For those looking for something to do these holidays why not hop in the car and go on a road trip up the West Coast?
From the Blaauwberg Private Nature Reserve to the seaside village of Melkbosstrand, up past the West Coast National Park and winding its way past Shelley Point, St Helena Bay and Velddrif (to name but a few), the Cape West Coast has so much to offer that you may never want to go home again.
Why not start your road trip with a stop at the Farmyard Farmstall on the R27, situated at the turn off to Melkbostrand. Here you can enjoy a delicious and hearty breakfast (road tripping fuel) while the kids play in the playground and then fill up your picnic basket with the locally made eats and treats that will see you well fed for the rest of your day.
From here you can head towards the Koeberg Private Nature Reserve with its 153 bird species and plentiful mammals. Or try the Witzand Aquifer Nature Reserve with its white sand dunes, which are fantastic for 4X4 enthusiasts and sand boarders.
Moving on, be sure to stop in the small town of Mamre to visit the Mission Station – one of the oldest, and most picturesque churches in South Africa. Surprisingly, given its religious past, wine has long been a part of Mamre’s history and you can find the regions popular wines at the Darling Wine Cellar on Mamreweg.
And whilst on the topic of wine, make sure that your road trip includes a stop at Groote Post Winery, which has just won a Klink Wild Card Award for their interesting and alternative farm drive experience. This family friendly wine farm also hosts an amazing country market on the last Sunday of every month where you can expect to find everything from oysters to wild mushroom and locally brewed beer from the Darling Brewery (be sure to visit the Darling Brewery when you head to the town of Darling).
Your West Coast road trip should also include a visit to the towns of Darling (home of well-known political satirist Pieter Dirk Uys and his theatre, Evita se Perron); Yzerfontein (which is an urban conservancy); Langebaan (an internationally acclaimed Ramsar site); Saldanha (hot spot for water sport lovers); Jacobsbaai (known as “Namaqualand by the sea”); Paternoster (and the Cape Columbine Reserve); Shelley Point (with its golf course and wellness centre); St Helena Bay (with its unspoilt coastline and magnificent views) and historic Hopefield (with its birdlife and hiking trails).
Along the route you will discover “must-visit” attractions such as the West Coast National Park, which stretches from Yzerfontein to Langebaan, and is a pristine nature reserve which offers an array of activities such as bird watching, game sighting, biking and whale watching; !Khwa ttu San Culture and Education Centre, which offers a fascinating insight into the culture, heritage, knowledge and modern-day life of the San of Southern Africa; and the West Coast Fossil Park – a National Heritage Site – which allows a glimpse back in time to the animals and vegetation that were found in the region millions of years ago – with a visit to an actual dig sight.
Cape West Coast Biodiversity Corridor
Most of these attractions fall within the newly proclaimed West Coast Biodiversity Corridor, while others are just a leisurely drive away, and the good news for those who are keen to explore the Corridor is that these attractions, and more, are included on two new circular sightseeing routes, the Culture Route and Foodie Route, that have been launched by an exciting new tourism initiative called West Coast Way.
Carmen Lerm, who is the founder of West Coast Way and a destination marketing specialists who has worked on heavy-weight tourist attractions such as City Sightseeing Cape Town and City Sightseeing Johannesburg, Hylton Ross and the Groot Constantia wine estate, says that whether your focus is sightseeing, photo opportunities, history, culture, fauna and flora or adventure and activities, the West Coast and the West Coast Biodiversity Corridor has so much to offer.
“It is about the rich experience, the vibrant people, food and colours you will find here. Not to mention the beautiful unspoilt environment and the myriad of attractions and activities that can be enjoyed on the Cape West Coast.”
Lerm explains that West Coast Way has been conceptualised to become the gateway to the West Coast, and will be actively marketing and showcasing the West Coast Biodiversity Corridor, with a view to increasing visitor numbers and thereby improving economic growth for the stakeholders and people of the area. “The objectives of West Coast Way are to significantly increase the number of quality visitors through the marketing of the Biodiversity Corridor. “In addition to these two circular routes we have also developed a list of 101 things to do and see on the West Coast.”
The Cape West Coast, and the Biodiversity Corridor, are a must-visit, unique, affordable and accessible destination that offers memorable, fun experiences for the entire family. “December holidays are upon us and with the Cape West Coast on our doorstep, Capetonians don’t have to travel far to access all of the amazing attractions and activities on offer here,” says Lerm, who explains that by far the most richly and uniquely abundant natural area in South Africa is the West Coast Biodiversity Corridor – home to thousands of species of plants, including fynbos which is found nowhere else in the world. The region is also home to a rich diversity of marine life and wildlife and has been identified by Birdlife International as an Important Bird Area.
Why will a road trip to the Cape West Coast be an enriching experience?
“Around the world 35 areas qualify as Biodiversity hotspots. They represent just 2.3% of Earth’s land surface but they support more than half of the world’s plants species and nearly 43% of bird, mammal, reptile and amphibian species. For an area to qualify as a biodiversity hotspot a region must have at least 1 500 endemic plants – that is plants that are found nowhere else on the planet and it must have 30% or less of its original natural vegetation – in other words it must be threatened.”
The old adage goes that it is not just about the destination but also about the journey. With the amount of wonderful towns, attractions and activities that are available all within short distances of each other on the Cape West Coast the entire journey is the destination! A road tripping holiday is the ideal way to explore this biodiversity hotspot and holiday playground.
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.