THE WEST COAST & CEDERBERG
The West Coast is a region of extreme beauty and contrast. Stretching
over 400km from south to north, the region and its people offer visitors
plenty of sunshine and a surprising variety of travel destinations. To
the west, the region borders the Atlantic Ocean. The solitary coast's
scenic beauty is challenged only by rich culinary experiences of plump
mussels, oysters, calamari, crayfish and abalone in season or linefish
pulled from the Benguela Current's cold waters and fried to gold. All
are best enjoyed at a sunset fishbraai enlivened by a good wine and the
spontaneous, light-hearted banter of hard-working, hard-playing locals.
The area is a bird watcher's paradise - cawing, white-breasted gulls
wheel high on the sea wind above thousands of gannets made featureless
by their distinct, yellow-painted faces, while flamingoes color the
sky pink and swift, darting terns give the lie to the martial imperiousness
of ever-aloof penguins. In addition, every year migrating whales visit
the coastal waters from July. The eastern border is formed by a belt
of mountains with fascinating, often awe-inspiring rock formations. The
Cedarberg Wilderness area offers visitors a face-to-face encounter with
nature at its most unspoiled as well as rock paintings that dramatically
pre-date the world as we know it. Adjacent to the mountains is the Swartland,
well known for its undulating wheat fields, vineyards, wineries and outdoor
Further north, visitors encounter the fertile Olifants River Valley and
the vast plains of the Knersvlakte with its wealth of indigenous succulent
plants. The Olifant's River Valley is cultivated intensively with an
emphasis on citrus and other fruits, vegetables and vineyards. The West
Coast and its hinterland is a cultural experience of museums, monuments
and mission stations such as Mamre and Wupperthal. It offers activities
such as exploration in a fossil park, hang-gliding, sky-diving, mountain-biking,
4x4 routes, watersports and hiking. The experience extends also to a
superb array of local wines, fresh seafood and other delectable fare,
as well as a health-giving herbal drink, rooibos tea. In spring, carpets
of wild flowers cover the region from the coast to the mountains. Spring
flowers and fynbos are a constantly changing wonder attracting hikers
and nature-lovers throughout the year.
4 X 4 Routes
Quad Bike Excursions
Parachuting / Skydiving
Wingshooting/ Clay Pigeon Shooting
Kayaking / Canoeing
Boat Cruises / Angling Trips
Boat Based Whale Watching
Fresh Water Angling
WEST COAST NATIONAL PARK
Just inland from the secluded
harbour of Saldanha Bay one finds the azure waters of the Langebaan
Lagoon, focal point of the West Coast National Park. Thousands of
seabirds roost on sheltered islands, pristine golden beaches stretch
endlessly into the early morning mist, and brooding salt marshes
are home to vast concentrations of migrant waders from the northern
hemisphere. During the spring the strandveld is embroidered with
a tapestry of multi-hued flowers, while in the Postberg section many
antelope are to be seen in a setting that is as unique as it is idyllic.
The largest concentration of mammals is in the Postberg Reserve, but
this is only open to public during flower season. However mammals are
found throughout the rest of the reserve. Eland, red hartebeest, Cape
grysbok, caracal and rock hyrax are some of the terrestrial species to
search for. Visitors should also keep an eye on the Atlantic Ocean for
passing whales and dolphins.
The park surrounds the Langebaan
Lagoon, which is a world Ramsar site (site’s deemed to be of
global significance to wetland bird species). Many of the wader species
migrants, so summer is the best time to visit the lagoon, particularly
in September as species return fatigued from their transcontinental
travel, and March when they congregate in large numbers to feed heavily
prior to undertaking the reverse journey. In such times, the birds
are often changing into or out of their Northern Hemisphere breeding
plumage. The best time to observe the lagoon waders is to visit the
Geelbek hide from low tide as the tide is coming in.
As the water level rises the waders are
forced closer to the hide until eventually they must fly off until
the tide has receded once more. The smaller species depart first, with
the more long-legged godwits, whimbrels and curlews the last to leave.
