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Travel South Africa. The West Coast -Top Places & Day Trips


Wheat, sheep, wine, the ocean and… paradise are the things that come to mind when thinking about the West Coast of South Africa. Every time I make my way along the coast towards the Northern Cape Province and I visit the West Coast I wonder why there aren’t millions of visitors. The West Coast is the best coast. The region is so beautiful and close to Cape Town, yet feels remote and lonely. The area still looks the same as it did hundreds and hundreds of years ago (or so it seems). 

Travel South Africa. The West Coast -Top Places & Day Trips

After you have done ten fantastic things in Cape Town, make your way up the West Coast. It is where you will find a very different life, an area with many small seaside villages and untouched beaches that have the wild Atlantic Ocean as a backdrop. If you find the notion of a slow life appealing, don’t waste your time, rent a car, leave town now and follow the R27. Long road trips along the West Coast are fabulous, but each place is well worth a micro adventure and day trip. You might not make it to every single corner of the West Coast on your visit, but the following should at least give you some ideas of where to go. I focus mainly on nature and on simply being out and about in nature and appreciating the landscape, the air, the wind and the smell of the Atlantic. One of the places I suggest might be too far from Cape Town for one day only, but please read on.

West Coast Biodiversity Corridor


The area is heaven for all of us who love nature and care about the environment. The stretch of land, from Blaauwberg to Saldanha and back to Darling, is considered a biodiversity hotspot. The West Coast Biodiversity Corridor has a high percentage of plant life found nowhere else on the planet that is why it is identified as one that needs protection and conversation. The currently 35 biodiversity hotspots worldwide represent just 2.3% of Earth’s land surface, but between them, they contain around 50% of the world’s endemic plant species and 42% of all terrestrial vertebrates. Read all about biodiversity hotspots here.

For all places and day trip itineraries I recommend you take photos along the way, look at birds, flora and fauna and talk to locals about their culture and the history of the area to gain deep insight and have fun along the way.

Darling


The town of Darling, with around 10,000 residents and old Victorian houses, nestled in the rolling hills of the West Coast, lies roughly 75 kilometres from Cape Town and only a 25 kilometres from the coastal village of Yzerfontein (please see below). Make this your first stop on your way up the West Coast of the Western Cape. I highly recommend you have lunch at the The Marmalade Cat Café on main road. Experience the famous South African country hospitality, and fall in love at first sight. The café is named after a sociable ginger cat. I have had the joy to meet the cute thing several times over the years. You can also buy locally made handicrafts and bread and if that isn't enough have a browse at The Cat Walk, the boutique next door. If you have the time, make your way to the old Darling Railway Station, the home to Evita se Perron with a gallery, theatre and a restaurant.


Yzerfontein 


Yzerfontein a fishing village 85 kilometres north of Cape Town has only about 1,000 residents. There is a magnificent beach called 16 Mile Beach, and that for a good reason, it is kilometres long, and best of all, it is a beach where you hardly ever meet any other people. On your walk along the beach breathe in the salty air and look out for black Oystercatchers and Cormorants. If you happen to be here in winter, this area is especially exciting to visit. From July to October, you can see Humpback- and Southern Right whales. At the !Khwa ttu Culture and Education Centre you can learn all about the San.

Day trip itinerary Cape Town - Darling - Yzerfontein – Cape Town Darling and Yzerfontein combined are a good day trip from Cape Town. Leave early, drive one hour, have breakfast in Darling at The Marmalade Cat Café and go for a walk through town. Drive 20 minutes to Yzerfontein, visit the San Education centre and have lunch. Go for a few hours walk along the beach. Leave around 5 pm and drive back to Cape Town for dinner and drinks.

Info: Darling, 7345 South Africa. The Marmalade Cat Café, 19 Main Road. Hours Monday to Sunday from 8am to 4.30pm. Yzerfontein, 7351 South Africa. !Khwa ttu Culture and Education Centre: Grootwater Farm R27.


West Coast National Park


If you drive only about 1.5 hours from Cape Town's CBD, you reach the Langebaan Lagoon. To me, the West Coast National Park is this wonderland for long-legged flamingos, white pelicans, Cape Gannets, turtles, octopus, seals and dolphins. The lagoon is calm and protected and the Atlantic wild and vast and they all live and play in and around these two. The flora and fauna of this park represent the ecosystem of the West Coast. Hiking opportunities aplenty, this is also a place to do nothing but daydream.

Read 9 Best Malaria-Free National Parks In South Africa for more infos about South African national Parks.

Day trip itinerary Cape Town – West Coast National Park – Cape Town  


Leave Cape Town early, drive 1.5 hours. Bring breakfast and have a picnic on the beach by the lagoon. If the tide is high, go for a swim. Drive to Geelbek to have lunch and visit the bird hide. Make your way to the Ocean Beach and go for a few hours walk along the beach. Drive back towards Cape Town at 5pm to be there on time for dinner and drinks.

Info: West Coast National Park, West Coast DC, South Africa. Conservation fee/day locals: ZAR 50 (EUR 3.63) / foreign visitors: ZAR 75 (EUR 5.45). Accommodation: Rent a cottage, rates between ZAR 1.500 and ZAR 2.000 for four adults plus additional costs for children (EUR 108 to EUR 145). For more info contact: moipone.thathane@sanparks.org. for opening hours of the restaurant, email geelbekrestaurant@telkomsa.net.


