Feature image courtesy of @snowreportsa

Snow in South Africa remains a fascinating weather phenomenon. Maybe it’s because we’re used to mostly sunny skies and warm days. It’s a great adventure to go snow hunting in winter, and in Cape Town we’re lucky enough to have snow almost on our doorstep.

A quick road trip within a three-hour drive, and you can pretend for a moment that you’re driving somewhere in Europe. We’ve sourced the best places for you to see the exciting little white fluffy stuff.

Snow season differs every year but late June to late July you’re mostly guaranteed to see some good downfall. Good thing this period falls over the school holidays! Perfect excuse to stare in amazement at the snow-capped peaks. And there’s nothing more romantic than a weekend getaway to the snowy hills. The best way to stay in the loop with snow in South Africa, is Snow Report SA. They are also active on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. If you plan a trip over the weekend, there are great farm stays in the surrounding areas.

Best Places to See Snow in The Western Cape

There are four main areas in the Western Cape that consistently receive snow: Tulbagh, Ceres, Cederberg, and Worcester.

Tulbagh is the closest to Cape Town, an hour and bit drive away. The quaint little town has beautiful Cape Dutch homesteads, tucked away between the mountains. On its outskirts lies many farms. These scenic mountains and open fields are often transformed into a white wonderland in the winter season.

Ceres is a little bit further away, just over two-hours drive. The fruitful valley produces an array of fruits. The second highest peak in the province is found here and the South African Ski Club calls it home. The reserve located outside the picturesque town is perfect for snowman building, snowball fights, skiing, and snowboarding. But if you want to truly enjoy the snow, you need a 4×4 to access it.

Also about a two-hour drive away, you can hunt the snow in the Cederberg. In the summer time the region is infamously hot and dry. But in winter it boasts with beautiful bright-blue skies and snow-capped mountains. The region’s highest peak, Sneeuberg, always has a sprinkle of snow adorning it in the winter months.

Two and a half hours away, you can enter the wine valley to view snow and lush green pastures. The wine growing region stretching from Worcester to Robertson often boasts with snowy mountains in the winter time, even if it’s only on the higher peaks. You can keep yourself busy here for hours with wine tasting, trout fishing, and historical winter walks hosted in the town.

Matroosberg Private Nature Reserve

Where: Farm Erfdeel, Matroosberg, Breede River, Ceres

www.matroosberg.com

Most of the time during snow season, this is your best bet to see snow. The Matroosberg mountain range boasts with the highest peaks in the Western Cape. In a good winter season, you can access the snow with a regular car on the lower slopes. With a 4×4 you can make your way to the higher peaks to explore the deeper snow.

The reserve has its own official ski slope and hut. There’s a wide range of accommodation options available in the area, something for every budget.

Klondyke Cherry Farm

Where: Breede River, Ceres

www.cherryfarm.co.za

Situated on the other side of Ceres, this cherry farm is often powered white during winter. Sometimes it’s just the tips of the Matroosberg surrounding it, but in a good season the snow lies thick on the farm. The farm offers both camping and self-catering accommodation options.

Guinevere Guest Farm

Where: R46, Tulbagh Road, Tulbagh

www.guinevereguestfarm.com

This beautiful farm is ideal for an overnight stay on your way to the snow hunting. During high snowfall seasons you might wake up to a white wonderland, with the magnificent mountains as a backdrop. If not, you will be close enough to the other snow-rich areas a short drive from the town.

Mont Rouge

Where: Strekstroom Road, Tulbagh

www. montrouge.co.za

Another great overnight option in the Tulbagh area. It’s centrally located to offer you the best chance of driving to see the snow in the surrounding areas. Often formidable peaks surrounding the farm is snow-capped in the heart of winter.

De Wilge

Where: Robertson

www.dewilge.co.za

This guesthouse in the Nuy Valley used to be an 19th century wine cellar. It was revamped into two stunningly luxurious apartments. Looking out onto the magnificent Langeberg Mountains, it’s a great spot to celebrate your successful snowhunting endeavours.

De Pakhuys

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Pakhuis pass.

