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  • Overview

    South Africa's sunny West Coast offers a wealth of exciting sights, excursions, and activities to visitors, and is the ideal place to explore for those planning on renting a car and going road tripping in the country.

    The West Coast encompasses a wide range of geographical regions, and its relatively compact size means that they can all be explored in a single holiday.

    The spectacular Atlantic coastline offers excellent water sport opportunities at Blaauwberg and Langebaan, and tranquil seaside towns such as Paternoster, Saldanha Bay, and Yzerfontein, all famous for their Mediterranean atmosphere and fresh seafood.

    The Swartland, the wheat and wine-producing region of the West Coast, is home to the charming town of Darling. Further inland, the Cederberg is a nature-lovers paradise, a world-famous ecotourism destination replete with national parks and camping sites, rock-climbing adventures and hiking trails.

    The West Coast is also home to the region known as Namaqualand, where every year in spring (September), the landscape is over-run by gorgeous wildflowers. The Namaqualand Daisies, as they are commonly known, were featured in BBC's series and are a deservedly world-famous tourist attraction.

    Visitors from all over the globe gawk at the incredible fields of colour. Apart from this splendidly colourful annual display, the West Coast is largely arid, with little shade on offer. Luckily, the freezing cold ocean promises refreshment.

    Langebaan

    Located just 75 miles (120km) from Cape Town, Langebaan languished for years in relative obscurity, remaining an excellent retirement destination and a popular place for local fishing enthusiasts to spend the weekend. However, in recent years, picturesque Langebaan has been getting the attention it deserves and has become a frequented West Coast tourist destination. It offers an incredible range of fun water sports and adventure activities, as well as top-class beach resort accommodation and a winning selection of restaurants and shops. The water in the Langebaan Lagoon is warm enough to swim in all year round.

    Langebaan Lagoon, West Coast Langebaan Lagoon, West Coast Winfried Bruenken
    Saldanha

    Saldanha is a small, attractive town situated on the northern shore of Saldanha Bay. The deep natural harbour sustains the area's economy and provides countless water sport and fishing opportunities to visitors. Saldanha Bay's fishing industry is underpinned by the export of delicacies such as crayfish, mussels, and oysters. This fine selection of seafood naturally characterises the town's gastronomy. Visitors can look forward to a range of fun activities, including kite-surfing, waterskiing and deep-sea diving. The area is also immensely popular with game-fishing devotees, who can entice yellowtail, tuna, and snoek from the ocean depths. Accommodation in Saldanha is plentiful, catering to luxury resort clientele as well as backpackers.

    Saldanha, South Africa Saldanha, South Africa Morne
    West Coast National Park

    Located just 70 miles (110km) north of Cape Town, the West Coast National Park showcases the very best of the region's natural beauty. The attraction stretches from the quaint seaside town of Yzerfontein to the turquoise-blue Langebaan Lagoon, and stands out among South Africa's celebrated national parks. It is most famous for its bird life, with thousands gracing the rocks on its golden beaches, and thousands more filling the park's salt marshes with their varied songs and warbles. However, the West Coast National Park is also home to some interesting wildlife, including eland, red hartebeest, and caracal. The Postberg section is an excellent place to view Namaqualand Daisies when the countryside becomes carpeted in bright wildflowers during August and September.

    West Coast National Park, South
Africa West Coast National Park, South Africa Morne
    Paternoster

    Paternoster is a quaint fishing village outside Cape Town. Its name comes from the prayers of shipwrecked Portuguese sailors who fell afoul of its rugged coastline. These days, many consider it the ideal West Coast beach-holiday destination. The first thing visitors will notice are the rows and rows of whitewashed fisherman houses: a lovely, and incredibly photogenic, architectural quirk that will linger long in the memory. A holiday in Paternoster is probably best taken at a snail's pace, meaning visitors will enjoy taking long walks on the fine sandy beaches and observing the region's bird life. For active types, hiking trails, mountain biking, sea kayaking, diving, and spearfishing excursions are available. The West Coast gets extremely hot but the freezing seawater will certainly cool visitors down.

    Paternoster, West Coast Paternoster, West Coast Marzannej
    Yzerfontein

    Yzerfontein is about an hour outside Cape Town, and is the ideal getaway for those seeking a serene beach holiday. Along with its sunshine and mild winters, the tranquil seaside village is much loved for its Sixteen Mile Beach, which connects it to the Postberg conservancy area in the West Coast National Park. Travellers who venture to the park in August and September will see Namaqualand's wildflowers bloom in fabulous explosions of colour. Yzerfontein visitors can also enjoy fishing, hiking, skiing, mountain biking and whale watching. Only the brave are likely to swim in the region's very cold sea.

    Yzerfontein, West Coast Yzerfontein, West Coast Zaian
    Darling

    Darling is a fast growing tourist destination in South Africa. From the second visitors pull into this dusty station town, they'll understand exactly why. Located in a valley of golden hills in the Swartland region of South Africa's West Coast, Darling is a thoroughly charming spot with a local brewery and opportunities to go olive and wine tasting. Although Darling offers high-quality dining options, the town's main claim to fame is its most famous resident, satirist Pieter-Dirk Uys. He is perhaps better known by his alter-ego: Evita Bezuidenhout. Pieter-Dirk Uys has invested lots of time and energy in Darling, creating not only a popular cabaret venue (Evita se Perron), but also founding the Darling Trust: an organisation that promotes social upliftment through the arts.

    Spring wildflowers Spring wildflowers Judith Duk
    The Cederberg

    When the film version of JM Coetzee's celebrated novel Disgrace was made, the film-makers controversially opted to ditch the book's original Eastern Cape setting in favour of various locations in and around the Cederberg: a mountainous conservancy area about 190 miles (300km) north of Cape Town. Their reasoning for this was simply that the Cederberg is one of the most beautiful, unspoiled areas of South Africa and that foreign audiences deserved to see this often-overlooked natural wonderland in all its glory. No doubt aided by this exposure, the Cederberg has quickly grown into one of the leading ecotourism destinations in Southern Africa. It is the premium destination for those outdoor adventurers looking to get to grips with South Africa's unique and varied landscape.

    Uitkykpas, Cederberg, South Africa Uitkykpas, Cederberg, South Africa Jim Sher

    Phrase Book

    English Pronounciation

    The West Coast of South Africa is full of some of the country's best sights and activities. It serves as a great destination for those with a limited amount of time in South Africa, but who still wish to experience a good selection of what the country has to offer. They can fly into Cape Town, rent a car, and head out on the R27 for the adventure of a lifetime.

    Many of the little towns along the arid coastline are quite eccentric, with distinct characters, and off-beat charm. Favourite stops include Langebaan, the West Coast National Park, Yzerfontein, the Cederberg, the Cape Columbine Nature Reserve, Saldanha, Paternoster, and Darling.

    These destinations are all good for a few days of relaxation, but none of them are likely to keep visitors occupied for long. The best way to experience the region is to drive between towns, enjoying anything between a few hours to a few days in each according to preference.

    The route is wonderful for surfers and other wind and water sport enthusiasts, but those wanting to partake in these fun activities should note that the sea is very cold along the West Coast and wetsuits are a necessity. It is also very important to take lots of sunscreen as there is little shade along this coastline and the sun can be fierce.

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    No direct flights from Heathrow to this Destination