Join Di Brown on her West Coast Way Wild Route adventure!
It’s sunrise and I am at the beach in Melkbosstrand, located on the West Coast Way Culture Route, and I was getting ready for a Jaguar Road Trip! The early morning light is fighting the clouds and casting a hint of pale pink on the water. A lone surfer braves the cold waves, a few runners create the first footprints on the sand and a dog chases a bird with enthusiasm.
I am heading up the West Coast Way again, but this time I am doing it in style in a Jaguar. Not just any Jaguar, but the F Type 400 Sport Coupe, you can drool over the specs and book a test drive here. As Ernest Page and I explore the West Coast, the car is our model and as I found out, it is also a conversation piece, a show stopper and a thief of time.
Jaguar Road Trip
Before heading out on our Jaguar Road Trip, the Jag is treated to a waterless wash! It gleams after it’s wash at the garage and we hit the road towards Darling on the West Coast Way Culture Route and Scenic Route. Canola fields are a yellow blur through a tinted window as this car eats up the miles effortlessly.
What was supposed to be a quick stop at Darling Brew to introduce Ernest to these lovely tastes and pick up some beers for the trip turns into something else completely? When the car is a Jaguar you do not need a bikini clad supermodel to draw attention, the car does it all by itself. I asked if we could drive the car inside the brewery to take some shots and the answer was a chorus of “yes of course,” before I had completed the request.
Book your Darling Brew Tasting Experience: +27 (0)21 286 1099
Who knew that so many people worked at a brewery? Moments after we arrived a crowd had gathered around the car, everyone wanting a chance to admire, discuss, photograph and pose with the car. A few die-hard enthusiasts were treated to a spin down the road and returned beaming from ear to ear. I was astounded, not being a petrol-head myself, I never knew a car could attract so much attention.
Eventually, we had to clear the floor of fans so we could take a couple of pics, but this proved to be close to impossible as this car is like a magnet and the admirers just could not stay away.
Visit Ormonde Private Cellar in Darling.
Book an Artisinal Platter or Wine Tasting: +27 (0)22 492 3540
No prize for guessing what happened here. Ernest, the wine maker, and a few other men immediately started talking a foreign language known as “car speak” and promptly disappeared down the road in the car.
Finally, we continued our Jaguar Road Trip and headed towards the N7, our destination being Piekenierskloof Mountain Resort – located on the West Coast Way Berg and Wild Route. Assistant General Manager, Estelle Horn, a car enthusiast, and Jaguar owner herself, was eagerly awaiting our arrival. Or the arrival of the car.
Did you know that Piekenierskloof Mountain Resort is the start of the new West Coast Way Wild Route – which includes the Sustainable Seafood Track and the People Rocking Nature Track?
A typical Piekenierskloof welcome of smiles, hugs and a glass of sherry at check in and then all the attention was back on the car. A team of strong men were rounded up to remove rocks and smooth out the bumps in the road so we could get the very low-slung Jag down an embankment and up onto the lawn to pose between the Hotel and the pool.
Book your Piekenierskloof Mountain Resort stay: +27 (0)22 921 3574
Again, a crowd gathered. Car speak happened and promises were made for a spin the next day. With the car safely parked and basking in the never-ending stream of admiring fans, I turned my attention to the resort. A quick change of clothing and it was time for some adventuring on the on-site zip lines.
Natasha and her team got me kitted up in the harness and helmet and it was time to fly. There is something about zip lining that appeals to the child in me, and I whooped and beamed along all seven lines that traverse down the valley towards Citrusdal.
The platforms are sturdy, the lines are not high and the braking system is a very easy one, making this an ideal course for first timers.
Read a detailed account of zip lining at Piekenierskloof here.
All too soon it is over and time for the slog up the hill back up to the hotel. The overcast skies parted, the sun came out and the wild flowers opened providing a welcome distraction from the uphill slog.
Coffee on the deck completed my relaxation and I felt myself getting drawn back into nature as I gazed at the views, smelled the fynbos and inhaled the fresh air. Bliss.
With perfect timing, I was called to the Wellness Spa for my head, neck and shoulders massage.
Emma is a magician. Within the quiet confines of the treatment room that is softly lit by candles, I almost fell asleep as she pummeled, rubbed, smoothed and coaxed knotted muscles and built up tension out of me. I felt like a million bucks when I came out of there. On her advice, my next stop was a soak in the jacuzzi in my room (they have borehole water).
Feeling totally relaxed, quite honestly, I was ready for bed but needed a few shots of the car at sunset before an early dinner at the hotel’s Kloof Restaurant.
The staff at Piekenierskloof are like a big family and they draw every guest into this warm circle. I felt tired and relaxed enough to say “I just want to go to bed now” and I almost expected a kiss goodnight. I did get a hug though and feeling completely at home went off to my room.
Sliding doors are flung wide open to let in the crisp air and the sounds of nature lull me to sleep.
I am up before the birds to prepare for some sunrise shots of the car. It is still dark and my hands are numb with cold. Who knows what the weather will do, it’s too black to see anything. Out of nowhere, the Chef appears with a paper cup of love. Steaming hot chocolate to ward off the cold while I wait for the light to reveal the day. We chat and he shows me an outstanding photo he took of sunrise a few days ago and we discuss the best spot for the shot, then he disappears to go and see to breakfast.
Of course, the Jaguar, attention seeking creature that she is, was in the center of the sunrise, but as always, it was a humbling moment, nature showing off. There were no clouds to light up in rainbow colours, but seeing the sky getting lighter, the faint blush of colour on the opposite mountains and then that first peep of golden rays as the sun shows her face and your body instantly feels the warmth of her rays is always something that moves me.
Thawed out, I head for breakfast with Ernest, but he is missing in action, so is the Jaguar. Why am I not surprised? Managers Estelle and Jan just happen to have a son of 18 who just happens to be a car enthusiast and who also just happens to have a drone. As Janku knows this area like the back of his hand, they have gone out to play.
Hours later they return with stories of deserted roads, birds spotted, acceleration ratio’s and a secret rock hewn table and benches overlooking magnificent views. The #FOMO was huge ☹
All too soon it was time to head home without experiencing any of the hikes or the archery as planned. As I said, this car is a time thief.
I sat in the sun drinking coffee and chatting to my new family while Ernest roared up and down the pass with a variety of thrilled passengers.
I’ll be back, in my ancient old Fiat Panda that will park at the back and allow me time to reconnect with nature, my Piekenierskloof family and the warmth, tastes, smells, and adventures of this mountain retreat.
West Coast Way is a unique collection of themed routes that can be enjoyed by locals and visitors when they do an adventure-filled Cape West Coast self-drive trip for a day trip or a West Coast Holiday. The new West Coast Way “basket” of free routes on offer include the West Coast Way Scenic Route, the West Coast Way Berg Route, the West Coast Way Foodie Route, the West Coast Way Cultural Route – as well as the newly launched West Coast Way Wild Route, all of which are designed to showcase the many attractions and activities that are already on offer on the Cape West Coast and inland areas – but may be unknown to many. For more information on West Coast Way, the other routes on offer, 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.