From the ocean to the mountains and the winelands in between, the Western Cape is home to a plethora of hidden gems. But for those who want to venture off the beaten track or avoid the crowds, there are many more places to explore. Here’s an alternative list to get you started
Cape Nature’s Wilderness Areas
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Raw, untouched nature. Do we need to say anymore? A wilderness area is defined as an area of pristine natural environment. South Africa’s Forest Act describes it as ‘undeveloped areas uninhibited by man. It should retain an intrinsically wild experience and give visitors a feeling of isolation from the outside world.’
It’s different from nature reserves and national parks – where there is little to no infrastructure in wilderness areas. The Western Cape is home to three wilderness areas, the Cederberg being the most famous.
But, the Groot Winterhoek and Boosmansbos Wilderness areas are ready to explore, and are some of the province’s best-kept secrets.
The Klein Karoo is no longer a secret – the towns of Montagu and Barrydale have boomed recently, and even international tourists are flocking to Oudtshoorn to see an ostrich and crawl through the Cango Caves.
Calitzdorp, however, although it may be revered for its port, remains an overlooked gem. The town is home to the most farms in the Klein Karoo Wine Route – the longest wine route in the world – as well as the Vetplantfees, perfect for succulent lovers or those that just want to experience the joy of an eclectic festival along with plant aficionados.
Outside of the famous flower season, the West Coast National Park remains relatively quiet and free of visitors for the rest of the year. Just off the isolated beaches in the park, boathouses dot the lagoon, as well as a few quaint houses on the coast.
There’s little to do in Churchhaven besides swim, bird-watch, and relax, so if the kids get antsy, take them hiking, cycling, or kayaking in the surrounding nature reserve. If the weather gets bad, grab a hot water bottle and catch up on your holiday novel in the sunny loft or get cosy near the fireplace.
Lower Breede River
Some may be dissuaded by the “out of the way” journey to Witsand, the mouth of the Breede River, where adventure sports and conservation activities complement each other beautifully.
The consistent wind, shallow waters, and sandbars make this one of the best kitesurfing spots in the world, and especially good for learners.
A long drive, or short paddle from Witsand to Infanta on the Eastern bank, is an enclave of a conservation-minded community. You can enjoy fishing, birding, canoeing, and snorkelling where white-backed vultures soar in the sky.
There is also the Bent read bar, home to a collection of just random stuff. On Friday evenings, things get steamy as the smoke machine is fired up and guests are encouraged to get up on a special “boogie table”.
Robberg Nature Reserve in Plettenberg Bay is not the only peninsula jutting out where you can take a meandering hike. 3 km from Vleesbaai (35 km outside Mossel Bay) Fransmanshoek Conservancy is home to a 6.9 km trail.
The conservancy encompasses the villages of Boggomsbaai and Vleesbaai as well as the Misgun farm, which is home to the Vleesbaai 4×4 Dune Route. The aim of Fransmanshoek is to preserve the 14 km stretch of coastline which is also rich in maritime history and the start of the oystercatcher trail.
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