Saturday , 15 December 2018
South Africa Blog / Tag Archives: cape town

Tag Archives: cape town

The Eastern Cape Versus the Western Cape – What’s the Difference?

The Eastern Cape Versus the Western Cape – What’s the Difference?

First-time visitors to South Africa can’t be blamed for not knowing their eastern from their western when it comes to the capes. They’re relatively near to one another, and have many similarities. So, what’s the difference between the laid-back Eastern Cape and the slightly-busier-but-still-very-chilled Western Cape?

The Lowdown on the Eastern Cape

 

The Eastern Cape is a massive, but quieter province. It stretches from Storms River to the area previously known as the Transkei (which borders KwaZulu-Natal), and inland to include gorgeous mountains. The Eastern Cape is characterised by some large cities, like Port Elizabeth and East London, but mainly by its rural Xhosa villages, which freckle the landscape. Cattle roam the grassy plains and there is an undeniable sense of space and solitude.

 

The Eastern Cape is also home to some magnificent game reserves and national parks, thanks to all of the space available for the wildlife to roam. A few of the best known of these are Addo Elephant National Park, Shamwari Private Game Reserve, Kwandwe Private Game Reserve, and the Baviaanskloof Mega Reserve. For this reason, the Eastern Cape is fantastic for safaris, bird watching, and game viewing. Look out for the Big 5 – elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion and leopard.

 

This province has an extensive coastline, and the waters are fairly warm and safe for swimming. There are also loads of rivers that lead to the sea, particularly between Port Elizabeth and East London. These create pretty holiday retreats along the coast. It is an awesome destination for anyone that loves watersports and, because of the consistent winds, it has become a world-class kiting destination.

The Lowdown on the Western Cape

 

A little more cosmopolitan than its eastern counterpart, the Western Cape tends be more about shopping, winelands, and entertainment. Of course, there are many spectacular natural areas here too; with its impressive mountain ranges, verdant valleys, exquisite white-sand beaches, and endless stretches of vineyards.

 

In fact, the Western Cape is known the world over for its wines. So, it is not surprising that, around the main city centre of Cape Town, there are many wine farms. Here, visitors can taste some excellent wines (or pair them with delicious meals).

 

More than just the metropolis, the Western Cape is home to unique little towns and villages that give it its character. These include Franschhoek, Swellendam, Robertson, Paternoster and Hermanus. A little further away from Cape Town, there is the Garden Route. This is home to Knysna, Mossel Bay and Plettenberg Bay, amongst other gems.

 

Cape Town itself is home to some of the world’s best-known attractions. These include Table Mountain, Robben Island, the V & A Waterfront, Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, and the Two Oceans Aquarium.

 

Adventure sports like shark cage diving, bungy jumping, abseiling, kloofing and mountain climbing are a must here, because the landscape lends itself to exploring. The ocean waters are significantly cooler in the Western Cape than the Eastern Cape.

EC vs WC

Well, it’s almost impossible to choose between the two. They both have incredible natural areas, plenty of history and lashings of culture. The Western Cape offers great shopping, plenty of history, world-class wines, and first-class entertainment. The Eastern Cape is hard to beat in terms of its game reserves, stunning warm sea water, pristine beaches, friendly folk, and tranquillity. They both have loads of charming historical towns and lashings of culture. In addition, they both have plenty of accommodation – ranging from guesthouses and B&B’s to game lodges, resorts, hotels, and apartments. Find a full range of establishments on SA-Venues.com.

 

Six Underrated Attractions in South Africa

Six Underrated Attractions in South Africa

South Africa is a country of extraordinary variety. Whether you’re after beaches, mountains, forests, valleys, or busy city centres, this is the place to find them. And, as a destination, there is no shortage of world-renowned attractions in South Africa. But, there are also loads of gems that may not be as well known but are every bit as beautiful and exciting to explore. These have the advantage of (often) being quieter and easier on the budget.

Six Underrated Attractions in South Africa

1. The Klein Karoo

There’s an ethereal kind of beauty about the Klein Karoo. It’s different, unassuming, and a little mysterious. A little town like Graaff-Reinet has loads of history (it’s the oldest town in the Eastern Cape), friendly people, and plenty of character. It’s surrounded by the Camdeboo Park, which has incredible populations of plants and animals and is home to the breathtaking Valley of Desolation. Other Klein Karoo towns with unique appeal include Nieu Bethesda and Cradock.

2. The Bavianskloof Mega-Reserve

More than being a World Heritage Site, the Baviaanskloof is spectacularly beautiful. Walk, hike, cycle and 4 x 4 your way through the rugged terrain to get the most out of it. This is all about steep mountain passes, deep gorges, incredible rock formations, lush greenery, and unspoilt plains. Animals that call this home include the leopard, baboon, vervet monkey, zebra, eland, kudu, and buffalo. There are also loads of raptors and other exciting bird species.

3. Mossel Bay

This seaside Garden Route town is another gem. Although tourists sometimes pass through it en route to or from Cape Town, it remains fairly quiet. But, it has so much to see and do. This is a hotspot for shark cage diving, fishing, surfing, swimming, whale watching, SCUBA diving, cycling, shopping, and sampling some excellent seafood. Mossel Bay has a stunning climate, and is only 1.5 hours from Knysna and about  4.5 hours from Cape Town.

