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Best of the West

Western Cape, South Africa

View South Africa & Namibia 2024 itinerary on margofiala's travel map.

We arrived in Cape Town and picked up a rental car to head to Hermanus, our first destination in the Western Cape beyond the Cape Town area. The most expensive part of this trip is vehicle rental! $60 USD/day for a Toyota Corolla.


The change from the deserted gravel washboard roads of Namibia to rush hour traffic in Cape Town was startling. Dean had mastered driving on the left hand side of the road, but this was a whole new level, ugh. Way too stressful for pictures. We made it, only about 1.5 hours away on the south coast. We stayed at “The Potting Shed” in Hermanus, which was a lovely spot. I loved the proteas painted on the wall:


A highlight was the Hermanus Cliff Path, a beautiful sea walk along the coast. It was great to be near the sea after being in the desert, and to walk after so much driving in Namibia.


We enjoyed dinner at “The Pear Tree”, (mushroom potato chowder, mussels, cape salmon, prawn and chicken curry) Yummy!


We visited three different wineries in the area: Bouchard Finlayson, La Vierge and Creation. Creation is the #4 rated winery in the world and #1 in South Africa, and totally lived up to their reputation. The wine was delicious and the vineyard was beautiful.


We couldn’t resist going to see more African Penguins, this time in Betty’s Bay. It was miserable and cold but the penguins didn’t seem to mind (about 14c/57f, windy and raining on and off):


Our next stop was Cape Aguilas, the most southerly point of Africa, where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet. There is a nice coastal hike there as well:


The hike ended at a shipwreck, ominous!


The next day we visited 3 wineries just outside of Robertson, the start of “Route 62”, a highway that runs parallel to the south coast through a farming and wine growing area called the Little Karoo, very picturesque. Viljoensdrift offered a boat ride down the river while having a picnic lunch and bottle of their wine. At Excelsior we met the owner (Dean hated that) and really loved the reserve Cabernet. Graham Beck was by far our favorite for yummy bubbles (2018 Rose and Blanc de Blanc). It was a beautiful setting and we enjoyed the sparking wine and a charcuterie board:




Route 62 from Robertson to Montague was very scenic with steep canyons walls and a hole bored through the mountain for the highway:


It was a very beautiful drive, maybe a good motorcycle trip John and Donna?


Another stop on Route 62 was Calitzdorp, known for their port-style wines. Not as good as Portuguese port, but we suffered through. A very large “tasting”:


We spent a few nights in Oudtshooren, ostrich capital of the world! We saw many ostrich farms approaching the town and stopped to visit one offering tours (Highgate). Although we had seen many ostriches in South Africa and Namibia, we definitely learned a lot about them. For example, ostriches are the only two-toed birds in the world, similar to dinosaurs; can turn their heads 360 degrees like owls; and have the second toughest skin in the world next to the kangaroo. Their feathers naturally have static in them, so are great for dusting, but in the late 1800s were very popular and lucrative for ladies hats. Here is Dean feeding one:

We had been told repeatedly that males were black and females were greyish brown, and we had seen many such couples. We learned that females can be black, not commonly, but it does occur, like this couple:


Ostrich eggs are very strong and can hold up to 140 kg:


Young ones:


An albino ostrich:


A highlight in Oudtshooren for us was Buffelsdrift Game Lodge, just outside of town. For my birthday I went for a pedicure there, and then we had a spectacular sundowner and dinner - a great birthday celebration, topped off with a visit from 3 hippos. No good hippo pictures, but we could see them through our binoculars and hear them all night! They sounded way closer than they were! Very cool, we haven’t seen hippos yet on this trip.


The hippo pictures we did get:


The setting was awesome and the food was fantastic: (Chorizo and vegetable skewers, Kudu steak, Kingklip fish)


Magda (our B&B host at 88 Baron van Reede Guesthouse) was very thoughtful and had a card and muffin/candle for me at breakfast.


Drove through the Meiringspoort Pass to Prince Albert in the Great Karoo, a very scenic pass:


A few baboons on the way too:


Complete with a waterfall and bathing dogs!


There should be a sign for tortoises crossing the road:


In Prince Albert we enjoyed their “Journey to Jazz” Festival. There were a number of artists performing but we saw the Guilliette Price Band in a beautiful garden setting - small venue and good music:


We stayed in a B&B in a “Karoo-style” home, the town is very white and has a dramatic setting against the mountains:


We headed back to the coast via the Swartberg Pass. Incredible scenery and a very rough road (MAMBA):



We returned to the southern coast at Wilderness, on the famous Garden Route along the south coast of South Africa. It was nice to see the ocean and have some humidity. It is cooler though so we may not be in the water. Our Airbnb has a great view of the ocean and a nice deck:


We drove west to Mossel Bay, the official beginning of the Garden Route to see more of this famous coastline:

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Two dassies enjoying the sun:


Longest zip line over water in South Africa at 1100m/3600ft:

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On the way back to Wilderness we stopped to see Heralds Bay and Victoria Bay, both popular surfing spots:


The “Half-collared Kingfisher Trail” is within the Garden Route Wilderness Park. It was a wonderful walk, partially on raised boardwalk through a rainforest with waterfalls at the end, the perfect hike:


A pontoon crossing, all manual:



The views of the beaches here remind me of Australia:


We drove west to Plettenburg Bay to see the other side of the Garden Route. It is very different, bigger beaches and calmer waters:


These were both concerning to see, note the peak activity months for great white sharks! Good thing it was too cool to swim:


The next town on the Garden Route is Knysna (knees-na), which is a very cool geographic area with a huge headlands out to the sea and a large lagoon next to the town. We would have loved to paddle board there in summer. Here is the view from the eastern head, spectacular:


The large lagoon:


Seahorses at the SANParks (South Africa National Parks) office:


Many dogs…making up for lost time! Chloe was the resident dog at our accommodation in Prince Albert (Saxe-Coburg Lodge), so we got to know her well. We were sad she wasn’t allowed in our room:


Next Stop: Eastern Cape, the Great Karoo

Posted by margofiala 06:54 Archived in South Africa

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I can’t believe that my brother would brave feeding an ostrich but didn’t zip over those dangerous-looking waves!
Don’t know which was cutest - Marmite or the towel elephant. Thanks for some reminders of the beauty of the Garden Route.

by Donna-Lynne

Beautiful pictures! I wouldn’t have been feeding the ostrich! Yuck

by Leith Corney

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