A post shared by Matthys Kruger (@depakhuys) on

Where: Clanwilliam

www.depakhuys.com

This spot is popular with hikers and rock climbers.  Situated 26km from Clanwilliam on the way to Wupperthal village, it’s ideal for camping or glamping.

Tucked away in the beautiful Agter-Pakhuis valley, it will give you the opportunity to savour the moment of your glorious snow hunting.

Goatherds House

Where: Matroosberg

www.matroosberg.com

It’s not every day that you get to stay in a hundred-year-old farm house. This immaculately restored humble abode is located at the foot of the Matroosberg Mountain, and it’s fitted with a few cosy comforts to heat you up during an icy winter moment.

Fairfield

Where: Ceres

www.fairfieldcottages.co.za

Easily accessible from Ceres, this lovely mountain retreat is only 6km from the town. It is nestled between orchids, at the foot of the Skurweberg Mountains. Perfect spot to stay after you’ve visited the Matroosberg Private Nature Reserve.

Seven Oaks Vineyard Cottages

Where: Worcester

www.sevenoaksvineyardcottages.co.za

These self-catering cottages are situated on a 63-hectare active wine farm. Located in the Breede River Valley, the little cosy cottages offer you glorious mountain views.

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The Mother City offers you endless exploration opportunities. There’s enough things to keep you busy 24/7! We’ve decided to offer you small chunks of exploration options, the top 5 of everything that you have to see when visiting Cape Town.

Whether you are a hardcore outdoor junkie, or more of a cityslicker who wants only a small dose of nature, Cape Town will not disappoint you either way!

The Big 5 Nature Activities in Cape Town

Without further ado, here’s our suggestions of the must-do outdoor activities.

#1 Table Mountain

The formidable mountain has been included in the new list of 7 Wonders of Nature. And we fully agree with the inclusion! It’s almost as if the mountain creates a special energy, which draws you in. You can either hike your way to the top, or take the fun rotating cable way. Read more about the hiking routes in our post about the Top 5 Hiking Routes Up Table Mountain. Or take a guided Table Mountain hike.

#2 Lion’s Head

It’s the most-climbed mountain in the city. You can meander your way around the mountain in a circular route to the top. Or if your fitness level allows it, you can tackle the chain ladders and scurry your way to the top like a monkey.

The view from the top is priceless. A 360° vantage point of the city will offer you a great picture of how the urban and the natural jungle intermingle in Cape Town. Read our post about what you need to know about hiking up Lion’s Head for the full moon. Or take a guided Lion’s Head hike.

#3 Kirstenbosch Gardens

It is the most famous of South Africa’s botanical gardens, there are nine in total. The popular garden was founded in 1913 and covers five of South Africa’s six biomes. You can view plants from the Karoo, savanna, the indigenous fynbos, and more.

Kirstenbosch has a strong focus on the native Cape region plants, such as a formidable collection of Proteas alongside the fynbos. The “Kirsten” refers to the original manager of the area, J.F. Kirsten. He was in charge of caring for the land in the 18th century. And the “bosch” refers to a bush. The gardens also include a Provincial Heritage Site. You can still view parts of the Wild Almond and brambles hedge ordered by Jan van Riebeek in 1660. Van Riebeek’s Hedge protected the boundaries of the original Dutch colony. In 2013 a special tree canopy walkway was built to celebrate the garden’s 100th birthday. A visit to Kirstenbosch is not complete without a photo from the Boomslang.

Visit the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens website for more information.

#4 Constantia

Grapes are part of nature, right? So sipping wine definitely counts as a nature outing! The Constantia Valley is a vineyard nestled in between the Southern suburbs. It is the oldest wine-making region of the southern hemisphere.

It lies at the foot of the Table Mountain National Park and the Constantiaberg. Select a VoiceMap Constantia tour to guide you more constructively through the beautiful landscapes. You can also book a Constantia Wine Tour if you are in the mood for wine tasting after meandering through the vineyards.

Visit constantiavalley.com for more information.

