South Africa is a country full of rich cultures.
Perhaps one of the richest of them all is that of the San people, the oldest inhabitants of Southern Africa.
With a history going back tens of thousands of years, the San people possess a wealth of knowledge about the natural environment and how to use it to their advantage.
Situated on the R27, just before Yzerfontein, the !Khwa ttu San Culture and Education Centre is dedicated to preserving this knowledge and sharing it with people from other cultures.
The centre is one of the stops of West Coast Way’s culture route and offers a range of activities for the whole family.
Opened in 2006, the centre offers training to young San people from across Southern Africa, giving them the opportunity to learn about their roots and traditional knowledge as well as how to pass this knowledge on.
From the lady behind the till in the curio shop to your waiter in the restaurant, most of the people you will meet at the centre are of San decent.
!Kwa ttu offers a great opportunity to learn about San culture first hand, from a San tour guide or one of the other staff members at the centre.
Guide Kerson Jackson explains that there are different tours on offer at the centre. Visitors can learn about San hunting methods and tools, how they used their bow and arrows and the poisons they used. They can also visit a recreated San village where they can see San clothes and tools and even learn how to make their own ostrich shell jewellery or a fire using only sticks.
Kerson says they plan to add a tracking tour to the menu to teach visitors to spot animal prints.
!Kwa ttu also caters for adventure enthusiasts with their mountain biking and hiking trails on the centre’s 850 hectares of land with breathtaking views of the nearby coast.
If the outdoors isn’t your thing however, you can enjoy a leisurely breakfast or lunch at the restaurant. Despite a scrumptious menu full of interesting options, including venison sourced from the farm itself, their prices are very reasonable, making them a great stop for a day outing.
The curio shop just next door offers up all kinds of delights from clothes and jewellery, to organic teas and books and films relating to San culture. The centre’s gallery also houses pieces created by San artists from around Southern Africa. Their photos and stories are displayed alongside their work, giving yet more insight into San culture.
!Kwa ttu San Culture and Education Centre has a number of accommodation options to choose from. Their ultra-luxurious guest house, with stunning views of the area, to their self-contained bush house, their tented bush camp and their tented bush village with its tented huts.
Much of the West Coast was designated as a biosphere area by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 2000, due to its rich floral diversity and the fact that it is under threat from encroaching development. Renosterveld, for example, is one of the plant species only found in the Cape floral region.
West Coast Way Biosphere Trails.
The trails are an exciting way to grow the local economy by supporting existing and emerging tourism and hospitality services in the region and sustaining the livelihoods of newly employed guides, caterers and drivers.
They offer five different trails, including a cycling and kayaking route, of varying lengths and degrees of difficulty:
The West Coast Way Darling Stagger
It’s great to see South Africans finally picking up on what the Italians have known for centuries, that this is the way life is meant to be lived – slowly and simply, with good food and wine and good company, in a natural, outdoor setting. This 2.5 day, 25km hiking and cycling cultural experience is for those who know how to experience the good things in life.
The West Coast Way Wheels of Time
This ride through time is not aimed at adrenalin junkies or Absa Cape Epic trainees, but rather recreational cyclists who are keen to experience the back roads and beauty of the West Coast, from the seat of a bicycle.
Walk amidst beautiful scenery in the footsteps of Eve, from who it is suggested that all human life – well before the emergence of Homo sapiens – is thought to have descended. Experience what it was like to be governed by the sun, the stars, and the tides of the sea?
One thing is for sure, no rapids! This 2.5 day, 24km trail is a relaxing river kayak along the Berg River suitable for the entire family. River kayaking opens up a whole world of exploration, and it’s an exciting way to enjoy the scenic beauty and incredible birdlife of the West Coast.
The Five Bay Trail is a scenic, 2.5 day, 28km coast hugging hike between the West Coast Fishing villages of Paternoster and Jacobsbaai.
Available 7 days a week | All trails vary in duration and levels of difficulty | Starts 90 minutes outside Cape Town | 5 trail options
Possibly the best way to end a busy day of exploring is with a night of rest and relaxation.
So, why not make a weekend of it and come away refreshed, inspired, and a little bit wiser.