The Cape West Coast is rich in history, which is the result of the unique blend of cultures encountered today.
Culture and Heritage
!Kwa ttu celebrates San culture, the Mission stations in Elandskloof, Goedverwacht and Wupperthal celebrate the old way of life, and the quaint fishing villages celebrate the ancient secrets of the fishing trade. The Cape West Coast celebrates its authentic and soulful people, unpretentious and down to earth. Their culture and history can be viewed in the region’s museums, situated in Darling, Malmesbury and Piketberg.
With too many Cape West Coast attractions to mention, we’ve done a quick round up of some of the best out there.
• The Waterfall Trail at the foot of the Olifants River Mountains near Porterville is so named because of the 22 constant waterfalls which flow down towards undulating wheat fields.
• Visit the West Coast Fossil Park for an insight into the ecological history of the region. The educational tours and information sessions are very popular.
• A must on any West Coast itinerary is a visit to ‘Evita se Perron’, a theatre restaurant situated at the old railway station in Darling.
• Nature Reserves – diverse landscapes, wetlands and spectacular wildflower displays, the Cape West Coast has a number of different ecosystems. Choose between the Cape Columbine Nature Reserve, the site of the last manned lighthouse built in South Africa, Groot Winterhoek Nature Reserve north of Tulbagh and Rocherpan Nature Reserve in Velddrif.
• Darling Wildflower Reserves – Several farmers have put aside land for wildflower reserves and these are opened to the public during peak flower season July-October
• The Wheat Industry Museum is one of only three of its kind in the world where the history of wheat is depicted.
• West Coast National Park is particularly well known for its bird life and spring flowers which bloom between August and October. Game such as Eland, Red Hartebeest, Cape Grysbok, Caracal and Rock Hyrax abound.
• Langebaan Lagoon, a wetland of international importance, is a watersport fanatics and nature lovers ideal getaway.
• Follow the picturesque route from one charming fishing village to another and get a taste of West Coast aqua culture on a visit to the abalone, oyster and mussel farms in Saldanha, Cederberg, Matzikama and Bergrivier.
• The Cederberg Wilderness Area, with its centuries-old rock art, runs from Clanwilliam to Citrusdal and is renowned for its stark, rugged beauty and beautiful rock formations.
From fishing, birding and wildflowers to whale watching, 4×4 drives, kayaking and donkey cart rides there is so much to see and do along the Cape West Coast.
• With an area overrun with hiking trails there are scores of hikes geared to every level of fitness. Try Klipgat in Cederberg, Kromrivier Valley in Clanwilliam, Postberg Wild Flower Trail in Langebaan or Kasteelberg in Malmesbury. The options are endless.
• Whale watching – Southern Right Whales migrate from the Sub-Antarctic regions to mate or calve in the protected waters of Saldanha Bay, as well as St. Helena Bay.
• Go surfing at Elands Bay at the mouth of the Verlorenvlei River
• The Cape West Coast is blessed with an abundance of birding “hotspots” which include 8 IBA’s and 2 RAMSAR sites. Look out for the Common Redshank, Pectoral and Broadbilled Sandpiper, Rednecked Phalarope and Dunlin. It is also home to the Bird Island Nature Reserve, one of only six breeding colonies of Cape gannet in the world, and the Flamingo Birding Route.
• Head for Wupperthal in the Cederberg for donkey cart rides. Visitors can sign up for a three-day tour through the Cederberg mountain area and Heuningvlei.
• The Cape West Coast 4×4 Trail follows the coastline from Dwarskersbos to Lambert’s Bay, Groenriviermond, Hondeklipbaai and ends in Port Nolloth.
• Adrenalin junkies try your hand at kite surfing. Wind speeds in Langebaan are incredible and have managed to sustain a large kite surfing community.
• Fishing – Paternoster and the Cape Columbine Nature Reserve are well-known fishing ground for hotnosvis and galjoen.
• Horse Trails in Langebaan and Saldanha are a great way of exploring the varied landscape of the Cape West Coast. Mount up in Langebaan or Saldanha Bay.
• Golfers head off to Citrusdal, Langebaan or Lutzville for some of the best 9-hole golf courses.
Dining and Entertainment
A region known for its seafood, expect to feast on crayfish, mussels, oysters, abalone, snoek and bokkoms- a salted mullet which is strung up and left to dry, or enjoy a glass of local wine from one of the friendly cellars along the Cape West Coast wine route; the Olifant’s River Wine Route, the Darling Wine Experience and the Swartland Wine Route.