#5 Cape Point

Two oceans meet at this rugged outcrop, the Indian and the Atlantic. The area is part of the Table Mountain National Park and boasts with a formidable array of fynbos. The Cape of Good Hope nature reserve and Cape Point was declared a World Heritage Site. Bartolomeu Dias dubbed the area the ‘Cape of Storms’ in 1488. In the daytime sailors could use the prominent point as a handy navigational guide. But at night the waters around it became treacherous, fog masking the dangerous rocky outline.

By 1859 a lighthouse was built to steer ships clear of the danger zones. Till this day it keeps watch over the area, at 238 metres above sea-level. The area features wide pathways leading up and down the side of the rocky point. If your legs feel too tired for the climb back up, you can take the Flying Dutchman Funicular. After visiting the lighthouse, stop at one of the beaches inside the reserve for a leisurely picnic lunch.

Visit capepoint.co.za for more information.

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Every year whale season is a big deal in Cape Town, especially in the Hermanus area. People flock from all over the world to view them. Read more about the Hermanus Whale Festival.

Between June and December various whales, including the Southern Right whales, gather in the chilly waters around the coast for their breeding season. Sometimes they arrive by the end of May and stay till early January. But during the whale season of 2018/19, a multitude of whales are still spotted in Table Bay during February.

The Mystery of the Whales Explained

Jean Tresfon, a Marine Conservation Photographer, offers us a possible reason for this strange phenomena. He confirms that whale season is usually during the winter months. But there is another group of Southern Right whales that live up the West Coast. They are currently enjoying a feeding bonanza with the Humpback whales that frequent the area every summer.

In summer the Southeaster is the prevailing wind. It is an offshore wind. This formidable wind blows the surface layer out to sea and replaces it with the icy cold, clean and nutrient rich water from the deep. The process is known as upwelling.

Related: 5 of the Best Ways to See Whales around Cape Town

A Feast Courtesy of the Cape Doctor

This process causes the plankton to bloom. And these little organisms is the first stage in the food chain. Next the krill, shrimp, and small fish come to nibble on the fresh feast caused by the wind. And then comes the bigger predators to take part as well. Watch Amazing Footage of 60 Humpback Whales in Cape Town.

Like clockwork several hundred Humpback whales pitch every year for the feast from October to February. They start travelling down to us from up north near Paternoster. They follow the krill and the current to make their way to us down south. Usually in January and February these whales are found off the Atlantic Seaboard, and they slowly continue south past the Cape Point and into the deep.

Whales Galore

So normally the Southern Right whales live in the southern ocean and only visit our shores from May to October to mate and calve. But a few of these whales decided to become permanent residents of our waters and stay on the West Coast all year round. They then get sniff in the nose that the food source travelled further south, following the Humpback whales. The other whale friends invited to the feast, are the Brydes whales, also permanent residents of our waters. But they are super shy animals, seldom seen, and they usually only appear on the surface when feeding on bait balls.

If you are fascinated with these gentle giants of the ocean, why not go on a whale watching tour in Table Bay with Ocean Wonder? Sounds like the timing is perfect right now!

Follow @jtresfon for epic nature photos.

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Remember to share your epic Instagram pics with us! Tag @secretcapetown or use #secretcapetown to be featured with our #guesswhere.

5 of the Best Ways to See Whales around Cape Town_

When words like breaching, fluking, spouting and spyhopping, can be heard around Cape Town, it means it’s whale season. From June to November, Southern Right Whales enter Cape Town waters – their 60-ton, barnacle-covered bodies can be seen frolicking not far from the coastline where they come to breed and calf each year on their annual migration from Antarctica. Between May and November it’s the turn of Humpback whales who have for millennia made the journey from the polar region to the Cape of Storm where they court and give birth before setting out with their young to Mozambique and Madagascar. Whale season in Cape Town is as exciting for locals and tourists as it is for the whales, so we’ve picked five of the best ways to see whales around Cape Town.

