s shops and restaurants.
Simon’s Town offer’s easy access around the Cape Peninsular and the surrounding Towns.

Cape Point National Park

Cape Point National Park

This is a lovely harbour town on the east side of the peninsular. The east side of the peninsular is much warmer than the west due to the Indian ocean currents that swarm into False Bay. The West side is noticeably cooler due to the Atlantic currents. Simon’s town is famous for Boulders Beach which is home to a huge colony of penguins, it’s Yacht club, harbour and maritime history. Many whale watching or shark diving cruises run from Simon’s Town harbour around False Bay. Located just outside Simon’s Town is a small beach called Bulghers Walk which is protected by rocks and is popular with the locals.
Along the Main Street you will find boutique shops, bars and restaurants on one side and on the other you will see the gorgeous azure waters, harbour front with the main hotel, Simon’s Town Quayside Hotel and it’s shops and restaurants.
Simon’s Town offer’s easy access around the Cape Peninsular and the surrounding Towns.

Scarborough South Africa

Scarborough

Located on the West of the Cape Peninsular, just outside the Cape Point National Park, this is a stunningly beautiful beach and a great place to so some water sports, sunbathe and relax. If you are travelling Spring, Autumn or Winter it is mighty cool, especially if you are used to the warmer waters of the West. There are a couple of nearby restaurants. The Hub is very popular and you will need a reservation and the downstairs café/deli is a little more relaxed.

Arron Mitchell in Noordhoek

Noordhoek

Located inland in the hills, this offers amazing views of the beach and Atlantic Ocean. Home to Cape Point Vineyard where you can have a romantic and incredible tasting cuisine with stunning views. Do try the Cape Point Cape Town Sauvignon Blanc, I’m not usually a fan of Sauvignon but I really enjoyed this one. On a Thursday the vineyard runs a food market event from 4.30pm – 8.30pm with local and international food produce, just simply buy what you want and eat in the picnic area. I’d recommend arriving at 3pm though as it get’s VERY busy.
Nearby is the Farm Village with an array of shops and restaurants and I ate in all of them. Village Sushi specialising in, well you got it, Sushi was great and very reasonably prices. Café Roux is really popular both during the day and evening with it’s live entertainment. The Food Barn offers a more refined dining experience in the evenings.

Seals in Kalk Bay

Kalk Bay

A little more “rustic” shall we say, it is famous with locals for its Fish and Chips at Kalky’s, located in the harbour front. Kalky’s is very rustic and very busy, but Oh.My.God best fish and chips I’ve ever had, hands down. In the harbour you’ll see the locals preparing their catch and the sea lions awaiting the scraps!

Hout Bay

Hout Bay

Just outside Noordhoek is Chapman’s Peak Drive which takes you on a stunning drive with amazing coastal views to Hout Bay. Hout bay has a great beach and plenty of shops and restaurants and you’ll see plenty of local people going about their daily life. You can stop here for a swim, some lunch and shopping before doing the drive in reverse.

Hermanus

Hermanus

On the opposite side of False Bay from the western Cape Peninsular, Hermanus is also one of the more popular places to go whale watching and shark cage diving. You can also go whale watching from land (June to November). Hermanus is a small and friendly town with plenty of shop’s bars and restaurants. It’s a very boutique town with accommodation ranging from hostels, guest houses, self catering accommodation to boutique hotels.

Manta Rays in Struisbaai

Struisbaai

Located just a couple of miles from Cape Agulhas, the most southerly point in Africa. Here there is nothing between you and the Antarctica. There is a 14km beach and some great walks and trails around Cape Agulhas. It’s a very sleep South African seaside town. Make sure you head to the Harbour Front and see if you can spot Parrie, the huge friendly stingray awaiting his fishy scraps. On the outskirts of Struisbaai is Bredasdorp and you’ll drive through here on the way in and out of Struisbaai. There is a great shipwreck museum here with a fantastic insight into South Africa’s maritime history.

