There’s a stretch of beach up the West Coast where I always go when I need to think. It may be when I need a little goal-directed thinking – like the time I decided that I desperately needed to see the world a little and impulsively packed my bags and set the gears in motion for some overseas backpacking.
Or even just for some philosophical time-out, when the day to day grind becomes a little overwhelming and the sand and sea seem like the only logical things left in the world. Whatever the need, it’s this little unnamed stretch of beach that I go to to think it out.
Recently, however, I’ve started to explore a little, and have gradually progressed further and further up the coast. This region is actually huge and includes the Swartland and Sandveld as well as the Olifant’s River valley. If you restrict yourself to the coastal towns you are doing yourself a huge disservice and you miss out on beauty, interesting places and of course the great food.
The towns and villages of the West Coast often remind me of a spider’s web; everything is linked somehow, either through industry, farming or historic bonds and everybody shares the wonderful traits of warmth, friendliness, utterly wicked sense of humour and their legendary hospitality to guests and visitors.
Travelling upwards from Cape Town along the N7 you find the Sandveld that separates the coastal towns of the West Coast from the Swartland towns of the West Coast. This area is sparsely populated but an important part of the eco-system. Here you find Verlorenvlei (the lost marshes of the Sandveld) and a paradise for bird enthusiasts and I, for one, have developed a deep appreciation for the bird-life of this region. The multitude of bird species that breed here is amazing and the activity of thousands of birds remind you of a very busy international airport as they stack up on their flight paths into the marshes.
Moorreesburg and Piketberg owe their existence to wheat; as far as the eye can see you will know exactly in which season you are from the colour of the surrounding landscape; the green of winter to the gold of summer-ripe wheat. Here, you can feast on the smells of wheat and the hundreds of apple, orange, pear and peach orchards that is the mainstay of this agricultural world. The farmers encourage visitors to spend time on their farms; to come and experience their world form the planting of the wheat to the enjoyment of freshly baked bread.
Moorreesburg is a popular weekend get-away for many Capetonians who enjoy the tranquillity, the unspoilt beauty of the countryside and the warm hospitality of the people. Piketberg on the other hand is growing as people opt out of the rat race to live in the area for it’s an hours drive from central Cape Town and your laptop makes living here very appealing. The region is prosperous and eco-tourism and agri-tourism bring many visitors every year.
Sleepy Porterville nestles below the Olifant’s River Mountains and goes about its daily business with regular disruptions when para-glider and hang-glider enthusiasts from around the world descend upon the village, for the area boasts powerful thermals that make conditions perfect for cross country flying. The town’s people welcome the bustling and often loud glider enthusiasts with good food, typical country accommodation and excellent service.
The hub of the Swartland is Malmesbury, a vibrant blend of rural atmosphere and modern day living. Situated only 40 minutes drive from Cape Town this town is within commuting distance; an opportunity that more and more people are taking to get the best of both worlds as they consider a 40-minute drive to work as child’s play. Malmesbury is known for the excellent wines it produces and its no wonder they host the yearly Swartland Food and Wine Festival.
Useful Swartland Links
- Swartland Attractions & Destinations
- Swartland Accommodation
- Swartland Wine Route
- Malmesbury Accommodation