  1. Simon’s Town Boat Company

Little more than a thirty minute drive from Cape Town’s city centre, historic Simon’s Town is one of the best places to whale-watch. Simon’s Town Boat Company is happy to help with a number of sea tours and boat charters – definitely the best way to experience the beautiful False Bay coast that stretches from Strandfontein all the way to Cape Point where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet. The area, tucked away from the open ocean and surrounded by sheltering mountains at the southern tip of Africa, is an ideal winter home for whales. You might be lucky enough to see them from the shoreline or you can get a closer view of these gentle giants in their natural habitat by setting out on one of four custom-designed vessels, skippered by highly qualified crew and your very own expert tour guide. Keep an eye out for other ocean visitors like Humpbacks, Orcas and dolphins.

boatcompany.co.za

Facebook: @boatcompany

Brooders Whale watching IN Cape Town Top 5 Ways To Watch Whales

  1. Ocean Wonder

Ocean Wonder offers boat-based ocean wildlife encounters, guided by Paul Lipschitz and his knowledge of the Table Bay area and the creatures who live in it, whether whales, dolphins, penguins, sun fish or seals. These guided trips take you wherever the ocean giants can be reached – and along the way, you’ll be enchanted by the facts and stories Paul can tell you, about the ocean’s wildlife and the breathtaking habitat they call home. The boat is a 7.2 meter Ballistic semi-rigid inflatable (SRI), certified by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) for use as a commercial charter boat. You can expect an exciting and comfortable ride that can accommodate 11 passengers.

oceanwonder.co.za

Facebook: @oceanwondercapetown

5 of the Best Ways to See Whales around Cape Town - Dyer Island -Cruises-01

  1. Dyer Island Cruises

Dyer Island Cruises is based in Gansbaai, a two-hour drive from Cape Town. The area surrounding Dyer Island and “Shark Alley” is the world renowned home of the Marine Big 5. Depending on the time of year, you can see whales, dolphins, seals, African Penguins and Great White Sharks – sometimes in a single trip! Peak season is July to December, and Southern Right Whales are prolific between August and November.

Dyer Island Cruises’ marine tour guides know this area like the back of their hand and are not only extremely knowledgeable about all things ocean, but are also keen to ensure that your trip is as enjoyable as it possibly can be onboard the Dreamcatcher – a 5-star, custom-built whale-watching vessel.

Whalewatchsa.com

Facebook: @WhaleWatchSA

5 of the Best Ways to See Whales around Cape Town - Dyer Island -Cruises - 03

  1. Southern Right Charters

Southern Right Charters’ purpose-built catamaran “Miroshca”, is a great way to experience the marine playground of Hermanus. This area hosts most of the Southern Right Whales that visit the South African coastline. Humpback and Brydes Whales are also a common sight, along with many other marine creatures. Tours leave from the Hermanus’s New Harbour – dubbed the “Capital of the Cape Whale Coast” – and head out to Walker Bay, one of the best whale-watching areas in the world.

Southern Right Charters describes itself as a “progressive, environmentally-sensitive company that operates according to the ‘Observing NOT Disturbing’ principle’, which puts the safety and conservation of whales and marine life first”.

The charter company also offers on-land facilities at New Harbour. The Whale Shack on the water’s edge has refreshments, WiFi and free internet access, a DVD pre-viewing area, local crafts and souvenirs, as well as regular whale sightings in peak season.

Southernrightcharters.co.za

Facebook: @HermanusWhaleWatching

5 of the Best Ways to See Whales around Cape Town - Hermanus Land Based Whale Watching

  1. Hermanus

Hermanus – rated one of the top 12 whale-watching locations in the world by the World Wildlife Fund – offers not only boat charters, but opportunities to view the whales from land, for those who’d prefer not to get their feet wet. Since the whales often come within metres of the shoreline, a number of viewing terraces have been set up at the Old Harbour and Gearings Point. One the unique experiences of whale season is the Whale Crier – who blows on a traditional kelp horn to alert locals and tourists to the presence of whales. If you’re able to visit in August, you can experience the Kalfiefees(the Calving Festival) or wait for the first week of October when the seaside town hosts its annual whale festival—a unique event to welcome the whales home, and celebration all things cetacean.

hermanustourism.info

Facebook: @hermanustourism

Share the Whale Love with Secret Cape Town

Remember to share your epic Instagram pics with us! Tag @secretcapetown or use #secretcapetown to be featured with our #guesswhere.

