Cape Town is not only blessed with an outstanding natural setting, it is also within reach of numerous wilderness reserves. Many are grouped to the city’s east, but if you head north out of the city you’ll soon come to one of the region’s greatest natural wonders: West Coast National Park.
Don’t expect to see big game; the only thing roaring here is the ocean. The park curves around Langebaan Lagoon, where migratory birds alight in the southern summer. It’s a popular water sport destination, but look out for signs: some areas only allow non-motorized craft while others are off-limits altogether.
Apart from the lagoon, the huge variety of unique wildflowers is one of the main reasons to visit, from late winter right up until October, with many hardy varieties springing from rocks. The second half of the year is also a good time for whale watching off the coast. On elevated points you can not only see far out to sea, you can also catch sight of Cape Town’s Table Mountain to the south.
There are cycling routes and hiking trails, and if you choose to stay overnight West Coast National Park offers modest accommodation options, including houseboats and beach huts. But if you want to extend your trip, consider going further up the coast. There you’ll find idyllic spots like the fishing town of Paternoster or St Helena Bay, where Vasco da Gama came ashore over 500 years ago, and whose east-facing aspect bathes it in dazzling sunrises.