When you wander up the R27 coastal road that winds up the West Coast of South Africa, you pass through towns and villages that make you think you have somehow stepped back in time. Towns and villages that are untouched by the frenetic energy of the city maintain the same steady pulse of living that has sustained them for decades.
Here the clock ticks to the rhythm of nature with sea being main source of income for the fishing villages that dot the coast and the canning factories in Saldanha and Port Owen. For many the West Coast is a forgotten region as it is off the normal tourist track, but it rewards intrepid travellers with a unique perspective on South African life.
The sea too is the the main attraction for most of the visitors venturing up the coast. Yzerfontein is a hugely popular resort town and within easy reach from Cape Town that attract locals and tourists throughout the year. It is a favoured fishing spot and when the snoek runs, fisherman come from all over.
Few experiences can beat the rustic bliss of sitting around a fire on the beach with fishsizzling on the coals and a black cast iron pot ready for the crayfish as the divers take it out of the water. Round off the meal with freshly baked bread and apricot jam and you have regional food at its best.
In September the land is transformed into a rainbow panorama of flowers. It’s difficult to walk for fear of crushing the delicate indigenous flowers with every step. The yearly flower spectacle is worth a special trip to see the usually dry plains metamorphis into a natural wonder. A special place to visit is Velddrift, a tranquil get-away from city life with beautiful wide open spaces.
The people of this village will make you feel like you’re long-lost family and go out of their way to make you feel at home.
Dwarskersbos is another favorite place. This is a very popular holiday resort for locals and tourists alike. During season they have great entertainment programs, the accommodation caters to all and the restaurant will pack day-food packages for hikers to the Rocher pan, a favourite amongst bird watchers and photographers waiting for that perfect sunset shot.
In season the West Coast National Park Reserve is another essential place to visit. With turquoise water and plenty of wildlife, this is one of the lesser-known jewels on the South African tourism treasure map. Take an umbrella and a picnic you’ll find it difficult to believe that you’re not on a tropical island for the day.
The impressions of the West Coast that remain after returning to the bustle of the city are those of freedom and wide open spaces where you can breathe. The West Coast offers many revitalizing getaway opportunities and is definitely worth considering when visiting Cape Town.
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Other Popular Towns on the Cape West Coast include
- Britannia Bay
- Lamberts Bay
- Shelley Point
- St Helena Bay