18 October 2010 by Roy Barford

Winter outdoor activities in the Western Cape

The Western Cape gets much bad press about its winter, and as a result, many outdoor enthusiasts avoid visiting between May and October, meaning they miss out on some great attractions like the whales and flowers, not to mention all the winter special offers.

Having lived in Scotland, I find Cape winters nothing more than mild and European visitors I meet here agree with me. During my time abroad, I became familiar with a saying by British hill walker and author, Alfred Wainwright, which goes: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.”

Adopt this thinking and the Western Cape is never out of season for outdoor activities and adventures.

The winter months are the best for whale watching in the Cape - head for the little Western Cape town of Hermanus (about an hour-and-a-half’s drive from Cape Town), to Cape Point, or the Cape Town suburbs of Fish Hoek or Simon’s Town.

Yes, the ocean waters of the Western Cape are a tad chilly, but that doesn’t seem to deter committed surfers, who simply slap on a wetsuit.

Yes, the ocean waters of the Western Cape are a tad chilly, but that doesn’t seem to deter committed surfers, who simply slap on a wetsuit. For a steady surf, head for Muizenberg, or if you are an experienced surfer looking for big swells, Kalk Bay is cooking more often than not.

For those who enjoy fishing, white steenbras are plentiful during the winter months, with some of the more popular areas to fish for them in the Western Cape including Kommetjie and Bloubergstrand (Cape Town), Knysna (on the Garden Route, on South Africa’s east coast), and Paternoster (a small village up the West Coast, a couple of hours’ drive from Cape Town).

If you are contemplating a road-trip through the Western Cape in September, when many of the thousands of species in the Cape Floral Kingdom start to bloom, some interesting advice I’ve heard is that flowers face north toward the sun, and so you should drive south toward Cape Town to see them at their best. The best times for floral viewing are between 10h00 and 15h00, as they close in the chill of the early morning and evening.

It’s also worth noting that many accommodation establishments in the Western Cape offer special rates during winter, and you can easily find a return flight from Johannesburg to Cape Town for between R800 and R1000.

Category: Adventure, Attractions, Routes & Trails

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