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7 West Coast Gems

7 West Coast Gems

Under the West Coast Sun…where summer is the time to find some very special gems.

Words: Keri Harvey

Pictures: Keri Harvey and Anel Louw

www.keri-harvey.com

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1. Kitesurf Langebaan Lagoon

Known as Wind Town, Langebaan is a world-renowned kitesurfing hotspot – so it doesn’t get any better for learners and enthusiasts. If you want to experience flight and surfing, speed and thrills, kitesurfing is it.

The highly rated KiteLab is a kitesurfing school on Langebaan’s main beach, where they teach you all the tricks of kitesurfing; Cape Sports Centre also offers expert kitesurfing lessons on the safe lagoon. You can show up clueless about the sport and a highly qualified instructor will guide you through the steps to surf, sail and jump like a pro.

The instructor is in the water with you to teach you hands-on how to kitesurf. Peak season is October to March when there are blue skies, strong, steady winds, and the knee-deep waters are clear and warm.

Anything you need for kitesurfing – from equipment to training, even repairs and kiting clothing, is right on hand. If you’re older than 12, fit and keen, give it a try – you may even fly.

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2. Horse ride a deserted white beach in Paternoster

If the pictures look dreamy, the experience is more so. Imagine a small group of riders – no more than seven – heading off along a long, white, deserted beach. Just you and your horse, wind in your hair, in communion with the magnificent surrounding environment.

These beach rides last an hour and a quarter – morning and evening – along Langstrand beach on the edge of Paternoster. Go at your own pace, riding well-trained horses, and both beginners and experienced riders are welcome. Just wear trousers, and takkies or boots, and show up. A picnic basket can also be arranged to enjoy en route.

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3. Taste wine and olives in Riebeek-Kasteel

A feast of olives in all flavours – from berry to smoked – and from tapenade and salt to olive jam and chutney, awaits at Kloovenburg, an award-winning olive oil estate, so you can taste the oils too. But new olive products are being added all the time. It’s even more impressive if you know this started as a kitchen experiment many years ago, and demand grew so fast that production had to be upped and a business was born.

Kloovenburg is also a renowned wine estate and all their prize vintages can be tasted with the olives. One side is wine and the business of Pieter du Toit, the other side is olives and the business of his wife Annalene. Even the dogs on the estate have names like Chardonnay and Shiraz.

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4. Shop along the Berg River in Velddrif

The trendiest street in Velddrif is not the main road, but a dusty track that hugs the Berg River. Bokkom Laan is over-the-top quirky and embodies West Coast humour, cooking, and art and craft. Ek en Jy sells irreverent trinkets – an assortment that defies labelling, like the Traffic Jam range made from every fruit imaginable. And the clocks from old tins have no numbers or hands – just the seconds are counted – and carry the slogan Fokkol Tyd.

Next door at River Studio is magnificent art depicting typical scenes of the area by renowned artist Marina Clunie. There’s also cake and coffee in the lane, and lunches are served on the jetty. All comes with humour and West Coast flair – so expect to dine on rollmops and snoek pies, fish and chips and other ocean snacks.

  • Ek en Jy: 082 380 4083 (phone ahead for opening times)
  • River Studio (Marina Clunie): 083 415 9524 (phone ahead)

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5. Hit the markets

Hopefield has a small but very popular market every Saturday morning next to The Merry Widow in Church Street, with plenty of fresh produce, beautiful breads and bakes, local meats and crafts. Come early to enjoy a decadent breakfast and fine coffee.

Langebaan’s market called Oosterwal is on the last Saturday of the month in the main road, on the lagoon side of the road. The market at Port Owen is held on the first Saturday of the month, while Groote Post wine estate has a monthly country market and picnic day. Piket-Bo-Berg also has a weekend market on the last Saturday of the month (except December) with organic and fresh produce, olive oils, flowers, mead, artisan bread and home-made delicacies.

  • Hopefield Country Market: 022 723 1528
  • Velddrif Tourism (Port Owen): 022 783 1821
  • Langebaan Tourism: 022 772 1515
  • Groote Post Country Market: 082 877 6677
  • Piket-Bo-Berg Tourism: 022 914 5652

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6. Birdwatch in Lambert’s Bay

Cape Gannets always appear to be wearing their mascara and eye liner. These beautiful, blue-eyed birds are packed onto Bird Island, which is joined by a walkway to the mainland of Lambert’s Bay. There are 8 000 breeding pairs of Cape Gannets here, so you won’t miss them. Waiting with hungry eyes on rocks just behind the gannet colony, but out of sight, are about 3 000 seals that prey on the gannets when they enter the ocean.

Bird Island is beautifully managed by CapeNature, with Yves Chesselet in charge of their conservation and monitoring. There’s an elevated rock-like bird hide that offers a spectacular vantage point for photographing the gannet colony. The poles in the water along the walkway to Bird Island are for cormorant nests – just to make life comfortable for them.

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7. Walk a rugged rock art trail in the Cederberg

The Sevilla Rock Art Trail in the Cederberg mountains, inland from Clanwilliam, is a rock-hopping trip into an ancient time when hunter-gatherers called this area home. Just follow the white boot prints at your own pace and you’ll wind past nine different rock art sites along the Brandewyn River, each a unique depiction of San life. One relief has headless animals, another strange, dinosaur-looking creatures, and at one site you’ll have to lie on your back to see the images on the rock overhang.

Weather here is hot and dry in summer, so remember to wear a hat and take along plenty of water and sunblock for the 5km walk – and a camera of course. Afterwards, an icy drink or lunch at the Khoisan Kitchen at Traveller’s Rest restaurant and farm stall goes down easily, as does the signature eland and pepperdew pizza. There are also overnight cottages.

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