Knot, Sanderling, Little Stint, Ruff, Marsh, Terek and Curlew Sandpiper,
Turnstone, Ringed and Grey Plover, Greenshank, Whimbrel, Curlew and
Bartailed Godwit are present on most occasions, while there is always
the possibility of seeing rarer species. Little Egret and South African
Shelduck may be seen alongside the waders. Flamingoes and White Pelican
frequent deeper water, and there is chance of seeing Osprey. Another
isolated hide west of the Geelbek educational centre overlooks a salt
pan that is an excellent place to see Chestnut banded Plover.
The reserve’s fynbos surrounding
the lagoon hosts Black Korhaan, Cape and Greywinged Francolin, Southern
Grey and Cape Penduline Tit, Anteating Chat, Whitethroated and Yellow
Canary, Karoo Lark, Titbabbler, Bokmakierie and Cape Bunting are all
easily seen. African Marsh and Black Harrier can often be seen quartering
The coastal islands at the mouth of the
lagoon are breeding havens for a number of species such as Kelp and
Hartlaub’s Gull, Cape Gannet, and African Penguin. Cormorants
and terns are present too.
Though the thousands of migrating
birds is one the main reasons for the conservation of the West Coast
Park, the showy
plants of the area, usually growing on granite or limestone rocks, especially
during spring time, are what attracts most of its visitors to this fascinating
One of the summer-flowering west coast plants is the kukumakranka (koeke-makranka
- Afrikaans, Khoi). There are about 32 Gethyllis species, of which G.afra
and G.spiralis are perhaps the most commonly used ones. Koekemakranka
is one of the few Khoi words still in use today and an interesting example
of the contribution which the Khoi people have made to the cultural wealth
of the Western Cape Province.
These interesting plants all have an underground bulb of which the scales
form a distinctive neck at ground level. The long, thin leaves are usually
spirally twisted or coiled. The attractive flowers appear in summer when
the leaves have already died. They have a narrow tube which extends below
the ground where the fruit will eventually develop. In mid-winter, the
long, club-shaped berry emerges from the ground. It has a fragrant pulp
in which numerous seeds are embedded.
The ripe fleshy fruits are gathered. They are highly aromatic and have
a powerful sweet, fruity odour. The gathering of the inconspicious fruit
depends to a large extent on a good sense of smell.
Kukumakranka brandy is one of the early Cape remedies for colic and
indigestion. Traditionally an alcoholic infusion or tincture is made
from a few ripe fruits in a bottle of brandy or witblits. The edible
fruit was also highly valued to perfume rooms and linen.
CEDERBERG WILDERNESS AREA
The Cederberg Wilderness
Area is situated South of Clanwilliam and extends over an area of approximately
71,000ha. It is managed by the Cape Nature
Conservation. The area is well known internationally for its hiking trails
and is home to various unique species such as the Cedar Tree and is presently
the only leopard conservation area in the country. Unique rock formations
include the Wolfberg Arch and Maltese Cross.
Rare endemic plant species such as the Clanwilliam ceder and the Snowball
protea grow in isolated habitats in the Cederberg Wilderness Area. Several
accommodation and recreation possibilities are available in the Cederberg
Conservation Area (take note: no shops, no restaurants - bring your own
supplies!!!). Some farms have a small tuck shop.
BIRD ISLAND, LAMBERT'S BAY
Bird Island at Lambert's
Bay is an important breeding site for Cape Gannets and the mass of birds
that congregate there is an amazing sight. The
island is also important for the other marine birds such as African Penguins,
Kep Gulls, Hartlaub's Gulls, White-breasted Cormorant and Common Tern.
It is linked to the shore by a breakwater connected to the harbour and
is therefore easily accessible to the public.
The viewing platform on the Island has recently been replaced with a
state of the art sunken hide, designed to blend in with the rocks of
the area and is situated in such a way as to allow the colony to expand.
Future developments on the Island
include a penguin pool and restaurant. The Island forms part of the
West Coast Bird Route.
The West Coast is transformed
into a floral paradise during the months of August, September and October.
A diverse range of flora can be seen
in the West Coast National Park, Nature Reserves, Nature Gardens and
along the roadsides. In early spring white arum lilies sweep the natural
of hills and
gentle breezes move softly through fields of daisies, as bokbaai vygies
form a sea of colour contrasting with the blue of the ocean. To the north
a unique vast, pebble-covered plain is home to indigenous and rare succulents.