Tramline in Franschhoek

Franschhoek

One of my favourite parts of the trip was up in the mountains surrounding by amazing view, spectacular vineyards and sumptuous cuisine. We stayed right near Huguenot Street which is the main street through Franschhoek and it’s collection of shop’s bars and restaurants. Majority of the Vineyards will have their own onsite restaurants which is a taxi ride away (or you can drive if you don’t mind not drinking). The easiest way to sample the vineyards is on the hop on hop off Wine Tram that operates directly from Huguenot Street, with 6 routes to choose from you can sample a wide variety of wines. My Top Tip: plan which route you want to do in advance and pre-book the restaurant for lunch as they get booked up very quickly. Do make sure you try Ryan’s Kitchen and it’s mouth-watering taster menu, just divine.

Camps Bay

Camps Bay & Cape Town

Located just 10 minutes from Cape Town this is a great town with a good collection of fine dining, mid range restaurants and a beautiful beach. Some outstanding hotels are along the front with great views of the Atlantic Ocean. I tend to recommend Camp’s Bay to those that are looking for a little peace and quiet but want to be close to Cape Town and Table Mountain.

You could easily while away several days in Cape Town with it’s many amenities, shops, bars, clubs and restaurants. Most clients will tend to stay in V&A Waterfront with it’s huge range of accommodation, shopping centres, restaurants and bars. However Seapoint, Greenpoint and the City Centre are increasing in popularity now as the 5 star hotels are very reasonably priced compared to V&A. Table Mountain is an absolute must whilst you are here and as soon as you get a clear day go up. You can check the waiting times online but if you leave it too late you can expect queues of up to 2 hours on busy days. Robben Island is also another day out that should be booked in advance as this sells out incredibly quickly.

Food in South Africa

Eating Out

Dining out is so cheap in South Africa and boy did we dine out. We had everything from fish n Chips to fine dining. The most we paid was £100 (10 course tasting menu with a 2 bottles of wine) for 2 of us. Lunch started at anything from a fiver upwards. South Africa has some incredible cuisine and wines and we ate everything from Springbok to Ostrich, salads, burgers, fish n chips, catch of the day, calamari you name it we ate it. But funnily enough we both actually lost weight! The meats in South Africa are incredibly lean and everything is very healthy and gorgeously tasting. So eat, eat, eat! (Disclaimer: Platinum World Travel cannot be held liable if you do indeed put on weight!).

Getting About

Driving in South Africa is very easy, it’s the same side of the road as here, although not many roundabouts there are plenty of Crossroads where you each take it in turns to go. Car rental is relatively inexpensive and the easiest way to get around South Africa. However, if you aren’t a confident driver you could take a group tour. There is a hop on hop off Bus network that goes through selected parts of the Western Cape and the Garden Route which is popular with the younger travellers.
Uber is probably the easiest way to get around Cape Town and the larger towns and we did this plenty of times. We only had one not so good driver who was driving a manual when he was used to driving an automatic so lot’s of back seat driving from me! If you are planning to use Uber check your Data Usage with your network provider as the data charges can be high when you are out and about! Otherwise you could grab a taxi, although a little more expensive.

When To Go

Being in the Southern Hemisphere the best time to travel is November – March. South Africa is at its hottest and the weather is gorgeous, the sea’s warm and there is plenty of sight seeing to be had. However, a couple of things to bear in mind.
 
December & January are the most expensive times of year to travel to South Africa. Accommodation is in high demand and sells out very quickly. Flights are also very expensive, so if you do want to travel during this period then early booking is highly recommended so you can get the holiday you want, rather than what is left.
If you are planning to do a Safari then be prepared for early morning and late evening game drives. Most safaris tend to do sunrise and sunset as this is the cooler times for the animals to be on the move and better chance of you seeing all the big five. If a Safari is the main reason you are heading to South Africa, I recommend you travel in slightly off peak seasons such as September - October or May – June as the temperatures are milder and the animals are on the prowl more frequently. 
Whale Watching Season is June – November along the coast of South Africa with the best place to watch from the land being in Hermanus. Great White Season varies in South Africa. False Bay is February – September and April – September in Mossel Bay. The water is at its clearest March – September. There are numerous Shark Cage Diving Tours in South Africa but make sure you question them. I spoke to a Tour Company in February who, admitted, they hadn’t seen a Great White for 25 days and at nearly £200 each for the trip it wasn’t a risk we were willing to take.

To plan your own South Africa itinerary, whether that be a Tailor Made Tour, Self-Drive or Group Tour then contact us for up to date pricing and itineraries.



 

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