LOOKING for a day trip – or even overnighter – from Cape Town? Well, you’ve come to the right place! Explore this pictorial itinerary for a scenic, cultural and culinary outing that will enrich your experience of the fairest Cape.
Destination: The Wild West Coast
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, will take you from South Africa’s mother city Cape Town, along the West Coast to the fishing village of Paternoster.
Rent a car from one of the many vehicle hire companies in Cape Town and get onto the R27 heading north out of Cape Town. Follow the GPS to Table View Beach on Marine Drive. Yes, you’ve guessed it: stunning beach views across the bay towards Table Mountain.
Tip: Try and spot the shipwreck Seli 1, a Turkish bulk carrier that was on its way to Gibraltar when it ran aground in September 2009.
Continue north along Marine Drive to the famous Bloubergstrand with iconic views of Table Mountain.
Back on the R27, take a leisurely drive up the coast and take the turnoff on the right to !Khwa ttu. This is your chance to experience San culture! You might know the San as ‘Bushman’, or the tribesman rudely introduced to the modern world when a Coke bottle thrown from an airplane lands at his feet in the hilarious comedy by Jamie Uys, ‘The Gods Must Be Crazy.’ The Education and Culture Centre offers San-guided tours, craft shop, art exhibitions and breakfast or lunch at their restaurant.
Tip: Ask about their herbal tea ‘Ghaap Tee’, which the San used to suppress hunger pains.
Onward to Yzerfontein! An idyllic seaside township with 60 percent of all line fish caught on the West Coast landed at the craft harbour. Keep a lookout for fresh snoek if you’re there in May. Snoek, a species of mackerel found in local waters, is a much-sought after delicacy in South Africa and there’s a real buzz when snoek-fever grips the Cape!
Tip: If you have time, explore the unspoilt beaches of Yzerfontein, such as 16-Mile Beach stretching all the way to Postberg Nature Reserve within the West Coast National Park.
At this point, we bypass the stunning Langebaan Lagoon, because tomorrow is another day. Instead, we continue on to Saldanha, and more specifically the Slipway Waterfront Restaurant for lunch. Don’t go there if you’re in a rush! However, if you’re inclined to soak up the atmosphere, with locals chattering away in Afrikaans and seagulls cawing away in, well, seagull language, you’ll be amply rewarded with platters full of seafood.
TIP: For more of a gourmet experience, plan your trip with a visit to Strandkombuis in Yzerfontein.
For the final stretch north, via Jacobsbaai, leave town on the R399. Turn left midway between Saldanha and Vredenburg and drive towards the coast. Building restrictions in Jacobsbaai have preserved the 2km stretch of lime-washed fisherman cottages, brilliantly white against the azure ocean crashing onto jagged boulders.
Leave Jacobsbaai and head back towards Vredenburg. Upon reaching the town, turn left onto Main/R399, which will take you through an interesting agricultural landscape of wheat fields, dairy and sheep farms, and stunning Cape fynbos.
Paternoster is a paradise when life’s challenges start gnawing large chunks from your wilting psyche and you desperately need to unwind. Whitewashed fisherman cottages fringe a shell-strewn beach, the ocean washing away the troubles of the world in a restorative balm to the senses. Paternoster, which is the Latin word for ‘Our Father’, boasts one of the outstanding restaurants along the West Coast. Oep ve Koep prides itself on presenting only the freshest ingredients, many harvested from nearby rock pools earlier in the day, in a variety of innovative recipes.
TIP: The West Coast arguably offers the best land-based whale watching anywhere in the world. Look out for southern right or humpback whales, dolphins and Cape fur seals. Not only did we see whales wading close in to shore, we saw a fur seal catching and playing with its prey – tossing the hapless fish into the air before pouncing, again and again and again.
If your time is limited, take the highway back to Cape Town. However, if you have the time, overnight in Paternoster.
Returning to Cape Town the following morning, visit Langebaan Lagoon and the West Coast National Park. Spring (August to September) is the optimal time to view nature’s amazing and abundant flower show at Postberg Nature Reserve within the National Park. Carpets of colourful flowers saturate the landscape, interrupted only by the appearance of imperial Eland or harems of zebra.
Stay tuned to astonishedXpression for more reports on the fairest Cape.