This area close to Cape Town and the Winelands is home to a wide variety of wildlife experiences. From the best Big Five safari experiences at Sanbona Game Reserve to spectacular whale watching at Hermanus. The Western Cape offers it all.
The Western Cape Wildlife is a region of the Western Cape, South Africa stretching from the Cedarberg on the West Coast to Cape Agulhas, the southern most tip of Africa, bordering Cape Town and The Winelands to the southwest. It comprises everything from the mountainous Cedarberg to the bush of the malaria free Sanbona Game Reserve and its spectacular wildlife experiences and white lions. The highlight of this region must certainly be the Whale Coast which includes the De Hoop Nature Reserve. It comprises some of the most luxurious accommodation in South Africa, not to mention the breathtaking views and endless activities available, including whale watching from the end of August to late November each year. A great South African itinerary in our opinion should include this region.
Western Cape Wildlife FAQs
What areas comprise the Western Cape Wildlife region?
The Western Cape is a large region which comprises six areas including the West Coast, Cape Winelands, Overberg, Central Karoo, the Garden Route and of course the City of Cape Town. Each area has its own incredible offering in terms of landscapes and wildlife.
What is the best time of the year to visit the Western Cape Wildlife?
Any time you like! We can’t honestly say one time is better over the others as each season has something special in store. January and February bring some of the warmest and most beautiful sunny days with the wine harvest is in February and March each year. July through to November brings the amazing Southern Right whales, August to September brings the most gorgeous wildflower display and if that isn’t enough. The private Sanbona Wildlife Reserve has the big five which can be seen all year round!
What are the top 5 destinations to visit in the Western Cape region?
The Western Cape has so much to offer, and you could do an entire two-week trip in just this part of the country and enjoy city, beach, wine country AND safari! The Western Cape is in an L shape and is nearly 130,000 km² - a huge area well worth taking the time to explore. Within the region, you have the Mother City of Cape Town, the beautiful Winelands region (including Franschhoek, Paarl and Stellenbosch), one of the best whale-watching towns, Hermanus, and the start of the Garden Route in Mossel Bay which then stretches over into the Eastern Cape along the coast. This, as well as one of our most favourite private reserves: Sanbona, where you can stay in one of four beautiful lodges on your photographic hunt for the big five!
You really do have it all – and without taking an additional flight or risk of malaria, ideal for those with kiddies or who aren’t particularly up for all that extra time waiting around for planes.
What is the best safari near Cape Town?
We just LOVE Sanbona Wildlife Reserve, which is roughly three hours by car away from the Waterfront in Cape Town. There are four options for lodging, each with a unique look and feel and as we know the place so well we’re best placed to help you select which one is best for you and your loved ones. As a big five reserve, not only will you have the opportunity to look for lion, elephant, buffalo, rhino and the elusive leopard, but you’ll also have a wealth of other game to spot including cheetah (ha) and a huge variety of creatures large and small! The reserve also provides the chance to get on board a boat, go stargazing, or indeed go looking for age-old rock art.
If you’re looking for another kind of safari altogether, we highly recommend the stunning Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve and Wellness Retreat which is also located approximately three hours away from Cape Town. Nestled in the foothills of the Cederberg Mountains, this reserve is truly one of South Africa’s most majestic National Heritage Site with stunning open plains, sandstone formations and ancient bush art sites dating back 10,000 years. Bushmans Kloof is home to a rich array of indigenous wildlife including the rare and precious Cape Leopard, as well as stunning herds of Cape Mountain Zebras. As a predator and malaria-free reserve, you can enjoy invigorating outdoor activities including nature drives, hiking trails, mountain biking, fishing, canoeing, and swimming in clear rock pools. You will also have access to exquisite bushman paintings and the on-site Heritage Centre, which includes permanent exhibits, photographs and specialist talks.
What are the 10 best Western Cape Wildlife areas?
The Western Cape is rich with different eco-systems, all home to a wealth of diverse fauna and flora. Roughly the size of England, there is wildlife around every corner and types you never thought you’d get to see! Penguins in Africa? You bet! This is just one of the marine five which you can tick off your list, and just a hop skip and a jump away from the city of Cape Town no less. The other four which make up the five are the Cape fur seal, the dolphin, humpback whale and the great white shark. At certain times of the year, you can also find the highly sought after southern right whales.
This in addition to the big five (lion, leopard, rhino, buffalo and elephant, the most dangerous animals one could hunt ‘back in the day’), and remarkable species such as ostrich – also found a short drive from Cape Town! The point is, the Western Cape doesn’t just have set wildlife areas – you can find amazing species of animals, reptiles, birds and plants no matter which part of the region you visit.
What are the top activities in the Western Cape Wildlife region?
Activities in the Western Cape are endless. With the incredible museums and outdoorsy stuff available in Cape Town (not to mention the delicious restaurant scene!), the beautiful vineyards in the Winelands area, the stunning beaches and opportunity for marine activities all the way along the Western Cape coast AND safari in private nature reserves you won’t be stuck for things to do.
We are able to cater to every type of traveller, just let us know a little more about you and what you enjoy on your trips and we’ll do the rest! Slow travel, adrenaline travel, couples, families – we have your back, and we think the Western Cape has everything you need regardless of your preferences!
The Cederberg in the Western Cape is a mountainous region just two hours north of Cape Town, yet the landscape is completely different here being wilder, warmer with a raw, dramatic beauty. Enjoy the beauty of the Cederberg in your own way, walk in the mountains, enjoy bouldering and climbling at Rocklands. Discover the beautiful birdlife or get your surf on, swim in the clear mountain rock pools or marvel at the delicate Bushman rock art.
De Hoop Nature Reserve lies two hours east of Cape Town at the beginning of the Whale Coast. De Hoop Nature Reserve is home to the world’s smallest and most threatened plant kingdom – the Cape Floral Kingdom. The reserve has the largest conserved area of lowland fynbos in the Western Cape. Of the 9 000 plant species found in the Cape floral region, the reserve and its surrounds have an estimated 1 500 species. It is also home to 86 mammal species, such as the rare Bontebok and Cape Mountain Zebra.
Located in the heart of the Karoo in the province of the Western Cape in South Africa, Sanbona Wildlife Reserve is said to be the area’s premier wildlife destination offering one of the best safari experiences in the country. Stretching over 54 000 hectares, this tranquil reserve is one of South Africa’s largest private reserves boasting pristine natural beauty with its endless plains and awe-inspiring landscapes inhabited by an array of wildlife including the endangered riverine rabbit. To add to this, it is also home to the only free-roaming and self-sufficient white lions in the world. Visitors can also look forward to excellent birdwatching, viewing ancient rock art, enjoying wonderful game viewing, as well as a comfortable stay at the luxury lodges.
Situated just 140 kilometres from Cape Town and built between the beautiful shores and cliffs of Walker Bay, Hermanus has grown from a small seaside resort town to become possibly the best-known place for whale watching in the world. This town is also famed for its natural scenic beauty, long stretches of pristine beaches and excellent variety of restaurants, cafes and bars. Today, Hermanus is more than just a popular holiday destination and offers visitors all kinds of activities, both energetic and relaxing. Visitors can explore the Old Harbour Museum, which is comprised of the charming fisherman’s village, the old harbour, and the Whale House Museum; hike through the nearby Fernkloof Nature Reserve, and sample an array of top quality wine along the famed Hermanus Wine Route.