The Southern Cape is home to a rugged coast which abounds with marine activity and wildlife.
Guests are met and welcomed at a location of their choice in Cape Town by their private African Sky guide. Thereafter you’ll have the opportunity of experiencing a few attractions at the direction of your experienced African Sky guide. The looming Table Mountain was first summited by António de Saldanha in 1503 when he named it ‘Taboa do Cabo’, or ‘Table of the Cape’. Send a post card from the upper cable station post office, take a mountaintop walk along one of the established walkways or simply enjoy the fantastic panoramic views across the Cape Peninsula. During the cooler part of the day, enjoy a leisurely stroll through Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens under Skeleton Gorge. Established in 1913, these gardens attempt to provide a comprehensive display of the region’s indigenous flora and include an impressive Baobab Tree in the new greenhouse. The recently completed ‘Boomslang’ treetop canopy walkway in the Enchanted Forest now provides guests with the opportunity to experience life in the treetops.
Prior to European arrival, the Khoikhoi peoples were the dominant tribe in the area and farmed the Cape Peninsula and surrounds extensively, later trading with the first Europeans as they attempted to circumnavigate the southern tip of Africa. Portuguese seafarers were the first to make contact with these indigenous Southern African peoples, but the Dutch were the first to establish a permanent settlement here. Our morning departure will see us traveling in a circular route as we explore the Cape Peninsula. The little African Penguins at Boulders Beach are world famous and even featured on Animal Planet in a regular documentary. Here they go about their daily affairs, blissfully unruffled by the many human eyes observing their every move. Similarly, the Chacma Baboons will keep a close eye on you as you visit the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve and make your way to the lighthouse where panoramic ocean views may be enjoyed. Chapman’s Peak traces the steep west coast mountainside as it snakes its way back to the city of Cape Town. Watch out for the bronze leopard as it keeps an ever-watchful eye over Hout Bay, a memorial to the many animals that once inhabited the mountains dominating the Cape Peninsula.
Today is dedicated to cultural pursuits. We’ll start with a visit to the region’s most well-known historical attraction and synonymous with the city of Cape Town, Robben Island.
A short ferry ride, departing from the V&A Waterfront, carries passengers across Table Bay, where on arrival guests will participate in a guided tour of the prison buildings, including a visit to Nelson Mandela’s cell where he was incarcerated for eighteen years. The duration of the excursion is about four hours, after which you’ll return again to Cape Town by ferry. First on the afternoon’s agenda is a visit to the Cape Castle, an excellent example of one of the original buildings constructed in South Africa and today housing a fine period museum. The nearby District Six, named after the city’s sixth municipal district, was established in 1867. Originally it was a mixed community of freed slaves, merchants, artisans, laborers and immigrants and was a vibrant centre with close links to the city and the port. By the beginning of the twentieth century however, the policy of forced removals had begun. As the more prosperous moved away, the area became the neglected ward of Cape Town. Your museum tour offers insight into the history of the district before returning to your overnight accommodations in the late afternoon.
Saying goodbye to Cape Town, your tour traces the coast from Gordon's Bay, traveling eastwards via the Rooi Els and Betty’s Bay settlements with the imposing Hottentots-Holland Mountains to your left. En route several stops are made at vantage points from where the southern right whale might be spotted. These whales frequent the waters along South Africa's coastline from June to November, traveling approximately 2 000km from the Southern Ocean to give birth in secluded bays along our shores. A visit is made to the Penguin Nature Reserve at Betty’s Bay before stopping at the Harold Porter Botanical Garden for lunch. Later, we’ll pass the Arabella Estate as we head to the seaside village of Hermanus. Since 1992, Hermanus has been home to the world’s only whale crier, who sounds his kelp horn to announce when whales have been sighted. Your afternoon is spent exploring the village at leisure, watching whales (in season) or relaxing on a local beach.
After breakfast, we’ll rejoin the N2 highway and continue along the scenic Overberg region of the Western Cape. We’ll stretch our legs in charming Swellendam at the foot of the Langeberg Mountains, the third oldest town in South Africa. Established in 1746, the town boasts over fifty provincial heritage sites, most of them buildings of Cape Dutch architecture. Swellendam was once considered the very eastern extremity of the colony, beyond which lay a wild and unexplored Africa, and as a result many famous explorers and travelers, including François Le Vaillant, Lady Anne Barnard, and William John Burchell, passed through here. Opt to visit the Drostdy Museum before heading south towards the coast and the De Hoop Nature Reserve. De Hoop is a 34 000-hectare (84 000-acre) World Heritage Site, which includes a protected marine reserve stretching three miles out to sea. In the later afternoon or early evening, choose to embark on an eco-boat trip on the De Hoop Vlei, a Ramsar wetland of international importance. A total of 260 species of birds have been spotted here. A wide variety of activities are available to enjoy at De Hoop, from a guided interpretative marine walk exploring the coastal rock pools during low tide, to a morning bird watching hike with one of De Hoop’s qualified field guides. A guided mountain biking trail is also available, offering spectacular views and potential encounters with the reserve’s myriad wildlife, like eland, baboons and ostriches, and rare species like the Cape mountain zebra and bontebok. Alternatively, head out of the reserve for an exploration of the tiny Elim Wine Route and a visit to the shipwreck museum in Bredasdorp.
Note: Activities mentioned are optional and at your own expense.
After breakfast your tour returns to Cape Town along the scenic N2 route, where you’ll be delivered to Cape Town International after a comprehensive tour of South Africa’s Western Cape region.
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