Cape Town  - South Africa

South Africa a world in one country

Cape Point

The Cape Peninsula and False Bay taken from Cape Point

Not only do we have a variety of different people and cultures, we also have a country which ranges from desert regions with no rain to tropical areas. Here in Cape Town we have a Mediterranean climate with lovely hot summers with plenty of south east wind and little rain. In the winters the Cape is cold and wet with rain setting in for days at a time. A bit like English weather but without the snow and sleet experienced by them.

In winter the mountains to the north east of Cape Town are often covered with snow but its never low enough for people to play in it. We do freeze from the cold winds blowing off the mountains though.

On the northern side of these mountains we reach the fruit basket of the Western Cape. Ceres and Grabouw for apples and pears and Worcestor for grapes. It gets extremely hot in summer and in winter they get snow on the outlying farms on the higher ground.

Snow covered trees

Winter in the Ceres farmlands

When it snows Ceres is swamped by Capetonians wanting to play in the snow as it is low enough to reach by car. Travelling up the N1 past Worcestor we get to the Hex River mountains and then into the Small Karoo. This is a semi desert region where the days get very hot in summer and really cold at night in winter. The reason for this desert region are the mountain ranges which block the rain bearing winds from the west and the south.

Travelling further north we reach the Great Karoo with its hardy desert type vegetation rocky outcrops and windmills. Sheep farming with merino sheep is the main activity here. The meat produced has a special taste of its own. The sheep graze on the Karoo bush which gives the meat a wildish flavour.

For a visitor to our country travelling along the N1 to Laingsburg, Beaufort West and beyond must be quite an experience. The road goes on and on up hill and down dale with absolutely nothing but the Karoo bush and a couple of lonely sheep to be seen. Many accidents happen along this stretch of road because of the boredom experienced driving along it.

As a child we often travelled this route on our way to Durban and our favourite pastime was to count windmills. There are many of them in this part of the country as rain is scarce. When you reach the Orange river you enter the Free State where the weather is normally very hot and dry. It is a maize farming area with thousands of hectares being farmed. The farmers in the area known as the mielie boere ( Maize Farmers) and normally have very large paunches. Too much mealie meal and mutton in their diets.

In times of drought the wind whips up dust storms which can rage for days. After the rains they often have large infestations of locusts to control. The weather patterns change as you go further north into Gauteng. The days are hot in the summer with thunder storms in the afternoons. Its a summer rainfall area. In winter days are mild with nights being cold.

I did my military training in Pretoria during the 1960's and every afternoon at about 4.00 pm the clouds rolled in and there was a quick thunderstorm. For those who followed the Cricket world cup final and saw the rain delay, this is typical of the weather in Gauteng. Everything gets wet and an hour later its all gone and you can carry on again.

To the north of Johannesburg we get into the bushveld of the northern province where you will find many game farms and the Kruger National Park. If you turn off the N1 to the south east after you pass Bloemfontein you travel down to the Natal coast. This part of the country is normally quite lush when it rains regularly and is a sub tropical region.

Unfortunately the El Nino phenomenom plays havoc with the weather in this area at times and often causes floods. The result being loss of life,infrastructure and livestock.

The Drakensberg range to the north of Durban is one of the beautiful areas of South Africa. During winter it is often covered with snow and people are often trapped in the mountains when the weather suddenly turns foul. When this snow melts the rivers also come down in flood. Travelling south from Durban along the coast we move into the Transkei.

This part of the country is inhabited by the Xhosas and has very little infrastructure. Along the roads you will see many African huts and villages built on the hilltops. The huts are built of mud with thatch roofs and are normally very colourfully decorated. Occasionally you will see a n African man on horseback wearing his traditional blanket around his shoulders and his grass hat on his head.

The coastline known as the Wild Coast is extremely wild and beautiful and the beaches are pristine. The sea is exceptionally dangerous with large freak waves. They have caused many shipping disasters over the years. The area is slowly opening up to tourism as people discover the beauty of the place. Weather is normally good although it can extremely humid and uncomfortable in the summer months. July is normally the best time in Natal and the wild coast area.

The southern coast of South Africa from the Transkei through to the Cape is extremely beautiful and for those with time to explore it is a must. There are many rivers and walking trails along the coastline. The Otter trail being one of the more well known ones. Spring and summer are the best times to visit this coastline as winter months can be cold and dangerous when the storms hit the area.

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Cape Town - South Africa