WEST COAST TRAVEL GUIDE - WESTERN CAPE, SOUTH AFRICA
Map of Cape
West Coast is
an acquired taste. The vegetation is subdued, the sky incredibly wide and
the sea very often a dead calm expanse of cerulean blue. But sometimes,
of course, it's an angry grey expanse of snarling and crashing breakers.
But change is the only certainty.
In spring, the somewhat monochromatic landscape explodes into a riot of
colour. In small hollows between the dunes bright blue heliophilas nod
on slender stalks as they turn towards the sun, and fields of orange, white,
yellow and purple daisies shimmer in the heat as far as the eye can see.
Coast National Park is a great place to see the flowers, either by
car, on foot, or by bicycle. The Cape Columbine Nature Reserve,
near the small town of Paternoster,
is also a floral paradise but it's better known for its rocky shoreline
with numerous sheltered coves, so it's a very popular sea kayaking area.
But there are loads of other
places to see the flowers. The small town of Darling
is well known for its fabulous bulbs, annual flower show and as the home
of the wildly creative Pieter Dirk Uys who has catalysed the town's metamorphosis
from sleepy hollow to a vibrant cultural centre.
Traditionally the West Coast
has been populated by subsistence fishing folk, and their thatched, whitewashed
houses are typical of the area but, in many places they are becoming a
tad overshadowed by rather opulent holiday homes as South Africans have
woken to the fact that the West Coast is every bit as interesting as the
Route - albeit in a far more low key way.
are some good wineries in the area and, while most of the eateries are
of the steak and pizza variety, there are some excellent restaurants -
many specialising in seafood. In fact, one of the most rewarding West Coast
experiences is to while away a whole afternoon at a traditional beach restaurant.
This is like nothing you've ever seen.
Built from dried out bushes
and a bit of shade cloth, these ephemeral structures offer makeshift furniture
on a sand floor and fabulous seafood cooked on an open fire and served
with home made bread. It's certainly not smart, but the food is excellent.
There's loads to do on the
West Coast. The birding is spectacular with huge flocks of resident and
migratory waders. There are horse trails, a fossil museum, boat trips on
the Berg River, some not particularly well organised whale watching,
and some good hiking and day walks. There is some interesting rock art.
is one of the top windsurfing and kite surfing spots in the world and there
are wonderful facilities for both experienced sailors and novices, and
the lagoon is perfect for kayaking. Elands Bay offers some of the
best surfing in the country and the nearby Verlorenvlei is a birder's paradise.
ACCOMMODATION - CAPE WEST COAST
is a small town in a farming area on the west coast region of the Western
Cape, about 75km from Cape Town. By the beginning of the 18th century about
29 farmers lived in an area called Groenkloof and on one of these farms,
Langfonte, Darling was founded in 1853. It was named after Sir Charles
Henry Darling who came in 1851 to the Cape as Lieutenant Governor.
The Darling Museum shows the history of the town and the Darling creamery
which was established in 1899 by two Swedish settlers, Nils Georg Moller
and G. Threnstrom, and was closed in 1950. Darling is famous for its wildflowers
and since 1917 the annual Darling Wildflower show is held by the Darling
Wildflower Society, founded in 1915 by Mrs. Suzanne Malan and Mr. Frederick
Duckitt of Waylands.
The South African satirist
Pieter-Dirk Uys performs many of his shows as Evita Bezuidenhout at Evita
se Perron, a cabaret venue and restaurant in Darling. The adjacent arts
and crafts market has been taken over in 2006 by the Darling Trust, a charitable
organisation which addresses the problems of impoverished communities in
the area through the establishment of grassroots projects.
Map of Darling
accommodation options in Darling
Lodge Guest House, DARLING
The West Coast, heart of
South Africa’s Floral Kingdom and the Flamingo Bird Trail, is famous for
its unspoilt natural beauty: Game and Nature reserves, rolling hills, wheat
farms and wine estates, lagoons and long stretches of beaches can be found
and experienced in the immediate proximity of Darling. Darling Lodge,
less than 1 hour away from Cape Town, is a place to relax and unwind. This
in combination with a round of golf at the Darling Golf Course or numerous
Golf courses close by, driving through off-road trails, hiking in the Darling
Hills, a picnic on a wine farm, whale watching at Yzerfontein’s Sixteen
Miles Beach, visiting Evita Se Perron or watching a soccer match less than
an hours drive at the 2010 Soccer World Cup in Cape Town.
RECOMMENDED BY OUR TRAVEL PARTNER:
Lodge, Bed & Breakfast, DARLING
Nestled amongst wineries
and nature parks in the heart of Darling, Disa Lodge features an outdoor
pool, a sun terrace and a landscaped garden. Evita se Perron is a 4-minute
walk away.The rooms feature wooden décor, white painted walls and
carpeted floors. Each has a wardrobe and private bathroom facilities. Some
rooms have a patio. Free parking is available at the lodge. Disa Lodge
serves breakfast daily in the dining room beside the fireplace or in the
breakfast room. Guests can prepare their own meals in the Braai/BBQ area.
Local restaurants, wineries and shops are within a 10-minute walk away.
Guests can enjoy a swim or relax on the terrace, overlooking the garden
area. Indoors, there is a communal living room with sofa lounges and a
stereo. Darling Renosterveld Local Nature Reserve is a 10-minute drive
RECOMMENDED BY OUR TRAVEL PARTNER:
Darling, Self-Catering house, DARLING
Located in Darling, this
3-bedroom house is surrounded by a lush garden and comes with a private
small outdoor pool. Lookout Darling features a furnished terrace where
guests can relax. Free WiFi is available. The country-style house features
a seating and dining area, a fireplace, as well as a TV and DVD player.
This self-catering home comes with a fully equipped kitchen containing
an oven, stovetop, microwave and refrigerator. It includes kitchenware,
a washing machine and tumble dryer. At Lookout Darling there are BBQ facilities
available and the surrounding area features olive and wine farms. The famous
Evita se Perron is 800 m away and the Darling Golf Club is within a 5-minute
Granary Petite Hotel, DARLING
The Granary is situated
in the heart of the quaint and picturesque village of Darling which is
only 70 km or 40 minute drive from Cape Town on the West Coast and 23 km
or 15 minute drive to the beach. Darling is a charming 150 year old
village, nestled in a fold of the West Coast hills, surrounded by vineyards,
wheatfields, dairy pastures and wild flower reserves. Winter is rolling
green wheatfields, tasting award winning local wines, olives and dairy
products, relaxing in front of a roaring fire and visiting the unique museum
and theatre. Spring is a must for bird and wild life lovers, a breathtaking
multicoloured carpet of wild flowers, the excitement of the wild flower
and orchid shows and the Darling Spring Festival. Summer is harvesting
golden wheat, bringing in next year’s vintage and enjoying Darling’s colourful
Carnival or a visit to one of the spectacular West Coast beaches.
browsing the Cape West Coast