A trip to South Africa is incomplete without a trip to Western Cape Province. Fourth-largest of the nine provinces, it has varied climatic conditions due to the mixed topography. With Cape of Good Hope, world-renowned vineyards, snow-clad mountains, rich cuisine and even richer culture: take the time to delight in Western Cape.
Table Mountain - This natural amphitheatre edged by impressive cliffs forms a dramatic backdrop to Cape Town. When a south-easterly wind is directed up the mountain's slopes into colder air, the flat top of the mountain is often covered by orographic clouds, where the moisture condenses to form the "tablecloth" of cloud. Legend attributes this phenomenon to a smoking contest between the Devil and a local pirate called Van Hunks.
Robben Island - This island in the Table Bay is now a museum, but was once the prison that held Nelson Mandela for 18 years. Three of the former inmates of this prison have become Presidents of South Africa. Birds of Eden - Located near Plettenberg Bay is the world's largest free flight aviary and bird sanctuary, with over 3500 birds living in the sanctuary. Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden - Acclaimed as one of the best botanical gardens of the world, Kirstenbosch regularly exhibits Zimbabwean stone sculptures in the gardens.
Stadsaal Caves in Cederberg Nature Reserve - A series of ancient inter-linking caves in the Cederberg Wilderness that hold excellent examples of San Rock Art, in particular paintings of elephant.
Penguins at Boulders Beach - Boulders Beach in Simonstown is famous for its colony of urban African penguins, which is increasingly becoming endangered. Kogmanskloof - Constructed by Thomas Bain from 1873 - 1877, Kogmanskloof is the pass through which one drives between the towns of Montagu and Ashton along the course of the Kingna River. Two Oceans Aquarium is located at the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront in Cape Town and is an excellent opportunity to view the incredible diversity of the Indian and Atlantic Oceans.
Castle of Good Hope - Considered the best preserved example of a Dutch East India Company, this fort was built in the 17th century. In 1936 the Castle was declared a provincial heritage site.
Find something to suit every mood, taste and budget; from naturally grown fruit and vegetables to sustainable seafood platters, artisan cheeses and organic wine; the choice is wide and enticing.
Walk through some of the most beautiful vineyards in the world and taste the excellent wine. The winelands are divided into six main regions: Boberg, Breede River Valley, Cape South Coast, Coastal Region, Klein Karoo and Olifants River.
Most of the province is considered to have a Mediterranean climate with cool, wet winters and warm, dry summers.
Cape Town International Airport averages: January maximum: 26 °C (min: 16 °C), July maximum: 18 °C (min: 7 °C), annual rainfall: 515mm
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, Cape Town annual rainfall: 1395mm
George averages: January maximum: 25 °C (min: 15 °C), July maximum: 19 °C (min: 7 °C), annual rainfall: 715mm
Laingsburg, on the N1 highway in the Great Karoo (coordinates: Lat: S33.20°, Long: E20.85°) annual rainfall: 150 mm, summer daytime temperatures exceeding 30°C.
The former Cape Province was divided into the Western Cape, Northern Cape, Eastern Cape and part of North West in 1994. About two thirds of the province's population lives in Cape Town, which is also the capital.
The Black Consciousness Movement (BCM) was a grassroots anti-Apartheid activist movement that emerged in South Africa in the mid-1960s due to the jailing and banning of the African National Congress and Pan Africanist Congress leadership after the Sharpeville Massacre in 1960. According to a report by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), the Western Cape experienced the second highest number of deaths and casualties associated with the 1976 uprising protests.
Western Cape was one of two provinces that did not elect an African National Congress (ANC) provincial government in the 1994 elections (the other was KwaZulu Natal).
The highest contributing sector in the Western Cape's economy is the financial, business services and real-estate sectors, followed by manufacturing and agriculture. The city of Cape Town is ranked as the most entrepreneurial city in South Africa with Early-Stage Entrepreneurial Activity being 190% greater than South Africa's national average.
The Western Cape province has the most highly educated residents with a very skilled workforce in comparison to any other African region.
The high-school graduation rate is consistently around 80%, higher than any other province in South Africa.
Over 50% of all cheese in South Africa is produced in the Western Cape.
The Cape Floral Kingdom claims nearly 7000 plants found nowhere else in the world.