Travel and a bit of shopping
First published in Sunday Independent, 2017
You can feel it in your bones. It’s time to go on a trip up the West Coast. Consider doing the Culture Route by West Coast Way?
It starts a mere 25 minutes from Cape Town’s CBD at SANCCOB in Table View. They have been saving seabirds including happy-footed penguins since 1968. You can even adopt an egg or chick, but not to take home of course.
If you are the active type do some kitesurfing at Blouberg. Alternatively look at the unequalled view of Table Mountain, see the kitesurfers silhouetted against the mountain and try to guess the distance from Blouberg to Robben Island, a heritage site.
Not too far from here Melkbosstrand is South Africa’s newest Blue Flag Beach. It is home to The Lodge at Atlantic Beach that invariably exceeds expectations.
Koeberg Nature Reserve is open seven days a week and is popular among mountain bikers.
Silwerstroomstrand is another Blue Flag Beach that is great for camping. Alternatively chalets are available for rent.
Witzand Aquifer Nature Reserve with its powdery white dunes is popular for sandboarding.
Mamre, a Moravian Mission Station, is the home of one of South Africa’s oldest churches. You will also find Tori Oso here. It means ‘chat house’ and it’s open seven days a week. Listen and feel the stories of the West Coast as you go on a Heritage walk, self-guided or with a community guide.
The next stop is at Darling, where five nature reserves come together. Pieter-Dirk Uys’s Evita se Perron is so iconic that it needs no description; The Marmalade Cat is famous for its homemade food, and its ginger-and-white cat; and at Darling Sweet you can see how old-fashioned toffees are made as well as taste all the different flavours.
If all this has made you thirsty – not that an excuse is needed – pop into Darling Brew, a craft beer microbrewery.
Whatever you do, do not miss a wine tasting – or a bespoke chocolate and wine pairing – at the Ormonde Private Family Wine Cellar. They have three ranges of wines namely Ormonde, Ondine and Alexanderfontein.
Darling Wine Shop in the Main Road offers the biggest selection of wines from Darling. Other wine farms include Groote Post – in the early 1800’s this farm served as a guard station – as well as Darling Cellars and Cloof Wines.
This section of the Culture Route has so much to offer it begs you to stay over. Disa Lodge has beautiful wooden floors and high ceilings and is one of the first houses built in Darling. Darling Lodge is housed in a beautifully restored Victorian home with a lovely garden.
As a new day breaks head to the West Coast National Park – very popular amongst birders – which is home to the Geelbek Restaurant that specialises in South African and West Coast cuisine.
Other options include a visit to Langebaan Lagoon and Yzerfontein – book a 1-5 day walk with Cape West Coast Biosphere Trails whilst here. If you haven’t done it yet you will be sorely tempted to extend your holiday at this stage.
The slogan at !Kwha ttu is ‘adventure, relaxation and education’ and they more than deliver on all three counts. From up on the hill you have a spectacular view of Table Mountain; in the Bush House, Bush Lodge or Bush Camp you feel as if you could be anywhere in the bushveld, and not a few kilometres from the Mother City instead. !Kwha ttu also offer San-guided tours, walking, trail running and cycling. Once you have worked up a sweat the restaurant offers delicious meals in sizeable portions.
End off your West Coast Culture Route on a sweet note. At Vygevallei Farm Stall & Wine House the bread is freshly baked, the pies are homemade, and the jams and chutneys are the way your ouma – provided she was a gastronome – made them.