Any road trip along South Africa’s wild coastline should include as many pit stops as possible – how else to profit from some of the most scenic landscapes in the world, including nature reserves, white sand beaches, and row upon row of photogenic vineyards? Though a direct drive from the Twelve Apostles Hotel in Cape Town to the beautiful Bouchard Finlayson Wine Estate in Hermanus takes barely two hours, it’s worth taking your time – a languorous pace and meandering path means you’re bound to discover the region’s many incredible landmarks on your next South African road trip.
Before embarking, it’s best to begin with something fortifying. Situated only a short drive from the Twelve Apostles, Camps Bay is a trendy suburb of Cape Town full of chic restaurants, boutiques and cafés. Stop for a quick coffee and snack at Café Caprice (and nab a terrace seat) before heading off – the magnificent views over the white sands of Camps Bay Beach are as invigorating as the caffeine.
Spend much time in Cape Town and you’ll get used to the ever-present gaze of Table Mountain, which stands like a regal sentry overlooking the city. You can, of course, admire its heights (carefully) from the road – or you can plan a stop-off in Table Mountain National Park. Home to thousands of species of flora and fauna, it’s part of the Cape Floral Kingdom, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Lucky visitors may spot the Table Mountain ghost frog (not as scary as it sounds) and the graceful klipspringer (a small antelope) as they hike up one of hundreds of paths to the top. Want to see the view but rather avoid the walk? Not a problem – the cable car service takes you to the peak in under five minutes.
After you’ve stretched your legs, it’s time to hop back into the car and continue your South African road trip south towards Muizenberg. Easily recognized by its colourful beach huts, the seaside town is famous for its local surfing culture. However, you don’t have to be a board lover to appreciate the sprawling beach, which stretches almost 40km to Gordon’s Bay. Known as one of the best swimming beaches in South Africa, its warm temperatures provide the perfect excuse to take a quick dip.
Once you’ve dried off, it’s back on the road: take the scenic route along False Bay over to the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve (pull over to viewing points as you go – dolphins and whales can often be spotted along this route). Known for its fynbos vegetation and vast natural beauty, the reserve is said to be one of the richest natural ‘hotspots’ in the world. Mountain and coastline trails show off two different sides to this wonderland.
From there, it’s on to Hermanus (once known as Hermanuspietersfontein – don’t even try to pronounce that), the whale-watching capital of South Africa. The protected Southern Right Whale can be spotted from the cliffs in town, by boat or, for the adventurous, by kayak, during its season between June and December. The city even has its very own whale crier who sounds the alert as soon as one of the marine giants is spotted. For those interested in the history of the whaling industry, a visit to the Old Harbour Museum will be rewarding – it even has a whale skeleton on display.
A scenic and most satisfying end to your South African road trip, Bouchard Finlayson Wine Estate is your final destination. Located in the beautiful Hemel-en-Aarde (Heaven and Earth) Valley, the hotel is situated on a vineyard that specialises in award-winning Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chardonnay varietals. Join one of the nature walks for a guided introduction, or simply relax on the terrace with the latest vintage in hand.
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