Pod of 60 Humpback Whales In Cape Town

A few years ago in 2016 a pod of over 60 Humpback Whales slowly made their way around Cape Point and into Table Bay in Cape Town.

Keiran Donnelly captured this amazing drone footage of the whales as they passed by our beautiful city.

We hope they come back soon so we can witness it again.

If you are looking to see some whales and dolphins yourself while you are in Cape Town on the Atlantic seaboard, check out this amazing tour where you get to see whales and dolphins in Table Bay, Cape Town.

Also check out this amazing video of Whales in Muizenberg, False Bay, Cape Town.

Secret Cape Town

Between Table Mountain and Signal Hill is a mountain which resembles a proud lion overlooking the city of Cape Town. Lion’s Head is part of the Table Mountain National Park and considered one of the most popular hiking destinations in Cape Town. It offers stunning views of Camps Bay, the Atlantic ocean, Table Mountain, Twelve Apostles, Sea Point, Signal Hill and the City Bowl. The name was given to it by the Dutch in the 17th century, they called it Leeuwen Kop (Lion’s Head). Signal Hill used to be called Leeuwen Staart (Lion’s Tail) – the two together reminded the first Dutch settlers of a crouching lion.

Hike Up Lions Head Hike Hiking Climb

Lion’s Head peaks at 669 meters above sea level and it’s about an hour and a half of relatively easy hiking to the top. The hike starts at the car park on Signal Hill Road. Follow the trail which circles around the mountain to get to the top.

The hike is easy up until the point just before you reach the summit. To reach the summit, get ready for quite a bit of challenging climbing. Luckily a series of chains and steel ladders will assist you with the ascend and descend. Along the way you will also see epic paragliding launch sites.

Hike up in the morning for a breathtaking sunrise or in the afternoon  for a world famous Cape Town sunset. If you feel really brave, try the full moon hike. Witness the amazing view of the sun setting over the sea and the moon rising over the mountains. Lion’s Head is doubtlessly a big favourite of both locals and tourists who love a good hike and stunning views. Remember to bring your camera  for an unforgettable photo!

Watch one of our readers Sunrise Lionshead Video!

Take a Guided Lion’s Head Hike

Although Lion’s Head rates as a 2 on the hiking scale (out of 5), parts of the hike are very challenging. An experienced guide can create the ultimate hiking experience for your enjoyment. You can choose between the leisurely spiral route around the mountain, or the more adventurous option to the summit via the climbing chains installed.

Depending on your fitness level, you can hike up and down the mountain in about two to three hours. In total the hike is a 5.5 km round trip. The hike is extremely popular and can take longer simply due to the amount of people ascending and descending the mountain.

You can ask your guide to create a hike for you featuring two different hiking routes. The guide will make sure that you adhere to the Lion’s Head Mountain safety guidelines. If you have a fear of heights, rather stick to the Lion’s Head Spiral Route.

Why Use a Guide to Hike up Lion’s Head

A professional guide will provide you with a complete package that includes everything you need for a successful hike. This includes your transportation to the mountain; coffee, tea or hot chocolate; a snack and refresher drinks. Plus, your hiking guide will also take great photos of your Lion’s Head experience.

You will have to ensure that you wear appropriate clothes for the hike. Beforehand you can ask your guide for clothing tips. Proper hiking gear is recommended, which includes layering up against the unpredictable Cape Town weather. The wind can become very chilly at the top, even on a hot summer’s day. You should wear closed shoes that is suitable for running or hiking.

Book Your Guided Lion’s Head Hike Now

The Hike Lion’s Head guides have created an inclusive hiking package for R850. This includes the preparation for an unforgettable hike; transportation to the mountain; plus refreshments to make sure you stay hydrated and energized during your hike. And your guide will ensure that you travel up the mountain safely while informing you about interesting facts about the mountain.

Visit hikelionshead.co.za now for more information or to book your hike.

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Remember to share your epic Instagram pics with us! Tag @secretcapetown or use #secretcapetown to be featured with our #guesswhere.