The West Coast is so unique it comes as no surprise to find out-of-the-ordinary adventures. Here are 3 of the finest kind
Words and Pictures: Keri Harvey
1. Visit a Nauseum – Darling
There are thousands of museums worldwide but there is only one Nauseum, and it’s in Darling. The town is home to satirist Pieter-Dirk Uys and Evita se Perron, the old railway station that he painted pink and converted into a cabaret venue. Boerassic Park, his amusing, cement-statue garden of misbehaving politicians, and his museum called The Nauseum, are alongside.
As South Africa’s most famous white woman who is not a woman, Evita (or Pieter-Dirk) has the knack for illustrating the madness of our recent past through shows and books – and The Nauseum is a tongue-in-cheek, permanent exhibit and reminder of the dark days. It’s a classic and kitsch collection of all things lily white from the apartheid era, and will have you shaking your head at the lunacy and laughing at the irreverent portrayal. Whites Only signs, busts of the line-up of apartheid presidents perched on bar stools, old driekleurs, political declarations and other artefacts of this era make up the extensive collection of The Nauseum. It’s a must-see for all South Africans to remind us how far we have come, and where we should never tread again.
022 492 2851, 022 492 2831, www.evita.co.za
2. Fossick for Fossils – Langebaan
In its previous life, the West Coast Fossil Park was a phosphate mine, and before that it was 90m under the ocean. Then, in the early nineties, palaeontologist Pippa Haarhoff initiated the establishment of the fossil park, which remains the only one of its kind in South Africa, and one of just three in Africa.
So far, the more than a million fossils unearthed here include giant hunting bears, sabre-toothed cats, elephants, hippos, rhinos and massive, short-necked, long-horned, giraffe-like animals that weighed in at around two tons. There are also bird, frog, seal and whale fossils in different layers, and plenty of small mammals – 200 species have been found here in fossil form. The three-toed horse or hipparion fossils date the site to 12 million years ago, which is hard to get your head around. But when you see the open-dig site, this ancient world comes to life. You can also hunt for your own fossils in the trays of fossil remains provided. There’s no need to be a budding palaeontologist to visit here either, just imagination is required.
022 766 1606, www.iziko.org.za
3. Sleep Under the Light – Cape Columbine Nature Reserve
The fort-style lighthouse at Cape Columbine near Tietiesbaai is the last manned lighthouse built along the South African coastline – and it’s still manned by two lightkeepers who live there.
Unique about visiting this lighthouse is that three original lighthouse-keeper homes have been restored into self-catering accommodation – two sleep six people and one is a honeymoon suite with a Jacuzzi. So lighthouse lovers can literally sleep under the light, be lulled by the foghorn and enjoy superb views up and down the coastline. It’s spectacular and evocative to wake up with a lighthouse in your front yard and the keepers going about their daily business. A taste of another world.
021 449 2400, [email protected]