Sailing off the Western Cape coastline Sailing off the Western Cape coastline

From ocean encounters with dolphins and sharks, to exploring the ways of the early Khoisan, the Western Cape has a lot more to offer incentive tourists than just Cape Town and the winelands. The Garden Route offers beaches, lakes, lagoons and forests, golf estates, sea sports and cultural attractions.

Did you know?

?The Cango Caves were first discovered by San bushmen in prehistoric times. They lived in the cave's entrance and painted the walls with rock art.

The Western Cape is hard to beat as an incentive destination with much to see and do. Here are some Western Cape incentive highlights.

Cape Town’s Table Mountain is the dramatic backdrop to one of the world’s top destinations. A sunset dinner on the top of Table Mountain is hard to beat with its panoramic 360° views of the city and the Cape Peninsula – one of the most beautiful in the world.

Table Mountain provides numerous hiking and walking trails and for the more adventurous, rock climbing and paragliding. The mountain is also accessible by cableway. Along the way you can enjoy magnificent scenery. The wide variety of plant species you'll find in the Table Mountain National Park makes it part of the Western Cape’s Floral Kingdom, one of South Africa’s eight World Heritage Sites.

The Western Cape mountains also offer exhilarating adventure experiences – from microlighting and abseiling to canyoning, mountain biking, river rafting, paragliding and more.

While the verdant valleys of the Cape winelands can be explored on a day trip from Cape Town, the opportunity to spend a few days in this breathtaking location should not be missed. This is an area of majestic mountains, spectacular passes, the historic towns of Stellenbosch and Franschhoek, gracious Cape Dutch architecture, wine estates and manor houses dating back to the 17th Century. There are also  numerous award-winning boutique hotels. 

The Western Cape has 13 wines routes with more than 2 000 varieties of wine to taste.  Wine tasting can be combined with superb meals in the many outstanding restaurants you'll find on these fine estates. And if you're in the mood, you can enjoy a horse-drawn carriage ride through the vineyards, go cycling, tread grapes and even blend your own wine. 

The sensational Whale Coast stretches from the hamlet of Rooiels in the west to Quoin Point in the east and is flanked by ocean and mountain views. A major highlight is the sighting of the southern right whales that occurs between June and November. If you’re visiting at the end of September, don’t miss the Whale Festival that takes place in Hermanus. Here you can also book yourself on a shark cage diving expedition at Gansbaai.

Some 12 kilometres from Cape Town harbour, Robben Island is the notorious prison where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated for 18 (of his 27) years in jail. You can visit the prison, tour the island and pay homage to the great struggle heroes of the past. Cape Town's District Six Museum which highlights forced removals under the apartheid regime is another great place to explore, as is the Bo-Kaap Museum – a tribute to Cape Malay culture.

In Plettenberg Bay, you can enjoy ecological adventures with miles of sparkling beaches set next to green polo fields. Here you can encounter bottlenose and rare Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins, as well as some shark species. Also along the Garden Route you find Mossel Bay, Sedgefield, George, Wilderness and Knysna. It’s a veritable Eden, edge to edge with beaches, lakes, lagoons and forests, mixed with magnificent golf estates and cultural attractions. These are sprinkled liberally with thrills like bungee jumping, deep-sea fishing and sea kayaking.

You’ll find the Outeniqua Hiking Trail, the Otter Trail and the Dolphin Trail in the lush Garden Route National Park. A paradise for eco-lovers, bird watchers and solitude seekers, it’s an ideal setting for adventure incentive travel, and one of the most beautiful parts of the Western Cape.

In Knysna you can walk with elephants, gorge on local oysters washed down with the local beer, stay on a houseboat in the Knysna National Lake area, jump off the world’s highest commercial bungee jump, go fly fishing, and snorkelling, take a treetop canopy tour, or go on a whale, seal and dolphin watching cruise.

The Cango Caves outside Oudtshoorn are adorned with stalactites and stalagmites, while the ostrich palaces located on nearby farms have retained their elegance.

On the West Coast, walk the pathways of the early Khoisan, who left their signatures in hundreds of rock paintings, particularly in the rugged Cederberg mountain range. At the West Coast Fossil Park (a 90 minute drive from Cape Town) there’s a rich find of animal fossils. About mid-year, depending on the rains, the region breaks into a field of daisies, proteas and shrubs as the flower season starts. Also remember, the West Coast is renowned for exquisite seafood including prawns, crayfish and calamari.

And further inland under the infinite skies of the Klein Karoo and Central Karoo there’s much archaeology, wildlife, architecture and some of the most impressive mountain passes.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

Western Cape Destination Marketing, Investment and Trade Promotion Agency (Wesgro)
Tel: +27 (0)21 487 8600
Email: info@wesgro.co.za`

Cape Town Tourism
Tek: +27 (0)21 487 6800
Email: info@capetown.travel

How to get here

Cape Town is served by all of South Africa's domestic airlines and several international carriers. Most international airlines fly in to Cape Town during South Africa's summer season (November through March) while a few operate to the destination year round. 

Best time to visit

The summer months are the most popular but the winter season is also a magical time to explore the Western Cape. 

Tours to do

There are so many tours to choose from in Cape Town and the Western Cape, you'll be spoilt for choice. You can take a variety of walking tours that explore the fauna and flora and Cape Town's rich cultural heritage. A tour of the Cape winelands is a must on any itinerary. You can also enjoy cycling tours, township tours, and explore the magnificent garden route. Golf tours are also popular.

Get around

The best way to explore Cape Town and the Western Cape is to hire a car or take a guided tour. 

Length of stay

You can easily spend two weeks exploring Cape Town and the Western Cape.

What to pack

During the summer months (November through March) be sure to pack your bathing suit, hiking shoes, hat, and sunblock. During winter (June through August) warm clothes, a raincoat and umbrella are a good idea. 

Where to stay

Cape Town and the Western Cape have every kind of accommodation option imaginable from 5-star plus hotels and guest houses to  boutique hotels, farm stays and backpacker lodges.

What to eat

From delicious Cape Malay curries to the smoked snoek, try out some typical South African fare. There are also a wide variety of restaurants serving international cuisine from Chinese, Greek and Italian to Portuguese, Indian and more. Sushi is also very popular in the Western Cape.