West Coast Way: SA's road trip with the most twists

2018-08-16 13:30 - Gabi Zietsman
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If you thought a route down the West Coast is pretty straightforward, you'll be surprised to find that it actually has enough twists and turns to have your holidays and weekend breaks sorted for years! 

With Cape Town as your starting point, the West Coast Way is made up of 6 routes, creating easy itineraries depending on what you're looking for - and they all overlap! 

SEE: Your West Coast winter weekend escape - sorted

You can check out the best that this corner of Africa has to offer with the new Cape Way, and discover what makes South Africans lekker on the Culture Route. The Tractor Route takes you on a farm escape to the West Coast's agricultural dorpies, or taste your way down the coastline with the Foodie Route. If you're the more outdoors type looking for mountainous landscapes, the Berg Route will have you driving through passes, while The Wild Route will show you sustainable seafood practices and the best rocky adventures.

Some of the spots along the way include towns, lodges, hiking trails, restaurants, beaches and other awesome mini-routes. Some of the stopovers overlap on the routes, like The Lodge at Atlantic Beach and Mamre Werf feature on both Cape Way and Culture Route, while Crayfish Trails and Piekenierskloof Mountain Resort take a spot on both the Berg and Wild Routes.

You can check out the guide to all the routes here.

WATCH: How to go mountain biking on the West Coast 

(Image: West Coast Way)

New Cape Way

This first route focuses on the Cape Peninsula, Overberg and other spots in the south-western corner of Western Cape. Cape Town attractions make up half of the route, featuring main spots like Robben Island, Table Mountain, Boulders Beach and Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. Further afield you can explore the Elgin Valley, the Cape Winelands, Gordon's Bay's Clarence Drive and kick off your route to the West Coast with the Mamre Heritage Walk.

This gentle, family-friendly stroll through the village allows visitors to travel back in time 300 years to when the Moravian Missionaries settled in the Cape. The walk includes a visit to the fifth oldest in South Africa, the Parsonage built in 1697, the Long House which served as a barrack for the Dutch East Indian Company and the mill which once used horse-power to run.

SEE: Day-tripping Cape Town: The Waterfront's trendy Silo District

Culture Route

Mamre Werf also kicks off the Culture Route, where you discover South Africa's heritage while digging into the region's history. If you're interested in learning more about the country's first original inhabitants, you can head over to !Khwa ttu near Yzerfontein - one of the top information centres on Khoisan culture. Not only does it protect the past, but it looks to the future to ensure that their indigenous knowledge doesn't become lost.

You can also skip on over to Darling's famous Evita se Perron, where South Africa's favourite tannie performs weekly and you can dive into its hilarious satirical history museum. The West Coast National Park also features on the route, and while everyone flocks to it during September for the annual flower season, the park is also home to a national monument - an old Cape Dutch building on the lagoon from 1744 that now houses the Geelbek Restaurant.

WATCH: Heart-warming footage of West Coast National Park

Tractor Route

If you get stuck in Darling while visiting Evita se Perron, the farm dorpie is the perfect spot to start exploring the tractor route. It's filled with farm dorpies where you can do a little wine tasting and forget about the hustle of city life.

You can swing by Groote Post for their Sauvignon Blanc and monthly market, or hit up the coast in Yzerfontein with its 16-mile stretch of beach where dogs can run to their heart's content. You can also take an artistic detour to Riebeek Valley, home to many internationally renowned artists, and sip on locally produced wine and beer while staring at some artwork.

SEE: Why you need a breakaway to Riebeek-Kasteel

Foodie Route

If you're more led by your stomach than your eyes, the Foodie Route will keep your taste buds satisfied with some fresh seafood, home-baked goods and farm freshness. If you're still stuck in Darling, the Darling Brew is Africa's only carbon-neutral brewery, and all food served in their restaurant is sourced from the town itself. Between West Coast National Park and Langebaan you'll find the Thali Thali Game reserve, where besides nature walks and accommodation it has an a la carte restaurant serving up traditional cuisine. 

Further up the coast Langebaan Lagoon and Mykonos Club have a variety of restaurants bound to tickle everyone's fancy, and for the best seafood in the region, Paternoster has become a foodie hotspot where you can do either fine dining or cheap fish and chips takeaway.

SEE: Darling Brew goes green as Africa's first carbon neutral brewery

Berg Route

Take the road less travelled by following the river all the way to the mountains. Berg River starts in Velddrif where bokkom - dried fish - is the culinary king. In Bokkomlaan there's a variety of restaurants to fill your stomach, as well as Marina Clunie's River Studio where you can get in touch with your creative side.

While driving over the Piekenierskloof Pass, you have to make a stop at the Kardoesie N7 Country Stop - a popular farm stall - or see the Disa Uniflora flower in Porterville, which also offers the best views to paraglide. You can finally stop off for a zipline ride at Piekenierskloof Mountain Resort, which is also the gateway to the Cederberg and the Wild Route.

WATCH: Explore the wonders and secrets of Cederberg

Wild Route 

The Wild Route is the ultimate off-track route, giving you mountains and waves. It's split into two tracks - the Sustainable Seafood Track (SST) and the People Rocking Nature Track (PRNT). 

On the SST you can walk the Crayfish Trail in comfy slackpacking style with local guides, or drive up to the forgotten part of the West Coast to the dorpies of Doringbaai, Strandfontein and Papendorp. There's also a lesser-known wine route on the Olifants River, including the Atlantic winery Fryer's Cove.

The PRNT will give lots of rock to conquer with your bouldering skills in Rocklands, or you can take on the hectic 4x4 drive to the quiet Cederberg village of Wupperthal with its old Moravian church, donkey trail and internationally renowned riel dance groups. You can also soak your worries away at The Baths Hot Springs, or go on a rooibos journey through Northern Cape's Nieuwoudtville.

SEE: #FindYourEscape: Take a wine detour to the Olifants River

(Video: Gabi Zietsman)

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