South African Rand
A place where sea and mountains meet: welcome to the Western Cape, a region that encapsulates South Africa’s ‘Rainbow Nation’ and offers something for every visitor. The line-up includes iconic attractions - like Table Mountain, the Cape of Good Hope and Robben Island - show-stopping scenery, captivating cultures, world-class wine, brilliant outdoor pursuits and the ‘Marine Big 5’. Indeed, one of the top reasons to visit is for the superb land-based whale watching in Walker Bay, where crowds gather for spectacular acrobatic shows of ocean giants flipping in and out of the water. The setting is exceptionally picturesque, too, with mountains tumbling down to craggy shores and talc-white sands.
Inland, the scenery is equally spellbinding, luring birdwatchers, hikers, bikers and rock climbers to scramble the Cederberg Mountains and explore the rugged landscapes and fertile valleys covered with wild flowers. Unique and utterly fascinating, the Bushman rock art is a series of ancient drawings relaying local history. Of course, the Western Cape also covers Cape Town and the Cape Winelands.
A trip to the Western Cape offers a wonderful chance to see penguins and whales in their natural habitat. The best spot for watching is Boulders Beach, near Simon’s Town, where African penguins waddle between granite boulders and across white sands. For whale-watching boat tours and land-based observation, head to Hermanus in Walker Bay, a protected area and natural retreat for Southern Right Whales when they calf their young. The Cederberg Mountains also attract lovers of wildlife, with the chance to glimpse Mountain zebras, dainty antelope and birds of prey scanning the ground for lunch.
For surfing, diving, boating, golfing, kayaking, walking, horse riding, birding and whale-watching, Walker Bay ticks every box. Another top pick for outdoorsy types are the striking Cederberg Mountains, spectacularly carved by wind. Join an organised tour and spot the Maltese Cross, the Wolfberg Arch and ancient San Rock paintings, hidden amid wonderful rock formations. Such engravings are found across South Africa and are thought to be the workings of indigenous tribes. Climb upwards for panoramic views, swim in crystalline rock pools, tour local tea farms, before stopping for a refreshing interlude at the country’s finest wine estate.
Don’t miss the scenic drive to the tip of the Cape Peninsula for a snapshot of the Cape of Good Hope. Explore the region’s picturesque coastal towns, such as Hermanus, boasting wonky-walled fishermen’s cottages, interesting museums, swish galleries, craft markets and smart seafood restaurants. Make note of the Hermanus Wine & Food Fair in August – one of South Africa’s best.
Marine Big Five
Scan the seas for the ‘Marine Big 5’ from Birkenhead House, where whales, sharks, dolphins, seals and penguins play in the Atlantic Ocean. Pick mussels with the chef, before sampling them cooked with cream and wine. Why not add surfing lessons, outdoor spa therapies, and world-class wine tastings? Or, book Birkenhead House for exclusive use for a wedding or special gathering.
Enjoy nature-based guided adventures at Grootbos – such as hiking, horse riding, birding, cave tours and 4x4 flower safaris. The latter is a superb way to explore the nature reserve and its hundreds of plants. Journey highlights include dazzling sandstone fynbos and ancient Afromontane forest, with drop-dead gorgeous views of Walker Bay.
A Natural Heritage Site, Bushmans Kloof boasts over 130 Bushman rock art sites, some 10,000 years old! The resort also showcases precious artefacts used by Bushman tribes. Mingle art and history with food and wine on a gourmet getaway, with sumptuous dining in extraordinary outdoor locations.
In general, the Western Cape experience a typically Mediterranean-style climate, with warm, dry summers and mild winters. Spring (August to mid-October) is a wonderful time to visit, when giant carpets of wild flowers cloak the semi-arid plains and mountainsides. Summer sees months of glorious, rain-free sunshine from mid-October to mid-February. Autumn (mid-February to April) brings wonderful shades of ochres and reds sweeping across the landscapes, whilst the winter months (May to July) offer snow-capped peaks, log-burning fires and outbursts of rain. The best time to visit for whale-watching is between June and December.
These figures show monthly average maximum temperatures and monthly average rainfall for Western Cape.
British Airways direct from London Heathrow to Cape Town.
From London Heathrow to Cape Town: 11 hours, 30 minutes.
Travelling With Children or Without an Adult
Children travelling without both parents should be aware that some countries require documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter the country (for example, South Africa) or, in some cases, before permitting the children to leave the country. Please contact the relevant Embassy for the county you are travelling to for further information.
Visa and Advance Passenger Information
All passengers must ensure they have a valid, acceptable passport, any required visa and any other documentation for both the final destination and any stop-off points en route. Please make sure that Advance Passenger Information is submitted in advance to travel for all destinations. Failure to hold correct documentation or submitting incorrect details with Advance Passenger Information or Visa applications may result in refusal of carriage or entry into a country. Please check with the relevant Embassy regarding visa requirements well in advance of your travel date. Charges may apply for some visas.
Passengers not travelling on a British Passport are advised to contact their relevant Foreign & Commonwealth office for individual Visa requirements.
For up-to-date resort information, visit www.fco.gov.uk
Health facilities, hygiene and disease risks vary worldwide and you should take health advice about your specific needs from your general practitioner or a specialist clinic as early as possible before travel. Those planning to become pregnant should discuss their travel plans with their healthcare provider to assess their risk of infection with Zika. For information about Zika, other mosquito-borne diseases (such as Dengue fever and Chikungunya), Lyme Disease (caused by tick bites), and to receive advice on mosquito bite avoidance measures, please visit http://travelhealthpro.org.uk/insect-tick-bite-avoidance/
In addition, we highly recommend that you seek specialist advice from your doctor and, where recommended, obtain vaccinations or tablets for protection against, for example: Malaria, Hepatitis A, Polio and Typhoid. In some cases, treatments for Malaria should begin well in advance of travel. Travellers may also be required to show Yellow Fever Certificates on arrival in certain destinations ie, some African countries. Please note that you are strongly advised against scuba-diving for 24 hours before travelling by air. We would also like to draw your attention to the risk of DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis) and recommend that you consult with your doctor before travelling.
Visit the FCO website and select your destination country for the very latest travel advice: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
Additional sources of information include: www.hpa.org.uk, http://nathnac.net,
www.fco.gov.uk, www.hpa.org.uk and www.nathnac.org, your General Practitioner or a specialised clinic.