Known for its incredible biodiversity, ocean views, lush forests, and majestic mountain ranges, the Western Cape area in South Africa is not exactly short of stunning natural scenery. From Table Mountain to Cape Point (and even a trip to see the penguins), those looking to explore the most impressive local sights will be well placed when staying at The 12 Apostles Hotel and Spa, nestled as it is at the foot of Table Mountain. Take a look at our top natural sights in the Western Cape on your next trip to South Africa.
Located in Table Mountain National Park, Boulders is so much more than your average beach. Yes, it has sweeping sea views and pristine sand, but it also has penguins. That’s right: a whole colony of endangered African Penguins call this stretch of sand home, waddling, squawking, and inadvertently posing for photographs. A fantastic, family-friendly day out, bring your camera and saunter along the boardwalk for one of the best natural sights in the Western Cape.
If you’re happy to view this majestic mountain from afar, then one of the best vistas of Chapman’s Peak can be enjoyed on horseback. Ride along the white sand of Noordhooek Beach with Imhoff or Sleepy Hollow for a scenic guided excursion and some stunning natural scenery.
Anther great option is to take a road trip. Known locally as “Chappies”, Chapman’s Peak Drive is said to be one of the most amazing marine drives in the world. Ocean vistas give way to mountain views as the 9km road between Nordhooek and Hout Bay climbs, winds, and falls. And with the drive itself being peppered with picnic spots, it’s worth packing a basket of delicious artisanal Cape Town goodies for the ride.
Cape Floral Region
An unmissable sight for horticulturalists, South Africa’s Cape Floral Region is an astounding area of natural beauty that stretches from the Cape Peninsula to the Eastern Cape. Made up of eight areas, this floral kingdom is a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to plants that are found nowhere else on the planet.
Explore at your leisure to appreciate all of the area’s colourful, natural abundance, or make your way straight to the world-class Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens – the only botanical garden in the world included in a World Heritage site.
No trip to the Western Cape would be complete without spending some time on Table Mountain. Hike to the summit for incredible views (or, for less active types, take the cable car), or spend some time exploring its indigenous forest.
For a great view of Table Mountain itself, take a short hike up Lion’s Head. To the right of Table Mountain, this peak also affords great city and ocean vistas.
Also found in Table Mountain National Park, the Tokai Arboretum is a majestic collection of trees that first took root in the late 19th Century. Great for walking and biking, it’s also a fantastic place to just breathe deep and experience nature. Plus, if you’re there on a Saturday, there’s a great organic market to enjoy as well.
Finally, for a touch of drama, make sure to stop by Cape Point. Although this is not the official tip of Africa (that’s Cape Agulhas), there’s still a “teetering on the edge of the world” feeling about standing on the viewing platform at Cape Point with the winds whirling around you and the endlessness expanse of the Atlantic out in front. There are also great views of False Bay and the Hottentots Holland Mountains here for added visual value.
And for the final breathtaking natural sight of the day, head back to the luxurious surrounds of The 12 Apostles Hotel and Spa to enjoy the panorama of the sun setting into the Atlantic as you kick back and relax with a drink in The Leopard Bar.
Header Image: Kirstenbosch © Alice Notten