The Cape of many colours.
Hands up who loves South Africa? What about The Cape Province? Beautiful, isn’t it?
If South Africa is, as the cliché goes, ‘a world in one country’ then The Cape at Africa’s southernmost tip, could be termed, ‘a world in one Province. I spent 6 years living near Cape Town and as our children grew older we were able to explore the Cape in all it’s diversity.
Why not come with me on a little trip down memory lane … let me take you by the hand … oh and I’d love to know, which of these ‘colourful’ places you’ve been to or would like to visit.
13 amazing reasons to visit the Cape of South Africa
- Enjoy cocktails, crustaceans and antique shops– Kalk Bay
- Attend the new year minstrel carnival, Kaapse Klopse – Cape Town www.sa-venues.com
- Walk around The Malay Quarter – Cape Town
- Be amazed at Dassiesfontein Farm Stall, an emporium – N2 leading to Swellendam
- Get windswept at the Cape Point Nature Reserve – Cape Town
- Commune with wildlife at the Garden Route Game Lodge – Garden Route
- Go Shark Diving and see the Big 5 of the ocean – Franskraal
- Luxuriate at Grootbos Private Nature Reserve – Gansbaai
- Walk up Lions Head at sunset – Cape Town
- Have a picnic at an outdoor summer concert – Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, and Paul Cluver amphitheatre, www.cluver.com
- Visit Aquila Game Reserve, www.aquilasafari.com
- Wine and dine – pick out some of the best wine estates around Franschoek, Stellenbosch, Somerset West, and Groot Constantia.
- Stay at Celtic Manor Guest Lodge and Wellness Spa in Gordons Bay, www.celticmanor.co.za
We lived in Somerset West, a leafy town underneath the brooding Helderberg Mountain. Our house was right bang slap in the middle of the Cape’s golden triangle which is peppered with wine farms, surrounded by mountains and bordered by the Atlantic Ocean. Divine. Almost utopian. One day I’ll post some pictures of it, but remembering the amazing views makes me a little sad right now.
A little history … When Willem Adriaan van der Stel became Governor of the Cape in South Africa, he probably thought he’d found his Shangri-La when in 1699 he acquired a huge expanse of Land along the Lourens River, close to present day Somerset West, on which he planted vines, orchards and corn fields. He named his farm Vergelegen.
The whitewashed, gabled buildings of Vergelegen Wine Estate are wickedly photogenic, especially when silhouetted against the vast Helderberg and Hottentots Holland Mountains. Think cloudless blue skies and perhaps a sea of lilac Agapanthus like this scene at the nearby Lourensford Wine Estate where my daughter once used to go riding.
In Stellenbosch (South Africa’s second oldest town) you can wander down shady avenues lined by oak trees, alongside old Cape Dutch houses, and ornate Victorian cottages. It’s lovely having a coffee and watching the world go by surrounded by old whitewashed buildings in the town centre, and the suburban gardens are generally filled with flowers in spring and summer.
Twenty minutes from Stellenbosch lies Franschhoek, in a tranquil valley surrounded by mountains and vineyards. Franschhoek means “French Corner” because approximately 200 Huguenot families (French protestents) fled persecution in France in 1688 during the reign of King Louis XIV. They were given grants to farm the land along the Berg River and the Drakenstein valley, now Franschoek, became their domain.
They brought with them their French traditions, culture, and wine making skills, and very soon it was found that this fertile area was more suited to viticulture than for grain farming.
The village has become known for its wine and its gastronomic cuisine, as well as its art galleries, antique shops, curio shops and quaint streets nestling beneath the magnificent mountain backdrop. I’ve yet to do one of the wine tours on horseback, but with so many wineries in the area to choose from, it seems like a good solution to driving!
When you’ve wined and dined, you might want to head for the Cape’s long, sandy, beaches where surfers can be seen bobbing in the waves like seals. Kogel Bay is a favourite amongst accomplished surfers, although there are calmer spots to swim like The Strand beach or Main Beach and Bikini Beach in Gordon’s Bay.
Gordon’s Bay was once a small fishing harbour, but it’s grown into a resort with Mediterranean overtones. There are al fresco restaurants along Beach Road as well as a yacht and fishing harbour.
Behind the busy waterfront is the quaint olde worlde village with its narrow streets and gabled houses. It was named after Colonel Robert Jacob Gordon, a Dutch military officer and commander of the Cape garrison during the late 1700’s. By the late 19th Century it had apparently established a reputation as the future Brighton of South Africa.
During the Cape winters from July to November, Gordon’s Bay is transformed into a whale watcher’s paradise. Southern Right Whales are attracted to the warmer waters to feed in False Bay where they give birth to their calves and nurse them until they’re capable of travelling.
Clarens Drive, the coastal road on which there are land-based viewing spots is a heartbreaking lovely ocean front drive. It winds its way along the eastern shores of False Bay to Rooi Els, Pringle Bay and then inland to Hermanus.
For a romantic, leisurely walk in Gordon’s Bay you might stroll to the harbour along the beach promenade under the Milkwood trees, and then walk to the waterfront development at Harbour Island and maybe have Kinglkip and chips with a beer at Bertie’s Moorings, a marina front restaurant.
Bertie’s Moorings was started up by South Africa’s most famous single-handed yachtsman “Biltong Bertie Reed” who sailed solo around the world three times before choosing Gordon’s Bay as his place to rest.
Of course it’s the African Wildlife that attracts most people to South Africa, and there are a couple of game reserves within reach of Cape Town.
I admit to loving this beautiful, crazy country, this rainbow nation with its wonderful, confusing, inspiring, and sometimes despairing beat. Truly cloaked with a coat of many colours, I have to agree, at all levels of the cliché, it really is ‘a world in one country,’ and The Cape itself is a ‘world in one province’.
Want to read more? I wrote about the Cape of Many Colours in The West Australian Newspaper’s Travel Magazine.
This post today is linked to Travel Photo Thursday at Budget Traveller’s Sandbox.
What’s on your Bucket List when it comes to visiting South Africa or where do you love in The Cape?