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The charming Cape West Coast

(Article by Liz K)

Along the Cape West Coast is a stretch of coastline filled with quaint towns and villages that offer a glimpse into our country’s rich history. The area can be divided into five regions; we’ll explore some of the main towns within these regions, so by no means is this an exhaustive list.

Swartland

Darling is a thriving agricultural centre with much to see and do. The Darling Museum offers a glimpse into the early country life of the 19th century, and the Darling Wild Flower Show (held on the third weekend of September since 1917) is a true celebration of spring. 

Koringberg is a wheat and sheep farming town set at the foot of the Koringberg mountain. It offers great outdoor activities such as biking and hiking trails, paragliding and horse-riding.


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The largest town within the region, Malmesbury, showcases some fantastic old architecture from the neo-Gothic Dutch Reformed Church to the Edwardian Malmesbury Museum.

Riebeek Kasteel is a picturesque village lying on the slopes of the Kasteelberg. The tranquil nature –coupled with the awe-inspiring rolling wheat fields, vineyards, olive groves and peach orchards – has been the inspiration for many local artists, making this and its sister village, Riebeek West, a mecca for artists.

The peaceful seaside village of Yzerfontein is a nature-lover’s dream with its 16 Mile Beach (the longest sandy beach on our coastline); numerous private nature reserves with wildlife such as eland, springbok, kudu, mountain zebra, caracal; the Bokbaaivygie flower trail and prime fishing opportunities.

West Coast Peninsula

Langebaan is the perfect holiday destination which offers peace and quiet as well as adventure in the form of kite surfing and kayaking on the Langebaan Lagoon. The West Coast national Park is a bird-watchers dream and is also home to the spot where “Eve’s Footprint” was discovered; some of the earliest evidence of human existence on this earth.


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The village of Saldanha lies in the corner of the biggest and deepest natural bay in the country and the economy is mainly fuelled by fishing and exporting. Saldanha has strong military ties with a naval training base, but the magnificent fauna and flora is what will keep you coming back.

St Helena Bay has an incredible back story as this was first “discovered” by Vasco da Gama in 1497. Today, it is one of the most popular whale-watching bays; Southern Right Whales return here to calve from August to November. Dolphins are also a popular and regular sight.

Bergrivier

Porterville sits at the foot of the Olifants River Mountain and is famous for its fields of the rare flower Disa Uniforma (the emblem of the Western Cape) – the only place where you will see this occurring naturally. The powerful thermals attract paragliders and hanggliders from all around the world.


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The tiny town of Redelinghuys is often described as “the place where time stands still” with a population of roughly 600 people. Apart from the typical outdoor activities such as 4x4 trails, fishing and canoeing, this area is a bird watcher’s dream; over 180 species inhabit the area. Our local Rooibos tea also grows here freely and in abundance.

Cederberg

Clanwiliam must be visited if just for its history alone: it is one of the 10 oldest towns in South Africa, and so is rich in settler history. From here, you can walk to lay your eyes on the Bushman rock art of the Cederberg mountains, and archaeologists and palaeontologists alike have been captivated by the fascinating well-preserved fossils found in this area. Water-skiers will also be glad to learn that the Clanwilliam Dam is known as the best in the Western Cape when it comes to this water sport.


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The Olifants river which flows through Citrusdal is the lifeblood of the massive citrus industry of the town, as seen by the beautiful expanses of citrus orchards. 

The little gem of Elands Bay is a surfing hotspot—often compared to Jeffrey’s Bay but without the crowds of people— and perfectly situated off the beaten track. The seaside town is fantastic for whale and dolphin watching, and the Bobbejaanberg Cave by the Baboon Point cliffs are a must-see for authentic rock art.

Matzikama

The main town of Matzikama is Vredendal (bordering on the southern tip of Namaqualand); home of the Matzikama Eco-Park, and known for its wild flowers in the spring – transforming the plains and mountains into kaleidoscopes of colour. The area also boasts various wine cellars and boutique wineries, also relying on the Olifants river for irrigation.  It certainly lives up to its name where vrede means “peace” in Afrikaans.



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