The slopes of the mountains and the areas closer to the coast boasts
a large number of fynbos fine leaved species.
The West Coast boasts two
official wine routes namely the Swartland Wine Route and the Olifant's
River Wine Route. A
mere 40 minutes from Cape
Town, you will be greeted by the rolling vineyards and wheat fields of
the Swartland. Jan van Riebeeck originally called it the Swartland, when
he referred to the region as “Het Zwarte Land." This had
nothing to do with the soil but in fact pertained to the indigenous “renosterbos”,
which at certain times of the year turned the landscape into its characteristic
Olifant's River Wine Region is currently represented by eight cellars
producing wine under varied
climatic and soil conditions.
abreast with state-of-the-art equipment and continually striving to improve
their products, all the cellars have already positioned themselves well
on the local and overseas wine market. The Olifant's River Wine Route
is a 200km spectacular stretch of varying beauty and dramatic contrasts
which make a visit worthwhile. The Olifant's River – life-giving
artery of this fertile valley is ultimately associated with the breathtaking
Cederberg Mountains, the unspoilt West Coast and the Namaqualand flower
ROOIBOS TEA FACTORY, CLANWILLIAM
The story of Rooibos is a uniquely interesting one. It was the locals
who first discovered that the fine, needle-like leaves of the wild Aspalathus
linearis plant made a tasty, aromatic tea. The Rooibos Company was privatised
in 1993. The industry has grown from strength to strength so that the
unique goodness of Rooibos may today be enjoyed by people all over the
world. The area surrounding Clanwilliam is the only place in the world
where Rooibos is cultivated as an agricultural crop. It is processed,
packaged and despatched worldwide.
This picturesque little town is
situated about 8 km from Strandfontein. The crayfish factory and
jetty create a picture which remains in one's memory, and the attractive
lighthouse serves as a beacon for both fishermen and tourists. Before
the town was established, the bay was used as an anchorage on the
sea trading route. Provisions off-loaded from the boats were transported
to Vanrhynsdorp by camels. The people of Doringbaai make a living
from the packaging and export of crayfish, and the town's economy
is closely linked to the operations of the crayfish factory. Whale
watching is also on offer here.
This seaside resort is a paradise for surfers, seafood connoisseurs and
birdwatchers. The variety of different soil types ensures prolific flora
during spring when the flowers change the area into paradise. Caves in
the vicinity of the town produced valuable archeological finds from the
different inhabitants over time. The magnificent Verlorenvlei which flows
into the Atlantic Ocean at Eland's Bay is a haven for about 240 bird
Jacobsbaai is a beautiful isolated bay a few kilometers north of Saldanha
Bay with a sea frontage of about 2 km. Its interesting coastline has peninsulas,
rocky and sandy bays with cosy beaches and an abundance of seafood, crayfish,
fish, mussels and abalone. Jacobsbaai is often referred to as Namaqualand
by the sea since its wild flowers is breathtakingly beautiful in spring.
There is good diving and angling, whale and dolphin watching, windsurfing,
kayaking, hiking, and flower trips in season.
The picturesque seaside village of Lambert's Bay is situated
two and a half hour's drive from Cape Town. This seafood mecca in the
crayfish country is increasingly attracting African holiday makers, weekenders
and day-trippers. The pure white beaches and blue sea offers ample opportunity
for sea adventures and sport. Visitors can view gannets, cormorants,
penguins and seals at Bird Island, which attracts ornithologists from
all over the world. Other activities include a 9-hole golf course, 4
x 4 and hiking trails, whale watching (in season) and all sea activities.
No visit is complete without visiting one of its famous open air restaurants
for an unforgettable traditional meal.
Attractions include flowers (in season),
whales (in season), dolphins, flamingoes at the Jakkalsrivier, breeding
of mountain tortoises,
boat trips, bird Island, sandveld museum, angling, crayfishing,
and diving. Also worth seeing are the English cemetery, wooden lock
and house built of whale bones at Wadrift, the characteristic harbour,
This beach resort and popular town
has everything the sunseeker, water lover or nature buff could ever want.
Langebaan Lagoon and the West Coast National
Park, an internationally renowned wetland well endowed with flowers,
waders and wildlife, are added, spectacular attractions. Managed by the
National Parks Board to protect the West Coast fauna and flora, Langebaan
Lagoon is zoned for specific activities. The Postberg section of the
park, across the lagoon, is well worth visiting in spring when wild flowers
burst into bloom.
