On the Wild Side
The Western Cape is not traditionally a safari destination and the reserves here don't have much big game. There are, however, a number of beautifully wild and rugged reserves and national parks, most of which have a good selection of medium-sized and small game.
Go to Outdoor South Africa: Western Cape for more information on public lands and hiking in the area.
Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve
The Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve, near Cape Town, is primarily a floral reserve with an immense diversity of plant types for its small area. You may see game there if you stay in one place quietly and wait, or do one of the short daywalks. Bontebok, Cape mountain zebra, grysbok, grey rhebok, eland (which is the largest antelope) baboons and ostrich may be seen.
While in the Area: To round out your wildlife experience of the area go to Boulders Beach between the reserve and Simon's Town, and watch the jackass penguins. You can even snorkel in the sea here, in the hope of seeing one under water. (Penguins swim quite strangely; they use their little wings and seem to fly under water.) In winter and spring, you can pick a spot anywhere along the coast and have a good chance of seeing southern right whales. They say the diving in False is excellent in winter.
Do take some time to study the incredible plantlife, much of which is endemic to this area. Another attraction is the beautiful rugged coastline and Cape Point, which is said by the locals to divide the Atlantic Ocean from the Indian Ocean even though Cape Agulhas is officially the dividing point.
De Hoop Nature Reserve
The De Hoop Nature Reserve, about 150 km from Cape Town on the N2, is also not a "big five" venue, but you will see many interesting smaller animals such as antelope, baboons and other small game there. There is a number of day walks and mountain bike trails.
Bontebok National Park
The Bontebok National Park, near Swellendam, is one of the success stories of conservation in South Africa. Proclaimed in 1931 to protect the last 22 surviving bontebok, it is now home to a successful breeding herd and regularly captures bontebok to be translocated to other reserves around the country. It is a good place to see bontebok (obviously), red hartebeest, Cape mountain zebra, grey rhebok, steenbok, grysbok and duiker. There are two short walking trails. Booking is through the National Parks Board.
While in the Area: The Breede River rafting trip starts and ends not too far from both these reserves. Cape Agulhas, the most southerly point of Africa where the two oceans officially meet, is not far from De Hoop. It is a wild and rugged place, a fitting end to a wild and rugged continent.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication