The Cape West Coast is one of the most culturally rich places in South Africa and offers a myriad of fascinating attractions which are situated right on Cape Town’s doorstep – all of which can be explored on the West Coast Way Culture Route and make for a wonderful day out for the entire family.
As an example, 50 minutes from Cape Town, just off the R27 West Coast Road, lies the small town of Mamre. Not only does this unassuming settlement have a rich and colourful history, it is also home to South Africa’s fifth oldest church in the Moravian Mission Station.
Originally established in the late 1600’s as a military post, two Moravian missionaries from Germany took over the abandoned buildings and built a church, a school and a watermill. The original church and parsonage retain their charm and were listed as national monuments in 1967. The watermill has been restored and the church is still used for services and packed to capacity on any given Sunday.
New Heritage Walk in Mamre
In order to properly explore Mamre and all it has to offer a new walking tour has been launched by West Coast Way in conjunction with the Mamre Moravian Church. Called the Heritage Walk, this gentle, family friendly stroll through the village allows visitors to travel back in time 300 years to when the Moravian Missionaries settled in the Cape.
Amongst other things, whilst on the Heritage Walk you will visit the Moravian Church; the Parsonage, which was built in 1697; the Long House, which served as a barracks for the Dutch East Indian Company; and the Mill, which was originally powered by horse power before converting to a water mill in 1938.
Get to know the San people, the oldest inhabitants of South Africa
Situated on the R27, just before Yzerfontein, the !Khwa ttu San Culture and Education Centre offers a fascinating insight into the culture, heritage, knowledge and modern-day life of the original inhabitants of the West Coast.
Kids in particular will love a visit to !Khwa ttu, where during a fascinating tour, qualified San guides will demonstrate their skills, share their history and ancient knowledge about tracking animals, identifying edible and medicinal plants and they will also teach you some words in their language.
The surrounding nature reserve contains many species of large animals and antelope, as well as an abundance of other smaller mammals, birdlife and fynbos plants. The old original farmhouse has been restored and now houses a restaurant, which is open for breakfast and lunch daily.
!Khwa ttu also offers two mountain bike trails: A 10km, circular green route on which you can experience wonderful game encounters. Or continue on the circular red route for 20km of more challenging climbs on neighbouring farms. There is also a variety of appealing accommodation facilities on offer – ranging from a bush camp to a secluded bush house and a farm-style guest house.
Newly launched West Coast Way Culture Route
Mamre, with its Heritage Walk and the !Khwa ttu San Culture and Education Centre are just two of the many stops along the West Coast Way Culture Route – a self-drive circular route that has been conceptualised and developed by West Coast Way, who are working hand in hand with community members to welcome visitors to the Cape West Coast and surround 7 days a week.
Other stops included on the Culture Route include the Blaauwberg Nature Reserve, Melkbosstrand, Koeberg Nature Reserve, Silwerstroomstrand, Atlantis (Witzand Aquifer Nature Reserve), Mamre, Groote Post Wine Cellar, Darling, Darling Brew, West Coast National Park, Yzerfontein and the !Khwa ttu San Culture and Education Centre.
Carmen Lerm, founder of West Coast Way says the Culture Route is designed to showcase the many cultural attractions and activities that are already on offer on the Cape West Coast but may be unknown. Whether your focus is sightseeing, photo opportunities, history, culture, fauna and flora or adventure and activities. The West Coast Biodiversity Corridor has so much to offer and we feel that it is important that potential visitors see the bigger picture. The Cape West Coast is about the rich experience, it is about the vibrant people, history and colours you will find here, it is about the beautiful unspoilt environment and it is about the myriad of attractions and activities that can be enjoyed.”
James Vos, Shadow Minister of Tourism says that experiencing cultural activities is key to building social cohesion and for community development. “Cultural tourism is one of the largest and fastest-growing global tourism markets. Culture and creative industries are increasingly being used to promote destinations and enhance their competitiveness and attractiveness, and within the Western Cape we will be developing more routes which showcase our cultural and heritage attractions.”
“Many locations should take stock of their tourism infrastructure and must actively develop their cultural assets as a means of developing comparative advantages to create economic benefits for the host communities.”
For more information on West Coast Way, the Culture Route, Foodie Route and the list of 101 Things To Do On The West Coast visit www.westcoastway.co.za or call West Coast Way on 0861 321 777. Connect with West Coast Way on Facebook and twitter at WestCoastWaySA.