Experience Wamakersvlei Beach Farm with nature guide, Justin Hawthorne
Spinnekopblom! The unmistakable maroon-petalled flower with frilly yellowish margins caught the low hanging sun’s soft light. Against the crisp backdrop of the rolling white sand dunes, and standing a mere one-foot tall, was the beautiful Spider Lily – a member of the Iris Family and one of many spring blooms which make the West Coast a floral fanatics heaven!
Spinnekopblom – Spider Lilies – at Historic Wamakersvlei
We were nearing the end of a circular sunset walk across the salt pans and sand dunes at Wamakersvlei Beach Farm when we spotted our first of many Spider Lilies. Nestled between Cape Nature’s Rocherpan Nature Reserve and the little coastal village of Dwarskersbos lies the historic Wamakersvlei – literally translating to “wagon maker’s wetland” which alludes to activities of years gone by. The farm lies on the western edge of the so-called Sandveld region, which stretches between Melkbosstrand and Elands Bay along the West Coast, and eastward across the Swartland towards Porterville, forming part of our botanically rich Cape Floristic Region.
A Spring Stay
Staying over in mid-spring meant that the landscape was splashed with colour. Open, sandy patches were transformed into dense mats of little lilac Drumsticks (Zaluzianskya villosa) and between the larger shrubs on the dunes bright red Sandlelies (Babiana hirsute) stood proudly. The edges surrounding all of the dry salt pans were adorned with rainbow colours of glistening Bokbaai Vygies (Cleretum bellidiforme) – a fan favourite. Away from the dunes tall Rooi Salie (Salvia lanceolata) caught our eye, as it does with passing Southern Double-Collared Sunbirds. Its fragrant leaves have a lemon and pepper scent making it of great benefit in the kitchen. Closer to the ground stood the stick-man like Pienk Koringbloms (Lapeirousia anceps) – with dainty markings acting as nectar guides to long-proboscid flies which pollinate these geophytes.
The spinnekopblomme, Ferraria variabilis and Ferraria foliosa, were both flowering across the farm. These conspicuously shaped flowers have incredible patterns and details, yet come in rather uninspiring colours – mostly dull yellow, green, brown and maroon. What they lack in colour they make up in strong fragrance, although not everyone finds the scent appealing!
Naguiltjie Accommodation On Wamakersvlei Beach Farm
This is a mere glimpse into the floral treasure trove found at Wamakersvlei and regardless of season you’ll still find interesting plants in flower.
Returning to our quaint pan-facing cottage, Naguiltjie, we settled in as the dusk glow rapidly faded to a clouded night sky with approaching overnight rain. Whilst dinner preparations were underway raindrops began their rhythmic pitter-pattering on the roof as flames excitedly licked the rooikrans logs in the kitchen fireplace. This is the ultimate indoor cooking space positioned to appreciate warmth both in the lounge and at the kitchen table. And what a night to have been enjoying it.
Day broke to a mystical atmosphere with birdsong piercing the sea mist which had rolled over the dunes and now smothered the salt pans. The constant rumbling of waves drowned out any distant sounds – not that there’s much noise in these parts anyway. Soon, after coffee and rusks, the sun burnt through the mist and now blazing sunshine accompanied us along our flower walk – perfect conditions for the daisies and vygies to open widely!
We had nine kilometres of gentle hiking ahead of us, initially between the salt pans and the dunes, before returning along the gorgeous coastline. The overnight rain ensured that we had excellent opportunity to observe tracks and signs of the wildlife which had been active over the early hours of the morning. Secretive African Wild Cat tracks tip-toed along the sandy jeep track along with signs of Common Duiker and Porcupine activity too. A friendly Yellow Mongoose, Angulate Tortoise and Steenbok are active during the day, but it’s the array of birdlife which are constant companions. Even in the immediate vicinity around the cottages familiar Cape Robin-Chat, Bokmakierie and Acacia Pied Barbet can be seen. Whilst walking you’ll likely spot a bright Yellow Canary, Capped Wheatear or Karoo Scrub Robin among many others. The coastline sees flocks of terns and sandpipers together with gulls, cormorants and plovers. And at night one can listen for the soothing sounds of Nightjars or Spotted Eagle-Owls.
The cottages are all aptly named – showing the farms connectedness to its cultural and natural heritage. All five units have been beautifully renovated, kitted out with everything one needs for a seaside escape, maximising outdoor living along with interior warmth and great lighting. Sweeping views over seemingly endless ocean to the west – make for the perfect sundowner spot, or to watch out for large marine mammals. Across the pans to the east lie the rugged Piketberg Mountains which turn gold in evening light.
With spring on our doorstep it offers the perfect mix of nature, tranquillity and creature comforts…all within easy reach of Cape Town. It’s a nature-enthusiasts haven with an abundance of birdlife and wildflowers to admire right from the veranda and deeper into the farm. For the more energetic visitors one can mountain bike along the farm’s many jeep tracks, or go for a run on the circular walking trails – the topography is fairly flat which makes it ideal for both activities. Seven kilometres of pristine sandy beach provides the perfect space to unwind and enjoy those sunny days. And to top it all off, this farm is dog-friendly.
Wamakersvlei Beach Farm is a true West Coast gem with charm and hospitality at its core. So pull on your trail shoes, grab your binoculars and go experience Wamakersvlei!
Facilities available at Wamakersvlei Beach Farm:
• Accommodation • Child Friendly • Pet Friendly • Braai Facilities • Bird Watching • Indigenous Landscape • Hiking