Welcome to the Western Cape

Plant growing on outcrop overlooking the ocean at Hermanus, Western Cape, South Africa.

After Adam and I left England we didn’t fly straight back to Australia.  We took a detour via South Africa so we could attend the wedding of some friends – another international couple. Although Nick and Christel live near Oxford, they chose South Africa (Christel’s home country) to celebrate their nuptials.

In the days afterward, the newlyweds graciously played tour guides, showing us the Western Cape – a truly spectacular part of the continent…

Africa, or more specifically doing a safari, has been on my bucket list for years, but on my previous overseas travels Europe or North America always won out. I was incredibly excited, but also a little nervous at the same time. You hear a lot of horror stories about S.A. and I wasn’t really quite sure what to expect.

We landed in Cape Town after a 20 hour flight from Birmingham. It was a hot, sunny day when we arrived and that familiar sweaty feeling of ‘December in the southern hemisphere’ quickly descended on me.

The vivid reality of the disparity between rich and poor in South Africa becomes apparent pretty quickly after leaving the airport. You drive past miles and miles of townships. Power lines crisscross the sky, livestock roam the verges of highways and small children seek shelter from the unrelenting sun under big Acacia trees.

Our first stop was the pretty seaside town of Hermanus, a popular holiday destination known for its spectacular coastline. It was where Nick and Christel had chosen to wed and was to be our base for a few days.

Coastline near Hermanus, Western Cape, South Africa.

We feasted on beautiful seafood and took daily walks along the town’s coastal path, marvelling at the views, native vegetation and spotting whales in the water and dassies on rocky outcrops.

Native vegetation along the coastal path, Hermanus, Western Cape, South Africa.

Hermanus has a wonderful laid back feel and was full of eateries, shops and plenty of accommodation options. Adam and I stayed in a lovely little guesthouse a short stroll from the town centre.  It has the prettiest little breakfast room and I loved the big bunches of protea flowers that adorned each table.

Looking down on a protea flower, sitting in a vase on a checked table cloth.

The wedding was a beautiful success and we soon found ourselves on the road to Cape Town where we were to spend a night. We took the coastal road to Cape Town and again were awestruck at the coastal scenery.

View from the coastal road between Hermanus and Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa.

Cape Town was definitely much busier than Hermanus and we spent most of our time around the new harbour precinct. I particularly loved the Watershed, an undercover permanent market showcasing the wares of local makers and creators.

The morning we were due to leave Cape Town we rose before the sun and drove out to Lion’s Head, where you get amazing views across to Table Mountain and over the city itself. The hike up the peak isn’t for the faint-hearted, it’s a hard slog (even in the cool of the early morning) and some sections are more rock climbing than walking. I’m not great with heights, but I was so glad I made it to the top.

Sunrise over Cape Town, South Africa from Lion's Head.

Looking towards Table Mountain from Lion's Head, near Cape Town, South Africa.

Next week we’ll head up the coast to Yzerfontein for even more beach time and a visit to game reserve.

Until then.


9 thoughts on “Welcome to the Western Cape

  1. Thanks for the blog. Jim and I are looking at doing an African safari in 2019 but can’t decide the best place to go or the best way to go about it – what company to use, etc. Any information you can share will be helpful in our planning.
    I’ve enjoyed reading about your travels.
    Take care.


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