Cape Town - The city of Cape Town is quite deservedly regularly voted one of the top 10 international destinations to visit as it offers everything from stunning natural beauty and world-class beaches to the finest wines, myriad entertainment and top-class restaurants.
However, what many visitors don’t know is that just 25-minutes north of the city is a gateway to a uniquely vibrant and often overlooked part of the city.
The biodiversity Corridor of the Cape West Coast is one of only 35 in the world and runs all the way from Blaauwberg to Langebaan, up to Saldanha and back around the Darling Hills between the R27 and N7 highways. It is truly the road less travelled, dotted with charming fishing villages, miles of pristine beaches and abundant wildlife.
While most people think only of Langebaan’s lagoon and Yzerfontein’s 16 Mile Beach when think of the West Coast, there is, in fact, a whole new world beyond the city limits.
1. West Coast Fossil Park:
Contrary to the way the West Coast looks today, millions of years ago the area was actually dominated by riverine forests and wooded savanna, and inhabited by exotic animals that are now long since extinct.
2. !Khwa ttu San Culture and Education Centre
!Khwa ttu offers a fascinating insight into the culture, heritage, knowledge and modern-day life of the San of Southern Africa.
3. Cape Columbine Nature Reserve:
Untainted by development the pristine reserve at Cape Columbine lies on a peninsula and covers 2.6km² of gorgeous wild, rocky coastline.
4. The Ostrich Show Farm:
Located only an hour from Cape Town, the Ostrich Show Farm offers informative and interactive experiences with these large, unusual-looking birds and the 40-minute tour not only covers an educational on the ostriches, but also the museum and Ostrich leather factory.
5. Mamre Moravian Mission Station
Originally founded in the 16th century as a military and cattle post, the quaint restored mission complex is set under old shady oak trees – complete with church, parsonage, school, water mill, bakery, barns and stables.
6. West Coast Biosphere Trails:
Experience what it’s like to be governed by the sun, stars and tides of the sea on these awe-inspiring wilderness slack-packer hikes through the unique vegetation, deserted beaches and tranquil lagoon of the West Coast National Park. A choice of five exhilarating trails will transport you to a world of unchartered territory and adventure.
7. Birding in the West Coast National park
The Park, which includes the beach and dune land between the towns of Yzerfontein and Langebaan, the beautiful lagoon and the Saldanha Bay Islands, is an Important Bird Area and a RAMSAR site which is home to more than 300 bird species.
8. Sandboarding in the Witzand Aquifer:
Sandboarding in Cape Town is an all-year round activity and the beautiful white dunes of the Witzand Aquifer provide a safe environment to learn, have fun and improve your skills.
9. Horse riding in Langebaan
Riding along the beautiful stretch of beach here is a breath-taking experience and a great way to experience the natural beauty and rugged coastline.
10. Kayak in Paternoster:
Take to the ocean in Paternoster with an experienced guide and enjoy a gentle meander along the coastline, where you could spot dolphins, seals and whales and get up close and personal with the plentiful and varied bird life on the rocks.
11. Stand Up Paddle Boarding at Calypso Beach:
Calypso Beach on Langebaan Lagoon is a pristine west-facing beach with warm water, and as there are no currents, it’s ideal for stand up paddle boarding.
12. Beach buggy trips in paternoster:
Explore the dunes between Paternoster and St Helena Bay in a novel off-road adventure – by beach buggy for retro family fun.
13. Boat trip to Dassen Island:
Home to some over 60 000 African penguins, Dassen Island is located in the Atlantic Ocean 9 km off the coastline near the Yzerfontein.
14. Evita se Perron, Darling:
It is here that you can meet the infamous Tannie Evita Bezuidenhout, the most famous white woman in South Africa, enjoy traditional boerekos, take in her show, stroll around Boerassic Park and sip Evita Blanc.
15. Taste a Darling Brew
Relax and sip on craft beers with fascinating names like Bone Crusher and Black Mist, or pair them with a selection of inspired light meals that enhance their unique flavours.
16. The Darling Wine Route
Darling’s proximity to the Atlantic Ocean and the vineyards' elevation, conspire to produce stunning wines with concentrated flavour, depth and intensity which can be sampled at four magnificent wine estates.
17. Die Strandkombuis, Yzerfontein:
Located right on the famous sixteen mile beach, this rustic open air restaurant specialises in the freshest of seafood all prepared on open fires and served in courses over a period of three hours.
18. Club Mykonos Casino:
When you are in need of a little excitement or your tired limbs need to recover from hiking or kite-surfing, the place to visit is Club Mykonos, perched on the shores of the beautiful Langebaan lagoon, overlooking its azure waters.
19. Darling Museum:
Initially founded in 1978 by the Darling Women’s Agricultural Association as a Butter Museum, the Darling Museum boasts a fascinating recreation of life in a bygone era.
20. Mountain Biking in Saldanha Bay
The spectacular SAS Nature Reserve in the military base has marked walking routes that are all bike-friendly, offering views, bird and game spotting with access onto the northern peninsula of Saldanha Bay. For more information and loads of other exciting activities on the West Coast.
A brand new West Coast tourism initiative called the West Coast Way has created four spectacular routes you can follow to ensure you don’t miss a thing. Best done at a leisurely pace, the Culture Route can be completed in a day although a stop-over is advised, while the Foodie Route is best completed over 3 or more days. Their newest routes to explore are the Scenic and Berg Routes.