Discover the Cape
Cape Town is unique in that its trademark feature existed long before the city arrived. More awe-inspiring in real life than any photograph can convey, Table Mountain dominates the city skyline. Over 1,000 metres above sea level, the summit can be reached by a revolving cable car offering panoramic views, or a choice of hiking trails. Popular activities include traditional rock climbing on the steep and rugged cliffs, and caving in the sandstone cave systems.
The natural drama of Table Mountain provides the perfect contrast to the area’s warmth and culture. As befits the ‘Rainbow Nation’, the city is awash with colour: from the day-glo facades of the Bo-Kaap (Malay Quarter) to the upmarket stores, the road-side stalls, the vibrant art scene and the broad ethnic mix of the people themselves.
Nature’s own colours are on vivid display at the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden. A UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the world’s great botanic gardens, it’s home to more than 7,000 species as well as many types of animals and birds.
Even the nightlife here has a full-spectrum palette (or should that be palate?) thanks to a wide range of local and international cuisine, theatres, cinemas, cafes, clubs and bars.
The city’s calendar sets the tone for the year early with the riotous and colourful Cape Minstrels Carnival on 2nd January. Later in the same month, there’s the J&B Met, a blend of horse racing, glamour and flair. In March, the Cape Argus Pick’n’Pay Cycle Tour attracts more than 38,000 cyclists. May is for foodies, with lots in store including the immensely popular Good Food and Wine Show. Dates are not yet finalised for the Stellenbosch Wine Festival, however do not miss it if you’re in town. September sees the return of the Southern Right Whales and the famous Hermanus Whale Festival. In November, there’s time for a pre-Christmas party with the Cape Town Festival of Beer.
Explore the Western Cape with an Avis car rental
When you’re ready to head out into the Western Cape, you’re in for a breathtaking drive.
Around Cape Town itself, you’ll find fabulous beaches on both the Atlantic seaboard and the warmer False Bay to the south of the city. As well as swimming, surfing, sailing and other sports, you can take a closer look at some magnificent examples of marine life. The nearby town of Hermanus is famous for its sightings of several species of whale, including Humpback and Southern Right. The Cape Peninsula itself, to the south of the city, is home to the African Penguin.
Heading inland, you quickly encounter the dramatic beauty of the Cape Winelands. When people talk about ‘South African wines’, they generally mean wines from the Western Cape. The Mediterranean climate and rugged terroir provide perfect conditions for viticulture. There are numerous ‘wine routes’ throughout the Western Cape, which provide the perfect way to explore the mountainous landscape, the Cape Dutch farmsteads and the fertile vineyards of the region.
Along the southern coast of Western Cape is another memorable blend of natural drama and driving pleasure: the legendary Garden Route. Starting in Mossel Bay, it stretches 125 miles along the southern coast of Africa to the border of Eastern Cape. Despite the name, the only gardener here is Mother Nature herself. Home to the mildest climate in South Africa, the route is surrounded by the most verdant and diverse vegetation in the country. Temperatures rarely fall below 10 °C in winter or exceed 28 °C in summer. The indigenous forest and fragrant bush are joined along the way by rocky coves, magnificent sandy beaches, lakes, gorges and mountain passes. There are also plenty of activities to enjoy, including scuba diving, surfing, canoeing, rafting, biking, hiking and flying.