South Africa has officially entered lockdown Level 2 - which allows for leisure travel within the country. This offers an opportunity to explore some of the country's hidden gems, one of which is the West Coast Way in the Western Cape.
The West Coast Way, situated on the doorstep of Cape Town is the perfect on-trend travel destination for South Africans of all ages that are looking to getaway. A beautiful, often wild stretch of coastline peppered with small towns that offer a vast array of activities and accommodation options, as well as some of the most pristine and untouched nature reserves, wetlands, lagoons and more.
And, as if celebrating the return to travel along with South Africans, nature is putting on a spectacle with carpets of wildflowers unfurling in what is a world-renown annual wildflower display.
“This is truly the perfect time to break away from the homebound restrictions we have all been under and get out to experience this year’s flower show – with reports indicating it is going to be a bumper year,” says Carmen Lerm, founder and CEO of West Coast Way, which is known as South Africa’s road trip with the most twists.
According to Lerm, the town of Garies in Namakwaland is a good Northerly place to start for flowers. “Lower down on the N7 you will find another town famous for its flowers, Vanrhynsdorp. From here you can take a magnificent drive along the Vanrhyns Pass into the direction of Nieuwoudtville. Going further south, a two-day road trip from Cape Town along the N7 takes you to Clanwilliam where the Pakhuis Pass takes you to Biedouw Valley and Wupperthal with many patches of unique flowers. Here you will find Louis Leipoldt’s Grave, and then there is also The Englishman’s Grave marked with the words ‘brave and true’. Going on walking trails will give access to Wolfberg Arch and we recommend doing the Sevilla Rock Art Trail along the Brannewyn River too.”
“In late spring, the flowers make their biggest performance in the West Coast National Park. Just an hour and 15 minutes out of the city, the Postberg wildflower nature reserve in the West Coast National Park is open only once a year, in August and September and is perfect for a day trip out of the bustling city into the wide-open spaces of the Cape West Coast Biodiversity Corridor.”
Lerm explains that West Coast Way has developed six themed circular self-drive routes that traverse all the best areas to see the wildflowers. “These routes include the Tractor Route, Berg Route, Foodie Route, Culture Route, Wild Route and Cape Way Route – all with their own variety of carefully chosen attractions.”
“You can either follow the West Coast Way route map or create your own self-drive road trip. Another wonderful option for those wishing to get out and about and see the wildflowers this season but not wanting to drive themselves is a newly launched three-day Wildflower Tour, which sees small exclusive groups of guests being transported to all the best flower viewing sites, accompanied by a registered guide. The tour includes all accommodation and meals, as well as entry fees and activities.”
Where to stay on the West Coast Way
For those who opt for a self-drive getaway, here are some highly recommended places to visit and stay:
!Khwa ttu is sharing the holistic San Spirit of nature, heritage and cuisine with their Loyalty Card. Sold at R100 for adults and R80 for children under 12, this card gives access for a year to the San Heritage Museum, enjoy the MTB tracks, walking trails and access to the boma with views over the Atlantic Oceans where Table Mountain and Robben Island is visible on clear days. Their restaurant is open seven days a week and is a short 55 minutes from Cape Town city centre.
Thali Thali Game Lodge offer guided Weskus Safari Drives to view free-roaming Cape buffalo, eland, oryx, sable antelope, black wildebeest, giraffe, kudu bontebok, springbok, Burchell’s zebra, duiker, steenbok, ostrich, porcupine, fox (Cape and bat-eared), caracal, scrub hare and dassie, as well as the striped mouse and angulated tortoises. Their restaurant, offering genuine ‘Weskus kos’, also has a wonderful selection of alcohol-free cocktails available seven days a week. Thali Thali is a short 80-minute drive from Cape Town city centre.
Darling Brew is celebrating 10 years of creating their legendary craft beer. To celebrate this milestone, fans can visit the tasting room and restaurant, open seven days a week in Darling. It has also added a drive-thru where you can pick up some of the brewed craft beers, including new non-alcoholic options. Their restaurant is open seven days a week and is one hour from Cape Town city centre.
Melkbosstrand - stay at the four-star accommodation The Lodge at Atlantic Beach on Cape Town’s most prestigious links golf course in Melkbosstrand where the white beaches of Cape Town meet the biodiversity-rich green coast.
Darling is perfectly positioned between the beach of Yzerfontein and the art and olive groves of Riebeek Valley. Visit Hello Darling – the welcoming name of Darling Tourism.
From Langebaan, visitors can easily explore the towns of Saldanha, St Helena Bay, Jocobsbaai, and Paternoster. Stay at self-catering luxury Langebaan Beach Accommodation or enjoy B&B service at Albatross Guesthouse. Club Mykonos, with its four-star accommodation, is reopening from 4 September.
Port Owen’s Charlies Brewhouse and Poetic License gin distillery and Velddrif’s heritage site Bokkomlaan, can be found on the West Coast Way Berg Route. At Bokkomlaan, visit the coffee shops and eateries looking out over the Berg River.
Stay at Vensterklip in Elands Bay or stay at Arendzicht Eagles Nest in Lambert’s Bay. For a more inland destination stay at Piekenierskloof Mountain Resort.
“Spring is in the air, the lockdown has reached Level 2 as we hopefully overcome Covid, the flowers are blooming and the tourism sector desperately needs the support of South Africans – there has never been a better time to visit and explore the Cape West Coast,” concludes Lerm.