Langebaan, a fishing village 120 kilometres north of Cape Town has about 8,000 residents. This is the place to be for everybody who loves kite surfing, kayaking or sailing. One of the attractions is a Greek village resort called Club Mykonos, and the fact that this place could easily be in the Cyclades in Greece.

Saldanha Bay, a village 100 kilometres northwest of Cape Town has about 21,000 residents. The town is known for its iron ore trade.


Paternoster, a fishing village 150 kilometres north of Cape Town has about 1,000 residents. This picturesque little place with its white-washed seaside cottages and colourful fisherman’s boats on the beach oozes a romantic fishing village atmosphere. It makes you want to take a million photos. Visit Die Winkel op Paternoster, a farm stall that sells tea towels, souvenirs and home-made biscuits as well as a restaurant where chef Kobus van der Merwe works with local products and flavours. Or try the chef's other restaurant Wolfgat, but there you'd need to book well in advance. Many Fisherman’s cottages in coastal villages are being restored lovingly these days to give them a new lease on life, same here in this part of the West Coast.

Day trip itinerary Cape Town – Langebaan - Saldanha Bay – Paternoster – Cape Town 


Leave early and drive about two hours to Paternoster. Have breakfast at one of the cafes. Drive towards Tietiesbaai, stop at the Cape Columbine Lighthouse, the furthest westerly point in the Western Cape. Go for a walk along the untouched beach. Drive back to Paternoster to have a late lunch at Oep Ve Koep followed by a beach walk in Paternoster. Drive back towards Cape Town at 5 pm to be there on time for dinner and drinks.

Info: Die Winkel op Paternoster (aka Oep Ve Koep), St Augustine Street, 7381 Peternoster. Wolfgat, 10 Sampson Street, Paternoster. Hours: Monday to Sunday 9am to 4pm. Best to book lunch in advance: oepvekoep@gmail.com.


Lambert’s Bay – More than a day trip from Cape Town


Lambert's Bay, a small fishing village 280 kilometres north of Cape Town has 6,100 residents. The beach is wonderful for hiking, but the main stars are the Cape gannets on Bird Island. There is a colony of 10,000 birds in the months from October to February. Directly opposite the harbour is a pier that leads to the island. Being in the hide allows you to get real close to the action. A word of warning, the smell is somewhat overwhelming. One gets used to it and the acrobatic manoeuvres of the birds during take-offs and landings make up for it. There is a small museum that tells you all about the mating phase, the nest building, and breeding of the gannets.



Muisbosskerm, an open-air buffet restaurant is a laid-back affair. You eat for about three hours, with shells instead of silver cutlery and sit at plain outdoor furniture but you surely won’t miss stark white table linen. You sit right on the beach, the show you get to see when the sun sets is better than an evening at a Michelin starred restaurant. It makes you wonder why you would ever eat in an enclosed room again. There is shelter from the elements (but not really). The cold creeps in from the ocean after sunset, bring (proper) warm clothes and you will have the best time.

Two Day trip itinerary Cape Town – Lambert’s Bay – Cape Town  


This is too far for a day trip, it makes sense to stay overnight. Leave early and drive about three hours to Lambert’s Bay. Have breakfast at Isabella’s Restaurant in the harbour. All sorts of breakfasts are on offer, and it is a fun place with beachy decoration. Walk over to Bird Island, spend some time here with bird watching and visiting the museum. Go for a long beach walk. At night make your way to the open-air restaurant Muisbosskerm. Head back to Cape Town the next day.

Info: Isabella’s Monday to Sunday 8am to 10pm. Lambert’s Bay Harbour, 8130 South Africa. Bird Island Nature Reserve. Tickets Adults ZAR 40. Hours: Monday to Sunday 7.30am to 6pm. Muisbosskerm. You only need to drive some minutes by car over a gravel road from town. You’d need to book in advance. They cater for vegetarians. There are camping opportunities right opposite the restaurant; it is a one to two minute walk. Visit their website for more info and vacation options.


Top Tips West Coast South Africa


Please keep in mind, that there is a water crisis in Western Cape. Please read How Can Tourists Act Water-Sensitive During a Drought and Water Crisis?

Take your entire litter home with you, especially from remote beaches.

Bring a warm jacket or jumper, no matter what the weather forecast tells you how hot the day is going to be. There often is an icy wind coming from the Atlantic also during spring and summer. Evenings can get freezing cold.

There are plenty of petrol stations along the way, to be on the safe side, fill up your car whenever there is an opportunity.

Carry sufficient cash. Credit cards are generally widely accepted in South Africa. Just in case...

Book stays at hotels, guest houses, campgrounds and restaurants in advance during peak season from November to end of February.

All places can be 'crowded' during peak season, especially during the Christmas break. Visit in February for a more relaxed experience.

How to get to the West Coast


The nearest airport is CapeTown International. Rent a car at the airport or take a taxi to your hotel in town where you can also rent cars. They drive on the left in South Africa. Please visit Road Safety Advice for foreigners driving in South Africa.

Best time to visit the West Coast


Summer months are warm to hot (and can be windy). Winters are not too cold with temperatures around 15 degrees Celsius during the day and below ten degrees Celsius at night. August to October is flower season.


From Berlin with love

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Greetings stranger. I always try to be myself and to be a tourist as often as I can. I would love to get in contact with lots of hard travelling tourists who love to be out and about as much as I do. I am looking forward to all your comments. Thanks so much in advance.