Situated right at the tip of the country, the Western Cape is different from the rest of South Africa. The climate is unique, with hot, dry summers and rainy winters, and the vegetation is like nothing else on earth. Sparkling white beaches go on for ever and ever, and sheer mountains tower over the towns and villages. But that’s only the coastal region. Those towering mountains do more than just add interest to an already scenic view. They separate the green east coast from the high-lying, brown and dusty interior, and they capture all the rain that is swept in from the ocean so that there is not much left for the Little and Great Karoo, which lie inland from the escarpment. And then the West Coast is different again.
The ocean on this side does not provide much in the way of cloud to fall as rain so this coast is quite dry, almost stark. But it has its own kind of beauty. The climate is perfect for the production of wheat, deciduous fruit and wine, the latter of which is the basis of a well developed wine tourism industry. And, incidentally, the Winelands, are a world heritage site in the cultural landscape category.
Also, with its spectacular floral diversity, the Cape Floristic Region is another world heritage site that extends over much of the province. As the Western Cape has a long post-colonial history, it’s not surprising that it has more than its fair share of beautiful old buildings, many of which are open to the public. The main cities are Cape Town and George, on the Garden Route. And many of the smaller – and even larger – towns make for great holiday destinations, whether they’re situated on the beautiful coast or nestled in the vineyards against the mountains.