Western Cape Province

Description:
The Western Cape is a province of diversities. It offers the visitor a unique cultural and natural heritage and a rural easy-going atmosphere – which is coupled with a first world infrastructure.

Reasons for Visiting Western Cape:

  • Table Mountain – Since the first person laid eyes on Table Mountain, it has exerted its powerful and charismatic pull, enchanting and drawing any and all who fall under its spell.
  • Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens – Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden is world renowned for the beauty and diversity of the Cape flora it displays and for the magnificence of its setting against the eastern slopes of Table Mountain. Kirstenbosch grows only indigenous South African plants.
  • Victoria & Alfred Waterfront – One of Cape Town’s biggest tourist attractions, the Waterfront evokes images of the early activities of the harbour.
  • Cape Point – Bartholomeu Dias, the Portuguese seafarer, was the first to sail around the Cape. This was in 1488. On his return voyage, which must have been particularly stormy, Dias stopped at the south-western tip of Africa, and named it Cabo Tormentoso, or Cape of Storms.
  • Cape Town Beaches – The Mother City has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world and something to offer everyone. It is no surprise that South Africa was one of the first countries outside of Europe to earn blue flag status for some of her beaches – there are three on offer in and around Cape Town.
  • Cango Caves – Almost 30 kilometres outside of Outshoorn in the Klein Karoo, and certainly one of the main reasons for placing this little town on your itinerary, other than the prospect of riding an ostrich, lie the Cango Caves, some of the biggest stalagmite formations in the world set in Precambrian times.

Population in Western Cape:
4, 800, 000

Climate:

  • Cape Townand Surrounds- It is considerably cooler in Cape Town, due to the cold Benguela current from Antarctica in the Atlantic Ocean west of the city. In summer it is usually pleasantly warm. The winters are cool and wet, but the temperature hardly ever falls below 10 C.
  • The Garden Route- The Garden Route has a Mediterranean maritime climate with moderately warm summers and mild winters.
  • The Karoo – The endless grassland of the Karoo gets as little as 400 mm of rain annually, which falls mainly in summer. The winter months are almost completely dry. Due to the average altitude of 1200 m on the central high-plateau, temperatures in summer are usually bearable, although the thermometer reading can sometimes go over 35 degrees Celsius. Towards the north-west, in the direction of the Kalahari basin, due to the lower elevation, temperatures are even higher. (100m difference in altitude corresponds to 1 degree temperature difference.)

Cape Town

JAN

FEB

MAR

APR

MAY

JUN

JUL

AUG

SEP

OCT

NOV

DEC

MAX:

26.1°C

26.5°C

25.4°C

23°C

20.3°C

18.1°C

17.5°C

17.8°C

19.2°C

21.3°C

23.5°C

24.9°C

MIN:

15.7°C

15.6°C

14.2°C

11.9°C

9.4°C

7.8°C

7.°C

7.°C

8.7°C

10.6°C

13.2°C

14.9°C

RAINFALL:

15mm

17mm

20mm

41mm

69mm

93mm

82mm

77mm

40mm

30mm

14mm

17mm

Best Time to Visit:
The flowers are obviously best in August and September.

The best time for game viewing is late spring (September and October). The southern right whales hang around off our coasts from about mid-June to the end of October.

The diving is best in most of the country outside of summer (ie, from April through September), and so is the surfing – but that certainly doesn’t limit either activity to those times. River rafting is better in the Cape at the end of winter.

Languages:
55.3% Afrikaans
23.7% Xhosa
19.3% English

Religions:
81.8% Christian
9.0% No Religion
6.5% Muslim
0.4% Jewish
0.2% Hindu
2.1% Undetermined Beliefs

Currency:
South African Rand (ZAR)

Tipping:
Tipping indicates appreciation for good service
Tipping is widely practiced in South Africa. Here is some information on South African tipping.

  • In restaurants and bars, 10% is the accepted tipping standard.
  • Parking attendants and security guards are common in parking lots and at roadside bays. They generally ask if they can watch your car while you are going about your business – if you agree, a tip of R2 and up should be offered, depending on the length of your stay.
  • In South Africa we still have the luxury of petrol attendants at gas stations to fill up our vehicle tanks, check oil, water and tyre pressure, and clean the windscreens, a tip of R2 and up should be offered.
  • The going rate for porters at airports is around R7 per piece of luggage.
  • Some of the other service providers you may want to tip are taxi drivers, tour guides and assistants in hairdressers and beauty salons. Should you need assistance in taking your purchases from supermarket to your vehicle, you may want to show your gratitude to your helper with a small monetary reward.

Social Customs:
South Africa is a very multicultural society and therefore has many different customs. Some examples:

  • Our English customs are the same as Britain because South Africa was once a British colony and was influenced greatly by them.
  • The Afrikaans customs, these were influenced by the Dutch immigrants during the late 1820’s.

The Zulu culture has many unusual customs that are different from today’s western cultures. These are some traditional Zulu customs which are still practiced in parts of Kwa-Zulu Natal.