4. The Lake District of Mpumalanga

Seeing the glimmering blue of the Mpumalanga lakes is soothing to your soul. Around Lake Chrissie, which is the main lake of the district, there are 320 more lakes and pans of different sizes and shapes. And, where there’s water, there’s life. Find an amazing variety of birds, frogs, and butterflies. Or, just relax while you drink in the views, which are nothing short of humbling.

5. Tulbagh

Tulbagh stirs up all kinds of nostalgia with its old farmhouses, views of the mountain behind a haze of summer heat (or, very rarely, topped with snow in the winter), and quirky locals. Go on wine tastings, visit the museums, cycle through vineyards, hike through mountain fynbos, or explore the orchards on the back of a horse. This little town in the Cape Winelands is a very special retreat, just 1.5 hours from Cape Town.

6. Tsitsikamma

This part of the Garden Route is lush, green, and filled to the brim with adventure. When visiting Tsitsikamma, you can choose from ziplining over the spectacular forests, ziplining over tannin-stained waterfalls, segwaying through the Storms River village and forests, horse riding along the streets and country trails, and tubing down Storms River. This is one of the most awesome holiday attractions in South Africa for the family.

Accommodation

These attractions may be quieter than the mainstream South African hotspots, but they offer all of the necessary facilities, including accommodation to suit your budget and needs. Have a look at SA-Venues.com to book guesthouses, lodges, B&B’s, or hotels on one easy platform.

Church Square and the Slave Lodge

Church Square and the Slave Lodge

The Slave Lodge, now part of the Iziko Musuem Collective, was first constructed in 1679 by the Dutch East India Company with the purpose of housing large numbers (in the thousands) of slaves. When Jan Van Riebeeck came to the Cape in 1652, the Groote Kerk was built as the first Christian place of worship.  Church Square, just outside Groote Kerk, is the place where slaves waited for their owners to return from church. Read More »

Exploring Camps Bay

Exploring Camps Bay

Cape Town, also known as the Mother City, is the cultural epicentre of South Africa. It is as beautiful as it is diverse, and it is this unique combination that has earned Cape Town its renowned reputation of being one of the best tourist destinations in the world. Camps Bay is known for its luxurious mansions, its extensive beaches with chilly turquoise water and its main road, flanked with trendy champagne bars and chic restaurants.

Camps Bay Beach is fairly large, and is always speckled with locals and tourists that have come to enjoy the warm white sand and cool waters. Little ones will love the rock pools and enormous boulders, which never seem to lose their appeal. These boulders also create private little nooks for those wanting to escape the other bathers. The beach is lined with palm trees, giving it a particularly distinct holiday vibe. The beach was awarded Blue Flag status in 2008. Umbrellas and lounging chairs are available to hire. Read More »

Exploring Hout Bay

Exploring Hout Bay

Once a densely forested fishing village, this little town was named Hout Bay (meaning “wood bay”) in honour of the beautiful woods on the mountains all around the little fishing hub. In fact, Jan van Riebeeck is reported to have said that these were the most beautiful forests he had ever seen. However, most of the timber was harvested by these original settlers for the building of the fort and ports.

Although Hout Bay has become a very popular tourist epicentre, it holds tightly to its intimate, laid-back lifestyle, which permeates just about every part of its identity, including the locals that boast this town as their residential address. Its natural beauty is undeniable, as it is surrounded on three sides by mountains. The fourth is left to the exquisite blue of the Atlantic Ocean. Read More »

Robben Island

Robben Island

One of Cape Town’s most historically relevant, culturally intriguing and naturally beautiful attractions is Robben Island. This is best known as being the location of the Robben Island Prison, which held some of South Africa’s most significant politicians and struggle activists. Not least of all are former President Nelson Mandela, current President Jacob Zuma, Dennis Brutus, Tokyo Sexwale, and Govan Mbeki. Robben Island was recognised as a place of banishment from as early as the 1600’s. Nelson Mandela served 18 years of his sentence here, and brought to life what had been kept a dark secret for so many years when he was released and told his story of life on Robben Island. The prison was eventually closed in 1996. Read More »

Exploring the Cape Town City Bowl

Exploring the Cape Town City Bowl

Cape Town, known also as the Mother City, is one of South Africa’s chief tourist hotspots. The City Bowl is, as its name implies, the main part of the buzzing city centre of Cape Town with a distinctive amphitheatre shape to it. This lends it an air of being exclusive, while it is surrounded by the gorgeous mountains of the Western Cape; namely, Table Mountain, Lion’s Head, Signal Hill and Devil’s Peak.

The Cape Town City Bowl comprises some of the city’s most popular suburbs. District Six and the Bo Kaap are known for their political and historical relevance. Oranjezicht, De Waterkant and Higgovale have earned acclaim for their unique homes and character-filled streets, and Tamboerskloof and the Company Gardens are hives of activity with restaurants, tourist attractions and plenty of shops. Read More »

Pick your own Roses …

Pick your own Roses …

A few weeks ago we wrote about the list of “101 Things to do in Cape Town for under R101.00” found on Cape-Venues.co.za. Listed at number 75 is Pick your own Roses at Chart Farm in Wynberg. I’d heard about Chart Farm before but never knew where it was. We went to visit Chart Farm this past Sunday and I would recommend it to anyone, who loves roses, as a delightful way to spend two to three hours on a Sunday. Read More »