The name Langebaan is according to tradition a result of one of the
three legends. (1) Before World War II, fishermen hooked the fish the
y caught and put it on wooden panels (bane) at the high water mark. (2)
During the 17th century fjords were called bane in the Dutch language.
(3) The town had its origin on the farm De Stompe Hoek, originally known
as Geitenmelksfontein. According to belief the long, winding road behind
sand dunes, from the original farmhouse (The Lodge) to Leentjiesklip
gave the town its name. Leentjiesklip, a caravan park, was named after
a runaway sailor called Lynch. Earlier it was called Lynch Point. Fossils
found on the farm Elandsfontein, in 1953, traced Langebaan's origin to
a period ten million years ago. Langebaan was also the meeting place
of the Khoi leaders.
Malmesbury is the Swartland's biggest town and grain
distributing centre. With its extensive wheatfields and vineyards, it
is only forty-five minutes
from Cape Town and close to all other major Swartland towns. Kalbaskraal
Nature Reserve, located south of town, offers indigenous vegetation and
carpets of wild flowers in spring.
Paternoster, meaning “Our Father” ostensibly,
took its name from the heartfelt prayers of shipwrecked Portuguese sailors.
Although life in Paternoster is still closely associated with the sea
and the fishing industry, it is to this historic and peaceful little
fishing village that the traveller comes to relax. The Columbine Nature
Reserve with the well known “Tietiesbaai” offers beautiful
wildflowers during August and September. Whales and Dolphins also visit
these waters ten months of the year.
Piketberg snuggles against the slopes of a mountain
sharing the same name. Tall sandstone cliffs, reaching a height of 1
459m at Zebraskop, tower above the town. Versveld Pass is worth visiting
- drive up the Piketberg Mountain to the broad plateau for beautiful
surrounding area across to the Cederberg Mountain range.
The picturesque seaside village of Saldanha is situated
on the northern corner of the largest natural bay in South Africa. Its
ideal location makes it a paradise for the watersport enthusiast, and
its local economy being strongly dependant on fishing, mussels, seafood
processing, the steel industry and the harbour. Furthermore, its sheltered
harbour plays an important part in the huge Sishen-Saldanha iron-ore
project at which Saldanha Steel, a state of the art steel mill, takes
centre stage. With strong historic military links, Saldanha is also host
to a Naval training base and the South African Military Academy. The
popular SAS Saldanha Nature Reserve offers a display of wildflowers during
late winter and spring while Southern Right Whales also visit the safe
waters in and around the nature reserve.
White rocks, a cobalt sea. This perfect setting
greets you when touring this stunning part of the West Coast.
A bustling fishing harbour, in a tranquil country village. This
beautiful bay is a birdwatchers paradise and home to whales and
dolphins all year round, with magnificent flowers in late winter
and spring. Visit the Vasco da Gama Monument and Nautical Museum.
The meandering Berg River reflects the tranquility of
this fishing village. A Birder's mecca and wader hotspot - fishermen,
bokkoms and beaches -
this is what life is all about in Velddrif. Our lovely beaches are situated
along St. Helen Bay with unspoilt beaches, and forms part of the whale
A wonderful African holiday haven offering solitude or loads of family
fun on warm West Coast days. Visit the fish houses next to the river,
they practice the time honoured ways of making bokkoms (salted dried
Vishuis (renovated fish house). Rocherpan Nature Reserve includes a
Mareditat flores decorant: 'The ocean nourishes, the
flowers embellish.' This is Yzerfontein's motto. Eighty kilometres north
of Cape Town, off
the R27, the little fishing village is renowned for its unspoilt beaches,
fantastic weather, fynbos and beautiful views (especially of Dassen Island
and Table Mountain). The sheltered bay serves as a haven for whales and,
in or around Yzerfontein, you'll find a caravan park, guest houses, restaurants,
a post office and farm stalls. Yzerfontein also offers birdwatching,
hiking trails, whale-watching,wild flowers, swimming, surfing, windsurfing,
horseriding and boating (there is a slipway in the harbour). There are
salt marshes (excellent for bird watching) and a
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