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The true southern point of Africa is …
The Western Cape is the southernmost region of the African continent with Cape Agulhas as its southernmost point, only 3800 km from the Antarctic coastline. The coastline varies from sandy between capes, to rocky to steep and mountainous in places.
The Western Cape stretches for about 400 kilometres northwards along the Atlantic coast and about 500 kilometres eastwards along the South African south coast (Southern Indian Ocean). It is bordered on the north by the Northern Cape and on the east by the Eastern Cape. It is roughly the size of England or the US state of Louisiana. The capital and largest city is Cape Town and other major cities include Stellenbosch (Cape Winelands), Worcester (Boland Winelands / Breederiver Valley), Paarl, and George (Garden Route). The Garden Route and the Overberg (Hermanus is famed for whale-watching, as is the West Coast) are popular coastal tourism areas with the west coast being a more recent trend for the repeat traveler to South Africa.
The far interior forms part of the Karoo. This region of the Province is generally arid and hilly with a prominent escarpment that runs close to the Province’s most inland boundary.
The arid interior is dominated by Karoo drought-resistant shrubbery. The West Coast and Little (Klein) Karoo are semi-arid regions and are typified by many species of succulents and drought-resistant shrubs and acacia trees. The Garden Route on the south coast (between the Outeniqua Mountains and the Southern Indian Ocean) is extremely lush, with temperate rainforests (or Afromontane Forest) covering many areas adjacent to the coast, in the deep river valleys and along the southern slopes of the Outeniqua mountain range. Typical species are hardwoods of exceptional height, such as the Yellowwood, Stinkwood and Ironwood trees.
The vegetation is also extremely diverse, with one of the world’s seven floral kingdoms almost exclusively endemic to the province, namely the Cape Floral Kingdom, most of which is covered by Fynbos (from the Afrikaans meaning “Fine Bush” (Dutch: Fijnbosch). These evergreen heathlands are extremely rich in species diversity with many containing medicinal values. Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens (based on the foothills of Table Mountain) is one of nine National Botanical Gardens covering five of South Africa’s six different biomes. The West Coast National is at its peak from August to September annually. During these two months visitors to the park will see a wide variety of flowers on display, from daisies, to bulbs etc. Large areas of flowers can be seen in the Seeberg\Mooimaak and Postberg areas.
Western Cape Climate:
The Western Cape is also climatologically diverse, with many distinct micro- and macro-climates created by the varied topography and the influence the surrounding ocean currents. These are the warm Agulhas Current which flows southwards along South Africa’s east coast, and the cold Benguela Current which is an up-welling current from the depths of the South Atlantic Ocean along South Africa’s west coast. Thus climatic statistics can vary greatly over short distances. Most of the province is considered to have a Mediterranean climate with cool, wet winters and warm, dry summers. Both the Great Karoo and Little Karoo, in the interior, have an arid to semi-arid climate with cold, frosty winters and hot summers with occasional thunderstorms. The Garden Route and the Overberg on the south coast have a maritime climate with cool, moist winters and mild, moist summers. Mossel Bay in the Garden Route is considered to have the second mildest climate worldwide after Hawaii.
Thunderstorms are generally rare in the province (except in the Karoo) with most precipitation being of a frontal or orographic nature. Extremes of heat and cold are common inland, but rare near the coast. Snow is a common winter occurrence on the Western Cape Mountains occasionally reaching down into the more inland valleys. Otherwise, frost is relatively rare in coastal areas and many of the heavily cultivated valleys.