With one of the world’s recognised floral kingdoms, botanical gardens, the Garden Route, national parks and prolific sea life, the Western Cape is blessed with a wealth of flora and fauna.
Cape Town’s New7Wonder of Nature, Table Mountain, rises from Table Mountain National Park, which includes part of the Cape Floral Region, one of South Africa’s eight World Heritage Sites and the world’s smallest, most diverse floral kingdom.
There are 9 000 fynbos species found in the Cape and 2 000 types on Table Mountain alone – more plant species than in the entire United Kingdom.
Set against the backdrop of Table Mountain and Devil’s Peak is Kirstenbosch, a 528ha national botanical garden featuring 22 000 indigenous plants with paved walkways affording access to view them.
Travellers can also take in Cape Point, a rugged tail of land that marks the south-westerly tip of Africa and which supports pelagic bird species, zebra, eland, reptiles and baboons in the Cape Point Nature Reserve; Boulders Beach, which is home to a breeding colony of African penguins; and Seal Island in False Bay, which supports a seal colony that attracts great white sharks.
The Western Cape also offers some of the best land-based whale watching in the world.
Further inland, about a 480km drive east of Cape Town in the Little Karoo, the town of Oudtshoorn boasts the world’s largest ostrich population.