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Weekend trips

Safari

In the mood for a real African safari without traveling to central Africa? No problem, less than 2 hours from Cape Town you will find lions, elephant, rhino, leopard and buffalo (all the members of the Big 5) and more.

Drakenstein Lion Park is 30 minutes from Cape Town, near Klapmuts, Stellenbosch. It is a sanctuary for lions that have been saved from distress. It provides life time care for these rescued lions where they can live out their lives in dignity. By visiting Drakenstein you will not only just see some real live lions, but you will also contribute to the protection of other lions locally as well as internationally through your support.

If you want to see the Big 5 (including some other species as well), you can visit two reserves, Aquila Safari or the Fairy Glen Nature Reserve (http://cybercapetown.com/Ukwamkela/fairyreserve.php). They are located near the town of Worcester, less than 2 hours from Cape Town and are well worth the visit. Make sure to check out the prices of these venues, as they tend to become quite pricy when you stay over for a weekend.

Inverdoorn (http://www.private-game-reserve.com/en/home.cfm) is another game reserve just 2 hours from Cape Town. It is situated just outside Ceres on 10 000ha of bush land where you can spot lion, rhino, buffalo, cheetah, giraffe, zebra and many more. In addition it also has adventure activities on offer including accommodation and safari options. But as with most game parks, check out the rates before planning your trip.

Garden Route

Although the Garden Route is quite far outside Cape Town, it is still a very popular tourist route all year round. Some claim the route starts at Stillbay and runs up to Jeffrey’s Bay (surfers paradise with its ‘reeling right hander supertubes’). Others claim that the real route only starts at Wilderness and stops at Storm’s River, but ultimately, you who travel the route can decide for yourself.

It has beautiful towns along the route like George, Harold’s Bay, Knysna, Plettenberg Bay and Wildnerness where you can stop over. Knysna is a lovely town and very famous for its delicious oysters. The climate along the route is very temperate and the scenery is very beautiful with awesome beach views, lush vegetation and warm ocean waters. You can complete the entire Garden Route in a week, so rent yourself a decent car and hit the route. For info on places to go and where to stay check out http://www.wheretostay.co.za/wc/gr/index.php or http://www.coastingafrica.com (Backpackers guide for South Africa) for on-line booking details.

West Coast

If you prefer more quiet areas with not so many tourists around you, try the West Coast and Namaqualand. It has a totally opposite character to the Garden Route with wide open planes, much less lush vegetation and a wide blue sky above you. It’s well worth the visit if you appreciate those roads less traveled. Check out http://www.noxrentals.co.za/content/capetownsurrounds.asp for information on the towns and attractions of the West Coast and http://www.wheretostay.co.za/wc/wco/index.php for accommodation.

Naturally it has less attractions than the Garden Route, but the people and landscape have a unique and almost comic-like character. The Namaqualand is a region in the West Coast which is world famous for its beautiful wild flower boom just before Spring. Here the entire landscape of the Namaqualand transforms from grey into all the colours of the spectrum for a few weeks (August).

Basically you go to the West Coast to relax and interact with locals. There are many small fishing villages and towns all along the West Coast. For fresh west coast fish (snoek) and crayfish this is the place to go. Unfortunately the ocean waters are very cold up there so swimming is not very comfortable. You either love this place, or you don’t – the only way to find out is to go there and see for yourself.

If you want to try a real West Coast outdoor seafood restaurant experience you must check out the Strandloper near Langebaan (one hour from Cape Town). It is similar to the Melkbosskerm in Melkbos but bigger and set directly on the beach. It’s a buffet restaurant where you will be served a ten course seafood extravaganza of different fish and crayfish. They even bake their own bread.

It has a bar, but you can take your own drinks with if you wish. Don’t be shocked when your cutlery are merely mussel shells – its all part of the experience. Check out the weather before driving through, because its an outdoor restaurant and when the West Coast wind blows at its best, you will have sand in your teeth.

 

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