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GDS Codes

  • Galileo – HO4272
  • Amadeus – HOCPTUES
  • Sabre – HO53687
  • Worldspan - HOCPTUE


The Western Cape, Africa’s southwestern-most tip, is the most popular tourist destination in South Africa, and it's not just because Cape Town, the Mother City hub, is one of the most beautiful cities on the planet. Just a few hours drive from the First World sophistication of its cafes and clubs you will find vast open plains and rocky mountains, deserted beaches and deep gorges, carved by passing centuries and inhabited by few.

Along the West Coast the West Coast National Park and Paternoster are the primary jewels, with salty-air beaches and laid-back beach restaurants. And after the first rains fall, usually in August, the annual miracle of spring sees the seemingly barren plains abloom with spectacular flower displays. Then there’s the vast Southern Right whale nursery that stretches along the Cape’s southern coast. Some of the best land-based whale-watching sites in the world are in the Overberg, with whales migrating to its shallow coastal basin to mate and calve from mid-July to November. The Whale Coast, of which the coastal town of Hermanus is the unofficial capital, is an easy and beautiful 90-minute coast-hugging drive from Cape Town.

East of the Overberg are the coastal lakes and forests of the Garden Route, fringed by the majestic mountains that separate it from the ostrich farms and vineyards of the Klein Karoo, and the distinctive architecture of the small settlements dotted in the vast arid plains of the Great Karoo. It’s a great place to do nothing but unwind—but this scenic coastal belt, which encompasses South Africa’s Lakes District, also takes pride of place on the itinerary for adrenaline junkies, with a rush of activities ranging from the highest bungee jump in the world to riding elephants and cage-diving with great white sharks. The region also boasts an increasing number of private game reserves, though you need to drive to the Eastern Cape (a few hours north of Port Elizabeth) to find real Big 5 territory. You can drive the entire Garden Route from Cape Town in 5 to 6 hours, reaching Port Elizabeth in 7, but you should spend at least 3 nights en route—travelling via the N2 or the highly recommended Route 62 through the Klein Karoo, with the gem of Prince Albert a real highlight—to discover the beauties that lie off the beaten track. For more information visit the useful Frommer's Western Cape section.